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World dateline briefs

Brazil

MACAE — The world's biggest offshore oil rig, owned by Brazil's state oil giant Petrobras, threatened to sink into the ocean today, a day after a series of explosions that apparently killed 10 people.

Canada

OTTAWA — New laws being proposed to Parliament would update Canada's criminal code to include offenses committed on the Internet, such as viewing or distributing child pornography.

China

BEIJING — Four people died and eight were missing after a cargo ship capsized in a river in China's eastern province of Zhejiang, an official said.

East Timor

DILI — East Timor's U.N. administrator formally set Aug. 30 as the date for the territory's first free elections. Sergio Vieira de Mello signed a decree that sets into motion preparations for elections for a constituent assembly. That legislature will be tasked with drawing up a constitution ahead of full independence, possibly next year.

El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR — A powerful earthquake and two smaller ones rattled quake-stricken El Salvador on Thursday, causing people to flee into the streets. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

England

LONDON — Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said she would lead appeals to Commonwealth ministers to press her country's military rulers to pave the way for a return to democracy.

India

SRINAGAR — Police fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse hundreds of stone throwing protesters demonstrating in Kashmir against the burning of a copy of the Koran by Hindu hardliners earlier this month, witnesses said.

Iraq

BAGHDAD — A bomb killed two people and injured several others in this capital city, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. INA quoted a security source as saying that a highly explosive device was planted by "agents of treachery and vice" between two buses at a garage in the al-Karkh area.

Japan

TOKYO — In the latest prediction of when Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori would bow out, a domestic news agency said that ruling party powerbrokers hoped to install a new Cabinet before spring holidays in early May.

Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR — The fear of defamation suits seeking damages in the millions of dollars is stifling the media and free speech in Malaysia, lawyers said.

Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Prospects for quick passage of President Vicente Fox's priority projects — fiscal reform and an Indian rights bill — looked dim as the divided Congress met after a long recess. Fox's National Action Party and the other two main parties in Congress are split on the bills.

Philippines

MANILA — The owners of a disco gutted by a fire five years ago that killed 160 people, mostly teenagers, were convicted of not providing fire exit or sprinklers for the nightclub.

Sri Lanka

COLOMBO — The government said it plans to step up checks on flights from Britain to try to limit the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

Syria

DAMASCUS — The government has given permission for the first private international school to open in the country, ending half a century of state controls on education, officials said.

Taiwan

TAIPEI — A year after a humiliating poll defeat ended the Nationalists' half-century lock on power, Taiwan's main opposition leader said he was confident a reformed party would keep a majority in parliament at year-end elections.

Zambia

LUSAKA — An outbreak of bubonic plague has killed nine people and left scores ill in hospital in eastern Zambia.