- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008


Escape victim debuts on talk show

VIENNA | Escaped kidnapping victim Natascha Kampusch made her debut as a talk-show presenter on Austrian television Sunday night, interviewing Formula One legend Niki Lauda.

Miss Kampusch put on a smiling face but appeared shy as she asked Mr. Lauda about his career, family and relationships during the 40-minute taped interview, which was broadcast on private television station Puls 4.

Mr. Lauda, however, needed little prompting and did most of the talking, recounting the 1976 accident at the Nuernburgring Grand Prix in Germany that nearly killed him.

“We have both in different ways experienced extremes,” the 59-year-old told his host.

Miss Kampusch was kidnapped on her way to school in 1998, aged 10, and was held captive in a house outside Vienna for over eight years before escaping in August 2006.


Australia ends deployments

SYDNEY | Australia, a staunch U.S. ally and one of the first countries to commit troops to the Iraq war five years ago, ended combat operations there Sunday, a Defense Department official said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was swept into office in November largely on the promise that he would bring home the country’s 550 combat troops by the middle of 2008.

Mr. Rudd has said the Iraq deployment has made Australia more of a target for terrorism.

The combat troops are expected to return home over the next few weeks. Local media reports said the first of the soldiers had already landed in Australia on Sunday afternoon.


Helicopter crashes with quake victims

JIULING | A military helicopter carrying 19 people, many of them injured in China’s devastating earthquake, crashed in fog and turbulence, and authorities were searching for survivors, state media reported Sunday.

The Russian-designed Mi-171 transport helicopter crashed Saturday afternoon in Wenchuan county in southwestern China, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Xinhua said late Sunday that the aircraft was carrying 5 crew and 14 others, including people with quake injuries.

There was no immediate word on any survivors or casualties. Xinhua said a search-and-rescue operation was under way.

The confirmed death toll from the May 12 earthquake, China’s worst in three decades, was nearly 69,000, with an additional 18,000 still missing.


Anti-immigrant measure rejected

GENEVA | Swiss voters have rejected an initiative aimed at making it harder for foreigners to gain citizenship.

Official results were released in 20 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons and only one approved the initiative.

Approval by a majority of cantons was required, along with a majority of votes cast.


Scarfless women prompt walkout

KUWAIT CITY | Muslim hard-liners in Kuwait’s parliament walked out of the body’s inaugural meeting Sunday to protest two female Cabinet ministers who were not wearing head scarves.

The nine men left just after lawmakers and ministers started taking the oath of office. They returned after the two women, Modhi al-Homoud and Nouria al-Subeih, were sworn in. Neither of the women was wearing long dresses or covering their hair, which Islamists maintain is required by their religion.

The new Cabinet was formed after Kuwait’s ruler dissolved parliament and ordered fresh elections, held May 17, because relations between the Cabinet and the 50-person legislature broke down.


Storm threatens flooding, mudslides

AMBERGRIS CAYE | Tropical Storm Arthur weakened to a tropical depression yesterday after soaking the Yucatan Peninsula, but still threatened to cause dangerous flooding and mudslides in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the governments of Belize and Mexico discontinued all warnings related to Arthur, the first named storm of the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season.


Reconciliation sought with abused Indians

TORONTO | A truth-and-reconciliation commission is examining a decades-long government policy that required Canadian Indians to attend schools where students were forced to lose their cultural identity and routinely were subjected to abuse.

The commission’s five-year mandate began Sunday and its work starts Monday. Members will eventually travel across Canada to hear stories from former students, teachers and others. The goal is to give survivors a forum to tell their stories and educate Canadians about a grim period in the country’s history.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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