Thu, Aug 05, 2010 - Page 5 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ AUSTRALIA

Gillard calls for debate

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard challenged her opponent yesterday to a public debate on the economy in a move one analyst said suggests her campaign for re-election this month is becoming desperate. Gillard threw down the challenge to debate Tony Abbott, leader of the conservative Liberal Party, for a second time during the five-week campaign ahead of a general election on Aug. 21. Abbott, however, refused. “It’s becoming even clearer that with the economy at the center of this campaign ... Mr Abbott should step up to a debate on the economy,” Gillard told reporters.

■ VIETNAM

Activists receive award

An international human rights group has honored six Vietnamese activists for their courage in the face of political persecution in Vietnam. The six were among 42 writers from 20 countries to receive the annual Hellman/Hammmett award, New York-based Human Rights Watch announced yesterday. All of this year’s awardees from Vietnam are activist writers whose work was suppressed by the government in its efforts to restrict free speech, control independent media and limit access and use of the Internet, it said.

■NORTH KOREA

US may blacklist financiers

The US is expected to blacklist three key North Korean figures suspected of handling secret funds for leader Kim Jong-il as part of its new sanctions, a report said yesterday. Washington is devising the measures to punish the North for an alleged deadly March attack on a South Korean warship and to push it to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. Yonhap news agency, quoting an unidentified government source, said one of the three officials is Kim Tong-myong, head of the North’s Tanchon Commercial Bank. Overall, the US is expected to add 10 to 20 North Korean entities and individuals to its blacklist, the report said.

■NEPAL

Peace agreement threatened

Nepal’s former rebels threatened yesterday to recruit new members for their military wing, raising fears the peace process that ended a decade of fierce fighting may be in jeopardy in the Himalayan nation. The communists’ threat followed an announcement this week by Nepal’s army that it wanted 3,400 personnel to join. New recruits would be sought for the communist party’s military wing because the army violated the peace agreement by launching its own recruitment drive, Chandra Prakash Khanal, deputy commander of the Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army, said. Khanal said it was still to be decided how many personnel it plans to retain. “Recruitment by either the Nepal Army or the Maoist army constitutes a breach of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” the UN said.

■AUSTRALIA

PETA attacks queen’s boots

A pair of high-heeled woolly Ugg boots to be worn by the country’s representative at the Miss Universe Pageant later this month has come under fire on two fronts — tackiness and animal cruelty. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) asked Jesinta Campbell not to wear Ugg boots or a lamb’s wool shrug at the pageant in Las Vegas on Aug. 23 because it was cruel and unethical, using Australian wool sourced from mulesed sheep. Mulesing, a common practice among Australian farmers, involves removing strips of wool-bearing skin from the buttocks of sheep in a bid to reduce a potentially lethal maggot infestation called flystrike.

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