■ Cambodia \nOnline ghosts scare public \nRumors about ghosts that communicate through phone lines are flying through the kingdom of Cambodia, according to local media. On Friday, the English-language Phnom Penh Post reported that local Internet service provider Mobitel had received repeated voice calls on its data lines, with callers seeking a connection to the spirit world rather than the Internet. The cause for concern is entirely explicable. When a modem connects to a data line, it communicates to the computer on the other end via a series of high-pitched noises. A Mobitel employee said these sounds strike fear into the hearts of many Cambodians who believe they are coming from shrieking spirits. \n■ Malaysia \nMan killed over bra, panties \nTwo Malaysian men's fetish for women's undergarments proved fatal when one of them was killed after a fight for possession of a pair of stolen bras and panties, a report said yesterday. Police said the victim, M. Priasamy, 51, and a friend had been fighting over a plastic bag containing the underwear, which was stolen from a neighbor, when the scuffle became heated, leading to the murder. The victim, who died from severe head injuries, was discovered early Thursday, the New Straits Times daily reported. Police have arrested a 21-year-old man believed to have dealt the fatal blow. \n■ Hong Kong \nEnglish teachers fail test \nAlmost 70 percent of 1,930 teachers who took a government examination recently flunked the English writing test, raising concerns about language education in Hong Kong. About half who sat the exam in September also failed English listening and oral tests, according to official figures released this week. Although Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, many people here are far from proficient in English, which is vastly different from their native tongue of Cantonese, a Chinese dialect. \n■ Thailand \nBabies named after Saddam \nSome Muslims in Thailand have named their newborn babies Saddam Hussein following his capture by US forces in Iraq last weekend, a newspaper reported Friday. "He's a cross between a hero and a tyrant, but we choose to remember his good side," Rohcidee Lertariyapongkul, chairman of the Muslim Youth Association of Thailand, was quoted as saying in the Bangkok Post. "One way to do it is to let our babies bear his name.'' Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, but its southernmost provinces are Muslim-dominated. \n■ Australia \nMillionaire dodges prison \nAustralian authorities said yesterday they couldn't enforce a stockbroker's prison sentence for insider trading, because the multimillionaire keeps producing doctor's notes saying he's sick. Rene Rivkin was sentenced in May to spend every weekend in jail for nine months after being found guilty under federal law of insider trading in Qantas Airways shares. After collapsing during his first weekend in prison in June and presenting a doctor's note that got him out of his second, the 59-year old underwent surgery to remove several benign tumors. But on Friday, the flamboyant stockbroker -- who owns a harborside mansion and regularly hosts parties on his luxury yacht for celebrities and political heavyweights -- produced a third medical certificate declaring him unfit for prison, at least until February. \n■ Afghanistan \nUS vows to trap bin Laden \nOsama bin Laden is probably alive and will be caught one day "with absolute certainty," America's top general said while visiting US troops in Afghanistan. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers said Thursday that bin Laden was likely hiding in the rugged border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, "where he has some support, where he can buy support, and probably in very difficult terrain. It's very difficult to find individuals. What will happen is, with absolute certainty ... he will be captured some day, just like we captured Saddam Hussein," Myers said. \n■ United Kingdom \nPolice get new X-ray tool \nLondon police on Thursday unveiled their new weapon in the fight against gun crime -- a 2m-high X-ray body scanner that sees through clothes. The capital's police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, told reporters the US$212,400 -- called the "Secure 1000 X-ray machine" -- would begin trials next year. Police envision using the scanner in the aftermath of incidents such as nightclub shootings, to scan everyone present to see if they are carrying weapons. People would be asked to stand next to it, and a naked image of them would appear on a monitor, allowing police to see items such as guns and bundles of cash concealed under their clothes. \n■ United States \nPolice rescue toddler \nA two-year-old girl spent several days alone in a home with the decomposing body of her father, but police in Arizona found her in good condition, authorities said. Brittney Morales survived on butter, mayonnaise and anything else she could find, said Detective Tony Morales, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department. "Other than being a little dehydrated and malnourished, she was in good health," Morales said. Police went to the home in west Phoenix late Wednes-day after a neighbor called emergency services and reported water spilling from the front door and the sound of a child crying. \n■ United Kingdom \nMother wants son killed \nThe mother of British child killer Ian Huntley said her son should face execution after he was jailed for life for murdering 10-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, a crime that shocked the nation. "What he did is unforgivable," Lynda Nixon said in an interview with The Sun tabloid published yesterday. "There is a price he should pay and the death penalty is that price." She added: "He's my baby boy and I love him but he deserves to be punished ... I wish there was an electric chair in this country that they could put him in and that would be the end of it." \n■ Canada \nCannabis plans to go ahead \nCanada's new prime minister, brushing aside possible protests from an unhappy US, said on Thursday he would press ahead with plans to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Paul Martin, who has made improving relations with Washington one of his main priorities, said he did not think that young people caught with small amounts of pot should have a criminal record. Earlier