Saturday, January 3, 2009


Travolta teen son dead in accident

NASSAU | Police said John Travolta’s teenage son has died after injuring himself at the actor’s vacation home.

Police spokeswoman Loretta Mackey said Jett Travolta, 16, hit his head in a bathtub Friday morning. She said he was declared dead at Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama Island.

Jett was the oldest child of Mr. Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, who also have an 8-year-old daughter.


Crew repels pirates with fire hoses

ATHENS | Crewmen fired high-pressure water jets Friday to fight off heavily armed Somali pirates trying to board a Greek oil tanker in the dangerous Gulf of Aden, officials said. It was the fourth pirate attack of the new year.

Armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, pirates in three speedboats twice tried to board the Greek-flagged Kriti Episkopi but were driven away when the crew turned fire hoses on them and EU aircraft scrambled from a nearby European Union naval flotilla to help, shipping company and Greek government officials said.

The attack came a day after Somali pirates seized an Egyptian cargo ship and its 28 crew members in the waterway, one of the world’s most important sea routes. Also Thursday, a Malaysian military helicopter saved an Indian tanker from being hijacked and a French warship thwarted an attack on a Panamanian cargo ship and captured several pirates.


Rare car found in dead man’s garage

LONDON | Relatives of Dr. Harold Carr found an extremely rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante — a Holy Grail for car collectors — as they were going through his belongings after his death.

The dusty two-seater, unused since 1960, didn’t look like much in the garage in Gosforth, near Newcastle in northern England.

But only 17 were ever made, and when it’s cleaned up and auctioned in Paris next month, experts believe it will fetch at least $4.3 million and possibly much more.

The Bugatti supercar was so ahead of its time it could go up to 130 mph when most other cars topped out at about 50 mph. This particular car is even more valuable because it was originally owned by Earl Howe, a prominent British race-car driver.

Dr. Carr, an orthopedic surgeon who died at age 89, was described by relatives as an eccentric hoarder.


Parliament approves new government

BRUSSELS | Belgium‘s prime minister won a parliamentary vote of confidence Friday for a coalition government to replace one that collapsed in December in a bank bailout scandal.

Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy’s government puts together the parties — including Christian Democrats, Liberals and Socialists — that made up the previous one. The legislature voted 88-45 to approve the new government.

Mr. Van Rompuy succeed fellow Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, who quit as prime minister Dec. 19 along with his justice minister, Jo Vandeurzen. They resigned following allegations they had interfered in a court case regarding the sale of Fortis, once Belgium’s largest bank, to France’s BNP Paribas.


Judge keeps activists in custody

HARARE | A judge ruled Friday that a respected human-rights campaigner and 31 other activists accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe should remain in custody over the weekend.

Opposition leaders say the detention of Zimbabwe Peace Project leader Jestina Mukoko is part of Mr. Mugabe’s clampdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement.

High Court Judge Alphias Chitakunye rejected an application for the activists’ immediate release and said they should stay in custody until they appear in the magistrates’ court Monday.

The defense argued that police have defied at least two court orders to free the activists and have ignored a magistrate’s ruling that they be allowed visits from private doctors after appearing in court with swollen and bloodied faces.

Ms. Mukoko was abducted from her home in early December. For weeks police denied any knowledge of her whereabouts, but state attorneys this week conceded that security officials were responsible.


Two in race to head IAEA

VIENNA, Austria | The International Atomic Energy Agency says a Japanese diplomat and a South African official are in the running to become the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s next chief executive.

The Vienna-based IAEA says Yukiya Amano of Japan and Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa are candidates to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei when he steps down as director-general at the end of November.

Dec. 31, 2008, was the deadline for nominations.

The IAEA said Friday that its board of governors plans to choose a new chief in June, and submit its choice to a general meeting of the nuclear agency in September.

Mr. ElBaradei has headed the agency since 1997.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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