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8 FEET, 5 INCHES: GUINNESS SAYS HE'S THE TALLEST

UKRAINE

A Ukrainian man is the tallest person in the world at 8 feet 5 inches, overshadowing a Chinese man who previously held the title, Guinness World Records said Wednesday. Leonid Stadnik, above with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, is 8 inches taller than the former titleholder, China's Bao Xishun, who measured 7 feet 9 inches, Guinness World Records spokeswoman Amarilis Espinoza said in London. Stadnik's growth spurt started at age 14 after a brain operation apparently stimulated his pituitary gland, which produces the human growth hormone. Stadnik, a 37-year-old former veterinarian, lives with his mother, Halyna, in northwestern Ukraine, taking care of the family's house and garden. According to Guinness, the tallest man in medical history was Illinois native Robert Pershing Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11 inches and died in 1940 at the age of 22.

POLAND

Interior minister fired in scandal

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski fired Interior Minister Janusz Kaczmarek on Wednesday, citing suspicions that he leaked information that hindered a corruption investigation. Kaczynski said Kaczmarek was suspected of leaking classified information, obstructing an investigation of alleged bribery at the Agriculture Ministry. Kaczmarek denied he violated his duties. "I am not the source of the leak," he was quoted as saying by Poland's PAP news agency. President Lech Kaczynski, the prime minister's twin brother, swore in Wladyslaw Stasiak, the head of the National Security Council, as the new interior minister - the country's top security official. Later Wednesday, the national police chief, Konrad Kornatowski, who answered to the dismissed interior minister, resigned.

Elsewhere

Philippines: Tropical Storm Pabuk churned across the Philippines on Wednesday, triggering deadly landslides and killing 11 before it moved into southern Taiwan, where it cut power and forced schools and business to close. The death toll from a separate, unnamed storm in Vietnam rose to 34, with 17 missing and feared dead.

Israel: Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel must have a missile defense system in place to protect it from Palestinian rocket fire before it could carry out a large-scale pullback in the West Bank, an official said Wednesday. Military experts said it would take between two and a half and seven years to develop the system.

Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper began a three-day trip to the Arctic on Wednesday in an effort to assert sovereignty over the region a week after Russia symbolically staked a claim to the North Pole by sending submarines.

England: Britain relaxed a nationwide ban on moving livestock Wednesday after authorities isolated the foot-and-mouth virus to a region. The European Union maintained a ban on British meat and dairy exports, saying it would review the decision in two weeks.

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