- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 25, 2007

JAPAN

Houses collapse in strong earthquake

TOKYO — A strong earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.1 jolted the coastal area of central Japan early today, killing at least one person and injuring at least 40, public broadcaster NHK said. At least nine houses collapsed when the quake struck at 9:42 a.m.

The focus of the tremor was 30 miles below the seabed off the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, about 190 miles from Tokyo.

In Nanao, a city with a population of around 60,000 on the peninsula, ambulance services were flooded with calls to help people who had suffered burns and injuries, the Kyodo News agency said. A local official told NHK that he saw cracks and bumps in roads.

CHINA

Mao’s son dead at 84

BEIJING — Mao Anqing, the only known surviving son of Mao Zedong, the late founder of China’s communist government, has died, a government news agency reported yesterday. He was 84.

Mao Anqing died Friday, the China News Service said, without citing a cause of death. He had no role in government, suffered from psychiatric problems and is thought to have spent much of his adult life in mental hospitals.

Born in 1923, Mao Anqing was the second son of Mao and his first wife, Yang Kaihui, while they were activists. Mrs. Yang was executed in 1930 by the then-ruling Nationalist government.

ZIMBABWE

Party leaders balk at election delay

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s ruling-party leaders are to consider abandoning widely criticized proposals to extend President Robert Mugabe’s term and delay presidential elections until 2010, the official Herald newspaper reported yesterday.

Mr. Mugabe, the country’s only president since independence in 1980, is under intense international scrutiny because of a brutal clampdown on opposition activists. He had previously suggested delaying next year’s presidential elections, effectively extending his term by two years unchallenged. Even ruling party members questioned the delay.

The Herald, a government mouthpiece, said Mr. Mugabe told a meeting of the ruling party’s Women’s League on Friday that there was growing consensus in the party to hold elections next year and the issue would be discussed at a meeting of the central committee this week.

SUDAN

Troops block U.N. representative

KASSAB — Sudanese troops yesterday barred the U.N. humanitarian chief from a refugee camp whose residents have been raped and attacked by gunmen suspected of belonging to pro-government militias.

The convoy carrying John Holmes was halted at a checkpoint about a mile outside the Kassab refugee camp, and he was told he lacked the proper papers for a visit there.

“I’m frustrated, annoyed, but it’s not atypical of what happens here,” Mr. Holmes told journalists traveling with him. He said he had obtained all the necessary clearances from the government in Khartoum.

AUSTRALIA

Ex-Gitmo detainee loses election

SYDNEY — A former terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for four years failed in his bid yesterday for a seat in the parliament of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

Mamdouh Habib, 51, ran as an independent candidate in the election, which was fought largely on the local issues of roads, schools and train and bus services.

The Egyptian-born Mr. Habib said he was standing to raise human rights issues and the profile of Australian Muslims, though he had little chance of success against a Labor Party incumbent with strong local support. He got 4 percent of the vote.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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