Balloons lift man across Channel

LONDON - In a goofy yet mesmerizing stunt, an American adventurer crossed the English Channel on Friday carried by a bundle of helium balloons, ending a quiet and serene flight by touching down in a French cabbage patch.

Jonathan Trappe, 36, of Raleigh, N.C., was strapped in a specially equipped chair below a bright cluster of balloons when he lifted off early Friday from Kent, in southeast England. About five hours later, he lowered himself in France by cutting some of the balloons away.

Asked why he went, Trappe replied: "Didn't you have this dream, grabbing on to a bunch of toy balloons and floating off? I think it's something that's shared across cultures and across borders - just this wonderful fantasy of grabbing on to toy balloons and floating into open space."

However, the channel crossing wasn't a matter of just grabbing a few balloons. His equipment list included an aircraft transponder, oxygen system, aircraft radios, emergency locator beacon, in-flight satellite tracking, and a radio tracker.

- AP

Nepal's premier agrees to resign

KATHMANDU, Nepal - Nepal's prime minister agreed to resign after the former communist rebels supported his proposal to extend the term of parliament so it can draft a new constitution to end years of strife.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar told reporters Saturday he would resign soon but did not elaborate. Law Minister Prem Bahadur Singh said the three main political parties had agreed that the prime minister would resign within days, and a new government would take power.

Maoists, the ex-rebels, have been protesting both in parliament and on the street for months demanding the prime minister's resignation. The Maoists control most seats in the assembly, and their support was required to get the two-third majority to pass the government proposal.

- AP

Foxconn boosting its workers' pay

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Taiwanese electronics company buffeted by a spate of suicides at its China factories said Friday that it would raise the pay of workers by an average of 20 percent.

The pay raises at Foxconn Technology Group have been in the works for months to cope with a labor shortage following China's recovery from the global recession, said a company official speaking on condition of anonymity.

But the official said the big jump in pay could help to lift worker morale. "Feeling sad is contagious, and so is feeling happy," he said. "We hope the workers will have a positive attitude toward their lives." Ten workers have killed themselves and three have attempted suicide at Foxconn's operations in southern China this year.
- AP

Elsewhere:

Trinidad and Tobago's former prime minister resigned Thursday as his party's leader after its defeat in parliamentary elections. Patrick Manning said he accepted responsibility for Monday's vote that ousted the People's National Movement after nine years in power.