World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 7

■ PhilippinesReporters in shootout

Unknown gunmen opened fire on three journalists in the central Philippines in the latest attack on the media in the Philippines, police said yesterday. The journalists from Bantay Radyo (Guardian Radio) returned fire after the attack on Thursday in the city of Cebu which happened as they were about to get into their vehicle, a police report said. Nobody was hurt in the incident. Police gave no motive for the attack which came after provincial newspaper and radio journalist Arnel Manalo was shot dead in Batangas province, just south of Manila.

■ China

Thousands flee mall fire

A fire that began in a food stall forced some 2,000 people to flee a Chinese shopping mall yesterday but caused no deaths or injuries, local officials and a news report said. The fire was reported shortly after 10am at the Big Capital Shopping Mall in the southwestern city of Chongqing and the mall was ordered evacuated, an official of its management office said. He would give only his surname, Zhou. The fire started in the kitchen of a food stall on the mall's seventh floor, Zhou said. He said the top two floors of the eight-story building are filled with food vendors, while shops occupy the rest.

■ India

Rapist must pay for child

An Indian court has ordered a father of six to pay US$1,080 to the child born as a result of his raping an 18-year-old girl in 1996, it was reported yesterday. The sessions court in New Delhi found Mohammad Rashid, 38, guilty of raping the girl on Nov. 15, 1996, and sentenced him to two years imprisonment, the Times of India newspaper reported. The rape victim died immediately after giving birth to the child. A DNA test had proved that Rashid was the biological father of the boy, who is now eight, and lives with his maternal grandmother.

■ China

Doctors groom hairiest man

The world's "hairiest man" was recovering at a Shanghai hospital yesterday after undergoing an operation to remove hair that had impaired his hearing, a hospital official and state media said. Yu Zhenhuan, a 26-year-old Chinese singer, had lost one-third of his hearing due to excess hair inside his ears and had suffered from constant headaches, the Xinhua news agency reported. He underwent a four-hour operation at a Shanghai hospital Friday where doctors cut skin from his ears, removed the hair and follicles to prevent the hair from growing back and then reattached the skin to his ears. Yu was listed in 2002 as the world's hairiest man by the Guinness Book of Records. Ninety-six percent of hiss body is covered with hair, except for his palms and the soles of his feet, Xinhua said.

■ Indonesia

Timor convictions overturned

An Indonesian appeals court has overturned the convictions of three army officers and one policeman for crimes against humanity during violence in 1999 over East Timor's independence that left some 1,500 people dead. The court has also reduced to 5 years from 10 years the prison sentence of Eurico Guterres, who led paramilitary gangs recruited by the Indonesian army to suppress East Timor's independence movement. The decisions, delivered two weeks ago but only released on Friday, may mark the end of legal processes against 18 people in all -- 16 security officers and 2 civilians -- indicted by an Indonesian human rights tribunal on East Timor.

■ SpainDoctors part glued lovers

Doctors in Madrid succeeded on Friday in separating a German prisoner from his fiancee after he stuck their hands together with car glue in a bid to avoid extradition, officials said. Uwe Dieter Krone, 39, applied a product normally used to glue car products together to his hand, and took advantage of a visit by his girlfriend to his jail to stick their hands together. The couple were stuck together for almost 48 hours in a Madrid hospital before doctors separated them by dissolving the glue. Krone was arrested in April on a German warrant for pimping charges.

■ Germany

Language reform dropped

Major newspapers and a leading newsweekly said they are abandoning a 6-year-old language reform and returning to the old way of writing, reviving a fierce debate about new rules meant to make German easier. The changes break up some notoriously long words, eliminate excessive commas, change spellings and cut back on the German letter for a double s, which resembles a capital B. Though taught in schools, they have remained highly disputed. Top newspaper company Axel Springer and the newsweekly Der Spiegel said Friday they will return to the old style immediately.

