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World Briefs: Mandela battling lung infection, chronic ailment

- - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

JOHANNESBURG — Military doctors are treating former President Nelson Mandela for a recurring lung infection, an ailment the 94-year-old remains susceptible to because of his age and his 27 years in prison.

Government officials acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that the illness forced soldiers to admit Mr. Mandela to a military hospital on Saturday, though they said anti-apartheid leader was responding to treatment.

Mr. Mandela fought off a similar infection in 2011 and once contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned.

Medical specialists say respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia striking a man his age are a serious matter that require care and monitoring.

CHINA

Eighth Tibetan child self-immolates, activists say

BEIJING — A teenage girl set herself on fire on the grasslands of an ethnic Tibetan region in western China, becoming the eighth child to self-immolate to protest Chinese rule over the region, rights groups said.

Wangchen Kyi, 17, self-immolated and died in China's western Qinghai province Sunday evening after calling for the long life of the Tibetan people and their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, according to the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet.

The group cited reports from exiled Tibetans in contact with people in the area.

Activists say more than 90 people have set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas since February 2009, with an upsurge in recent weeks. The vast majority have been in their late teens and 20s.

Activists say the self-immolations show growing desperation over what the protesters see as the marginalization of Tibetan culture and religion under heavy-handed Chinese rule.

China maintains it protects Tibetans' rights and that the region has enjoyed "leapfrog" economic development in recent decades.

GREAT BRITAIN

Legislation prepared for same-sex marriage

LONDON — The British government announced Tuesday that it will introduce a bill next year that would legalize gay marriage but ban the Church of England from conducting same-sex ceremonies.

Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the legislation would authorize same-sex civil marriages, as well as religious ceremonies if religions decide to "opt in."

Some religious groups, such as Quakers and liberal Jews, say they want to conduct same-sex ceremonies.

But others, including the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, oppose gay marriage, and the government is seeking to reassure them that they will not be forced to take part.

Ms. Miller said the legislation would make it unlawful for the Church of England — the country's official church, symbolically headed by Queen Elizabeth II — and the Anglican Church in Wales to conduct gay weddings.

It also will ensure that religious organizations or ministers who refuse to marry a same-sex couple can't be sued for discrimination.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

Prime minister arrested in corruption case

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The top official in the Cayman Islands was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of theft, abuse of office and breach of trust in the famed Caribbean tax haven.

Prime Minister McKeeva Bush was arrested at his home Tuesday morning in the West Bay section of Grand Cayman Island by officers from the financial unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, a spokeswoman said.

Mr. Bush, 57, was detained "in connection with a number of ongoing police investigations," the spokeswoman said.

The probes involve suspected theft related to misuse of a government credit card and breach of trust, abuse of office and conflict of interest for the alleged importation of unspecified explosive substances without valid permits.

Authorities in the British Caribbean territory did not provide details about the allegations.

Leonard Dilbert, the premier's chief of staff, stressed that Mr. Bush will continue working as the three-island territory's leader amid the ongoing probes.

BANGLADESH

Riots, explosions reported during opposition-led strike

DHAKA — Explosions of homemade bombs were reported in Bangladesh's capital Tuesday as opposition activists enforcing a daylong general strike rioted and clashed with police.

It was not immediately known if anyone was injured in the violence.

A coalition of 18 opposition parties was enforcing the strike to demand that a caretaker government be formed before the next national elections due in 2014.

A key coalition partner also wants its leaders facing charges of crimes against humanity to be freed from jail.

Schools and businesses were closed in Dhaka and other major cities, and transportation was largely disrupted across Bangladesh, a parliamentary democracy that has a history of political violence.

The U.S. on Tuesday urged the two main political parties to hold a dialogue to find a solution to the impasse.

From wire dispatches and staff reports