- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2009

SRI LANKA

Displaced Tamils to return to villages

COLOMBO | Sri Lanka said Thursday it planned to return most of the nearly 300,000 civilians displaced by civil war to their homes this year as the president called on the country to be magnanimous in victory.

The fate of the ethnic Tamil civilians in the overcrowded, fenced-in camps has caused concern among the minority community. Aid groups say their access to the camps has been greatly restricted, and human rights groups accuse Tamil militias of abducting children there.

Two top Indian officials met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to express their concerns about the humanitarian situation.



In a joint statement, both governments said they had agreed on the urgent need to resettle the civilians in their villages in the north as soon as possible.

JAPAN

Average woman lives to age 86

GENEVA | A girl born in Japan today will likely live to celebrate her 86th birthday, the longest life expectancy anywhere in the world. Men fare best in the tiny European nation of San Marino, where the average boy will live to 81, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The West African country of Sierra Leone has the shortest life expectancy for men - just 39 - while Afghanistan fares badly for both sexes, with men and women living on average to 41 and 42 years respectively.

The figures in WHO’s annual World Health Statistics report are from 2007, the latest year available.

INDONESIA

C-130 airplanes grounded after crash

MAGETAN | Indonesia promised Thursday to ground all of its C-130 Hercules planes if investigators determine that mechanical problems caused a crash the day before that killed 99 people.

The accident - which occurred in clear weather moments after pilots spoke with air traffic control - was the third involving a military aircraft in just two months. It also followed complaints that the air force could hardly afford spare parts for its aging fleet.

Survivors said they heard at least two loud explosions and felt the C-130 wobbling from left to right as it plummeted to the ground Wednesday, losing a wing as it hit some trees and then slamming into a row of houses.

There were 110 people on the plane, which was carrying troops and their families from the capital, Jakarta, to Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua, home to a decades-long insurgency.

SOUTH KOREA

Doctors told to let woman die

SEOUL | Doctors treating a comatose woman must remove her from life support as her family requests, the Supreme Court said Thursday, upholding landmark lower court rulings.

The Supreme Court ruling in favor of a patient’s right to die is a first for South Korea, where societal mores and laws have been shaped by Confucian ideals that call for preserving and honoring the body.

The 76-year-old patient has been in a vegetative state since suffering brain damage in February 2008. Her family asked doctors at Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital in Seoul to remove her from life support, saying she had always opposed keeping people alive with machines if there were no chance of revival.

Physicians have testified there is no chance she will survive if removed from life support.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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