this year Ottawa unveiled a draft law that proposed slapping fines on those possessing small amounts of the drug. Officials estimate 100,000 of the country's 31 million people use pot daily and say 20,000 are convicted each year for using marijuana. \n■ France \nMinister in art fraud trial \nFrance's former foreign minister Roland Dumas and the country's leading auctioneer, Jacques Tajan, are to go on trial after accusations of alleged fraud involving art works left by the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. Dumas, 81, the closest political ally of the late president Francois Mitterrand, was acquitted in January of fraudulently accepting antiques and a pair of shoes during the Elf oil company scandal. In 1993 Giacometti's widow, Annette, died and Dumas was appointed her executor. Judge Colette Bismuth-Sarron submitted a report which alleged that 380,000 euros (US$472,000) was illegally transferred to Dumas' bank account following the sale of a Giacometti sculpture. \n■ France \n`Schizophrenic' toy banned \nA stuffed toy called "Nazo le Skizo" has been ordered removed from stores around France because it was offensive to schizophrenics, a court in Paris has ruled. The toy, a stuffed monkey with a big nose, goes through "three mood changes" in voice and character. Two organizations representing patients with mental health problems had filed suit against the company, Ouaps, which was also ordered to pay 1,500 euros (US$1,870) in compensation to the two organizations, Unafam and FNAP-PSY, as well as 750 euros (US$935) to a third group, Ariane, and an individual who had asked to be affiliated to the lawsuit. \n■ United Kingdom \nDiana inquest announced \nThe long-awaited inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her friend Dodi Fayed in Paris in 1997 will be opened early next month, it was announced on Thursday. The separate hearings will be held on Jan. 6, beginning the first and final official inquiries on British soil into the accident in the Pont d'Alma tunnel in Paris. The announcement by the coroner to the Queen's household, Michael Burgess, ends months of speculation about when the princess's inquest would be held. \n■ Canada \nNiagara stuntman fined \nAn American who survived an October plunge over Niagara Falls and went on to sign a lucrative deal as a circus stuntman, has been fined C$3,000 (US$2,256). Kirk Jones, 41, whose US$100,000 circus contract also stipulates he is entitled to an unlimited supply of shaved-ice snow cones, pleaded guilty in a Canadian court to mischief and to unlawfully performing a stunt. "I understand what I did was wrong," Jones said outside the courtroom. "You'll never see an action in Niagara waters with my name written on it again." Jones said he was afraid of heights but had wanted "a new challenge in his life" when he went over the falls. \n■ Latvia \nMan survives record binge \nPolice in Riga said a drunk picked up with around twice the blood-alcohol level considered deadly had probably set a world record but would wake with a hangover to match. The unidentified middle-aged man was unconscious but stable after a blood test showed 7.22 parts per million of alcohol, police said. An average person would vomit at around 1.2, lose consciousness at 3.0 and stop breathing at about 4.0 parts per million. Emergency ward head Martins Sics said there was no record of anybody having survived such a dose, even in neighboring Russia, which prides itself in its tradition of vodka-guzzling.
STEP TOO FAR? The mandatory COVID-19 app has unprecedented access to users’ location data and forces Android users to give access to their picture and video galleries Privacy concerns over Qatar’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, a tool that is mandatory on pain of prison, have prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions. Like other governments around the world, Qatar has turned to mobile phones to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor infections and alert people at risk of infection. The apps use Bluetooth to ping nearby devices, which can be contacted subsequently if a user they have been near develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus, but the resultant unprecedented access to users’ location
‘CULTURE ERADICATION’: A US official said that Beijing is trying to stamp out the Uighur culture because it is not what the Chinese Communist Party deems ‘Chinese’ The US Congress on Wednesday authorized sanctions against Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Muslim Uighurs. The US House of Representatives voted with just one dissent in favor of the Uighur Human Rights Act. Rights groups say that at least 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have been incarcerated in what Beijing calls “re-education” camps. “If America does not speak out against human rights [violations] in China because of some commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights violations any place in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. House Committee
UNITED STATES SpaceX launch delayed SpaceX’s launch to the International Space Station — the first crewed mission to blast off from US soil in almost a decade — was scrubbed on Wednesday due to fears of a lightning strike. With NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley strapped into the Crew Dragon capsule, the launch pad platform retracted and rocket fueling under way, SpaceX made the call to abort. “We had just simply too much electricity in the atmosphere,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said. UNITED STATES Chinese ministry checked Twitter has applied a fact check tag to at least two posts made in March by
Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has admitted damaging ancient Aboriginal rock shelters in Australia’s remote Pilbara region — blasting near the 46,000-year-old heritage site to expand an iron ore mine. Traditional owners said that the culturally significant cave in Juukan Gorge, Western Australia — one of the earliest known sites occupied by Aborigines in Australia — had been destroyed in a “devastating blow” to the community. Explosives were detonated on Sunday near the site in line with state government approvals granted seven years ago, Rio Tinto said in a statement. “In 2013, ministerial consent was granted to allow Rio Tinto to conduct activity