Groups want more freed 

HANOI: Rights groups have welcomed the arrival in France of Laos' two most prominent political dissidents but have called for the release of five other activists still detained. 

Ex-deputy economy minister Latsami Khamphoui and former justice ministry official Pheng Sakchittaphong arrived in France on Thursday. The men were jailed 14 years ago for criticising the government. 

The Paris-based Lao Movement for Human Rights called for five other dissidents who were arrested after participating in a pro-democracy march in 1999 to be also freed. – AFP 

More jobs, lower unemployment 

SINGAPORE: The private sector had 18,900 job openings in the three months from July to September, the highest level of vacancies in 3½ years. 

At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 3.4%. 

That meant 42 vacancies for every 100 jobseekers – an improvement on the ratio of 29:100 the previous quarter, but still a far cry from the days before the 1997 Asian financial crisis when there were over two jobs for every jobseeker. – The Straits Times/ANN 

Mass arsenic poisoning 

BEIJING: At least 160 people were struck down by arsenic poisoning after waste water leaked from a new copper plant in northeast China, state media said yesterday. 

All the victims were hospitalised, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing Wang Jie, health bureau director in Fuxin city, Liaoning province. 

Preliminary investigations showed that the mass poisoning occurred just weeks after trial operations began at the Jiayi Copper Plant. – AFP 

Police arrest three over scam  

HANOI: Police in Vietnam have detained three men who allegedly collected human remains in a scam to claim they were those of missing American servicemen and to cheat locals out of money, police said yesterday. 

One of the suspects surrendered to police on Tuesday, said a police officer in Dong Nai province. The man led police to his alleged accomplices. – AP  

Attempt to open plane door foiled 

HONG KONG: A passenger on a flight from Tokyo to here tried to open the emergency door of a jumbo jet at an altitude of more than 9,000m, a news report said yesterday. 

Anthony Yeung, 37, partially twisted open the handle of the door on the flight on Nov 7 before cabin crew and a fellow passenger restrained him, the South China Morning Post said. 

At a court appearance on Thursday, sound engineer Yeung said he had heard “voices in his head” before trying to open the jet door. – dpa 

Eight nabbed after drug bust 

NAIROBI: Following this week's interception of two large cocaine consignments in Kenya, eight people have been arrested in Kenya and the Netherlands, the media said on Thursday. 

The cocaine, which weighed close to a tonne and was worth about US$65mil (RM247mil) on the European market, was seized in Nairobi and in the coastal town of Malindi, where it had been prepared to be sent out to sea in a speedboat. 

Police said the cocaine had been disguised as bananas from Venezuela and Colombia. – dpa 

No quick fix to Ivorians’ woes 

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa expects no quick fix to the political crisis in Ivory Coast where President Thabo Mbeki is mediating in the name of the African Union, his spokesman Bheki Khumalo said yesterday. 

Mbeki held a second round of talks with Ivory Coast's New Forces rebels in Pretoria yesterday on proposals for a peace plan in the West African top cocoa producer, Khumalo said. – Reuters  

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