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AROUND THE WORLD

German pilot says he broke the sound barrier first

BERLIN (AP) -- A former Luftwaffe pilot says he broke the sound barrier first -- not Chuck Yeager. But the German's claim cannot be verified, at least not yet.

Flying alone over Austria on April 9, 1945, at the end of World War II, Hans Guido Mutke pushed his Messerschmitt 262 to full throttle in hopes of reaching a friend who had bailed out under U.S. attack.

Mutke says he later realized the shaking and loss of control he felt before the plane reached 690 mph meant he had broken the sound barrier.

"I knew nothing about a sound barrier," he said Thursday from Munich. "I just went full speed to help a comrade."

Now age 79 and a retired doctor, Mutke has asked an aeronautics professor to help substantiate his claim using computer simulation.

By all accepted accounts, on Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier when he flew his rocket-powered X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in southern California.

Hong Kong may establish cell phone silence zones

HONG KONG (AP) -- It's a Hong Kong phenomenon many people could do without: cell phone maniacs so attached to their gadgets that they can't shut up -- not in a movie, in the library or even in church.

Amid frustration at the endless ringing and chattering, the Office of Telecommunications said Thursday it may restore silence to some public places by installing mobile-phone jamming systems.

Many Hong Kong citizens welcome the idea.

Christine Lam, who works in a trading firm, was caught up in the suspense of the mountain-climbing drama "Vertical Limit" when she was rudely distracted.

"A man behind started talking very loudly on his cell phone, arranging to meet his friend afterward," said Lam, 48. "I find it very disturbing that these people have no regard for others."

Hong Kong's 6.9 million people have more than 5.2 million mobile phones -- making it one of the most densely cellular places on the planet. The mobile mania hit a low point last year when a doctor got into trouble for talking on his cell phone while performing surgery.

Newly found section adds 310 miles to Great Wall

BEIJING (AP) -- The Great Wall of China just got a little greater: China says it's 310 miles longer than previously thought.

A recently discovered section stretches to the edge of Lop Nor, a desert used as a nuclear test site until China stopped testing in 1996, the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday. Previously, the wall's westernmost end was thought to be a remote fortress at Jiayu Pass.

The rediscovered earthen wall extends from Gansu province to the neighboring northwestern region of Xinjiang, according to Xinhua. It makes the Great Wall 4,470 miles long instead of 4,160 miles, Xinhua said.

Nor does it likely end there: Beacon towers extend as far as Kashgar in Xinjiang's southwest, Xinhua said.

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