- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Pirates get ransom, free 36 hostages

MOGADISHU | As a Spanish warship looked on, a $3.3 million ransom was delivered by boat Tuesday and Somali pirates freed a Spanish trawler and its 36 crew members.

Spain’s prime minister did little to deny paying off the hijackers - one reason the lucrative attacks are on the rise.

“The government did what it had to do,” Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said at a news conference in Madrid. “The important thing is that the sailors will be back with us. The first obligation of a country, of the government of a state, is to save the lives of its countrymen.”

Somali pirates attacked two more ships on Monday and still hold about a dozen ships with more than 200 crew, including a British couple who were taken from their 38-foot sailboat last month.


Police foil school shooting

PARIS | A 13-year-old French boy stole his father’s hunting rifle and took it to school with the intention of shooting his teachers, but his family and police intervened before anyone was hurt, police said.

The boy - a student at a Roman Catholic school in Beauvais, 55 miles north of Paris - had posted an entry on his blog suggesting he wanted to commit suicide and carry out a massacre, said police and gendarmes.

On Tuesday morning, the middle-school student at the Institution of the Holy Spirit left home armed with his father’s rifle and about 20 cartridges, officers said. His parents soon realized the weapon was missing and alerted authorities. The boy’s name was not released.

Police quickly deployed around the school. When the teen arrived, he fled.

The boy abandoned his rifle in a field, got in contact with his parents and met them at a cybercafe in the center of town. He was taken into custody by gendarmes and scheduled to undergo psychological testing.


Icebreaker stuck near Antarctica

MOSCOW | A Russian icebreaker carrying more than 100 tourists, scientists and journalists on a cruise around Antarctica was struggling to free itself from sea ice about 5 miles from clear water on Tuesday, a shipping company said.

But the company said no one was in danger, that some of the tourists were using the unplanned stop to take helicopter tours of the area.

The Captain Khlebnikov icebreaker was near Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea, German Kuzin of the Fareastern Shipping Co. told Russia’s Vesti 24 television.

The island lies off the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts up toward South America.


Legislator sorry for Twitter insult

OTTAWA | A Canadian member of Parliament learned the hard way Tuesday that insulting a rival legislator via Twitter is not a good idea, especially if you are sitting around the same table at the time.

Michelle Simson of the Liberals, unhappy at the behavior of Conservative parliamentarian Dean Del Mastro during a committee meeting, sent a Twitter message saying, “Del Mastro should grow up (not out).”

Mr. Del Mastro, who is not slim, demanded an apology.

“I apologize that I’m not perfect and perhaps my stature doesn’t meet the criteria that some members of the House might set, but I have actually battled that problem since birth,” he said.

Ms. Simson then apologized publicly.

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