World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Sat, Mar 27, 2004 - Page 7

■ Cambodia

Devils made him do it

A man who cut off his own penis swears that four devils made him do it. A police official in the Ang Snoul district of Kandal province said Teang Ny, 32, insisted that he had no choice but to amputate. "He told us that he went out to get coffee and realized that he'd forgotten his hat. When he returned home, he saw four large men, wearing nothing

but red sarongs and red turbans," the officer said. Teang Ny told police that the men claimed to be guardians of hell and ordered him to cut off his penis, telling him that he if didn't cut it off, they would. He told police that he offered to cut off his leg but the devils said that wouldn't work so he took a vegetable knife and did the deed. He told police that he recalled the devils scrambling for the severed penis before he passed out. He is now recovering -- but police said they have no plans to search for the devils.

■ China

Finger breaker fingered

Beijing police have arrested a man who broke his own finger in order to stage fake accidents at restaurants

and get the owners to pay compensation, state media reported yesterday. Chen Shengquan, supported by two accomplices, pulled off the trick once at a restaurant, pretending to stumble and going to a nearby hospital for treatment, the Beijing Today newspaper said. The restaurant ended up giving him 1,500 yuan (US$180)

in compensation for the "injury." Encouraged by that apparent success, Chen soon ripped off the cast to stage another accident, this time at a McDonald's outlet, it said. This time he was not so lucky, as he was taken

to the same hospital and treated by the same doctor, leading to the unraveling of the fraud.

■ China

Moon orbiter set for 2006

China has moved up the launch of a moon-orbiting satellite by one year to 2006, adding momentum to the space program that got a massive boost from October's successful manned flight. The lunar mission, originally scheduled for 2007, will place a two-tonne satellite into orbit around

the moon for at least a year, Xinhua News Agency said Friday. The satellite would take three-dimensional images of the moon's surface, it said.

■ India

Child abusers released

A seven-year sentence against a Swiss couple accused of abusing children in the city of Bombay has been halved by an Indian court. The couple had agreed to pay compensation of about US$2,240 to each of the six children they were accused of abusing before being released, the Indian Express reported. A lower court in Bombay had sentenced Wilhelm Albin Marty, 61, and his wife, Loshiar Lili Marie Marty, 58, to seven years' rigorous imprisonment in December 2000. The higher court's decision has prompted protests from activists and NGOs.

■ South Korea

Vigil organizers face arrest

Prosecutors sought arrest warrants yesterday for four organizers of candlelight vigils that have drawn tens

of thousands to downtown Seoul nightly to protest the unprecedented impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun.

Police consider the peaceful daily rallies illegal, but have not tried to disperse them, fearing possible violent clashes that would escalate political uncertainty in

the wake of the March 12 impeachment.

■ United States

Cruise, Cruz break up

Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz have ended their three-year relationship. The couple, who spent long periods apart while filming, "broke up at the end of January and it's amicable," said Lee Anne DeVette, Cruise's sister and publicist. Robert Garlock, Cruz's spokesman, told People magazine that neither star is dating anyone else and the two "remain good friends." Cruise, 41, starred in last year's The Last Samurai and appears alongside Jamie Foxx in the upcoming thriller Collateral. Cruise and Cruz met on the set of the 2001 film Vanilla Sky.

■ Turkey

Six die in earthquake

At least six people, including four children, were killed on Thursday night when a 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey, turning houses to rubble. At least 20 people were also injured in Erzurum province and were taken to the hospitals in the provincial capital, also named Erzurum. The quake collapsed houses in nine villages, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported, citing officials in Erzurum, and the four children who died were buried when their home collapsed.

■ United States

Rice asks for meeting

White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Thursday sought a second private meeting with members of the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Members had complained about her refusal to testify in this week's public hearings. Rice met with commissioners privately in February. The White House released a letter from White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez to the chairman and co-chairman of the commission, asking that Rice be given another chance to speak. "In light of yesterday's hearing in which there were a number of mischaracterizations of Dr. Rice's statements and positions, Dr. Rice requests to meet again with the commission," Gonzalez wrote.

