World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Thu, Feb 16, 2006 - Page 7

■ Singapore
Man killed in rare shooting

A manhunt was underway in Singapore yesterday after a rare shooting murder in the city-state, which has a reputation as one of the safest places in Asia. The gunman, who appeared to be blind in one eye, entered the victim's apartment just before 7am yesterday, tied up his wife, teenage daughter and maid, then opened fire, a police statement said. It described the deceased as a 41-year-old businessman. Other members of the household were unhurt, but the house was ransacked.

■ China

More relics under threat

China's oldest and most prestigious university has stirred controversy with plans to demolish historic housing to make way for modern educational facilities, state media reported yesterday. Hundreds of centuries-old courtyard homes on the campus of Peking University would be bulldozed in the biggest renovation project in the institute's history and replaced by a new mathematics research center, the China Daily said.

■ Hong Kong

SARS victims file suit

Fourteen people are suing Hong Kong's Hospital Authority and a supermarket for failing to protect them from contracting SARS during an outbreak three years ago, according to court documents seen yesterday. Twelve health workers and a patient accused the authority of negligence for not taking steps to prevent them from contracting SARS during the 2003 outbreak, the documents said. The other plaintiff is suing the supermarket where she worked in an apartment complex hit hard by SARS, according to the documents, filed on Tuesday at Hong Kong's High Court.

■ Japan
Killer snow claims student

Heavy snow slid off the roof of a school building, killing a student in northern Japan yesterday, police said. The accident occurred in the city of Ebetsu on the northern island of Hokkaido, police said. The 23-year-old veterinary student went missing after midnight and his body was pulled from the snow early yesterday morning. Police officials said they were unaware of other people who might be trapped under the snow, but Kyodo News reported that three other students were missing. A team of rescuers searched around the building yesterday, but found no one else trapped, local fire officials said.

■ India

Cobras lay siege to hospital

Cobras and other fierce snakes have taken over a hospital in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state, scaring away doctors and medical staff, a news report said yesterday. Officials from the state health department who carried out an inspection at the Community Health Center in eastern Siddharthnagar district were shocked to find deadly snakes in the deserted outpatient department and operation theater instead of staff. The officials found that hardly any patients visited the hospital because it is in a remote location, the Hindustan Times reported. A senior health official said that people from the nearest town, Baunsi, need to trek kilometers to reach the hospital.

■ Australia

Mint worker cashes out

A man who raised a shopkeeper's suspicions by paying for goods with piles of shiny new A$2 coins turned out to be an employee of the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra. Police charged the 48-year-old man on Tuesday with stealing A$6,000 from his workplace. They allege he had been spiriting coins out of the mint by hiding them in his boots and lunchbox at a rate of around 250 a week.

■ Indonesia

New hotline also flooded

An SMS hotline created by Indonesia's president to keep tabs on complaints about the government has been inundated with almost 2 million messages, a report said yesterday. As part of his corruption-busting campaign, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono created the hotline last year after a personal cellphone number he gave out to the public was overwhelmed with complaints. Sardan Marbun, a presidential assistant, said 1.92 million messages had been received since June, in addition to more than 15,500 letters, the Jakarta Post reported. Of those complaints, on everything from tardy law enforcement to illegal logging, only about 1,000 have actually been forwarded to concerned agencies as they had sufficient detail to follow up, Marbun said.

■ Australia

School of the Air upgraded

Schoolchildren in the outback saw the teachers that they listen to for the first time yesterday when the iconic School of the Air shut down its radio transmitters and switched to a satellite-based system that beams lessons in broadband to desktop computers in 300 remote sheep farms. The world-renowned School of the Air has been going for almost 50 years in the remote north of New South Wales. It caters to children aged five to 10 who are hundreds of kilometers from the nearest school and have to study at home. "This is all about breaking the tyranny of distance," New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma said when cranking up the new system.

■ Zimbabwe
Love marchers arrested

Police arrested at least 60 women who took part in a march on Tuesday with a Valentine's Day theme calling for love and harmony and protesting food shortages and alleged human-rights violations, their lawyers said. The demonstrators distributed red roses and Valentine's Day cards in downtown Harare, according to Lawyers for Human Rights. The women, belonging to a group known as Women of Zimbabwe Arise, were taken on trucks to the main Harare police station. In both protests the marchers demanded "bread and roses" to protest acute food shortages and alleged human-rights violations by authorities.

