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AUSTRALIA: Flight attendant fired over prank

A Virgin Blue flight attendant was fired after an angry mother said he locked her toddler son in an overhead bin. Natalie Williamson told the Sunday Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper, that she, her son, Riley, 17 months, and her now estranged husband, Shayne, were traveling from Fiji to Sydney when the attendant picked up Riley, placed him in the bin and shut the door. Virgin confirmed that the incident occurred but said Williamson's husband was playing peek-a-boo with Riley when the attendant joined in. "We conducted a thorough investigation of the incident and the staff member involved was subsequently terminated," a Virgin spokeswoman said. Said Williamson: "I stood up and there were people laughing and then I said 'Get my son out of there now.' I was devastated. I was absolutely devastated." She said Riley was locked in the compartment for about 10 seconds in complete darkness. Riley, now 20 months, has seen various specialists since the incident, said Williamson, and is suffering from anxiety and withdrawal. "He won't leave my sight now. He sleeps with me. If I'm not in the same room as him, he will scream and yell 'Mum, mum, mum,' " she said.


IVORY COAST: Election dispute clashes continue

Gangs of young people, actively aided by uniformed police, ransacked 10 houses in Abidjan belonging to officials allied with Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast, as heavy fighting broke out in the country's west. Security forces loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to cede power more than three months after the UN says he lost an election, have turned to increasingly criminal behavior in the past week, killing six unarmed women protesters in the street on Thursday. Hundreds of miles from Abidjan in the region bordering Liberia, heavy fighting broke out between pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces.


JAPAN: Minister leaves Kan's cabinet

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara quit suddenly for having accepted a political donation from a foreigner, a violation of Japanese law, dealing another blow to the embattled administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Maehara, 48, was foreign minister for just six months until Sunday, and had been viewed as a leading candidate to succeed Kan. The government said Monday that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano would temporarily double as foreign minister. Maehara acknowledged receiving 250,000 yen ($3,000) over several years from a 72-year-old Korean woman who has lived most of her life in Japan. They had been friends since his childhood, he said. Japanese law makes it hard for foreigners to become citizens.

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