- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007


Third of schools vulnerable to quakes

TOKYO — More than 30 percent of Japanese school buildings are not resistant to major earthquakes, officials said yesterday, days after a huge tremor shook the country.

Of the 130,867 public schools across Japan — one of the world’s most quake-prone countries — 39,531 or 30.2 percent are not able to resist strong temblors, the Education Ministry announced. Another 17,001 buildings have not been checked despite central government orders for municipal authorities to do so.

Japan is at the junction of four tectonic plates and endures about 20 percent of the world’s most powerful earthquakes. A January 1995 quake of 7.3 magnitude in Kobe killed 6,437 persons, and 67 persons were killed three years ago by a 6.8-magnitude quake in Niigata prefecture.


International jurist charged with perjury

SYDNEY — Marcus Einfeld, 67, a human-rights lawyer and international jurist who was formerly a Federal Court judge, was charged with 13 offenses including perjury and perverting the course of justice, police said yesterday, ending an astonishing saga involving a speeding fine and a mystery driver that had gripped Australia for months.

A special police strike force was established last August to investigate claims in a newspaper that Mr. Einfeld gave false evidence to avoid a $61 fine after his car was caught by a speed camera. He said in court he was not driving and had lent his car to an old friend, U.S.-based professor Teresa Brennan, who had since died.

A newspaper reported later that Miss Brennan had died after a car accident in the United States in 2003 — three years before the judge’s car was driven through the speed trap. As more of his claims were discredited, the Solomon Islands government fired him as head of an inquiry into riots there last April.


Pro-democracy priest goes on trial today

HANOI — A Vietnamese Catholic priest and pro-democracy activist goes on trial today, accused of undermining the Communist state amid what dissidents say is a growing human-rights crackdown.

Father Nguyen Van Ly, 60, could face up to 20 years jail if found guilty of spreading propaganda against the state at his trial in the central city of Hue, where four dissidents are also expected in the dock.

The trial, expected to last one day, is the first of several in coming months against pro-democracy advocates, including two human-rights lawyers in Hanoi detained this month. Civil-rights groups accuse Vietnam of increasing repression against pro-democracy activists this year.

Weekly notes …

Taiwan parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng, a prospective presidential candidate who favors improved ties with Beijing, this week voiced his strong desire to visit China. His remarks came amid reports that Mr. Wang, a political heavyweight from the leading opposition Kuomintang, may meet Chinese President Hu Jintao during an “ice-breaking” April trip to the Chinese mainland. … Japanese scientists have developed an oral vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease that has proven effective and safe in mice, the director of a research institute said yesterday. The team plans to begin small-scale clinical trials in humans, possibly this year, said Takeshi Tabira, director of the National Institute for Longevity Sciences in Aichi prefecture.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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