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Saturday, May 17, 2003

Taiwan's health chief resigns over SARS TAIPEI, Taiwan — The escalating SARS crisis in Taiwan cost the health chief his job Friday, as he quit to take responsibility for the rapid spread of the virus that has forced the closing of two hospitals.

He was the second top Asian health official to lose his job because of SARS; mainland China's health minister resigned a month ago, and more than 100 other Chinese officials have been punished or fired because of SARS, according to Xinhua news agency.

Taiwan Health Department boss Twu Shiing-Jer will be replaced by a respected epidemiologist, Chen Chien-jen, who studied at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome has infected 7,700 people worldwide and killed at least 613. It is continuing to spread through Taiwan, although new infections are on the decline elsewhere.

And in China, the government said it was suspending foreign adoptions to help curb the disease. Paperwork on adoptions will continue, but Beijing has stopped authorizing prospective parents to come there.

Investigator: Iraqis hold on to antiquities WASHINGTON — Thousands of antiquities missing from the Iraq National Museum have been found but not returned because citizens won't hand them over to either their American occupiers or remnants of the hated former government, U.S. investigators say.

The investigators are trying to recover an unknown number of artifacts looted from the museum after the fall of Saddam Hussein's Baghdad.

Members of the museum staff have "sworn on the Quran not to reveal the … secret place" where they hid treasures for safeguarding before the war, chief investigator Col. Matthew Bogdanos said Friday.

He said that while the loss of "a single piece of mankind's shared history is a tragedy," it's now clear that some early estimates of 170,000 pieces looted was a great exaggeration.

His three-week-old investigation so far has recovered 951 stolen items.

Shaw's favorite actress dies at 90 in England LONDON — Dame Wendy Hiller, one of Britain's finest actresses and George Bernard Shaw's chosen leading lady, has died at age 90.

Hiller, who had a 50-year career as a stage star and Oscar-winning film actress, died Wednesday at her home in Beaconsfield, west of London, her family said. The cause of death was not announced.

A tall, handsome woman with regal bearing and a rich, distinctive voice, Hiller in later life was frequently cast in aristocratic roles that suited her natural hauteur.

Shaw who cast her as Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion" — both on stage in 1936 and on screen two years later.

She was at home in roles which required a peppery, wry quality, whether as Shaw's pert heroines or as the imperious traveler in Sidney Lumet's film of "Murder on the Orient Express."

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Swedish saint's relic transported on airliner STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Passengers aboard a recent Swedish flight weren't carried upon wings of angels, but a saint was in their midst.

Stashed aboard the Scandinavian Airline Systems flight from Stockholm to Kalmar was part of St. Birgitta's ribs, nestled safely on the lap of Maria Malmloef, head of Kalmar's provincial museum.

"It felt a very heavy responsibility," Malmloef said Thursday.

She carried the nearly inch-long relic with part of Birgitta's shroud in a small package during the 45-minute flight Tuesday night.

St. Birgitta, also known as Brigid, is the country's only saint.

The rib was kept at the abbey and was later acquired by a private family before it was given to the Kalmar museum. It was lent to the Stockholm Historical Museum for an exhibition.

Now it has been returned so it can be displayed this year, the 700th anniversary of her birth.

St. Birgitta lived from 1303-1373.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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