Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Vanuatu

Aussie con man arrested

A convicted Australian con man wanted in two South Pacific nations has been detained by police for allegedly entering Vanuatu illegally, police said yesterday. Peter Foster, who has served fraud-related jail terms in Australia, Britain and the US, was arrested early on Sunday and was likely to be charged with immigration offenses, according to Police Superintendent Willie Ben Kalo. He faces a jail term and a hefty fine if convicted. A magistrate ordered Foster to remain in custody until his bail hearing on Thursday. Authorities in neighboring Fiji are also expected to seek the 44-year-old's extradition. He is wanted in Fiji for alleged shady deals surrounding a resort development and immigration violations.

■ India

Bathing day attracts millions

Hundreds of Hindu holy men, naked but for the ash smeared on their bodies and an occasional marigold garland, led a sea of humanity to the waters of the Ganges River yesterday to wash away their sins at the apex of a weekslong pilgrimage. By midmorning yesterday some 3 million people had immersed themselves in the waters near the north Indian city of Allahabad, said festival organizer P.N. Mishra, adding that the number was expected to top 5 million by the end of yesterday -- declared a "royal bathing day" by astrologers and the most auspicious of the 45-day long Ardh Kumbh Mela festival.

■ Germany
Anti-corruption measures

The Justice Ministry plans to propose tougher legislation to fight corruption in the wake of a series of scandals that have shaken leading businesses, including Siemens AG. Under the proposed legislation, prosecutors would be able investigate and charge not only Germans but other Europeans who are involved in bribe-taking in the country, the Justice Ministry said, confirming a report in Sunday's edition of Der Spiegel weekly. The ministry said it is still working on finalizing the legislation and expects to bring it before the government in the first part of this year.

■ Diplomacy

France sought union

France's government proposed forming a union with Britain in 1956, and also discussed joining the Commonwealth, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) reported yesterday. Citing documents in the National Archives, the BBC said then French prime minister Guy Mollet discussed the possibility of a merger between both countries with then British prime minister Sir Anthony Eden. That discussion came on Sept. 10, 1956 when Mollet visited London, but Eden rejected the idea of a union, the BBC said. At the time, France was smarting over the loss of the Suez Canal and by Egyptian support for separatists in Algeria, and was trying very hard to get British assistance in responding, the BBC reported.

■ United Kingdom

Government reviews files

The government said on Sunday it was ordering a review of all criminal databases after acknowledging that files on hundreds of criminals were not entered into police computers. The government insists the gaffe did not lead to any violent or sexual offenders being cleared to work with vulnerable people, such as children. But a British Sunday newspaper reported that at least one violent offender convicted abroad had committed murder on his return to Britain. A Home Office spokesman said Home Secretary John Reid, the country's top law-and-order official, was writing to Cabinet colleagues to get agreement for a review of British criminal databases and the way information was shared between them.

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