Yasser Arafat installed an eight-member emergency Cabinet with Ahmed Qureia as prime minister, an apparent attempt to deflect possible Israeli action against him following a suicide bombing. \nIsrael threatened last month to "remove" Arafat, without setting a time, and there were new demands for his expulsion after Saturday's attack by Islamic Jihad. Nineteen Israelis were killed in a crowded beachfront restaurant in the northern port city of Haifa. \nAides to the Palestinian leader said Sunday he was clearly concerned about possible Israeli action after the bombing. There was no direct move against Arafat on Sunday; instead, Israel bombed a target inside Syria that it claimed was an Islamic Jihad training base, striking deep inside its neighbor's territory Sunday for the first time in three decades. \nIn installing an emergency Cabinet, Arafat makes it more difficult for Israel to move against him. The US appears willing to give Qureia a chance, and any Israeli action against Arafat could force Qureia's immediate resignation and cause chaos in Palestinian areas. \nQureia, who had been tapped for the job last month, had initially planned to present a larger Cabinet to parliament for approval today. Arafat's decree Sunday meant that Qureia takes office immediately. \n"Taking into consideration the difficult situation of the Palestinian people and the necessities imposed by the situation, President Arafat issued a presidential decree by which he declared a state of emergency ... and formed an emergency government headed by me," Qureia said. \nQureia also said he would try to implement the US-backed "road map" peace plan and "work ... to get out of this situation of chaos in the Palestinian territories." \nQureia has not outlined his security plan, though he is not expected to dismantle militant groups, as required by the road map. Palestinian Authority officials fear a confrontation with Hamas and Islamic Jihad will trigger internal fighting. \nQureia said three portfolios were assigned: Nabil Shaath as foreign minister, Salam Fayad as finance minister and Nasser Yousef as interior minister. \nQureia listed the other five members of the Cabinet as Saeb Erekat, the current chief negotiator; Nabil Abul Hummus, the current education minister; Jamal Shobaki, the current minister of local affairs; and two legislators from Arafat's Fatah movement, Abdel Rahman Hamad and Jawad Tibi. \nThe Cabinet is to be sworn in today and will immediately hold its first meeting, Qureia said. \nEarlier in the day, Arafat spoke by video conference with security chiefs in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity. Details of the conversation were not released. \nThe Palestinian official said security forces have taken some action against militants in recent days, seizing more than 180kg of explosives in the West Bank town of Jericho and arresting five would-be attackers. \nThe claim could not immediately be verified independently, and the Israeli military said it could not comment until the end of Yom Kippur. \nIn the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops fired from a tank-mounted machine gun at a group of Palestinians crossing a road closed by the military. A 26-year-old man was killed and three people were wounded, witnesses and hospital officials said. \nThe road had been closed earlier in the day as part of travel restrictions imposed after the suicide bombing. Troops sealed off parts of Gaza, cutting the 32km long coastal strip into four sections, to prevent the movement of militants and weapons, army officials said. \nIn the West Bank town of Jenin, troops demolished the family home of the Islamic Jihad bomber, 27-year-old Hanadi Jaradat. The army routinely destroys homes of Palestinian militants to deter others from carrying out attacks in Israel.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent