Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 5 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ China
Students flee poison gas

A poisonous gas leak from a chemical factory in southwest China has led to the evacuation of more than 4,000 students from a local school complex, state press reported yesterday. The leak occurred early on Tuesday in Sichuan Province's Shuangliu City, forcing the evacuation of a middle school, an elementary school and a kindergarten, the Huaxi Metropolitan Daily reported. Children complained of burning eyes, nausea and difficulty breathing after a white cloud of gas entered the schools from a chemical plant nearby, the paper said.

■ Hong Kong

Zen arrives for Vatican talks

Cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君) has arrived in the Vatican to discuss Sino-Vatican relations, recently soured by China's appointment of bishops without approval from the Holy See, a church spokesman said yesterday. Zen plans to stay in the Vatican for at least 10 days and will attend a meeting about relations between China and the Holy See, the spokesman said.

■ Hong Kong

Pregnant Chinese barred

Authorities are ready to turn away pregnant women from mainland China under new measures to stem an influx of expectant mothers criticized for taking up hospital resources, officials said. The Immigration Department said the policy, announced on Tuesday and effective from Feb. 1, would bar mainland women who are at least seven months pregnant from entering Hong Kong unless they are booked in at a hospital. There has been an influx of mainland Chinese pregnant women coming to Hong Kong to give birth. The number grew from 3,600 in 2004 to 8,800 in 2005 and to 11,716 in the first half of last year, overwhelming the city's hospitals.

■ United Kingdom
French laud Harold Pinter

British playwright Harold Pinter, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, is to be given a top French award, the Legion d'Honneur. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was to present the "chevalier" version of the honor -- the lowest version -- to Pinter in a ceremony in London yesterday. Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. Although ill-health kept him from attending the ceremony, he used the occasion to deliver a video-taped lecture criticizing British and US politicians for the war in Iraq.

■ Egypt

Politician starts to strip

A ruling party politician started to undress in parliament on Tuesday in protest at proposed constitutional amendments which perpetuate many of the president's vast powers. In a debate on the amendments member of parliament Mohamed Hussein objected to the article which gives the president the right to dissolve parliament. "Enough of that, enough. Should I take my clothes off?" he added, using a sarcastic popular expression used in response to someone's excessive expectations. When Hussein unbuttoned the waistcoat of his suit, speaker Fathi Sorour threatened to have him thrown out of the chamber. Colleagues persuaded Hussein to withdraw from the chamber voluntarily.

■ United Kingdom

Mittal makes big donation

Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal has donated ?2 million (US$3.92 million) to Prime Minister Tony Blair's governing Labour Party, according to statement a statement released on Tuesday. Mittal is a major backer of the party and donated a similar amount in 2005, Labour said. Blair, who has been questioned by police investigating allegations he inappropriately rewarded party donors with honors said the donation was generous. Mittal said in a statement he had offered the funding to assist Labour's work "to improve the overall prosperity and prospects of the country."

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