- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2007

NORTH KOREA

Heavy rains kill ‘hundreds’

SEOUL — Heavy rains spawned flooding that left “hundreds” dead or missing in North Korea and destroyed more than 30,000 homes, the country’s state media reported today.

The official Korean Central News Agency said preliminary information revealed massive casualties after the storms that began last week, but gave no specific figures.

“The heavy rain destroyed at least 800 public buildings, over 540 bridges, 70 sections of railroads and at least 1,100 vehicles, pumps and electric motors,” KCNA said.

More than 2 million people are estimated to have died in North Korea after a famine struck in the mid-1990s, which the government blamed on natural disasters but was also linked to outdated farming methods as well as the loss of the country’s Soviet benefactor. North Korea still relies on outside food aid to help feed its people.

AUSTRALIA

Howard is called climate skeptic

CANBERRA — A report questioning climate change and calling global warming a “natural phenomenon” yesterday led to accusations Australian Prime Minister John Howard was a climate-change skeptic.

A group of four government lawmakers — two of them former ministers — said climate change had been observed on other planets and moons including “Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Pluto, Neptune and others.”

The statement triggered a scornful response from the opposition.

“Prime Minister, what planet are these government MPs on?” Labor Party environment spokesman and former rock star Peter Garrett asked Mr. Howard in Parliament.

CHINA

Jiang allies lose influence

BEIJING — Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin suffered a political blow when his son and the security chief were left out of the running for seats in the Communist Party Central Committee, sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters news agency.

Jiang Mianheng, a vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and You Xigui, director of the party’s Bodyguards Bureau, lost in Central Committee straw votes earlier this year, said the sources who requested anonymity.

“The elections were internal to sound out party members. The two men were unpopular with the masses,” one source said.

DENMARK

Expedition asserts claim on Arctic

COPENHAGEN — Denmark yesterday joined the rush to lay claim to the mineral riches of the Arctic, sending an expedition to map the seabed north of Greenland following moves in the region by Russia and Canada.

The results of the expedition may enable Denmark to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain chain that extends from Greenland to Siberia, is an extension of Greenland and lay claim to its rights in a region believed to contain important oil and gas deposits.

Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States are at odds over 460,000 square miles of Arctic seabed thought to hold 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The United States plans to send a Coast Guard cutter to the Arctic this week on a mapping mission to determine whether part of this area can be considered U.S. territory.

From wire dispatches and staff reports