Thu, Jul 19, 2007 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ JAPAN

Dim outlook for Abe

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition is "highly likely" to lose a July 29 upper house election, a newspaper forecast yesterday after its survey showed Abe's support below the critical 30 percent level. Only 27.9 percent of those responding to the July 14-16 survey by the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun said they backed Abe's Cabinet, against 51.7 percent who disapproved. But 30 percent to 50 percent of voters are still undecided so the election's outcome was still uncertain. The ruling coalition will not automatically be ejected from government if it loses its majority in the upper house, since parliament's lower chamber picks the prime minister.

■ BANGLADESH

Wealth statements sought

The anti-corruption commission said it had asked two former prime ministers to submit statements of their wealth as part of a crackdown on political corruption. A notice seeking the statement was sent to Sheikh Hasina, now in jail for alleged extortion, through prison authorities, officials said on yesterday. Another notice was served to her rival Begum Khaleda Zia at her home in Dhaka on Tuesday, they said. Both leaders have been given a week to submit the statements.

■ MYANMAR

National Convention reopens

The National Convention reopened for the last time yesterday to finish drafting a new constitution dismissed by critics as a ploy by the military junta to entrench its rule. The convention, the first step on the country's seven-stage "road map to democracy," would wrap up in about two months, Information Minister Kyaw Hsan said. But the junta, which picked most of the 1,058 delegates, refuses to set a timetable for completing its "road map." Western governments and other critics say it is nothing but a smokescreen to preserve the generals' grip on power.

■ CHINA

Thunderstorm kills 15

Fifteen people have been killed in Chongqing in a 16-hour thunderstorm that caused serious flooding and brought air, road and rail traffic to a halt, state media said on Wednesday. Downtown areas of the city received 266.6mm of rain between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, the largest volume since records began in 1892, Xinhua news agency said, quoting the local meteorological bureau. The storm, which began on Monday, also unleashed more than 40,000 lightning strikes, the China Daily said. Hundreds of flights were delayed at Chongqing airport on Tuesday, stranding over 5,000 passengers. The storm had left five people missing and caused some 22,000 homes to collapse. The area was hit by the worst drought in more than a century last summer.

■ MALAYSIA

Porsche man strikes again

Police were left red-faced after a man who abandoned the theft of a US$280,000 Porsche for lack of fuel drove the sportscar out of a police station, local media said. The suspect had first stolen the car on Monday at a luxury showroom in northern Penang State. The car was later found abandoned a short distance away, its fuel tank empty. The New Straits Times said the man kept the keys and turned up with a can of gas at a local police station where the car had been towed. He drove off with the Porsche, ditching it later after he discovered roadblocks had been set up to stop him. Police were hunting for the suspect, the paper said.

■ UNITED KINGDOM

Tycoon to donate US$2bn

Sir Tom Hunter, the richest man in Scotland, pledged to give ?1 billion (US$2 billion) to charity on Tuesday. His spokesman said that he will give the money away through the course of the rest of his life to charities in Britain and developing countries through his charitable foundation. "My own personal belief is that with great wealth comes great responsibility," Hunter told the BBC. "Therefore you've got to take care of these things if wealth creation is still going to be seen as a positive force by the rest of the population." He first began selling sports shoes from the back of a van, and founded a chain of sports stores in 1984, which he sold in 1998. That same year, he and his wife established the Hunter Foundation, which has donated millions of pounds to various causes.

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