- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

CHINA

Second babies wanted in Shanghai

BEIJING | Family planning officials in Shanghai are making home visits and slipping leaflets under doorways to encourage certain residents to have a second child in a bid to lessen the burden of the city’s growing senior population.

A statement about the new campaign posted Thursday on the Web site of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission was quick to emphasize that it didn’t signal any change in China’s one-child rule and was only an attempt to let people know about the policy’s many exceptions.

About 3 million, or 21 percent, of Shanghai’s nearly 13.7 million registered residents are now age 60 or older, the statement said, and providing for them poses a huge challenge for the city.

Xie Lingli, the commission’s director, was quoted as saying authorities are going door to door to try to encourage couples to have a second child - if both grew up as only children.

KYRGYZSTAN

Candidate drops bid, charges fraud

BISHKEK | The main opposition candidate in Kyrgyzstan said he was no longer taking part in Thursday’s presidential election, citing widespread ballot-stuffing and the intimidation of election monitors.

Voting began early Thursday in this mountainous Central Asian nation, which hosts a key U.S. military air base used to support the war effort in Afghanistan.

Political turmoil has wracked this nation of 5 million - positioned along China’s western frontier - for several years. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, 59, had campaigned on a platform of stability, and Thursday’s election has been viewed by many as a test of the country’s commitment to democracy.

The decision by opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev - the president’s closest rival - to abandon the race appeared to guarantee Mr. Bakiyev another five-year term.

INDIA

Judge accepts terror confession

MUMBAI | A judge accepted the confession of the lone surviving gunman from the shooting attacks in Mumbai, but said Thursday the trial would proceed anyway.

The young Pakistani gunman, Ajmal Kasab, unexpectedly confessed Monday to taking part in the November attack that paralyzed India’s financial capital and killed 166 people.

The court had delayed a decision on whether to accept the confession and guilty plea, with prosecutors arguing that his statement was incomplete and saying his confession was a maneuver to gain clemency. In response, Kasab said he was willing to be hanged for his actions.

Judge M.L. Tahiliyani decided Thursday to accept Kasab’s confession, but ordered the trial to continue because the accused did not address all 86 charges against him.

PHILIPPINES

Offensive halted against separatists

MANILA | The Philippine government ordered its military Thursday to stop offensives against Muslim separatist rebels in a bid to restart peace talks, a move welcomed by the guerrillas.

Negotiations with the 11,000-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front broke down last year, when the government accused the rebels of launching attacks on Christian villages after the Supreme Court threw out a preliminary Muslim autonomy deal.

Chief government negotiator Rafael Seguis said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s order is aimed at providing a conducive atmosphere for the resumption of talks.

He said it would also allow some 300,000 displaced villagers to return to their homes and farms in the southern Philippines, where minority Muslims have been fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation for decades.

NORTH KOREA

Italy blocks sale of luxury yachts

MILAN | Italian authorities say they have blocked the sale of two luxury yachts that were bound for North Korea in violation of international sanctions.

The Economic Development Ministry said Thursday that the $18 million order for the two seagoing yachts was initially made by an Austrian firm. A Chinese firm then stepped in to complete the purchase.

The ministry said an investigation determined that the yachts ultimately were bound for the reclusive communist nation. The impoverished nation relies on foreign aid to feed its 24 million people.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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