Wed, Oct 06, 2010 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take



Half of air force obsolete

Half of the weapons and equipment used by the air force are obsolete and need urgent replacement, a top defense official has said. Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, pointing to investment by the government in defense, said half of the existing fighter jets, radars, transport aircraft and air defense weapons will be upgraded by 2014-2015. The country is reportedly negotiating a US$3.5 billion aircraft defense deal with the US that will be signed next month when US President Barack Obama visits the capital.

Naik said the air force was also likely to make a US$25 billion defense deal with Russia this year to buy advanced stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft. India’s air force is just a third of the size of rival China’s and far short of what is needed to to meet the security challenges facing the country, he said. In February, New Delhi announced a US$32 billion defense budget, a 4 percent increase on last year, when spending was hiked by a quarter.


Transsexual denied marriage

A transsexual who sued the government in an unprecedented bid to marry in her new gender lost her case yesterday, with a judge arguing that it was not an issue for the courts to decide. The Chinese woman, who is in her 20s and known only as “W” under anonymity rules, is one of a few people to have undergone sex change surgery in a public hospital, and had her gender altered on her identity card. However, the city’s Registrar of Marriages ruled last year that she could not marry her boyfriend because her birth certificate — which cannot be changed under Hong Kong law — says that she is still a man. In his ruling, High Court Judge Andrew Cheung said there was insufficient evidence “to demonstrate a shifted societal consensus in -present-day Hong Kong regarding marriage to encompass a post-operative transsexual.” Mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan already allow transsexual people to marry the opposite sex in their new gender, said Michael Vidler, W’s solicitor.


Clown wins most votes

The incoming Congress decided from weekend elections will have to make room for a colorful new member: a professional clown who won more votes than any of them. Tiririca, a 45-year-old television humorist whose real name is Francisco Oliveira, scooped up 1.3 million votes in Sunday’s polls to represent Sao Paulo, the highest number of votes for any federal deputy across the country. His TV campaign ads, featuring him dancing around in a tiny hat and multi-colored outfit with a cheesy smile, were easily the most irreverent spots in the lead-up to the general elections. “It couldn’t get any worse. Vote for me,” was his campaign slogan, which were followed by a number of riffs tapping into public cynicism about politics. “What does a federal deputy do? I have no idea — but vote for me and I’ll let you know,” went one of his ads. “Vote for me as federal deputy so I can help the needy — especially my family,” he said in another.


EU president’s haiku win fan

Prime Minister Naoto Kan brought along his own copy of EU president Herman Van Rompuy’s haiku and had it autographed on Monday. A Japanese government spokesman, Noriyuki Shikata, said that at bilateral EU-Japan talks on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe Meeting, Kan asked Van Rompuy to sign a copy of his April-published first book of haiku, or mini-poems in the Japanese style.

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