Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■VENEZUELA

Officials told to tighten belts

Bureaucrats can look forward to fewer expensive SUVs, top-of-the-line cellphones and whiskey-fueled parties next year. Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez said on Sunday that next year’s budget “will have significant restrictions” compared with this year’s US$63.9 billion plan as President Hugo Chavez’s government keeps a close watch on slumping international oil prices. “There are expenses that must be eliminated and others that must be reduced,” Rodriguez said in an interview on the privately owned Televen TV network. Flamboyant spending is common in the government and whiskey usually flows freely when state-run institutions throw extravagant parties in December.

■UNITED STATES

Tracks excite scientists

Scientists have found the oldest fossilized tracks of a tiny legged animal, from 570 million years ago, that push back the advent of more complex creatures on Earth by some 30 million years, a report said on Sunday. The fossilized trails, thought to belong to a centipede or a leg-bearing worm that lived in the water, were found in sedimentary rocks in Nevada, Ohio State University geology professor and chief author Loren Babcock said. The finding was reported to the Geological Society of America meeting on Sunday in Houston, Texas. The tracks, two parallel rows of small dots, each about 2mm in diameter, date back some 570 million years to the Ediacaran period. They suggest that animals walked using legs at least 30 million years earlier than had been thought.

■UNITED STATES

Mortgage debt forgiven

Mortgage finance company Fannie Mae said it is forgiving the mortgage debt of a 90-year-old Ohio woman who shot herself in the chest last week as sheriff’s deputies attempted to evict her. Addie Polk’s plight was cited by Representative Dennis Kucinich on Friday before the House of Representatives voted to approve the US$700 billion financial rescue package. Fannie Mae announced later on Friday that it would dismiss its foreclosure action, forgive Polk’s mortgage and allow her to return to the Akron home where she has lived since 1970, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. Polk remains in Akron General Medical Center, but was expected to recover from her chest wounds.

■UNITED STATES

Pilot McCain prone to error

Senator John McCain was prone to mistakes during his time as a Navy pilot, and if today’s standards were applied, his career may have ended in a hard landing, the Los Angeles Times said yesterday. The paper said that when McCain was training in his AD-6 Skyraider in Texas in 1960, he slammed into Corpus Christi Bay and sheared the skin off his plane’s wings. Investigators concluded that the 23-year-old McCain was not paying attention and erred in using “a power setting too low to maintain level flight in a turn.” The crash was one of three early in McCain’s career in which his flying skills and judgment were faulted or questioned by Navy officials, the Times said, adding: “This examination of his record revealed a pilot who early in his career was cocky, occasionally cavalier and prone to testing limits.”

■BRAZIL

Presidential invader shot

Authorities say a man who tried to invade the residence of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was shot in the leg after repeatedly ignoring warnings from security. Officers opened fire after the alleged intruder refused to obey orders to leave.

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