- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007

INDONESIA

Capital move urged after heavy flooding

JAKARTA — A leading political party is calling for the Indonesian capital to be relocated after severe floods that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and killed 50.

The floods, which have submerged much of Jakarta for the past week, have triggered a torrent of demands and pressure on the government to ensure it never happens again.

The National Awakening Party, the third largest in parliament, said the floods had shown how seriously government activities could be disrupted.

“Jakarta is now too chaotic, and its ability to support both the center of the country’s government and the center of the country’s economy is declining,” Muhaimin Iskandar, who heads the party in parliament, told Agence France-Presse yesterday.

JAPAN

Snow Festival turns to slush

SAPPORO — It was almost the Snow Festival that wasn’t when an unexpected thaw struck opening day of the internationally renowned Sapporo ice-sculpture fair.

Blame it on climate change or just bad luck, but temperatures well above freezing and a steady drizzle reduced thousands of visitors to slushing through coffee-colored mud. They watched helplessly as the lovingly handcrafted crystalline artworks shrank before their eyes.

“I was really worried. Parts of the sculptures were falling off,” said Masaya Ishikawa, chief of promotion at the Sapporo Tourist Association. February temperatures in the city normally average 26 degrees Fahrenheit, but climbed to a balmy 41 yesterday as the 58th annual Snow Festival got under way.

Weekly notes …

A former Indonesian rebel leader was inaugurated as governor of Aceh province yesterday, cementing a peace accord to end 29 years of fighting that killed more than 15,000 people. Irwandi Yusuf promised to continue the peace process in the province of more than 4 million people. Mr. Yusuf won a large majority in the province’s first local elections in December. … An Alsatian police dog named Edge cornered two suspects on a cliffside after a grocery store robbery in Napier, New Zealand, police said yesterday. One of the suspects leapt down the slope and landed in front of police waiting at the bottom. The other suspect, who was armed with a knife, took on Edge and bit the dog. Edge was unfazed, sinking his teeth into his attacker. “The dog did win the fight,” a policeman said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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