- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

AUSTRALIA

Runaway dog found after 9 years

SYDNEY | Nine years after vanishing from outside her family’s home, Muffy the dog was found alive and well this month in another backyard - 1,200 miles away - officials said Thursday.

Inspectors with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were investigating a possible animal cruelty case at a home in Melbourne two weeks ago when they found the fluffy white mutt sleeping outside on a scrap of cardboard, Victoria state RSPCA spokesman Tim Pilgrim said.

A microchip in Muffy’s neck identified her owners and, after a few days of searching for a current phone number, officials tracked down Natalie Lampard, who hadn’t seen Muffy since the pooch disappeared from her backyard in Brisbane nine years ago.

The owners of the Melbourne house said they found the dog about a year ago wandering along a street. Muffy was suffering from fleas and has been under treatment since the RSPCA removed her from the home, Mr. Pilgrim said.

CHINA

Human rights lawyer disappears

BEIJING | Rights groups urged China’s government Thursday to disclose the whereabouts of a leading human rights lawyer who was detained by police in a dawn raid and has not been heard from since.

Xu Zhiyong, a Beijing-based legal scholar with the Gongmeng rights group, was taken from his home by police early Wednesday, the group said on its Web site. The group has since been unable to contact Mr. Xu and another staffer, Zhuang Lu.

The Beijing public security bureau refused to answer questions over the telephone and did not immediately respond to a faxed list of questions.

Mr. Xu’s disappearance appears to be the latest in a string of moves Beijing has taken to restrain activist lawyers, who regularly run the risk of being detained, harassed, attacked and threatened with disbarment for their work.

NORTH KOREA

Fast food a hit in starving nation

SEOUL | North Korea’s first fast-food restaurant has quickly become popular among locals and foreigners and plans to open more branches in the future, a manager said Thursday.

North Korea opened the Samtaesong restaurant in its capital, Pyongyang, last month. It is the isolated communist nation’s first fast-food restaurant and offers hamburgers, french fries, waffles and draft beer.

APTN footage showed restaurant staff in orange aprons and white hats preparing food. The restaurant appeared to be styled after fast-food restaurants the world over.

Several North Koreans were seen ordering and others eating, but more seats were empty than filled.

North Korea has relied on outside handouts to feed its hunger-stricken 24 million people since the 1990s. Few North Koreans are likely able to afford fast food.

JAPAN

U.S. sailor gets life in fatal stabbing

TOKYO | A U.S. sailor was sentenced Thursday to life in prison in the stabbing death of a Japanese taxi driver, a crime that led to calls for tougher punishment for U.S. service members who break the law.

Olatunbosun Ugbogu, 23, a Nigerian citizen serving in the Navy, was found guilty of stabbing Masaaki Takahashi, 61, near a U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, in March 2008, according to a Foreign Ministry official who declined to be named.

Ugbogu was initially apprehended by U.S. Navy authorities in Tokyo on a desertion charge, but was handed over to Japanese authorities because a credit card in his name was found in the victim’s car.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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