Public smoking banned
New Delhi imposed a new ban on smoking in public places on Thursday, four years after a largely ignored earlier prohibition saw people continue to puff away in restaurants, clubs and bars. One in three smokes some form of tobacco, officials say, and a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February this year said one in every 10 deaths in the country from 2010 would be smoking-related.
Stampede death toll rises
The death toll from a stampede of Hindu worshippers at a temple in northwestern town of Jodhpur has risen to 224, officials said yesterday. Jodhpur’s top administrative official Kiran Soni Gupta said by telephone that 77 more deaths reported by relatives were confirmed by the local administration, adding to the earlier death toll of 147. Doctors at two state-run hospitals where 54 injured were admitted for treatment said the condition of two wounded was “critical.”
Daily links Ukraine, Georgia
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko sold arms to Georgia to help it fight the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia and Russia, the Russian daily Izvestia reported yesterday, citing documents it had seen. Over the last two years, Ukraine had sold Georgia seven Buk-M1 air-defense systems, Izvestia said. Although the weapons systems were indispensable for the protection of Ukrainian strategic sites, Yushchenko had allowed nearly half of his country’s own stocks to be sold off, wrote the paper. Ukraine had also sold Georgia 200 Strela and Igla air-defense systems, Soviet-era T-72 assault tanks and Grad rocket-launchers, the paper said. These rocket-launchers, “chosen with the help of the United States” had been used by the Georgian army on Aug. 8 when it launched its bid to take back control of South Ossetia by force, Izvestia said.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Holocaust denier arrested
An Australian jailed in Germany and Austria for expounding his view that there were no mass killings of Jews in World War II has been arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport, news reports said yesterday. Former high school teacher Gerald Frederick Toben, 64, was refused bail in London’s Westminster Magistrate’s court and was to appear again today for an extradition hearing, Australia’s ABC Radio reported. Toben was arrested under a EU arrest warrant because he is wanted by the District Court in Mannheim, Germany, on charges of publishing material on the Internet of an anti-Semitic and/or revisionist nature.
Jobless man hands in cash
An unemployed construction worker found a package filled with 16,000 euros (US$22,600) in cash and items of gold jewelry beside a busy road — and turned it over to authorities, police said on Wednesday. The 56-year-old father of a disabled son, whose family relies on state unemployment benefits of about 600 euros per month, spotted the large brown envelope while cycling along a road near Ermstedt in the eastern state of Thuringia, a police spokesman said. “It would have come in handy for the heating bill. But my conscience got the better of me. It was a hard decision to go to the police,” the finder, Thomas Liedtke, was quoted as saying in Bild newspaper. The origins of the money were not known, the police said.
Manual on radicals issued
Security officials from several European countries have developed a manual to help prison authorities prevent their jails from becoming incubators for Muslim extremists. The manual, developed by France, Germany and Austria, includes signs that may indicate that a prisoner was becoming radicalized, including the presence of a growing beard. The document was distributed at a two-day closed-door conference of European security experts that ended in Paris on Wednesday. Prisons “can be a facilitator and an accelerator” of radicalization and inmates are often “strongly destabilized” and therefore malleable, said Christophe Chaboud, head of France’s Anti-Terrorist Coordination Unit. The manual contains input from European and other security officials, including New York City police, Chaboud said. For security reasons, there are no plans to make its contents public. Hugues de Suremain, a spokesman for the International Prison Observatory, voiced fears the manual could further stigmatize Muslim inmates, who lack the range of religious benefits provided to Christians.