World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 7

■ China

Powder seller convicted

A shopkeeper in eastern China has been jailed for eight years for selling fake baby milk powder in a scandal in which at least

13 babies died, state media reported Wednesday. Chen

Yi was sentenced by the Yingdong district court

of Fuyang city in Anhui province for selling more than 20 bags of fake milk powder to a farmer,

whose grandson died from malnutrition after being

fed the substandard formula. The case was part of a

major scandal in Fuyang city earlier this year in which

at least 13 babies died and

189 were sickened from malnutrition after drinking the fake formula. Xinhua said 20 people involved

in the scandal, which sent shock waves across China, have been convicted so far.

■ China

Fine for copycat novelist

A young Chinese author, whose love stories are adored by teenagers, and

his publisher have been

ordered to pay 200,000 yuan (US$24,170) for plagiarizing another book, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Guo Jingming, 21, and the Chunfeng Literature and Art Publishing House, had to stop publishing Falling Blossoms in a Romantic Dream, a story of entangled love between youngsters, because of breach of copyright. Author Zhuang Yu, 25, filed a suit last December, seeking compensation of 500,000 yuan after reading Guo's 2002 bestseller which went on to sell more than 1 million copies.

■ Hong Kong

Police busted over brothel

Four police officers and a former customs official have been convicted for running

a brothel and recruiting prostitutes. The five, ranging in age from 34 to 44, are

due to be sentenced in Hong Kong's District Court on Saturday, the territory's

anti-graft agency said in a statement seen yesterday. The five were convicted on Tuesday. One of the police officers set up the brothel

in February last year, before two of the other officers joined. The remaining policeman and the ex-custom official were involved in recruiting prostitutes, the statement said. One of the policeman didn't show up for the verdict and the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

■ Malaysia

Postman hoards mail

A disgruntled former postman, who had been

on the run for the past four months, has been arrested for failing to deliver 21,255 letters, newspapers said yesterday. The 27-year-old man told police he was upset with his meager salary and believed he was sending a message to the authorities

by hoarding the letters, the

New Straits Times reported. "Why should I deliver the letters when I am being

paid less than 500 ringgit (US$132)?" he said. The man had been sacked in March for failing to turn up for work.

■ Pakistan

Nuke-capable missile tested

Pakistan test-fired a short-range, nuclear-capable missile yesterday, the second in just over a week despite

a thaw in relations with neighboring India, military officials said. The launch of the Shaheen missile, with a range of 700km, came nine days after Pakistan test-fired a Ghaznavi missile, another short-range, nuclear-capable missile. At the time, officials said they would carry out more tests in the coming days. India tested a missile the following day, in the latest round of tit-for-tat launches by the rivals.

■ Austria

Grocer touts Botox bargains

Besides cheap food, discount grocery chain Plus' ad this week offers bargain Botox treatments, sparking an outcry from critics who charge the campaign is unethical. A page of the Plus advertisement leaflet is devoted to the offer, which promises Botox treatments for 149 euro (US$200) instead of 250 euro (US$335) for the first 100 respondents. Customers are advised to contact Dr. Wolfgang Pirker's office. Austrian doctors can advertise their services, but the ads have to be objective and not ostentatious, and "to leave flyers in a grocery store certainly is ostentatious," said Ernst Chlan, director of the Vienna Medical Association.

■ France

Chicken gene unraveled

Scientists say they have unravelled the genetic code of the chicken. The secrets of the chicken genome could lead to super-hens -- new breeds which will lay more eggs, have more meat and be more resistant to disease. And there could be health benefits too, by helping the fight against bird flu, they hope. An international consortium took a DNA sample from the red jungle fowl (Latin name Gallus gallus), which is believed to be the wild ancestor of domestic chickens, and decrypted its code.

■ Israel

Offiicals deny peace deal

Israeli officials yesterday downplayed Egyptian reports that Israel and the Palestinians have reached agreement in principle on proposals aimed at ending their conflict. "There are no new developments regarding a ceasefire with the Palestinians," Israel Army Radio quoted officials in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office as saying. "Israel will respond to calm with calm, but we will react to any attempt to carry out attacks," the officials said. According to the Egyptian report Tuesday night by the MENA news agency, the agreement was based on "a number of tangible ideas" put forward by Egypt "which would be the basis for a comprehensive political effort to reach a final peace agreement."

