Briefs, September 26, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 4:10am


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Patient with Sars-like illness remains critical

GENEVA - A Qatari man suffering from a new respiratory virus from the same family as the deadly Sars remains in critical condition, the World Health Organisation said yesterday. The 49-year-old was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha on September 7 suffering from acute respiratory infection and kidney failure before being transferred to Britain. The WHO confirmed the illness was in the coronavirus family but was not severe acute respiratory syndrome, which swept out of China in 2003, killing more than 800 people worldwide. AFP


Canadian in hospital with swine flu variant

OTTAWA - A Canadian man is in hospital in southwestern Ontario with a new variant of the swine flu virus that caused a 2009 pandemic. The adult male patient became ill "after close contact with pigs", Ontario's medical chief, Arlene King, said. He is being treated for the influenza virus, which rarely spreads from animals to humans or from humans to humans, and is being closely monitored at an undisclosed hospital, she said. No details were provided on the man's condition and the risk of an outbreak was downplayed. AFP


Catalan president calls for early elections

MADRID - Catalan president Artur Mas called early elections for November 25, defying Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a campaign that will focus attention on the potential for Spain's biggest region to declare independence. Mas made his announcement to lawmakers in Barcelona five days after Rajoy rejected his bid for greater control of the region's tax revenue. The Catalan leader, who has sought a 5 billion-euro (HK$50.14 billion) bailout from Madrid, said last week Rajoy lacked the political courage to forge a deal. Bloomberg


Britain prepares to hand over Abu Hamza

LONDON - Britain prepared to hand over radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States on terrorism charges after the European Court of Human Rights rejected his final appeal. The court upheld an April 10 ruling against the hook-handed Egyptian-born terror suspect and four others that approved their extradition by London, ending a long legal battle. The suspects had argued they would face degrading treatment because they would be sent to the notorious ADX supermax prison in Colorado and would face possible multiple life sentences. AFP


France calls Facebook managers to account

PARIS - The French government summoned Facebook managers to explain rumours that some users' old private messages were being posted publicly on the social network. In a joint statement, Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg and the junior minister for the digital economy, Fleur Pellerin, said Facebook managers had been summoned before France's CNIL data watchdog to explain the rumours. Facebook said it investigated complaints from members and denied the reports of private messages being made public. AFP


Publisher to open Vogue Café in Dubai

DUBAI - The glossy's global publisher, Conde Nast International, will open a Vogue Café in Dubai's largest shopping mall by the end of the year. It will be the company's first such café in the Middle East. The café will be surrounded by high-end fashion and shoe stores in Dubai Mall. The sprawling shopping centre is located at the foot of the world's tallest skyscraper, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa. AP


Criminals lead '60pc' of Mexican prisons

MEXICO CITY - Six out of 10 Mexican prisons are "self-governed" by prison gangs or drug cartels, according to a report issued by the country's human rights commission. Commission representative Andres Aguirre said Mexico's prisons were plagued by overcrowding, a shortage of guards and corrupt employees who sometimes help with breakouts. Aguirre said 60 per cent of the country's 430 prisons or jails were controlled by criminal elements. He said the escape of 521 inmates over 14 incidents since 2010 - often with the help of corrupt prison officials - constituted a grave problem for the country. Reuters


Libya absorbs militias into security forces

TRIPOLI - Libyan authorities moved to absorb militias into the security forces, appointing military commanders to head Islamist armed groups in an effort to cement central government control. The new leadership for the Benghazi Islamist militias, Rafallah al-Sahati and the February 17 brigades, announced by the military, came at the tail-end of a 48-hour deadline for militias to disarm. The push followed mass weekend protests against the groups in Benghazi - demonstrations sparked by outrage over the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the city during September 11 protests. Bloomberg


Scientology insider will publish memoir

NEW YORK - A niece of Scientology leader David Miscavige is planning a tell-all memoir about the church. Jenna Miscavige Hill has been a frequent critic of the movement since publicly breaking with it in 2005. She announced the book, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, will come out in January. It says the 28-year-old Hill will reveal "strange and disturbing" details about growing up in the church and will provide a first-hand account of Scientology's "upper ranks". AP