April 8, 2008 in Nation/World

World in brief: Protests continue over economy

The Spokesman-Review
 

Egyptian police attacked protesters who tore down a billboard of President Hosni Mubarak in a northern city Monday in the second day of violence fueled by anger over low wages and rising prices.

Prices of cooking oil, rice and other staples have nearly doubled since the beginning of the year, and there are widespread shortages of government- subsidized bread throughout the country of 76 million people.

Thousands of demonstrators torched buildings, looted shops and hurled bricks at police in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla al-Kobra on Sunday.

Several hundred young men massed in Mahalla al-Kobra’s main square on Monday, throwing rocks at a billboard of Mubarak and slashing it with knives before toppling it.

Riot police charged the group, firing heavy volleys of tear gas, pulling some of the men to the pavement and beating them with batons or fists. At least 25 people were arrested, and 15 protesters and five policemen were hurt, security officials said.

Beijing

New Zealand, China sign trade deal

China and New Zealand signed a sweeping free trade agreement Monday, China’s first such pact with a developed country.

The deal, signed by Commerce Minister Chen Deming and his New Zealand counterpart Phil Goff at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, will give New Zealand access to one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

When the deal goes into effect Oct. 1, New Zealand exports to China that now face tariffs of 5 percent or less will be cut to zero. There will be a staggered timeframe for cuts on New Zealand exports that face larger tariffs.

Caracas, Venezuela

‘Simpsons’ yanked from channel

D’oh! A Venezuelan TV channel has yanked “The Simpsons” off the air because it may be inappropriate for children. Taking its place: “Baywatch Hawaii.”

Televen TV station spokeswoman Elba Guillen said Monday that the decision to hand over the daily 11 a.m. time slot came after the National Telecommunications Commission received complaints from viewers.

“Baywatch,” which features bikini-clad bombshells and musclebound hunks working as lifeguards on the Hawaiian coast, has been running in the 11 a.m. slot since Friday.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Condom factory inaugurated

Brazil on Monday inaugurated a condom factory that officials say will help hundreds of poor Brazilian rubber tappers make a living while helping to preserve the Amazon rain forest.

The plant in the northwestern town of Xapuri will produce 100 million condoms a year, which the government will distribute for free as part of its massive anti-AIDS program, Brazil’s Health Ministry said in a statement.

The latex will be drawn from towering jungle trees in the sprawling Chico Mendes forest reserve by small-time rubber tappers who protect their trees – and thus the rain forest – to ensure their livelihood, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

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