■ United Kingdom

Program to be changed

The British government will announce today a fundamental review of its climate change program in an implicit admission that it is not cutting carbon emissions as fast as it had originally hoped. The issue is important to the prime minister, Tony Blair, who has made leadership on the international stage on climate change an important part of his G8 presidency next year. Blair's credentials as a green have come under attack from groups such as Greenpeace, which claim he has been making strong speeches over green issues, but failing to take the action required.

■ Netherlands

Chemical supplier arrested

A businessman wanted by the US for allegedly shipping thousands of tonnes of chemicals to Saddam Hussein has been detained by police in Holland and accused of complicity in the poison gas attacks that killed thousands of Kurds in the late 1980s. Frans van Anraat, 62, who has been sought by the Americans for a decade, was arrested in Amsterdam on Monday, officials said Tuesday and is due to appear in court in Arnhem tomorrow. A statement issued by the Dutch public prosecution service said: "According to the United Nations, the Dutchman is one of the most important middlemen in Iraq's acquisition of chemical material."

■ United States

Judge rejects gay marriage

A judge in Albany, New York, rejected the claims by 13 gay and lesbian couples that they have the right to marry under the state's Constitution. It was the second ruling in two months against plaintiffs in six separate civil suits seeking state recognition of same-sex marriage. In Tuesday's ruling, Justice Joseph Teresi ruled that the 13 couples had not been denied their rights to equal protection under the laws, due process or freedom of speech by being thwarted in their attempts to marry.

■ United States

Landlord tried to off tenants

A Queens landlord was found guilty on Tuesday of trying to plot the murder of two tenants paying US$400 a month for an apartment in his building, so that he could rent out their apartment to new tenants for at least US$1,500 a month. A jury in state Supreme Court in Queens found the landlord, Juan Basagoitia, 50, guilty of hiring two other tenants in the building to kill William Lavery, 35, and his brother, David Lavery, 40, who had lived in the three-bedroom apartment on the third floor since childhood. The brothers, who were badly injured in the attack but survived, legally assumed the lease in recent years from their father, George Lavery, who first took the apartment in 1964 at the same rent.

■ Canada

Deserter in refugee case

An American seeking to become the first US soldier granted refugee status in Canada after refusing to serve in Iraq told immigration officials Tuesday that the Army was drilling its soldiers to think of all Arabs and Muslims as potential terrorists. "We were being told that it was a new kind of war, that these were evil people and they had to be dealt with," Private First Class Jeremy Hinzman, 26, told the Immigration and Refugee Board on the second of his three-day hearing for political asylum. Hinzman, who fled from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Jan. 2, now lives in Toronto with his wife and 2-year-old son. He is arguing that the war in Iraq is illegal and fighting in it would have made him a war criminal.

■ United States

Man requests execution

A man accused of stabbing two boys to death and attacking their mother and sister pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and asked a judge to sentence him to death. "For what I did to the Marksberrys, my death is some way of redemption to them," Marco Allen Chapman said Tuesday. "My life has never been worth much, I'll give it freely to them." Attorneys said it is not known how many people have pleaded guilty to a capital offense and asked for a death sentence. They said Chapman's guilty plea and request for a death sentence are unusual, but not without precedent.

■ Canada

Saboteurs topple tower

Authorities on Tuesday sought self-styled international saboteurs who toppled a tower carrying electrical lines from Hydro-Quebec to the neighboring US city of Boston. A previously unknown group, the Initiative for Internationalist Resistance took credit for what it called an "act of sabotage" in an e-mail to local and foreign media over the weekend. The group did not manage to cut power. The damage was discovered on Thursday by a hunter near the US border. The group said the attack coincided with a visit by "the dictator in chief" to Canada, apparently alluding to US President George W. Bush's visit last week.