■ United Kingdom

Larger men still not happy

Researchers said on Tuesday that most men who have had penis enlargement surgery are not satisfied with the results. "For patients with psychological concern about the size of the penis -- particularly if it is normal size -- there is little point in offering them surgery because it makes no difference," said Nim Christopher, a urologist at St. Peter's Andrology Center in London. Christopher and his colleagues, who questioned 42 men who had the surgery, found the dissatisfaction rate was very high. Often the men requested another surgical procedure. "The average increase in length is 1.3cm, which isn't very much and the dissatisfaction rate was in excess of 70 percent," Christopher said.

■ Iraq

Booze bomber kills three

A homemade bomb exploded near a Baghdad liquor shop yesterday, killing three people and wounding two, while two policemen were killed in a drive-by shooting, police said. Lieutenant Ali Mittab said the blast completely destroyed the liquor shop situated in central Baghdad's bustling Fadel area and damaged several other shops. Mittab said the three people killed and two wounded were passers-by. The motive for the attack is unclear, but stores selling alcohol have been targeted before by religious extremists.

■ United Kingdom

Smoking ban passed

Smoking is to be banned in virtually all public places including restaurants, pubs and clubs after a landmark parliamentary vote passed by a significant majority, reports said yesterday. The "historic" ban, expected to come into force in 2007, will mean that "a further 600,000 people will give up smoking and millions more will be protected from passive smoking," said Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt following the vote. Some 384 parliamentarians, among them Prime Minister Tony Blair, voted for the total smoking ban, blasted by opponents as "draconian."

■ Israel

Dalai Lama visit angers PRC

China is "furious" at Israel for not preventing a visit by the Dalai Lama, Israel Radio reported yesterday. The radio quoted the Chinese consul in Tel Aviv, Lu Chin, as telling the station that the Chinese government had asked Israel to prevent the visit. He said Israeli officials had promised China that no state meetings with the exiled Tibetan ruler would be scheduled. China appreciated this, but it was "not enough," Chin said. The Dalai Lama was due to arrive in Israel yesterday and address symposiums at Tel Aviv University and the Ben Gurion University in the southern desert city of Beersheba.

■ Venezuela
US missionaries must go

Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal on Tuesday rejected a request by US missionaries to remain in remote Indian communities while awaiting the outcome of an appeal against an order for them to leave the areas. Last November, Venezuela's Interior Ministry gave the New Tribes Mission three months to leave areas where it has been working with indigenous communities after President Hugo Chavez accused the group of destroying Indians cultures and conducting reconnaissance for the CIA. The New Tribes Mission, based in Sanford, Florida, has appealed the government expulsion order, but the Supreme Tribunal has yet to rule on the appeal.

■ Canada

Students opt for virtual sex

Call it a sexual revolution of the virtual kind -- young Canadians are practicing a new style of safe sex and the only touching required involves a keyboard. Of more than 2,500 university and college students polled across the country, 87 percent of them are having sex over instant messenger, Web cams or the telephone, according to results of a national survey released on Monday. "We were very surprised," Noah Gurza, a founder of Toronto-based CampusKiss.com, an online dating community for students, which commissioned a Canadian CampusKiss & Tell Survey.

■ United States

Unit suspected terrorist

Pre-Sept. 11 intelligence conducted by a secret military unit identified terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta 13 different times, a US congressman said. During a Capitol Hill news conference on Tuesday, Representative Curt Weldon, a Republican, said the unit -- code-named "Able Danger" -- also identified ``a problem'' in Yemen two weeks before the attack on the USS Cole. It knew the problem was tied into the port of Aden and involved a US platform, but the ship commander was not made aware of it, Weldon said.

■ United States

Pets enjoy birthday parties

They already have their own designer clothes, health insurance and therapists. Now more and more US pets are enjoying their own birthday parties. A surprising number of pet owners host parties -- complete with party hats, cake and guests -- for their dogs, cats and birds, according to a survey released on Monday by California-based Veterinary Pet Insurance. The firm reported that 58 percent of its policyholders who responded said they had hosted birthday bashes for their pets. Three Dog Bakery, a specialty store in upscale Newport Beach, California, gets about 20 requests a week for pet birthday cakes.

■ United States

Sheep sodomy appeal

A Michigan man who pleaded no contest to a sodomy charge involving a sheep says he should not be registered as a sex offender. Jeffrey Haynes, 42, said the state registry is intended to keep track of people who have committed crimes against humans. "The prosecutor is being real hard on me for what I did," Haynes said. "But I should not be treated as a child molester." Police said Haynes had sex with a sheep at a Bedford Township farm on Jan. 26 last year. The animal's owner caught him on the property and the sheep was found injured. Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Conrad Sindt told Haynes at his sentencing hearing on Monday that once he is released from prison, he must register with the Michigan State Police Public Sex Offender Registry.