World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Sat, Sep 03, 2005 - Page 7

■ China
Talim wreaks havoc

Landslides caused by Typhoon Talim's heavy rains killed nine people and left 15 missing in eastern China, state media reported yesterday. Damaged roads were hampering rescue efforts in mountainous Shixiang township, five-hours from the coastal city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province, the Xinhua news agency said.

■ China

"Murderer" compensated

A Chinese man who spent 11 years in prison for a murder that didn't happen has received 460,000 yuan (US$57,000) in compensation, a government newspaper said yesterday. She Xianglin was convicted of killing his wife, who disappeared in 1994. He was released April 1 after she reappeared and said she had left their home in the central province of Hubei to marry another man. She's case prompted rare discussion in China's state press of police misconduct after he said he was tortured into confessing. An officer who She said took part in the torture hanged himself in May after authorities launched an investigation.

■ Cambodia

US assists war crimes fund

The US has established a US$2 million fund to assist a Cambodian group researching crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge government in the late 1970s, the US Embassy said yesterday. The fund will provide annual funding for the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which also tries to raise awareness about Khmer Rouge atrocities, embassy official Mark Storella said in a statement. The radical communist policies of the Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia from 1975-79, led to 1.7 million deaths.

■ Singapores
I'll kill for durians'

A 50-year-old Singaporean man has been jailed three months for hitting and threatening to kill his wife when she could not find durians to satisfy his sudden craving, the Straits Times reported yesterday. Oh Boon Leng admitted in a district court Thursday that he struck his wife's face and warned she would not stay alive beyond that night when she came home empty-handed after a fruitless search. The incident happened in July. Durians are native to Southeast Asia and the fruits, which have a spiky husk, are savored for their pungent, creamy flesh, but people unused to them find the smell repulsive and they are banned in airlines.

■ CAMBODIA

Hunter caught, jailed

A Cambodian court sentenced the country's most wanted wildlife hunter to seven years in jail on Friday for tracking and killing more than 600 animals, including tigers and elephants, since 2001, officials said. According to US-based conservation group WildAid, 58-year-old Yor Ngun had killed over 500 banteng -- a species of endangered wild cattle -- 19 tigers, 40 leopards, 30 elephants, 40 sun bears and three Asiatic bears across 10 provinces. "Even though he is too old to be in jail, he deserves it for what he did," judge Sim Soung told Reuters by phone from the southern coastal province of Koh Kong.

■ Japan

Gondola porn scene decried

Five people have been questioned for allegedly shooting footage for a pornographic film inside a cable car at the World Exposition, a showcase of technology underway in Japan, police said yesterday. The five suspects, who include an actress, could get up to 30 days in jail or a fine of up to ?10,000 (US$91) for indecent exposure, police said. "An actress exposed her upper body and an actor touched it inside a gondola in the one-minute scene," said a police spokesman in central Aichi Prefecture, where the 21st century's first World Exposition is taking place. The Jiji Press news agency said the crew had intended to film a scene of sexual intercourse on the ground at the Expo but abandoned the plan because the site swarmed with visitors.

■ Australia

`Dr Death' inquiry closes

An inquiry into an Australian hospital's director of surgery, dubbed "Dr Death" by staff after he was linked to 87 patient deaths, was shut down yesterday after a court ruled the inquiry chief was biased. The A$6 million (US$4.5 million) inquiry, called to examine problems in the health system in Australia's tropical Queensland state, had four witnesses and 10 days left to run. Its interim report in May said Dr Jayant Patel, linked to 87 deaths in northern Queensland, should face murder and fraud charges.

■ Military
Guard troops due soon

The US military expects to put 30,000 National Guard troops on duty in the Gulf states as demands grow for more security and relief assistance, the commander-in-charge of military relief and rescue efforts said on Thursday. About 24,000 of those will be on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi in the next three days, Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore said. He also ordered the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan from the Louisiana coast to waters off Biloxi, Mississippi, to assist with hurricane relief operations there.

■ Disaster relief

Clinton, Bush Snr. team up

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are to lead the fundraising campaign for Hurricane Katrina's huge humanitarian effort, reprising a role they played with some success after the Asian tsunami. Americans responded generously to the disaster appeals made by the pair, whose political rivalries dissolved into an unlikely but genuine friendship. By asking the two to team up once more, the White House hopes for a similar reaction and donations of hundreds of millions of dollars. More than US$82 million has been raised so far, according to the Washington-based Chronicle of Philanthropy, which monitors charitable giving.

