World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 7

■ China
Man boards with gun in bag

Police have detained a man in southwest China after he tried to board an airplane with a gun hidden in his bag, China's state press reported yesterday. Police in Dazhou City, Sichuan Province, detained the man after he tried to board a plane on Sunday bound for Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, Xinhua news agency said. The gun was concealed in the interlayer of the man's carry-on bag, it said. The incident resulted in a delay of more than an hour for the flight he intended to board.

■ China

Two held over grisly murder

Chinese police have detained a man and a woman suspected of killing a man and posting his body parts to three different cities, state media reported yesterday. On Jan. 7, staff at a logistics company in Qingdao in Shandong Province found a human torso in a box seeping blood but marked as carrying medicine, the China Daily said. Two days later, police in Beijing and Jiangyin, in Jiangsu Province, found a man's head and arms, it said. The victim was believed to be the casualty of a love triangle between a young employee of a logistics company and a prostitute. It said closed-circuit TV footage in Guangzhou showed a man and woman sending the packages.

■ China

Officials blamed for deaths

Three government officials in northern China have been sacked for lax supervision after a mine explosion killed 13 people and injured nine at the Niuxinhui Coal Mine in Shanxi Province, the China Daily said. The three officials were blamed for the blast that took place on Friday. Around 30 miners were working at the licensed pit when the explosion occurred.

■ Singapore
Sentosa Express opens

The nation yesterday opened a light rail link to Sentosa island, which will become home to a gambling and entertainment complex. The S$140 million (US$91 million) Sentosa Express takes passengers on a four-minute journey from a station at the VivoCity shopping mall on the main Singapore island, Sentosa said on its Web site. The VivoCity station connects to the city's main underground transport network. Sentosa Express has two stations on Sentosa and a third will open by 2010 when the gaming resort is completed.

■ Philippines

Tanker blast injures three

A blast shook an empty oil tanker moored in Manila as crewmen cleaned a tank yesterday, injuring at least three people, coast guard officials said. The explosion triggered a fire that was quickly put out, said Commander Charlie Rances, a coast guard operations officer. "The tanker was already empty and they were just cleaning remnants of oil so we need to find out if someone smoked or what it was that caused the explosion," Rances added. He said the tanker was on the shanty-lined Pasig River when the explosion occurred. Two of four crewmen cleaning the tank were among three people brought to a hospital, Rances said.

■ Japan

Royals recite their verses

After a year that saw the birth of a long-awaited male heir for Japan's throne, a number of the poems read at yesterday's annual imperial verse reading ceremony took their inspiration from scenes of life close to home. Princess Kiko, the wife of the emperor's second son, Prince Akishino, gave birth on Sept. 6 to Prince Hisahito. In her verse -- written based on this year's poetic theme of "moon" -- Kiko reflected on the nurses and others who watch over infants in hospitals through the night. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko wrote in their poems about scenes from their lives that almost seemed to come from the family life of a salaried worker.

■ Vanuatu

Aussie con man arrested

A convicted Australian con man wanted in two South Pacific nations has been detained by police for allegedly entering Vanuatu illegally, police said yesterday. Peter Foster, who has served fraud-related jail terms in Australia, Britain and the US, was arrested early on Sunday and was likely to be charged with immigration offenses, according to Police Superintendent Willie Ben Kalo. He faces a jail term and a hefty fine if convicted. A magistrate ordered Foster to remain in custody until his bail hearing on Thursday. Authorities in neighboring Fiji are also expected to seek the 44-year-old's extradition. He is wanted in Fiji for alleged shady deals surrounding a resort development and immigration violations.

■ India

Bathing day attracts millions

Hundreds of Hindu holy men, naked but for the ash smeared on their bodies and an occasional marigold garland, led a sea of humanity to the waters of the Ganges River yesterday to wash away their sins at the apex of a weekslong pilgrimage. By midmorning yesterday some 3 million people had immersed themselves in the waters near the north Indian city of Allahabad, said festival organizer P.N. Mishra, adding that the number was expected to top 5 million by the end of yesterday -- declared a "royal bathing day" by astrologers and the most auspicious of the 45-day long Ardh Kumbh Mela festival.

■ Germany
Anti-corruption measures

The Justice Ministry plans to propose tougher legislation to fight corruption in the wake of a series of scandals that have shaken leading businesses, including Siemens AG. Under the proposed legislation, prosecutors would be able investigate and charge not only Germans but other Europeans who are involved in bribe-taking in the country, the Justice Ministry said, confirming a report in Sunday's edition of Der Spiegel weekly. The ministry said it is still working on finalizing the legislation and expects to bring it before the government in the first part of this year.

