WORLD Briefs

Saudi to remove books deemed to promote terrorism

RIYADH, February 15 (AP):
An official at the Saudi Education Ministry says the kingdom plans to remove books from school libraries that are deemed to encourage terrorism or defame religion. The official said Tuesday the ministry has created a book review committee that will begin work soon. No further details were immediately available. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with ministry protocol.  The U.S. has pressured Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments to crack down on writings believed to encourage terrorism. Saudi King Abdullah has encouraged reforms in the oil-rich kingdom.  In 2009, he opened a state-of-the art postgraduate institution where men and women study together - a move criticized by some in the highly conservative society.  

211 killed: S.Sudan says Khartoum arming rebels

JUBA, February 15 (AP):
Political leaders in Southern Sudan on Tuesday angrily accused Sudan’s Khartoum-based government of arming a rebel leader they say killed more than 200 southerners last week, a charge that could increase north-south tensions as the south prepares for independence. Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management James Kok Ruea labeled last week’s attack by rebel leader George Athor a “massacre.”  Ruea said 201 southern civilians and security forces died during the attack in Jonglei state and that 10 died later in the hospital. He said nearly 160 of the dead were civilians, including children, the elderly and the internally displaced.  “They were chased into the river. I was the one who put them into a mass grave,” an emotional sounding Ruea told The Associated Press. A southern military spokesman previously said 30 of Athor’s men also were killed, bringing the overall death toll to 241.

Russian copter crash kills pilot; craft grounded

ROSTOV-ON-DON, February 15 (AP):
Russian news agencies say the Defense Ministry has grounded its fleet of Mi-28 attack helicopters following a crash in the south of the country that killed the pilot. The agencies said that the military helicopter crashed in daylight Tuesday attempting an emergency landing after engine failure in the province of Stavropol. A co-pilot was injured, the reports said.  The military routinely grounds aircraft after disasters.  The Mi-28 is nicknamed Night Hunter because of its sophisticated radar equipment that allows night missions, and is roughly analogous to the U.S. Boeing AH-64 Apache. It entered service in 1996.

Barking dogs can land owner in jail

Rome, February 15 (Reuters):
If you live in Italy and if the barking of your dogs keeps the neighbors up at night, it’s you who might wind up caged -- in a jail cell. The top appeals court sentenced four people in Sicily to two months in jail because they refused to keep their 10 dogs quiet at night despite complaints from neighbors who had repeatedly picked a bone with the owners over lost sleep. The four were also ordered to pay court charges and a fine of 500 euros ($684) each.

Angry monks stop “insulting” beer ad

VILNIUS, February 15  (Reuters):
Monks and nuns in the largely Catholic Baltic state of Lithuania forced a brewery on February 9 to withdraw an “insulting” poster campaign featuring a Franciscan brother holding up a brimming glass of beer. The outdoor billboard was to promote a beer produced by the country’s biggest brewer, Svyturys-Utenos alus, which is majority owned by Danish brewing giant Carlsberg. But Lithuania’s conference of monks and nuns said in a statement they felt “insulted and trampled upon” by the advertisement and had written to the brewer to protest. The brewery apologized and said it would stop the advertisement immediately. It said it had used the monk’s image to highlight links to a historical legacy of medieval monks producing beer.

Third of Russians think sun spins round Earth?

MOSCOW, February 15 (Reuters):
Does the sun revolve around the Earth? One in every three Russians thinks so, a spokeswoman for state pollster VsTIOM said on Friday. In a survey released last week, 32 percent of Russians believed the Earth was the center of the Solar system; 55 percent that all radioactivity is man-made; and 29 percent that the first humans lived when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. “It’s really quite amazing,” spokeswoman Olga Kamenchuk said of the survey that polled 1,600 people across Russia’s regions in January, with a 3.4-percent margin of error. “All of them (the questions) were absolutely obvious... the data speaks of the low levels of education in the country.” However, people tend to forget what they have been taught at school if it is not part of daily use, she added: “I wonder whether our colleagues in other countries would find any different.” The study also found that women were more likely than men to believe the scientific fallacies.