- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 9, 2008

BRITAIN

Flu higher risk than terrorism

LONDON | Pandemic flu, not terrorism, is the most serious risk to the British public, says the country’s first national threat assessment published Friday.

The document, part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s overhaul of homeland security strategy, considers the likely dangers posed by threats including terrorism, climate change, extreme weather and pandemic disease.

Britain’s Cabinet Office — which drafted the document — said a potential flu pandemic poses the most imminent danger over the next five years.

Previous government assessments have suggested an outbreak could cause as many as 750,000 deaths in Britain and acknowledged it could take several months to develop adequate vaccines against a particular strain of the virus.

IRAQ

Baghdad zoo gets tiger cubs from U.S.

BAGHDAD | The Baghdad Zoo on Friday welcomed a pair of rare Bengal tiger cubs that were donated by the North Carolina-based Conservators’ Center, despite protests by animal rights activists.

The tigers — a male and a female named Riley and Hope — arrived Monday after being flown to Baghdad from the United States in a $66,000 trip funded by the U.S. Embassy and transported to the zoo by the U.S. military.

Animal rights activists led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized the move, saying it was premature as Baghdad continues to reel from violence and destroyed infrastructure.

They also pointed to past violence against animals at the zoo, many of which were killed amid widespread fighting and looting that ensued after the Americans captured Baghdad. A U.S. soldier fatally shot a tiger at the zoo in September 2003 after the animal bit another soldier who had reached through the bars of the cage to feed it.

U.S. actress Kim Basinger also sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unsuccessfully asking it to revoke the export permit for the Bengal tigers, which are an endangered species.

SUDAN

Accord reached on oil region

KHARTOUM | Sudan’s former north-south foes have agreed on an administration for the disputed oil-producing Abyei region where clashes this year had threatened to derail a 2005 peace deal, officials said Friday.

Clashes in Abyei in May killed scores and drove 50,000 from their homes. Abyei is home to oil wells that have fueled an economic boom in Sudan.

After the fighting in May, the two sides agreed to a road map to resolve the crisis with a joint force to patrol there and discussions on how the region would be run.

The north-south peace deal in 2005 ended Africa’s longest civil war, shared power and wealth, enshrined democratic transformation and created separate north and south armies.

WEST BANK

Phone firm to help pay salaries

JERUSALEM | Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a former World Bank economist, has found an unconventional way to get cash to pay salaries for the month. He secured a last-minute lifeline from a mobile phone company that was keen to speed its entry into the Palestinian market, and which had the help of Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

Western and Palestinian officials said the financial arrangement came together last week when Israel agreed to assign radio frequencies enabling Wataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunications Co. to begin operations. The company, in turn, agreed to quickly pump an initial $78 million into the Palestinian Authority’s cash-strapped accounts.

Mr. Fayyad paid salaries to workers Thursday after announcing that he had received $42 million from the United Arab Emirates. He made no mention of cash from Wataniya Palestine, an arm of Kuwait’s National Mobile Telecommunications Co., which is in turn controlled by Qatar Telecommunications Co.

BRITAIN

Paper apologizes for royals story

LONDON | One of Britain’s most-read newspapers was forced to apologize Friday after falsely reporting that Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, had prostate cancer.

London’s Evening Standard made the apology after Buckingham Palace complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the Aug. 6 front-page story.

“We now accept that the story was untrue and that he is not suffering from any such condition,” the Evening Standard said.

The Standard’s apology came two weeks after a High Court judge ruled that the tabloid newspaper News of the World had breached the privacy of motor racing chief Max Mosley by revealing his part in German-themed sex orgies with prostitutes.

JAPAN

Chinese jet returns after bomb threat

TOKYO | An Air China passenger jet was forced to return to Japan and four others were delayed Friday after a bomb threat was e-mailed to the airline’s Tokyo office, the Japanese Transport Ministry said.

The anonymous e-mail, written in Japanese, told the Chinese airline to suspend its flights or the writer would “bomb the aircraft,” ministry official Fumio Yasukawa said.

The opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics was held later Friday. China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the airline ordered all of its flights not to depart from Japan until their safety was ensured.

The plane that was forced to return to Japan, which was carrying 70 people from Nagoya to Chongqing via Shanghai, and four other delayed Air China flights took off later Friday after no bombs were found on them, ministry officials said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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