■ Spain

Police arrest bomb suspects

Spanish police on Thursday said they had arrested five people, including at least three North Africans, over the March 11 train bombings in Madrid. The latest arrests bring the total number of people in custody in connection with the 10 blasts which killed 190 people to 18. Spanish radio reports said the arrests, announced early Thursday evening, of a trio of North Africans followed a series of police searches in and around Madrid. Judicial officials close to the enquiry said that the three had appeared before duty judge Ismael Moreno, who had passed their dossier on to examining judge Juan Del Olmo.

■ Italy

Trash burying towns

The streets of Naples and other towns around Italy's third largest city are literally buried in trash, with thousands of tonnes of refuse piled up due to a lack of space at reprocessing centers. Angry residents of the town of Bagnoli on Thursday erected blockades in an effort to keep municipal authorities from reconverting local warehouses to temporary trash depots. In the town of Aversa, some 1,300 to 1,400 tonnes of trash cover the street. Schools and open-air markets have also been shut in several towns. Thirty mayors and local councillors have urged the health ministry to act to ease the situation, which is blamed on delays in the completion of two waste reprocessing centers.

■ United States

Simmons slaps taunter

Flamboyant fitness guru Richard Simmons may

soon be doing his exercise routines in a prison yard after being slapped with a misdemeanour assault charge for slapping a fellow traveler who poked fun at his exercise videos. Police said the curly-topped fitness trainer slapped the man in the face as they were both waiting in line at Phoenix International Airport. "[The man] apparently said `Hey everybody, it's Richard Simmons, let's drop our bags and rock to the 50s,'" Sergeant Lauri Williams said. "Mr. Simmons took offense and said he had to `bitch slap' him." According to the Web site AZCentral, the victim was a martial-arts wrestler weighing over 100kg.

■ United States

Buckle up, Fido

Dogs will be forced to fasten their safety belts in addition to their collars if traveling by car in the New Mexico city of Santa Fe, if officials get their way. Under a proposed new law, dogs will be required to buckle up along with their masters when riding in vehicles to protect themselves and other people when gadding about the city. Councilor Carol Robertson Lopez said the intention of the change to the animal-control ordinance was to stop dogs from being injured as well as to stop them from lunging at people walking nearby.

■ Spain

Maria stays a sailor

A transsexual Spanish sailor said on Thursday he would be allowed to stay in the Navy as a woman after a medical report said this did not interfere with his duties. Officers at the Rota naval base in southern Spain had opened a case against Seaman Jose Antonio Gordo Pantoja, a nine-year Navy veteran, last year. According to Gordo Pantoja, now known as Maria del Mar, literally "Mary of the Sea," the case is a first in Spain. The sailor's contract expired last month but was extended until a decision was made on the case. Gordo Pantoja said he was waiting to renew his contract and be assigned a base.

■ Israel

Army uses tiny spy drones

The Israeli military is equipping its forces with

a new range of spy drones small enough to fit in a soldier's backpack, including one that weighs less than a can of soda, the army said on Thursday. The Israeli air force has frequently used larger unmanned spy planes to track and target Palestinian militants during airstrikes. The new mini-drones would also give army forces in the field on-the-spot access to aerial intelligence. The small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the futuristic looking micro-UAVs were displayed on Thursday at an army conference. The new baby drones have already been supplied to some ground units.

■ Israel

Hundreds flock to see lamb

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered to see a lamb born with what looked like "Allah" spelled out in Arabic on its coat. Onlookers in the West Bank town of Hebron said Wednesday the real significance was the fact the animal was born on Monday -- the day Israel assassinated Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin. "This is clear evidence of God's existence," the lamb's owner Yahya Atrash told reporters. "It was born with the words `Allah' on one side and `Mohammed' on the other." Palestinians said the Arabic letters of the name of God could be made out on the lamb's left flank, but it was harder to see the name of the Prophet Mohammed.