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|May 1-7, 2008
Saudi father pays son to quit smoking
BEIRUT, Lebanon — A successful Saudi businessman from Taif paid his son a $267,000 reward for quitting smoking, the Lebanese As-Safir newspaper said.
The son learned of the gift when he asked bank officials why such a large sum had appeared on his account.
“I’m glad that after nine years of smoking my son finally managed to get rid of this bad habit,” said the father, whose name was not disclosed.
Saudi Arabia, the 23rd largest consumer of cigarettes, has witnessed a major anti-smoking campaign in recent years. Last year, the state filed a $2.7 billion suit against major tobacco companies, requesting they cover expenses of treating Saudis for smoking-related diseases.
Although Islamic texts do not specifically prohibit smoking, Islam’s holiest cities Mecca and Medina have recently been declared tobacco-free.
Russia joins anti-smoking convention
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that will see the country join the World Health Organization’s anti-smoking convention, a Kremlin spokesman said.
Under the convention, which was ratified by Russia’s lower house of parliament in April, a tobacco advertising ban should be implemented within five years and at least 30 percent of tobacco packets should contain a health warning.
The signatories to the convention are also encouraged to raise taxes for tobacco producers, eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products, ban tobacco sales to and by minors and promote agricultural diversification and alternative livelihoods for tobacco producers.
Court extends probe for jailed Lebedev
CHITA, Russia — An East Siberian court granted a request from top prosecutors to extend a new probe against jailed Yukos co-founder Platon Lebedev until Aug. 2, Lebedev’s lawyer said.
The new charges against the bankrupt oil company’s CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business partner Lebedev, both sentenced to eight-year jail terms in 2005, include stealing government shares, illegal oil trading and laundering $25 billion earned from oil sales in 1998-2004.
Igor Sapozhkov pledged to file a cassation appeal against the court ruling.
Both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have denied all charges. Khodorkovsky said his imprisonment was a direct result of his support for Russia’s tiny pro-Western opposition.
Belgian police catch 10 year-old driver
BRUSSELS, Belgium — Belgian police caught a 10-year-old boy driving a car on a highway while his mother sat in the front passenger seat, an English-language weekly said.
Traffic police said the child had poor control over the vehicle and was barely able to reach the accelerator and brake pedals, The Bulletin reported.
His mother faces a hefty fine over the incident.
A similar case was reported last month in Pernambuco, Brazil, when a 12-year-old girl was caught driving her father’s car on a highway.
Man swallows 60 hash condoms, dies
JAKARTA, Indonesia — An Australian man who swallowed 60 condoms stuffed with hashish has died in hospital in southern Thailand, Thai police said.
John Paul Jones, 51, from Queensland, went to a hospital in Surat Thani on April 11 complaining of severe stomach pains. An X-ray revealed 60 mysterious packages in his stomach, which turned out to be hash.
Police said he had intended to sell the drugs at a beach party in the resort of Ko Phangan.
Three of the condoms burst, fatally damaging his colon and liver, Thai media quoted doctors as saying.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra said Jones, who was charged while in the hospital with possession of drugs, died of internal infections.
McCartney to give free concert in Kiev
KIEV, Ukraine — Former Beatle Paul McCartney will give a free concert in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, on June 14, the Ukrainian billionaire who set up the event said.
“Ukraine can’t consider itself a truly democratic country, until Paul McCartney performs here,” Viktor Pinchuk said.
Pinchuk told a news conference that he had been planning to invite McCartney since the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine, which was followed by mass protests known as the “orange revolution” that brought a pro-Western government to power.
The news conference also included a recorded video message from McCartney, who invited Ukrainians to the concert.
Volcano spits red-hot rocks
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Mount Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait, has started hurling flaming rocks from its southern crater, Indonesian Antara news agency said.
The agency quoted Anton Tripambudi, head of the monitoring post in a nearby village, as saying that the red-hot rocks shooting up from its crater have reached as high as 600 meters and are clearly visible from the nearby coast indicating that volcanic activity was set to continue.
