■ Australia Euthanasia device unveiled \n \nEuthanasia advocates yesterday unveiled do-it-yourself machines, designed to bring death within minutes to anyone suffering a terminal illness. Made from plastic containers, the machines cost A$15 to A$20 (US$10 to US$13.50) to build and deliver the poisonous gas carbon monoxide through plastic tubing to the nose. "You can just lie in bed, hook that up, close your eyes and go to sleep," said Sandra Milne, who built her own machine at a workshop organized by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Queensland. Milne said she was in good health and never planned to build the machine, which took around half an hour to build. \n \n■ China \nMan poisons reservoir \n \nAn unemployed man poisoned a reservoir, sickening 64 people, because he wanted to boost sales for water purifiers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. Police detained Cao Qian, 27, after the reservoir that provides drinking water to homes in an area of Ruyang County in the northern province of Henan was found tainted by poison Wednesday. Cao, who had been laid off, was trying to run a small shop selling water purifying devices. No deaths were reported, but 42 people were poisoned badly enough to be hospitalized, the report said. It said Cao "claimed to poison the water in a bid to have his water purifying devices sell well." No details were given. \n \n■ China \nSpecies face extinction \n \nAbout 15 to 20 percent of animal and plant species in China are in danger of extinction, higher than the world level of 10 to 15 percent, state media reported yesterday. According to statistics from the State Forestry Administration, over 300 species of terrestrial vertebrate animals and some 410 species of wild plants are at risk, the Xinhua news agency said. By 2010, China will have a total of 3,000 to 4,000 plants on the brink of being wiped out, the report cited experts as warning. \n \n■ Japan \nAnother mad cow found \n \nJapan has detected a possible eighth case of mad cow disease, the Health Ministry announced yesterday, underlining concerns about how widespread the illness may be in Japan. The finding, still to be confirmed as an actual case, comes nearly nine months after the last mad cow diagnosis in January. The latest animal tested positive for signs of the disease on Sept. 29 when it was brought to a slaughterhouse in Ibaraki Prefecture just north of Tokyo, said Health Ministry official Makoto Kanie. Follow up tests by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases backed the initial findings. \n \n■ China \nS Korean consulate to shut \n \nSouth Korea's consulate in the Chinese capital will close for business indefinitely because it is housing too many North Korean refugees to continue operating smoothly, a South Korean diplomat said yesterday. The South Korean diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the closure will take effect today. She couldn't say how long the office would be shut, nor would she say exactly how many North Korean asylum-seekers were inside. The move means that anyone in China seeking a visa to South Korea is out of luck for the immediate future. "The number of North Korean refugees who are staying within the inside of the consulate is beyond our capacity," the diplomat said in a telephone interview. "So it makes it difficult to do our consular jobs." \n■ United Kimdon Magician dodges bullet \n \nBritain's Channel Four on Sunday televised an illusionist playing Russian roulette with a loaded revolver, raising protests from police and anti-weapons organisations. The program, not aired live in case of any horrible accident, showed 32-year-old Derren Brown safely fire the revolver after a member of the public, selected from the thousands who applied, had apparently loaded the gun with one bullet in its six chambers. Viewers saw the magician point the revolver at himself before pulling the trigger. Brown said he used a series of psychological tests to try to "read" the mind of the person who loaded the handgun, to determine where the bullet was. He asked the person to count to six, using the sound of his voice to help locate the live chamber. \n \n■ United States \nRoy's crew looking for work \n \nThe future of the famed Siegfried & Roy show was in doubt with illusionist Roy Horn still in critical condition after a tiger mauling. Employees of the show were encouraged to look for other jobs. Horn remained on a ventilator on Sunday. Even if he recovers, it's unclear whether he would ever be able to perform again. Horn, 59, was bitten in the neck and dragged off stage by one of the show's signature white tigers. Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said 267 show employees met at the Mirage hotel-casino, where they were encouraged to find new jobs. The tiger, Montecore, was quarantined at the hotel, officials said. \n \n■ Iran \nRape victim sentenced \n \nA woman accused of killing a police chief in southern Iran who she said tried to rape her has been convicted and is to be executed, the Shargh newspaper reported Saturday. The woman, Afsaneh Noroozi, 32, who has been in jail since 1997, said during her trial that she had stabbed the chief of police intelligence on the island of Kish in self-defense when he tried to rape her. The police chief, whose name has not been made public, was a friend of Noroozi's family, and she was at his house as a guest. Her lawyer cited in her defense a section of the Islamic penal code of Iran that allows citizens to take proportionate action to defend "life, honor, chastity, property or freedom." Human rights workers have said the ruling violates the right of a woman to defend her honor. \n \n■ Germany \nPools full of beer consumed \n \nBeer fans drank the equivalent of six Olympic-sized swimming pools during the two-week Oktoberfest in Germany, close to the annual event's record, organizers said. The world's biggest beer festival, which ended on Sunday, reported a jump in attendance as well as beer consumption after a two-year decline. About 6.3 million people crowded into the beer tents during the festival, some 400,000 more than in the last two years, and drank 6.1 million liters of Bavaria's top export beverage -- up seven percent from last year. \n \n■ Lithuania \nPilgrims sent to Holy Land \n \nEurope's Catholic bishops will urge their flocks to risk visiting shrines in the Middle East in order to sow peace and support isolated Christians in the region. Church leaders from 34 countries backed the initiative at a weekend meeting in Vilnius, Juozas Ruzgys, spokesman for the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference, said. "The bishops seek to revive the ages old tradition of pilgrim journeys to the Holy Land, which has been forgotten amid all the conflicts," said Ruzgys.
‘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
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big