■ United Kingdom

Airport worker sentenced

A baggage handler at London's Heathrow airport who was at the center of a cocaine smuggling ring was jailed on Friday for 19 years. "What you did was extremely serious because you were prepared to commit the most appalling breach of trust," a judge said, sentencing Kamaljit Bassi in Guildford. Bassi, 40, was the "key inside man" in a plot to smuggle 9kg of drugs into Britain using two travellers on flights from South America who did not know what they were carrying. Cocaine disguised as chocolate bars had been placed in a woman's suitcase, while gift-wrapped packages containing drugs had been placed in a man's baggage. Bassi sneaked the items out of the bags before they reached their owners.

■ Netherlands

Toe-licking ban proposed

The Dutch Labor party wants to pass a law making unsolicited toe-licking an offense after police were unable to prosecute an assailant with a taste for female toes because he had committed no crime. A police spokesman said on Friday a man had been detained after women sunning themselves in Rotterdam said he snuck up on them and began to lick their toes. "Licking a stranger's toes is rather unusual but there is really nothing criminal about it," the spokesman said. Dutch press reports said the man, who is about 35, had been licking strangers' toes for about three years. Peter van Heemst, a Labor member of parliament, demanded the practice be prohibited.

■ United Kingdom

Iraq cleric seeks treatment

Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, traveled to Britain on Friday for treatment for a heart condition, a spokes-man said. Al-Sistani's main London representative, Sayyid Murtadha al-Kashmiri, didn't say which clinic would treat the cleric. Al-Sistani flew into Heath-row on a scheduled Middle East Airlines flight from Beirut, Lebanon, where he arrived earlier Friday on a chartered jet from Iraq. Al-Sistani, 73, carries great political weight in Iraq as the top religious figure among the country's Shiite Muslim majority.

■ Unites StatesMultiple slaying in Florida

The bodies of four men, two women and a dog were found Friday in a central Florida home and were the victims of violent deaths, the local sheriff's office said. "We've never seen anything like this," Volusia Countyson did not release the cause of the deaths in Deltona, Florida, about 40km north of Orlando, but said the killings did not appear to be random and the perpetrator probably knew the victims and was at large. The victims, ranging in age from their late teens to mid-30s, did not appear to be related but were co-workers at a fast-food restaurant. The bodies were discovered when one of the victims did not show up for work early Friday, a co-worker sent someone to the house and that man discovered the bodies, the Sheriff's Office said.

■ United States

Court nixes jailcam feed

A federal appeals panel upheld a lower court's decision to stop cameras from transmitting live video of inmates at an Arizona jail to the Internet. One of the judges from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the practice at "constitutes a level of humiliation that almost anyone would regard as profoundly undesirable." The ruling came on an appeal by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who challenged a US District Court judge's decision to stop the cameras. Twenty-four former inmates at Phoenix's Madison Street Jail -- which exclusively holds people awaiting trial -- filed the lawsuit in May 2001 against Arpaio and Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix area. The inmates said the use of the jail cameras amounted to unconstitutional punishment of people who had not been convicted of a crime.

■ United States

Dolphins beached again

More than 30 dolphins have beached themselves in southeastern Florida after being pushed back to sea by dozens of beachgoers at an earlier stranding site. The 34 roughtooth dolphins swam about 6.5km north of where they originally stranded, then returned to the shore Friday, said Steve McCulloch, executive director of the Division of Marine Mammal Research and Conservation at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce. Veterinarians and rescuers on the scene planned to try to rehabilitate some of the animals, but were expecting to have to euthanize others, he said. Roughtooth dolphins, found in tropical and temperate seas around the world, usually stay far offshore. When the animals first stranded Friday, workers from Harbor Branch and Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center and volunteers covered the dolphins with towels, keeping them wet while working to get them back in the water.

■ United States

Disney employee returns

A Walt Disney World employee acquitted of charges he fondled a 13-year-old girl while dressed as Tigger can return to work, company officials said Friday. Michael Chartrand had been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest. A jury found him not guilty of lewd and lascivious molestation earlier this week. Chartrand, who has worked at Disney for less than a year, was reinstated after meeting with Disney entertainment officials Friday, said Donna-Lynne Dalton, an official of the union that represents the park's costumed workers. Chartrand, 36, was accused of fondling the girl while posing for a photo with her and her mother. The acquittal followed a three-day trial in which Chartrand's defense attorney donned a Tigger costume in an effort to show jurors how difficult it is to maneuver and see in the outfit.