- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2007


Music contest sparks violence

CALCUTTA — India’s version of “American Idol” prompted violence yesterday when police clashed with supporters of the winner, leaving at least 30 persons injured.

Officials said the army had been called in to maintain calm.

Prashant Tamang, an ethnic Nepali youth from the eastern state of West Bengal, beat Amit Paul from Meghalaya state, inflaming regional rivalries after a closely contested final round on Sunday.

The animosities subsided after the two contestants appealed for peace, but a radio station stoked further trouble by making inflammatory remarks about Mr. Tamang this week, angering ethnic Nepalese.


Astronaut Williams shares experiences

HYDERABAD — Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams proved a stellar hit with students at a space conference yesterday, telling aspiring astronauts to “just go for it.”

Mrs. Williams, who received a standing ovation after a one-hour chat with teenagers in this southern Indian city, said she had never thought of becoming an astronaut when she was at school.

“I thought it was for very, very smart people and out of my ability,” said the NASA flier, who is visiting India for the first time in a decade and after completing a record-setting space journey in June.

AFGHANISTAN New efforts to free Red Cross workers

GHAZNI — Afghan negotiators worked yesterday to secure the release of four Red Cross workers, two of them foreigners, who were captured during a mission to free a German who had been kidnapped by the Taliban.

Contact had been made with the group that seized the men on Wednesday in the province of Wardak, about 30 miles from Kabul, said the governor of Sayed Abad district, where they were taken.

“We are in contact with the kidnappers via tribal elders and influentials,” said the district governor, Anayatullah Mangal.


Report says nukes vulnerable to theft

VIENNA — A new study said Russia and Pakistan were particularly vulnerable to nuclear theft and more could and should be done worldwide to prevent nuclear weapons and materials from falling into terrorist hands.

The report, commissioned by the U.S.-run Nuclear Threat Initiative and published Wednesday, found that “the threat of nuclear theft and terrorism remains high in many parts of the world.”

But “it appears that the highest risks of nuclear theft today are in Russia, Pakistan and at HEU-fueled (highly-enriched uranium) research reactors,” wrote the report’s author, Matthew Bunn.


U.N. food agency seeks more aid

COLOMBO — The U.N. food agency yesterday launched an urgent appeal for more money to feed thousands of people displaced by fighting between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil rebels.

The World Food Program (WPF) said it was short $8 million to provide relief to thousands displaced by the conflict.

“I am concerned about our resourcing situations as we will be running out of food in November,” said Jean-Yves Lequime, acting country director of the program in Colombo.

The WFP feeds around 1.15 million Sri Lankans.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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