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Daily Briefing

China ousts officials in disaster deaths

September 15, 2008
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Hong Kong
The governor and vice governor of China's Shanxi province lost their jobs yesterday after at least 254 villagers died last Monday when their homes were engulfed by a cascade of muddy iron ore waste from the reservoir of an unlicensed mine. The removal of the top two officials in the province in north-central China was announced by the official Xinhua news agency. It is the latest sign that Chinese authorities are holding high-ranking members of the Communist Party personally accountable for their handling of environmental and work safety disasters. (New York Times News Service)

Sudan
Rebels say attack violated peace deal
KHARTOUM - Sudanese government forces waging an offensive in northern Darfur have attacked rebel-held areas farther south, including a base belonging to a group that signed a peace deal with the government, rebels said yesterday. At least three fighters were killed and nine injured in an attack on the base Saturday, said Mohamed Bashir, chief of staff of former rebel leader Minni Minawi, the only one to sign a peace deal with the government. The assault came just before sunset as the fighters in Kolge, in the east Jebel Marra area, were preparing the meal to break the fast during the month of Ramadan. "This is a breach of the agreement," Bashir said in Khartoum. "We don't know why the government attacks a base for a movement that signed a peace deal." (AP)

Saudi Arabia
Cleric backs death for 'immoral' TV
RIYADH - A senior Saudi official said yesterday that owners of satellite TV networks that show "immoral" content should be brought to trial and sentenced to death if other penalties don't deter them from airing such broadcasts. The comments by Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, the chief of the kingdom's highest tribunal, the Supreme Judiciary Council, were an attempt to explain a fatwa, or decree, he issued last week, in which he said just that it was permissible to kill the network's owners. Appearing on government-run Saudi TV yesterday, Lihedan seemed to be trying to calm the controversy his original comments triggered, explaining that the owners of offending networks should be warned and punished before possibly being brought to trial and executed. Still, Lihedan, who is also a cleric, did not back down. (AP)

Thailand
Emergency is ended to lure back tourists
BANGKOK - The Thai government ended a state of emergency imposed in the capital to control a violent political crisis, saying yesterday it had only served to scare away tourists crucial to the country's economy. Emergency rule was imposed by the government on Sept. 2 after a night of violent clashes between anti-government supporters and opponents left one man dead and dozens injured. Images of the mayhem were broadcast around the world, prompting travel advisories from several countries. Calm was quickly restored and business and daily life continued as normal in the Thai capital. Acting Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat urged all sides in the deepening political standoff to compromise and help restore the country's image. (AP)

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