Interational briefs

Macau celebrates

MACAU: Macau celebrated its 10th anniversary of Chinese rule on Sunday, a decade marked by the extraordinary transformation of the once seedy Portuguese colony into a glitzy international gambling capital. But leaders stressed the need to lessen the local economy’s reliance on casinos even as they commemorated the success that has helped this southern Chinese enclave surpass Las Vegas as the world’s most lucrative gambling market. “In the next five years, we will actively promote the diverse economic development of Macau,” said the territory’s new leader, Fernando Chui, after being sworn in by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Conjoined twins

MELBOURNE: Formerly conjoined twin sisters Trishna and Krishna were discharged from an Australian hospital on Monday, five weeks after their separation surgery and just in time to celebrate their third birthday. Doctors said the Bangladeshi-born girls had made amazing progress since the surgery and were already using walkers to move around the hospital. The girls had been joined at the top of their heads and shared brain tissue and blood vessels before their separation in a 30-hour operation. They will spend their birthday on Tuesday at home in Melbourne with their legal guardian, Moira Kelly.

X-Mas space mission

BAIKONUR: A Russian rocket blasted off from a cosmodrome in Kazakhstan lighting up the frigid Central Asian steppe on Monday, shuttling an American, a Russian and a Japanese to the International Space Station. Standing in the early morning cold, the astronauts’ family and friends watched as the Soyuz craft soared atop a tower of bright orange flames. The Soyuz TMA-17’s three astronauts will take the orbiting laboratory’s permanent crew to five following the early-hours launch, the first-ever blastoff of a Soyuz rocket on a winter night.

Stepfather owns up

RIO DE JANEIRO: A jailed Brazilian admitted in a television interview that he shoved nearly three dozen sewing needles into his 2-year-old stepson because he wanted to kill the boy to spite his wife. Speaking from his cell, 30-year-old bricklayer Roberto Carlos Magalhaes told how he doped the child with wine mixed in water, then stuck needles into his body while his lover held the boy down.