■ Diplomacy

France sought union

France's government proposed forming a union with Britain in 1956, and also discussed joining the Commonwealth, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) reported yesterday. Citing documents in the National Archives, the BBC said then French prime minister Guy Mollet discussed the possibility of a merger between both countries with then British prime minister Sir Anthony Eden. That discussion came on Sept. 10, 1956 when Mollet visited London, but Eden rejected the idea of a union, the BBC said. At the time, France was smarting over the loss of the Suez Canal and by Egyptian support for separatists in Algeria, and was trying very hard to get British assistance in responding, the BBC reported.

■ United Kingdom

Government reviews files

The government said on Sunday it was ordering a review of all criminal databases after acknowledging that files on hundreds of criminals were not entered into police computers. The government insists the gaffe did not lead to any violent or sexual offenders being cleared to work with vulnerable people, such as children. But a British Sunday newspaper reported that at least one violent offender convicted abroad had committed murder on his return to Britain. A Home Office spokesman said Home Secretary John Reid, the country's top law-and-order official, was writing to Cabinet colleagues to get agreement for a review of British criminal databases and the way information was shared between them.

■ Sweden

Storm wreaks havoc

Falling trees killed at least three people as hurricane-strength winds whipped across the southwest on Sunday, leaving more than 260,000 households without power. Winds of up to 137kph also caused major disruptions in train and boat traffic across Scandinavia, and police in Norway and Sweden urged people to stay indoors to avoid what was described as the biggest storm in two years. Police said a nine-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree in Motala, about 250km southwest of Stockholm. A 60-year-old man in the city of Jonkoping and a 25-year-old man in Ullared, near the southwestern coast, also died when their vehicles were struck by trees.

■ Vatican

Pope speaks on immigration

Pope Benedict XVI, insisting immigration should be viewed as a resource and not just a problem, on Sunday urged immigrants to respect the social values of their new countries and said laws are needed to protect their dignity. "Let us recognize in particular the difficulties of migrant families as they are: the discomfort, the humiliation," the pontiff said in St Peter's Square.

■ United States
Seven killed in fire

Fire ravaged an apartment building, killing at least seven people, including a child, and authorities said that they feared the death count could grow. The fire broke out in the 64-unit, five-story building late on Saturday in Huntington, West Virginia. Firefighters discovered two bodies and a child on the building's top floor while fighting the blaze, and crews found four more bodies on Sunday morning on that floor, the fire chief said. The child died on the way to a hospital. The building housed city residents and Marshall University students, Fuller said.

■ United States

Seven killed in car skid

A minivan carrying 12 people skidded off an icy highway early on Sunday and slammed into an oncoming tractor-trailer, killing seven, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said. The east-bound van slid through the center median and struck a westbound tractor-trailer on Interstate 40 before dawn. Five of the van's occupants were taken to a hospital, Philippi said. The identities of the victims were not immediately released. Philippi said all the van's occupants were residents of Mexico, and interpreters were being used to locate next of kin. A powerful winter storm had coated roads and highways with ice and sleet.

■ United States

Stationary bike record set

George Hood may have pedaled his way into the Guinness World Records book. The 49-year-old Aurora, Illinois, resident began riding a stationary bike at the Five Seasons Sports Club in Burr Ridge, Illinois, at 4am on Wednesday and surpassed the previous record of 82 hours by 8:28pm on Saturday. He stopped several minutes before midnight after completing his goal of 85 hours. "He's very grateful -- and very tired," said Matt Baron, a spokesman for Five Seasons. Baron said Hood was talking and thanking his supporters right up to the end, but was taken by paramedics to a hospital as a precaution after he got off the bike.

■ United States

Ice storms continue havoc

The ice storms that have been blamed for at least 21 deaths continued to lash much of the country as crews tried to restore power to hundreds of thousands and slick roads spawned accidents. Waves of freezing rain, sleet and snow since Friday have caused at least 12 deaths in Oklahoma, six in Missouri, two in Texas and one in New York. Many of the deaths were from traffic accidents. In Texas, 415 flights were canceled on Sunday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt said about 300,000 households remained without power on on Sunday. About 350 National Guardsmen were going door to door checking on residents in the hardest-hit areas.

■ United States

Alice Coltrane dies at 69

Alice Coltrane, a jazz performer and composer and wife of the late saxophone legend John Coltrane, has died. She was 69. Coltrane died on Friday of respiratory failure at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center, said her sister, Marilyn McLeod. For nearly 40 years, Coltrane managed the archive and estate of her husband, a pivotal figure in the history of jazz. He died of liver disease in 1967 at age 40. A pianist and organist, Alice Coltrane was noted for her astral compositions and for bringing the harp onto the jazz bandstand. A convert to Hinduism, she was also a significant spiritual leader and founded the Vedantic Center, a spiritual commune located in Agoura Hills, California.