- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

CHINA

Top drug official sentenced to die

BEIJING — China’s top drug regulator was sentenced to death on charges of corruption and official negligence, state media said today, the latest development stemming from growing alarm over the country’s poor food-safety record.

Zheng Xiaoyu was convicted and sentenced “on charges of taking bribes and dereliction of duty” at the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, the Xinhua News Agency said in a brief dispatch. No other details were given.

State media have reported that drugs improperly approved by Zheng’s agency included an antibiotic that killed at least 10 patients last year before it was taken off the market.

JAPAN

Minister in scandal commits suicide

TOKYO — A scandal-tainted minister in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet committed suicide yesterday, compounding problems for the Japanese leader whose support has slumped ahead of a July election.

It was the first suicide by a Japanese Cabinet minister since the days after Japan’s defeat in World War II, officials at the national library said.

Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka took his life as Mr. Abe’s public support rate fell to its lowest level since he took office in September, largely because of voter anger over mismanagement of pension premiums that could shortchange retirees.

KUWAIT

Weekend changed to conform to world

KUWAIT CITY — The government is moving the country’s weekend to Friday and Saturday instead of Thursday and Friday.

Faisal al-Hajji, minister of state for Cabinet affairs, told the Kuwait News Agency that the change will solve many economic problems caused by the difference in weekends between this small oil-rich state and the rest of the world.

Friday is the Muslim day for prayer and has to be included in the weekend. Banks and the state-owned oil sector already take Friday and Saturday off, but the decision now will apply to schools, government offices and private companies.

KAZAKHSTAN

President’s son-in-law put on wanted list

ASTANA — Police issued an international arrest warrant yesterday for President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s son-in-law.

Rakhat Aliyev, a powerful businessman who has fallen out with his father-in-law, says the case is a politically motivated attempt to silence him. His whereabouts have not been clear since he was fired from the post of ambassador to Vienna, Austria, on Saturday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Bagdat Kozhakhmetov said yesterday that Mr. Aliyev was the head of a criminal group. “He has been put on the international wanted list,” the minister said without elaborating.

ITALY

Ruling party suffers in local elections

ROME — Early results for local elections in which 10 million people were eligible to vote put the center-right opposition ahead yesterday, but Romano Prodi’s left-leaning government appeared to have avoided a drubbing.

The ballots on Sunday and yesterday were the first major electoral test for Mr. Prodi, cast at a time when opinion polls show six out of 10 Italians think his fractious nine-party government has not done a good job.

Initial projections for the seven contested provinces gave a 4-3 advantage for the opposition, which also strengthened its grip on most of the town halls it already held.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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