World News Quick Take


Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 6

■ AustraliaAsylum policy protested

About 200 demonstrators gathered outside the home of Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock to protest against Australia's policy of detaining asylum seekers. But police blocked the protesters, barricading the minister's Sydney home. Some protesters attempted to force their way through the cordon. Police arrested three demonstrators who broke past the police line. Police said they would be charged with assault or with breach of peace. Rally organizers accused the police of being in contempt of a Supreme Court order Friday that the protest be allowed to proceed. "I think it's contempt of court. It's just outrageous," Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition told the crowd.

■ Japan

Train crash injures 35

An express commuter train derailed and plowed into a rice field in southern Japan late on Friday, leaving two rail cars overturned and 35 passengers injured -- at least two seriously -- officials said. Rescuers were working in the rain to pull passengers from the six-car train. It was carrying about 120 people from Nagasaki to Hakata on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, said Toshihiko Aoyagi, an official with the train's operator, JR Kyushu. Authorities were investigating the cause of the accident, he said during a nationally televised news conference.

■ Pakistan

Citizens urged to fight terror

Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali appealed to ordinary Pakistanis to get involved in the battle against terrorism and sectarianism, news reports said yesterday. Speaking Friday to representatives of Pakistan's police force, Jamali said the public has to join the battle currently being waged in Pakistan to hunt down terrorist suspects and perpetrators of sectarian killings. "All sections of the society have a responsibility toward supplementing the government's efforts to stamp out the menace of terrorism and sectarianism," the independent English-language newspaper, The News, quoted Jamali as saying.

■ China

Beidaihe talks cancelled

Chinese President Hu Jintao has called off the Communist Party leadership's annual retreat to the seaside resort of Beidaihe in an apparent attempt to improve the image of his new government, official sources said yesterday. "This has been decided, we are waiting for the formal notice," an official with the Hebei provincial government told reporters. "The movements of high-level state leaders are not always privy to provincial officials, but we have heard that the meetings will not be held this year and are awaiting formal notice," he said on condition of anonymity.

■ China

US blasts prison treatment

The US has protested alleged Chinese mistreatment of a jailed US member of the outlawed Falungong movement who says he has been forced to attend group study sessions that denigrate the sect, the Department of State said on Friday. Charles Lee, who is serving a three-year sentence for sabotage, told a US consular official by phone on Wednesday that he was being mistreated by prison officials, prompting the protest, spokesman Richard Boucher said. "He complained of mistreatment on the part of prison authorities," Boucher said. "He also reported being forced to attend anti-Falungong group study sessions. We have protested his treatment to appropriate prison authorities."

■ United StatesBlair granted concession

Legal proceedings against the two Britons facing a military trial in Guantanamo Bay were suspended Friday night to allow talks between British and US legal officials. In a minor concession to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is facing a growing row at home on the issue, US President George W. Bush personally authorized the temporary halt to proceedings. His move paved the way for the UK attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, to fly to Washington next week for talks with US officials. London refused to comment on the likely outcome. Bush, who has branded the two Britons "bad men," agreed to the concession over dinner with Blair in the White House on Thursday.

■ United Kingdom

Journalist resigns

A Sky News journalist accused of "faking" a television report from a British Royal Navy submarine during the Iraq war has resigned, Sky News said on Friday. The report purported to show the preparation and firing of a cruise missile from HMS Splendid. But a BBC documentary crew filming at the same time said it had been specially staged for the benefit of Sky's camera and no missile was fired. Sky News said James Forlong's report was unacceptable to a news operation which had built a "proud reputation for accuracy and integrity."

■ Iran

Authorities to study death

Iran said on Friday it needed to investigate further to find out whether a Canadian journalist who died in custody of head injuries last week had been beaten. Deputy Interior Minister Aliasghar Ahmadi told the student news agency ISNA it was not clear whether Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Canadian of Iranian descent, had been hit or had banged her head in a fall. "Based on the report by the medical team and the coroner's office, the death of Zahra Kazemi was caused by a blow to the head resulting from a collision with a hard object," ISNA quoted Ahmadi as saying. But he said there was "ambiguity on whether the death was caused by the hard object hitting the head or the head hitting the hard object."

■ Russia

Space-marriage plan fails

Cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko abandoned plans to marry his earthling girlfriend while circling the Earth aboard the International Space Station because of pressure from the Russian space agency, Russian press reported yesterday. With a tuxedo, wedding band and permission from Texas state authorities to wed his Russian-American girlfriend, Malenchenko was fully prepared to become the first person to marry from space. But he renounced the idea following a conversation with his superiors, a Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos spokesman said.

■ Guatemala

Ex-dictator seeks presidency

A former dictator who is facing charges of genocide will be running for president of Guatemala this year. This week, a court in Guatemala City ruled that retired general Efrain Rios Montt, accused of responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths during the 1980s civil war, was entitled to stand for office. The leader of a military coup in 1982, Rios Montt ruled Guatemala with an iron fist. A born-again evangelical Christian, he held power for 16 months before being ousted. It was during this period than many of the worst atrocities in Guatemala's 36-year civil war were committed.