S. African leader lists his priorities

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - President Jacob Zuma invoked the legacy of antiapartheid icon Nelson Mandela yesterday as he urged South Africans to pull together in a time of national and global uncertainty.

Mandela, South Africa's first black president, waved from the parliamentary gallery as Zuma outlined his government's priorities: fighting poverty, safeguarding existing jobs and creating new ones, improving education and health, and fighting crime and corruption.

In his maiden State of the Nation address, Zuma urged citizens to do more to heal differences in a nation still scarred by apartheid. Zuma was regarded by some as corrupt before his election in April but since then has earned respect with conciliation and a commitment to practical reforms.

- AP

Woman to head Indian Parliament

NEW DELHI - India's Parliament yesterday elected its first female speaker, the daughter of a former deputy prime minister and an untouchable, a member of India's lowest caste.

Meira Kumar, 64, was elected unopposed and immediately assumed her post. She replaces Somnath Chaterjee, a member of the Brahmin caste, India's highest.

A lawyer by training, she has been elected to Parliament five times and has served as social justice minister. Kumar's election is seen as a political move that will likely boost the ruling Congress Party's image as pro-female and a supporter of the rights of the lower castes.

- AP

Al-Qaeda targets teachers, police

ALGIERS, Algeria - Al-Qaeda-linked extremists killed two teachers and eight police escorts as they brought copies of tests back from an examination center near the Algerian capital, a local official and Algerian media said yesterday.

The extremists triggered a roadside bomb as the teachers returned Tuesday evening from a high school entry exam in Timezrit, about 50 miles east of Algiers.

The attack was one of the first in recent months that appeared to target civilians. Algerian teachers are civil servants, and extremists in this North African country usually justify targeting government officials because they accuse them of being unfaithful to Islam.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Austrian Josef Fritzl, convicted of imprisoning and repeatedly raping his daughter for 24 years, was transferred to the Stein prison in Lower Austria, where he will serve his life sentence.

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, 49, is to become Canada's first space tourist when he travels on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in September. The Quebec billionaire will be the seventh private citizen to visit the orbiting space lab since April 2001.

A pregnant woman was found guilty of trafficking heroin by a Laotian court and sentenced to life in prison. Samantha Orobator, 20, of Britain, escaped a death sentence because Laos does not allow execution of pregnant women.