Tripambudi said thundering sounds have been heard within a radius of three kilometers from the crater. The volcanic tremors had increased in frequency since the Bandung Geological Disaster Center raised the alert status to level III.
There are no villages in close vicinity to the volcano, but the island is a popular tourist spot.
The Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra became notorious for the devastating eruption of Mount Krakatau in August 1883, when the volcano exploded in one of the most violent eruptions in modern times.
The volcanic eruption was audible up to 5,000 kilometers away, and generated a tsunami which circled the globe three times. More than 36,000 people died in the disaster.
The volcano destroyed itself in the eruption, but Anak Krakatau, “the child of Krakatau,” started emerging at the site in the 1930s.
Jackie Chan to fight Kostya Tszyu
MOSCOW — Chinese actor-director and martial artist Jackie Chan has agreed to an exhibition fight in China with Russian boxer Kostya Tszyu, an event organizer said.
“Jackie Chan gave his approval, saying he liked the idea,” Tatyana Trubnikova said. “But we need to receive permission from the Chinese Olympic Committee, as Chan is China’s official face for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.”
She said that if permission is given, the bout will take place on Aug. 22 or 23 in Russia House, which will be accommodating the Russian delegation to the Beijing Games, scheduled for Aug. 8-24.
The bout between the 54-year-old Hollywood star and the 38-year-old Australia-based Russian boxer, the undisputed junior welterweight world champion, will be held as part of festivities for Olympic boxing.
Russian woman kills daughter, self
NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia — A mother in southwest Siberia who killed her 7-year-old daughter by throwing her out of a fifth-floor window twice before jumping herself, has died from her injuries, police said.
Investigators found a suicide note in her apartment in Russia’s Altai Republic.
After the woman threw her daughter out of the window on Wednesday, she went downstairs to the courtyard to discover the child was still alive.
In a bizarre twist she carried her daughter back up to the apartment and threw her out of the window again, before jumping herself. The girl died instantly after the second attempt, while the mother was hospitalized.
Police said the woman had no history of psychiatric illness, and there is no evidence she was drunk when she killed her daughter.
New record set for Coke-Mentos geyser
MOSCOW — Students in the Belgian city of Leuven have set a new world record for mixing Diet Coke and Mentos mints to launch 1,360 simultaneous geysers, local media said.
A Mentos mint flavored candy added to a bottle of Diet Coke causes a reaction resulting in a foam fountain up to nine meters (29 feet) high. Films of the Mentos-Diet Coke mix have been posted on Internet entertainment sites attracting at least 10 million viewers.
The previous Guinness Book of World Records was set in the U.S., when 973 cola bottles were launched simultaneously.
The craze has developed into an advertiser’s dream with a 20 percent increase in U.S. sales of Mentos last year. The candy maker estimates the craze is worth $10 million free advertising a year.
Coca-Cola has also signed deals with leading Internet video celebrities and even ran a Diet Coke-Mentos video on its website for three months.
19 feared dead as boat capsizes
NEW DELHI — A boat carrying people to a wedding capsized on a lake in central India, killing at least two, while 17 others are missing, local media said.
The accident occurred late on Wednesday when guests were returning from the party near the city of Pune in Maharashtra. Out of the 28 people, mostly children, on board at the time only two bodies have been recovered, while nine others managed to swim to safety.
A local official, Prabhakar Deshmukh, was quoted by the Indian news portal as saying: “The main reason for this mishap is that the boat was carrying people beyond its capacity. Gusty winds compounded the problem and the boat capsized.”
Bust in Tajikistan nets 50 kg of drugs
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Officers in south Tajikistan discovered a drug stash containing over 38 kgs (83 pounds) of heroin and 14 kgs (30 pounds) of marijuana during a special forces operation, a security spokesman said.
A local person, allegedly a drug dealer, has been detained, the spokesman said, adding that the investigation is continuing.
In a separate operation in Tajikistan last week, officers found 10 kilograms of drugs, as well as explosives.
Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, is a major transit country for drugs from the world’s largest heroin producer, Afghanistan.
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