Fireworks blasts kill nine
Two blasts ripped through two separate fireworks factories in southern China's Guangxi province in a span of 12 hours, killing nine and injuring 18, state press reports said yesterday. Four people were killed and five others seriously injured Saturday morning in an explosion at an illegal firecracker factory in the Gongguan district of Beihai city, the official Xinhua news agency reported. In a separate explosion Saturday night, five people were killed and 13 injured when a blast ripped through the Gongguan Export Fireworks Plant, the region's largest fireworks factory, the report said.
Three killed in violence
Three people were killed in the latest violence in Indonesia's restive Poso district in Central Sulawesi while two suspected assailants in a bloody Oct. 12 attack on three villages were captured alive, police said yesterday. "We just received a report that the bodies of two men, both with gunshot wounds, were found in an car in Poso Pesisir," Master Sergeant Usman of the district police in Poso said by telephone. He said the identity of the victims or the circumstance of their death were yet unknown. Usman said that on Saturday, police raiding a house where people suspected of having taken part in the Oct. 12 shootings that killed 10 people in three villages near Poso town, shot one suspect dead.
Clubber gets stuck in vent
A drunken Australian ejected from a Sydney nightclub had to be rescued by ambulance officers when he trapped himself in an air vent as he tried to sneak back into the premises, club officials said yesterday. A spokesman for the Penrith Panthers club, on Sydney's western outskirts, said the 20-year-old man was kicked out of the club for drunken behavior about 1am yesterday. "He apparently tried to get back in surreptitiously by climbing onto the roof and making his way down through the air conditioning system and he got stuck," the spokesman said. "Fortunately for him, he had a mobile phone and called one of his friends and they raised the alarm."
Toilet etiquette explained
Aim at the target and make sure the toilet seat is left gleaming -- that is the perfect remedy for a cleaner, happier world. Report flushes that do not work and help tourists find the loo at shopping malls, the Singapore-based World Toilet Organization said in a campaign on latrine etiquette ahead of World Toilet Day on Wednesday. The group listed 10 toilet essentials and and urged people to add to the list. "If everyone joins in, there [will be] better public toilets and happier people," said Jack Sim, a founding member of the organization and president of the Restroom Association of Singapore. In the city-state, well known for strict laws against littering and where clean toilets are stamped with a "happy face" sticker, the organization is calling for comments on public toilets to be sent to its e-mail address, email@example.com, or through mobile phone text messages. It is also encouraging other countries to establish their own feedback mechanisms to allow people to send comments on toilets they have used. The comments will be tabled as an agenda for the next World Toilet Summit in Beijing next year. "Be it brickbats or bouquets, the user should give feedback to the owner of the toilet about the state of the facilities," the organization said.
Uranium smugglers arrested
Czech police arrested two Slovaks who tried to sell 3kg of radioactive material for more than US$700,000 to undercover officers working a sting operation, officials said on Saturday. The potential uses of the substance remained unclear pending an investigation, with experts differing on whether it could possibly be used in a dirty bomb. Initial tests on the material in four parcels detected traces of thorium and uranium, said Pavel Pittermann, a spokesman for the State Office for Nuclear Safety, which conducted the tests. The suspects were arrested on Friday in the Voronez hotel in the city of Brno, 200km southeast of Prague.
Bars attacked with grenades
Suspected rebels threw grenades at two crowded bars in a popular Bogota nightclub district, injuring more than 40 people, authorities said. Police blamed Colombia's largest leftist group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, for the attack, which took place about 11pm on Saturday in the upscale Zona Rosa district in northern Bogota. At least 42 people were injured, police said. One suspect was captured, Fernando Ramirez Cortez, the director of disaster prevention for Bogota, told reporters. The person was not identified. The two bars hit by the grenades -- Bogota Beer Company and Palos de Moguer -- are frequent gathering spots for foreigners. It was not immediately clear if any foreigners were among the injured.
■ United States
Alligator found in mail
A 1.2m alligator chewed its way out of a shipping carton before a postal worker tossed it into a hamper and called animal control officers. Employees were sorting mail on Friday when they noticed the alligator chewing its way out of an Express Mail box, said JoAnne Blackburn, a Postal Service spokeswoman. Workers tried to tape the box closed, but the alligator bit it open. A postal employee picked it up by its tail and threw it in a hamper. Alligators longer than 50.8cm are not allowed to be sent through the mail, and officials said the shipment from Milwaukee to Colorado was under review.
■ United States
Dice cast to choose mayor
With the roll of the dice and the flash of cameras, Mark Allen won a third term as mayor of the city of Washington Terrace, Utah. Allen and challenger Robert Garside tied in a Nov. 4 election with 724 votes each. Under Utah law, tie votes must be decided by drawing lots, which can mean anything from flipping a coin to drawing a name out of a hat. "We felt rolling dice was a more fair way to make a choice," city recorder Shari Peterson said. With quick flicks of their wrists, Allen rolled a 4 and a 1 on Friday for the top score, while Garside rolled a pair of 2's.
■ United States
Massive pillow fight staged
Knocking the stuffing out of each other may also set a record if Oregon State University students are recognized for what they hope was the largest pillow fight in history. Unofficially, 766 people showed up at the campus in Corvallis on Friday to take part in the jumbo pillow fight in hopes of topping the Guinness Book of Records mark set by 645 people who staged a mass pillow brawl in Kansas, last June. Five classmates in Communications 322 -- a class also known as Small-Group Problem Solving -- got an assignment a couple of weeks ago to "do a project with no parameters."
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of