December 20, 2007 in Nation/World

World in brief: Al-Qaida No. 2 will take questions

The Spokesman-Review

Al-Qaida has invited journalists to send questions to its No. 2 figure, Ayman al-Zawahri, in the first such offer by the terror network to “interview” one of its leaders since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The advertisement, issued by the group’s media arm Al-Sahab on an Islamic militant Web site, invites “individuals, agencies and all media” to submit written questions for al-Zawahri by sending them to the Web forums where Al-Sahab traditionally posts its messages.

Al-Sahab asked the forums to send it the questions “with no changes or substitutions, no matter whether they agree or disagree (with the question).”

It said it would take questions until Jan. 16, after which al-Zawahri would answer them “as much as he is able and at the soonest possible occasion.” It did not say whether his answers would come in writing, video or audiotape.

The authenticity of the invitation, first posted Sunday, could not be independently confirmed.

Seoul, South Korea

Ex-CEO of Hyundai wins presidency

A former Hyundai CEO known as “The Bulldozer” for his determination to get things done rolled over all opposition and financial fraud allegations to win South Korea’s presidency Wednesday, ending a decade of liberal rule.

A day after his landslide victory, Lee Myung-bak pledged to work for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and strengthen Seoul’s alliance with the United States.

Lee, who turned 66 Wednesday and has served as the mayor of Seoul, earned his win on a wave of discontent with incumbent President Roh Moo-hyun, whom many believe bungled the economy and dragged down the country’s rapid growth.

The National Election Commission said Lee had 48.7 percent of the vote after all ballots were counted. Liberal Chung Dong-young was a distant second with 26.1 percent.


Judges forbid naming boy Friday

Friday’s child is loving and giving – but not if he lives in Italy.

Italian judges forbade a couple from naming their son Friday, saying it would bring the child shame and ridicule to be named after the character in “Robinson Crusoe.”

“They thought that it recalled the figure of a savage, thus creating a sense of inferiority and failing to guarantee the boy the necessary decorum,” the couple’s lawyer, Paola Rossi, said Wednesday.

Mara and Roberto Germano, whose son was born on Sept. 3, 2006, had the boy named and baptized Venerdi, Italian for Friday. Even though the boy was not born on a Friday – it was Sunday – his parents liked the name, said Rossi.

“They wanted an unusual name, something original, and it did not seem like a shameful name,” Rossi said in a telephone interview. “We think it calls to mind the day of the week rather than the novel’s character.”

The couple are considering appealing the decision to Italy’s highest court, Rossi said.

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