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Archive for Saturday, January 5, 2002

World Briefs

January 5, 2002

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England: 5 Americans killed in private jet crash

A private jet bound for the United States crashed on takeoff Friday at Birmingham International Airport in central England, killing five Americans on board.

The twin-engine Canadair Challenger executive jet that went down just after noon was registered with Georgia-based agricultural equipment giant AGCO Corp.

The company said its president and chief executive officer, John Shumejda, 56, and its senior vice president of sales, Ed Swingle, 60, were killed. Both had attended a meeting in Coventry of AGCO's British operation and were flying to Bangor, Maine.

The U.S. Embassy in London said the three crew members also were American citizens, but their identities were not released.

The cause of the crash was not known.

Australia: Thousands of koalas feared killed in fires

The bush fires raging in Australia have likely killed or injured thousands of koalas, further stressing the national icon's fragile population, wildlife experts said Friday.

Koala populations already are threatened by human development. Many of those populations will be diminished drastically by the fires burning across New South Wales state and may not rebuild for 15 years, the National Parks and Wildlife Service said.

Eucalyptus trees have a high oil content and are extremely combustible. Often, the wildfires engulf a tree before koalas have the chance to escape.

Close to 1.2 million acres of land, most of it eucalyptus forests where koalas thrive, have been razed in the "black Christmas" fires. About half of the 100 fires were deliberately set, officials said.

Nepal: Postponed summit may threaten talks

A long-shot opportunity to get the leaders of India and Pakistan talking again appeared to slip away Friday after the opening of a regional summit here was postponed because Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf arrived late.

The delay in the summit's start until today meant that a private retreat, where Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee were supposed to mingle with five other leaders at a Himalayan resort, would likely be canceled, the Nepali hosts said.

Observers had viewed the retreat as a prime opportunity for a face-to-face meeting about the tensions that have been mounting since a Dec. 13 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament.

Sardinia: Oldest male dies at 112

Antonio Todde, an Italian shepherd listed by Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest man, was found dead Friday morning, just shy of his 113th birthday.

Todde, who attributed his longevity to a daily glass of red wine, died in his sleep overnight in Tiana, Sardinia, said his nephew, Vanni Todde.

On Thursday, Antonio Todde had told his daughter he wasn't feeling well and refused food. "His heart just gave up," the nephew said.

Born Jan. 22, 1889, in a mountain village, Todde was a shepherd all his life. He left his native island just once, to serve in the military in World War I.

He inherited the Guinness title of oldest man in December 2000 when American Benjamin Harrison Holcomb died in Carnegie, Okla., at 111.

Guinness lists the world's oldest woman as 114-year-old Maude Farris-Luse, born Jan. 21, 1887, in Morley, Mich.

London: Dolly the cloned sheep gets arthritis at age 5

The world's first cloned sheep has developed arthritis at the relatively early age of 5 1/2 years, scientists said Friday, stirring debate that the current cloning procedures might be flawed.

The announcement of Dolly's problem could raise new doubts about cloning animals for use in human transplantation and about cloning humans themselves.

"Dolly has arthritis in her left hind leg at the hip and the knee," said the scientist, Ian Wilmut, of the Edinburgh-based Roslin Institute. "We will never know in the case of Dolly whether her condition is because she was cloned or whether this was an unfortunate accident."

He said normal sheep of Dolly's age have been known to develop arthritis, but most don't until they are older.

Dolly was born in a Scottish research compound in 1996.

Argentina: Currency to be devalued

In his first public address since taking office two days earlier, Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde acknowledged Friday that the nation will have to devalue its currency, abandoning the peso's 10-year parity with the dollar.

But he declined to say how much value the peso might lose or disclose details of a sweeping economic "salvation" plan he has sent to Congress for debate and approval during the weekend. A tentative unveiling of the plan to the public Friday was postponed until today at the earliest.

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