Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Nepal
Cold claims lives

At least 11 people have died this week as temperatures have fallen to near freezing in parts of this Himalayan country, news reports said yesterday. The Nepal FM radio station quoted local officials as saying that two people died on yesterday in the Bara area, about 160km southeast of the capital Kathmandu. According to the Kathmandu Post newspaper, at least nine people have died in other parts of the country this week. Local officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

■ Malaysia

`Ghost ships' identified

Two "ghost ships" which were found beached on Malaysia's east coast have been identified as Singapore-owned barges which drifted away from a tugboat during a storm, reports said yesterday. The two enormous vessels, each the length of two football fields, and three storys high, were found empty and abandoned by villagers on the coast of eastern Pahang state on Sunday. The New Straits Times said that the cable linking the two Singapore-registered barges to the tugboat snapped in heavy seas last Wednesday as they were being towed to the city-state. Terus Maju Logistic, the agent appointed to salvage the vessels, said they would be taken back to sea in the next few days.

■ Australia

PM voted most embarrassing

Prime Minister John Howard may be popular with voters, winning four elections in 10 years, but he has been voted the nation's most embarrassing citizen in a survey of 10,000 readers of a major men's magazine. The 2006 "Bloke Awards" in the latest FHM magazine ranged from best real and fake boobs, best beer, movie and punch, biggest sook (complainer) and most embarrassing citizen. Howard, who is often ridiculed by cartoonists and comedians for his diminutive stature and bushy eyebrows, picked up most embarrassing citizen, narrowly ahead of recently retired Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe. Thorpe is regularly lampooned by the media for his "metrosexual" fashion style.

■ Fiji

Court officials suspended

The military regime yesterday suspended the country's chief judge and chief magistrate pending an investigation into alleged judicial corruption. Military strongman Commodore Frank Bainimarama placed the country's Chief Judge Daniel Fatiaki and Chief Magistrate Naomi Matanipobua on indefinite leave, pending an official inquiry. "Following the involvement of certain members of the judiciary in questionable activities ... and numerous complaints that we have received of corruption, irregularities and gross inefficiencies in the judicial system, the chief judge has been sent on leave on full pay until further notice," Bainimarama told reporters.

■ India

George escapes slaughter

A two-year-old calf that escaped slaughter at an abattoir in Mumbai has been named George, after the US president, a report said yesterday. George bolted and ran into a scrapyard where he kept butchers at bay for 20 hours, the Times of India reported. "George is certainly a very lucky survivor as it is very difficult for any animal to escape the `death camp' at Deonar [abattoir]," shelter official J.C. Khanna said. "He instinctively knew that attack is the best form of defense, like the real Bush," Khanna said.

■ Germany
Berlin mayor to the rescue

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit was the hero of his apartment building on New Year's Eve when he warned neighbors the roof was on fire -- and consoled them with champagne in a nearby Greek restaurant. Wowereit was celebrating with his partner Joern Kubicki in their apartment when Kubicki spotted smoke on the roof and called the fire department, while the mayor ran from door to door warning his neighbors, his spokesman said on Tuesday. "We were sitting there eating our chocolate fondue when he rang the bell and shouted `The building is on fire!'" neighbor Gerd Luetjen told the Bild newspaper.

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