Taiwan stands divided

TAIPEI: Many Taiwanese support the visit of the Dalai Lama to comfort survivors of a devastating typhoon, according to a poll released on Friday, but some criticised it as political maneouvering and others said they wished more attention would be paid to recovery efforts. On Thursday, President Ma Ying-jeou announced he had approved the visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader, surprising many who see the trip as a threat to his efforts to improve relations with China - the signature issue of his 15-month-old administration. The Dalai Lama is to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday and remain for four to five days. — AP

Italian PM calls off trip

VATICAN CITY: Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi who is embroiled in a sex scandal has cancelled a visit to L’Aquila for a religious service for the remission of sins. Berlusconi was supposed to have participated in the observation on Friday alongside Vatican No 2 Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and then attend a dinner with him. The Vatican press office announced the dinner was cancelled to avoid exploiting the situation. Berlusconi’s office confirmed he wouldn’t go at all. Berlusconi’s sex scandal prompted his second wife to announce she was divorcing him. His participation in the annual Pardon observation had raised eyebrows, since he was to attend with a former TV starlet-turned Cabinet minister to whom he once said he’d wed if he wasn’t married. — AP

Brown bats for Pak

LONDON: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he is urging allies to help fund education projects in Pakistan’s border region. Brown held talks Friday in London with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari on development and tackling extremism along the lawless border with Afghanistan. The prime minister’s office says Brown told the Pakistani leader he is calling on other nations to match Britain’s efforts to provide textbooks for schools in border areas, and to encourage more girls to attend high school. He pressed Zardari to ensure aid money directed toward the region is properly spent. The British leader also offered support for Pakistan’s army’s offensive against Taliban

fighters. — AP

Tremor in Oklahoma

ADA: At least eight minor earthquakes have been recorded in central and southern Oklahoma in a single day. The latest was a 2.3 magnitude quake recorded at 11:15 pm on Thursday, about 24 kilometres northeast of Oklahoma City. Before that, a 3.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 9:09 pm on Thursday in the US state. — AP