■ Internet

Web site becomes aid site

When Katrina Blankenship of Powhatan, Virginia, started getting phone calls about the projected path of Hurricane Katrina, she wasn't quite sure why. But it was her Web site, Katrina.com, that got people's attention. So Blankenship converted her personal Web design and computer consulting site into a one-stop shop for all things related to helping out the hurricane-ravaged South. Since Sunday, the Web site has received about 350,000 hits from places all over the world. Blankenship has compiled links to other sites that provide shelter information and victim assistance and developed a forum for people to offer help and to search for missing people.

■ Celebrities

Fats Domino rescued

Rock 'n' roll pioneer Fats Domino has been rescued from the floodwaters of his New Orleans hometown, allaying fears that he may have perished in the grim aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The 77-year-old musician, who had told friends that he planned to ride out the storm, was rescued on Monday night, agencies said. AP quoted his daughter, Karen Domino White, who lives in New Jersey and identified her father from a newspaper photograph showing a man being helped out of a boat by authorities.

■ Gas prices

Complaints over gouging

Soaring gasoline costs prompted thousands of complaints to federal officials about alleged price gouging and demands by some members of Congress for an investigation into gasoline markets. The Energy Department on Thursday reported more than 5,000 calls to its price-gouging hotline from motorists, although officials emphasized there was no way to immediately determine how many of the allegations were valid. There were isolated cases of unusually huge price jumps. A gas station in Georgia charged US$6 a gallon (US$1.60 a liter) when competitors ran out of gas.

■ United Kingdom
Pugwash's Rotblat dies

Nobel Peace Prize winner Joseph Rotblat, a physicist who campaigned against nuclear arms, died in his sleep in London on Wednesday, his spokesman said on Thursday. He was 96. Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the group he founded to help rid the world of atomic arms, received the Nobel in 1995. The Nobel committee said Rotblat and his group were honored for their efforts to "diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms" and to get scientists to "take responsibility for their inventions."

■ Senegal

Cholera killing hundreds

A cholera epidemic spreading across West Africa has sickened tens of thousands of people this year and killed nearly 500 amid a long-term deterioration in health conditions, the UN said on Thursday. Cholera has stricken 31,259 people in nine countries since June and 488 are reported dead in what the UN said was an "unusually high incidence" of the disease. Year-ago figures weren't provided. "It's not business as usual. We have a crisis that needs immediate attention," Herve Ludovic de Lys, head of coordination of the UN's humanitarian efforts in the region, told reporters. "This crisis needs a rapid response."

■ South Africa

Toilet break proves deadly

Nineteen Zimbabweans died yesterday when their overcrowded minibus plunged over a cliff into a dry river bed after the driver got out to urinate, police said. "The driver [said] that he parked the vehicle to relieve himself. When he was outside the taxi it began to roll," said a police officer from the northern Limpopo province, which borders Zimbabwe. He said it was not clear how the vehicle had begun moving, but brake failure was a possibility. The 16-seater minibus taxi was carrying 26 passengers at the time, all Zimbabwean nationals, the officer said, adding that the driver may face charges of culpable homicide.

■ United States

Russian UN official arrested

A Russian UN official who works with the General Assembly's budget committee was arrested by the FBI on money-laundering charges, a federal official said. Vadim Kouznetsov, who was taken into custody on Thursday, is the second Russian UN official to be arrested for money laundering by the FBI in the past month. He was to be arraigned in Manhattan Federal Court yesterday. Alexander Yakovlev, who was arrested on Aug. 8, has pleaded guilty to money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in part for soliciting bribes from contractors, but has not yet been sentenced.

■ Ukraine

Newborn babies missing

A Council of Europe envoy dispatched to Ukraine to investigate allegations of baby trafficking said she found evidence that newborns had disappeared from hospitals, the Kommersant newspaper reported yesterday. "I didn't know whether the rumors about missing children were true," Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold was quoted as saying. "But it turns out it all corresponds to reality and children really have disappeared." She said she couldn't say how many babies might have disappeared. Ukrainian activists believe the newborns might have been sold to medical institutes who harvested their organs, and say the number of newborns who disappeared from the hospital between 2001 to 2003 could be in the hundreds.