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IN BRIEF: US to aid Laos with bombs

DECADES after the US gave Laos a horrific distinction as the world's most heavily bombed nation per person, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged to help get rid of millions of unexploded bombs that still litter the impoverished country.

The US dropped more than two million tons of bombs on the North Vietnamese ally during its "secret war" between 1964 and 1973.

Four decades later, American weapons are still claiming lives. More than 20,000 people have been killed in Laos since the war by the unexploded bombs.

Mrs Clinton met with the prime minister and foreign minister, part of a diplomatic tour of Southeast Asia.

Woman kept pal's dead body

A WOMAN said she kept the dead body of her companion in a chair in their Michigan house for months because she didn't want to be alone.

Linda Chase (72) said she kept the remains of Charles Zigler clean and dressed and talked to the body while watching TV.

"It's not that I'm heartless . . . I didn't want to be alone. He was the only guy who was ever nice to me," Chase told a local paper.

She has not been arrested but is being investigated for financial fraud.

Chase admits cashing Zigler's benefit checks after his death.

Billionaire 'is Scream buyer'

US billionaire Leon Black is the mystery buyer who paid a record $120m (¤98m) for Edvard Munch's masterpiece The Scream at Sotheby's in May, the most expensive art work ever sold at auction, the Wall Street Journal has said.

A spokesman for Sotheby's declined to comment on the report. Black could not be reached and his spokesman also declined to comment.

Fishermen's piranha reward

A CHINESE city is on the alert for piranhas after two people were attacked in a river, and is offering a 1,000 yuan (€130) reward for every fish caught.

The government of Liuzhou is asking people to hunt the alien South American species, which badly bit two people earlier in the week who were paddling in the Liujiang River.