End gender bias, Korean Air told

SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's official human-rights watchdog urged Korean Air Lines Co. yesterday to stop banning male job seekers from applying for flight-attendant positions, saying the policy violates a law banning sex discrimination.

However, Korean Air said it had no intention of abiding by the watchdog's advice because it "seriously" violated an individual company's rights to formulate its own hiring system.

The state-run National Human Rights Commission said the country's largest airline had not recruited male cabin crew members since 1997.

The commission's advice is not legally binding, but investigator Na Sang-won said that if Korean Air did not comply, the watchdog might ask the Labor Ministry to take punitive action.

- AP

Truck bomb kills one in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan - A bomb-rigged truck with government plates exploded in Lahore yesterday, killing one person in a heavily guarded neighborhood home to many government officials in the eastern Pakistani city far from the volatile Afghan border regions.

The target of the Lahore blast was likely a police officer who headed an operation that led to the death of a leader of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in 2002, said Umer Virk, the head of the Crime Investigation Department.

The officer escaped the explosion near his home, but it killed a Christian woman and wounded four of her relatives as they drove together to a Christmas function, Virk said.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a Sunni Muslim militant group blamed for killing scores of minority Shiites across Pakistan. Its members have also been accused of attacks against Westerners in Karachi, including the slaying of U.S journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, and the September truck bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

- AP

Praise hurled at shoe thrower

BAGHDAD - The newly resigned Iraqi parliament speaker yesterday praised the journalist who threw shoes at President Bush and said the legislature should have supported him.

The comments by Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Muslim, came a day after he resigned as speaker under heavy pressure from Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers, breaking an impasse that would allow foreign troops, including British forces, to stay in Iraq past Dec. 31.

The abrasive speaker had frequently quarreled with lawmakers, but tensions came to a head last week during a shouting match over the detention of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi in the Dec. 14 shoe-throwing incident.

In central Iraq, the U.S. military said three soldiers were killed in a vehicle accident. The brief statement gave no further details.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Cuba is covering

the entire cost of a cancer operation on Trinidad's prime minister, Patrick Manning, out of "friendship," Trinidadian government officials said in response to opposition concerns that the gifted medical services may come with conditions attached.