Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 4 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Hong Kong
'Lucky' trees suffer

The tradition of tossing written wishes tied to oranges into the branches of "lucky" trees during the Lunar New Year holidays has killed an 80-year-old banyan in the New Territories region, and another tree is at risk. "People did not learn their lesson from killing the Lam Tsuen wishing tree," the South China Morning Post quoted tree expert Jim Chi-yung as saying on Thursday. In 2005, two people were hospitalized when one of the huge branches of the Lam Tsuen banyan -- sagging under the weight of decades of wishes -- fell on them. Now, a tree in a neighboring village could die a similarly unlucky death, with Jim explaining that the excessive weight of the New Year's wishes could lead to an infestation of termites or fungus.

■ Thailand

Man sets squat thrust record

New Yorker Ashrita Furman looked around for a record he could break, and settled on doing the most squat thrusts in one minute. Then he decided on a place -- the back of an elephant in northern Thailand. He achieved both goals on Thursday as he powered through 40 of the vigorous kicks in a minute. Furman, 52, is accustomed to setting bizarre records. By his own count, he holds 54. These include the record for the fastest 11m on a space hopper -- a heavy rubber balloon on which children bounce -- and the fastest mile balancing a pool cue on his finger.

■ China

Tiger kills six-year-old

A tiger bit a six-year-old girl to death as the child and her family posed for a photo with the big cat, state media said yesterday. The girl, identified only as Ruixin, was standing behind the tiger with her mother and four other relatives when it suddenly turned on her on Thursday at a zoo in Kunming, Yunnan Province, the official Xinhua news agency said. The tiger's paw shot out and grabbed Ruixin, pulling her head into its mouth. Five zoo staff beat the tiger with wooden sticks and a bench until it released the girl after about a minute. The girl died at a hospital.

■ Japan

US$145m promised to Iraq

Tokyo will give Iraq US$145 million in a humanitarian grant as part of international efforts to help rebuild the war-torn country, the Foreign Ministry said. The aid covers security and basic services ranging from food to medical support, ministry official Masato Usui said. The aid, which tops up Tokyo's previously pledged US$1 billion grant, will be disbursed through international agencies such as the World Food Program, the UN Development Program and the WHO, he said. The country also sent ground troops to southern Iraq on a humanitarian mission after the US-led invasion in March 2003. The contingent was withdrawn last year.

■ Myanmar

Demonstators detained

Authorities detained at least five protesters yesterday who participated in a rare demonstration that urged the ruling military junta to improve health care and education, people close to the demonstrators said. The detentions on the outskirts of Yangon came after state-run media warned that the Thursday protest had broken the law. The protesters were taken from their homes and interrogated, according to people who know them but requested anonymity for fear of reprisal. About 25 people took part in the protest on Thursday, calling also for better pension benefits and lower prices for food staples.

■ United States
Rodeo horses trample girl

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