- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Explosion illustrates risks to coal miners

HEGANG | The coal mine that exploded in northern China, killing 104, had too many workers underground in an effort to increase output, a government official said Monday, exposing the risks often taken to meet the country’s insatiable energy demands.

The weekend gas explosion - China’s worst mining accident in two years - was a blow to the government’s recent efforts to improve safety standards in the industry, the deadliest in the world.

Grieving relatives, who wailed at the gate of the Xinxing mining office Monday morning, were shocked that such a blast could occur at a state-run mine, which the government has promoted as being safer than smaller, privately run concerns.

China’s hunger for energy cuts closest to the bone in places such as Hegang, an aging industrial city near the Russian border where the economy runs on coal. The country uses coal to meet three-fourths of its electricity needs.


Man hits kangaroo, saves drowning dog

MELBOURNE | A kangaroo startled by a man walking his dog attacked the pair, pinning the pet underwater and slashing the owner in the abdomen with its hind legs.

Chris Rickard, 49, was in stable condition Monday after the attack, which ended when the Australian elbowed the kangaroo in the throat. He said he was walking his blue heeler, Rocky, on Sunday morning when they surprised a sleeping kangaroo in Arthur’s Creek northeast of Melbourne. The dog chased the animal into a pond, when the kangaroo turned and pinned the pet underwater.

Mr. Rickard said Rocky was “half-drowned” when he pulled him from the water.


Slain priest a critic of Islam

MOSCOW | A Russian Orthodox priest who was an outspoken critic of Islam and spoke out against ultranationalist groups was fatally shot in his Moscow church by a masked assassin, investigators said Friday.

Daniil Sysoyev, a well-known figure who appeared on television talk shows and published a blog, had received threats over his extensive missionary work among Muslims in what was a highly unusual activity for a Russian priest.

The killer also wounded the choirmaster.

The man walked into the St. Thomas Church in southern Moscow on Thursday and asked for Father Sysoyev by name, the head of the investigators’ Moscow branch Anatoly Bagmet told the RIA Novosti news agency.

The slaying was most likely for religious reasons, Mr. Bagmet added.


Movement limited for Darfur volunteers

UNITED NATIONS | Sudan’s government has harassed and limited movements of international peacekeepers in its conflict-torn western Darfur region, violating an agreement on the peacekeepers’ deployment, the United Nations said in a report released Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) attempting to quell the Darfur conflict presents another bleak assessment of what U.N. officials say is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The report documents a number of examples of harassment - bureaucratic delays, warning shots fired at UNAMID, weapons pointed at convoys and Sudanese army helicopters flying low over UNAMID “in a threatening manner.”

Sudanese U.N. diplomats were not available for comment.

Mr. Ban said Khartoum is making it difficult for UNAMID to carry out its day-to-day duties.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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