- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2008

INDONESIA

Microchip tracking sought for HIV/AIDS

JAKARTA | Lawmakers in Indonesia’s remote province of Papua have thrown their support behind a controversial bill requiring some HIV/AIDS patients to be implanted with microchips - part of extreme efforts to monitor the disease.

Health workers and rights activists sharply criticized the plan Monday.

But legislator John Manangsang said that by implanting small computer chips beneath the skin of “sexually aggressive” patients, authorities would be in a better position to identify, track and ultimately punish those who deliberately infect others with up to six months in jail or a $5,000 fine.

The technical and practical details still need to be hammered out, but the proposed legislation has received full backing from the provincial parliament and, if it gets a majority vote as expected, will be enacted next month, he and others said.

MALAYSIA

Blockade sought to battle pirates

KUALA LUMPUR | Shipping officials from around the world called for a military blockade Monday along the coast of Somalia to intercept pirate vessels heading out to sea.

Peter Swift, managing director of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, said stronger naval action — including aerial and aviation support — is necessary to battle rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.

Some 20 tankers sail through the sea lane daily, but many tanker owners are considering a massive detour around southern Africa to avoid pirates, which will delay delivery and push cost up by 30 percent, he said.

GERMANY

Christmas brings Santa search

BERLIN | Wanted — Cheerful, chubby men, preferably with fluffy white beards and no criminal record, ready to work hard for one month.

Germany is running out of qualified Santa Clauses and needs to recruit and train them fast, a leading job agency says.

Germans are trying to shut out the financial crisis by taking comfort in traditional festivities, and there is an acute shortage of Santas to entertain children at shopping centers, Christmas markets and private parties.

The job center wants its Santas to be child-friendly, good organizers, reliable and have acting skills. They also need a clean police record.

IRAN

Israeli spy ring said broken up

TEHRAN | Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have broken up an Israeli-linked spy network and arrested its members, the guards’ commander said on Monday, two days after the Islamic state said it had executed an Iranian man for spying for its archfoe.

A semi-official news agency, Mehr, said those arrested had confessed that they had received training in Israel for carrying out assassinations and bombings.

SINGAPORE

Lawmakers’ pay to be reduced

SINGAPORE | Salaries for Singapore politicians, who are among the highest-paid in the world, will be cut by up to 19 percent next year because of a weakening economy, said state broadcaster Channel NewsAsia on Monday.

Singapore ministers, who are paid millions each year, have a component in their salary that is pegged to economic growth and with Singapore in a recession and the outlook gloomy for next year, this variable will fall, Channel NewsAsia said on its Web site, quoting the government’s Public Services Division.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose pay was increased to $2.46 million this year - or five times that of President Bush - fall to $1.99 million.

The Southeast Asian country has said it needed to pay top dollar to compete with top private-sector salaries and to retain talent in the public sector, as the city-state becomes a growing center for financial services. The downturn has also hit the private sector, with the country’s biggest bank DBS Group and shipping firm NOL laying off staff.

IRAN

New U.S. president called chance to change

BERLIN | The chief U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that the change in administrations in Washington would be a good opportunity for Iran to enter new negotiations to end its uranium enrichment program.

But the diplomat, Gregory L. Schulte, warned that Iran should not expect drastic changes in the U.S. position from President-elect Barack Obama.

“The president-elect has also talked about the need for reinforced diplomacy, the need for direct tough diplomacy, and the need for that diplomacy to be sustained, to be backed by the prospect of economic sanctions and political isolation,” he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already sent congratulations to Mr. Obama, the first time that an Iranian leader has offered good wishes to a U.S. president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mr. Obama has also indicated his willingness to talk with leaders such as those in Iran, Syria and North Korea.

ARGENTINA

Court bans video of on-air suicide

BUENOS AIRES | A judge has barred an Argentine cable television station from airing footage of a former police commander shooting himself on camera to avoid arrest on human rights violations.

Judge Martha de Gomez Alsina banned Cronica TV from replaying the image - which it had already aired - after the Federal Broadcasting Committee requested the order, the state news agency Telem reported Sunday.

Mario Ferreyra, 63, killed himself on Friday as police arrived at his home to arrest him on charges arising from the disappearance, torture and death of dissidents during Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship.

The suicide was captured by a TV crew that had just finished interviewing Mr. Ferreyra. The images caused initial shock among viewers but little lasting debate in a country where graphic violence is common on television.

But the broadcasting committee said the transmission constituted “serious misconduct” under Argentine laws against disseminating extremely violent or sordid images.

Cronica said it had no comment when contacted by the Associated Press.

MEXICO

Six fatally shot in popular tavern

TIJUANA | Six people are dead after gunmen burst into a Tijuana bar popular with university students and opened fire.

The local Public Safety Department says witnesses reported that three people dressed in black rushed into Bar Utopia and started shooting without saying a word.

The state attorney general’s office says two men and a woman died instantly in Friday night’s attack. The three others died in hospitals Saturday.

The bar is located in a neighborhood with three university campuses and is popular with students. Most of the victims were younger than 30.

Drug turf battles have fueled a wave of violence that has swept through Tijuana and other cities across Mexico.

NICARAGUA

Opposition parties want vote canceled

MANAGUA | Nicaragua’s opposition is pressing on with a bid to cancel disputed elections despite a presidential decree declaring that effort unconstitutional.

An alliance of opposition parties says President Daniel Ortega abused his power with a decree nullifying a legislative proposal to cancel the results of the Nov. 9 municipal elections.

Saturday’s statement accused Mr. Ortega of “once again violating the constitution.”

The leftist Sandinistas won 105 of 146 races in the elections. They claim the elections were free and fair.

GUATEMALA

Prison riot leaves seven inmates dead

GUATEMALA CITY | A prison fight in Guatemala has left seven inmates dead, including five who were decapitated.

National prisons systems spokesman Rudy Esquivel says authorities found the five heads after the fight in the Pavoncito prison in Guatemala City. He says two other inmates died in a hospital of gunshot wounds.

Reporters saw a group of prisoners standing behind four heads lined up on piles of rocks in a yard. The fifth head was on a wooden stake. At one point, a prisoner masking his face with a red T-shirt lifted up one of the heads in triumph.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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