World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Thu, Nov 17, 2005 - Page 7

■ China
`Anger' room set up

A Chinese university has set up a special "anger management" room for students to let off steam, apparently to avoid students taking to the streets in protest or taking their own lives. Southwest Jiaotong University, in Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province, has fitted a room out with sandbags lining the walls waiting to be pummelled by students venting their frustrations, the China Daily said yesterday. "Students have flocked to the room since it opened eight days ago and hundreds more have booked in, presumably in anticipation of upcoming bouts of fury," the newspaper said.

■ China

Criminal cards created

Authorities in central China have an ace up their sleeves -- playing cards featuring photos of fugitives. Police in Xinyang, a city in Henan province, have produced a half million packs of cards with the pictures of "notorious suspects" on aces, kings, queens and jacks in an effort to capture the criminals. The cards are being distributed at railway stations in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

■ Australia

Hoax caller charged

A truck driver appeared in court yesterday charged with making a string of hoax bomb threats that forced police to evacuate the public transport system in Brisbane, one of Australia's largest cities. Rodney Bruce Watson, 46, did not enter a plea in Magistrates Court to four charges of making hoax calls from four public phone booths. The east coast city's buses and trains were twice halted on Monday following bomb threats, plunging the transport network into chaos. Watson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment if convicted. His lawyer, Neil Lawler, said outside court that Watson would fight the charges and had not been near a telephone booth in years.

■ Australia

Glowing meat causes stir

An Australian food agency sought yesterday to quell fears about glow-in-the-dark meats after a man called a Sydney radio station alarmed about his luminous pork chops. The New South Wales state Food Authority said the phenomenon was caused by a harmless light-emitting bacteria, pseudomonas fluorescens, that is naturally present in most meats and fish. "While most of us would understandably be shocked to see our food glowing, it is important to remember that the microorganism responsible for the glow is not known to cause food poisoning," the authority's director general, George Davey, said in a statement. The Food Authority receives around two phone calls each month from nervous consumers who have discovered glowing meats in their refrigerators.

■ Thailand

Militants raid village

Militants staged a night raid on a village in Thailand's restive Muslim-majority south, killing nine members of one family including an eight-month-old baby, authorities said yesterday. The mother and father, and their seven daughters, aged up to 20 years, were shot dead overnight in Gra Thong in the southern province of Narathiwat, police said. Another nine people, from two other families, were wounded. Residents blamed the killings on security forces and initially barred police and army officials from entering the village, army spokesman Acra Tiprote said. But he added that the army was not responsible.

■ United States
Woman to wed her shooter

A woman said she still plans to marry the man who shot her in the groin and then held her hostage in his family's garage for six days. Tina Marie Stebbins revealed her intentions in a letter released on Monday as her boyfriend, Christian Leroy Lindblad, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting her in June 2002, the Press-Enterprise newspaper of South California reported on Tuesday. "I love Christian today as deeply as I loved him before this awful thing happened to us," Stebbins wrote in a victim impact statement. "We are soul mates."

■ Italy

Four held for coin-scooping

Italian police arrested four street cleaners Monday as they tried to pocket hundreds of euros scooped from Rome's famed Fountain of Trevi. Each day, thousands of tourists stand with their backs to the Renaissance masterpiece and throw coins over their shoulders into its shallow basin in a tradition which is supposed to ensure they return to Rome. The money, which adds up to several hundred euros a day or more, is regularly swept out by a cleaning firm with half of the proceeds handed over to Roman Catholic charity Caritas.

■ United States

Phone-bandit suspect caught

The FBI on Tuesday arrested a 19-year-old woman suspected of robbing four Virginia banks while apparently talking on her mobile phone, local media said. Candice Martinez was captured at 3:40am in Centreville, Virginia, after an FBI agent spotted a car linked to the Washington-area robberies, FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weirman told a CBS television affiliate. The woman who robbed the banks was filmed by security cameras casually walking up to the teller and handing over a note while holding a cellphone to her ear the whole time. Weirman said authorities were flooded with tips after the robber's face was broadcast across the nation.

■ Senegal

Former Chad leader arrested

Chad's former president Hissene Habre was arrested and taken into custody yesterday in Senegal, under an international warrant issued in Belgium over mass killings and torture when he was in power, the justice minister and lawyers said. Habre, who is accused of atrocities committed by his 1982-1990 regime and has lived in exile in Senegal since 1990, "was arrested this morning," Demba Cire Bathily, a spokesman for the Senegalese Coalition for the Extradition of Hissene Habre to Belgium, told reporters. The former warlord turned head of state in the northern central African country appeared before the Court of Appeal in Dakar, which is set to rule on whether extradition to Belgium is possible.

■ Italy

Abortions to be discouraged

The government is considering putting pro-life activists into state-funded abortion advice centers to discourage women from terminations. The move follows a dispute over the growing use in Italy of the abortion pill, Mifepristone. Health minister, Francesco Storace said he was planning a shake-up of the advice centers to make sure they included Roman Catholic volunteers. He said the 1978 law was "not just to legalize abortion but to prevent it." Pro-choice campaigners have been fearing an assault on abortion legislation since a majority of MPs brought in a law that gave embryos full rights.