■ India \nPrisoners sleep in shifts \nA prison in north India is so crowded the prisoners are forced to sleep in two-hour shifts, it was reported yesterday. The jail in Muzzaffarnagar district, about 360km northwest of Uttar Pradesh state capital Lucknow, can accommodate 530 prisoners. It usually has more than 1,100 inmates, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported. A good night's sleep is a dream here, with prisoners woken up every two hours so that another batch can sleep. The state has 60 prisons with a capacity of 34,222, but they are usually filled with more than 50,000 prisoners. \n■ India \nWoman found in cave \nA Western woman found in a cave in the Himalayas will be sent to a home for the destitute after an eight-month probe failed to establish where she was from, police said yesterday. The woman, who looks about 50 years old, was found "dishevelled and in shabby clothes" and without a passport in a cave in April near the tourist resort of Manali, local police chief A.P. Singh said. The woman first gave her name as Turin, leading authorities to think she was from Italy. But the Italian Embassy in New Delhi said she could hardly speak any Italian, Singh said. He said authorities also thought she could be American but the US Embassy could not confirm her identity either. "Her problem is she talks very little, despite coaxing," said the police chief. \n■ China \nLoyal dog beaten to death \nA faithful but cantankerous dog was beaten to death after it refused to let rescue workers get close to its injured master, state press reported yesterday. The Xiangfan Evening News, cited by the China Daily, said an elderly man named Deng accidentally fell into a lake when playing with his dog in Xiangfan, a city in central Hubei Province. The dog jumped into the water, pulled Deng ashore and stood guard, not letting anyone come close when rescuers arrived. To save the unconscious man in freezing temperatures, police and medical workers said they had no choice but to beat the dog to death. It did not say whether Deng lived, or died like his duty-bound companion. \n■ Singapore \nMaids' deaths spark fears \nTwenty Indonesian maids have fallen to their deaths from their employers' apartments in Singapore this year, Indonesia's embassy said yesterday. Most of the deaths were still under investigation, but were largely believed to result from inadequate training, said embassy official Fachry Sulaiman. Some apparently fell while hanging laundry or washing windows in the wealthy city-state's high-rise apartments, home to the majority of Singaporeans. Sulaiman didn't say how many of the deaths, if any, might have been suicides. "Most of the maids [who fell] were new workers," he said. "We urge all employers here and maid agencies here and in Indonesia to prepare all of the maids" for their work. \n■ Thailand \nCameras to combat betting \nPrime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has ordered that video cameras be installed at border crossings to discourage gamblers from playing in neighboring countries during the New Year holidays, a news report said yesterday. "Beware! You may lose your money out there, and even if you win and bring back a lot of money, your cash could be seized. The videos will record your movement," The Nation newspaper quoted Thaksin as saying in his holiday warning to the country's gamblers. \nagencies"; \n Attribute = ( \n■ United Kingdom \nSex smuggler sent to jail \nA man granted political asylum in Britain was jailed on Monday for 10 years for smuggling kidnapped women into Britain for use as sex slaves. Prosecutors told London's Wood Green Crown Court that Albanian Luan Plakici, 26, traveled through eastern Europe looking for women to bring back to Britain, promising them legitimate jobs. When the women arrived in Britain, Plakici forced them to work as prostitutes to pay back the ?8,000 (US$12,800) "travel bill" they owed him. He married one of the women he brought to Britain, telling her she would spend her wedding night having sex with other men. Plakici came to Britain seven years ago and was granted asylum and then nationality in 1999. \n■ Lithuania \nBananas wash ashore \nLithuanians got an early Christmas present this weekend when more than a ton of bananas washed ashore on a stretch of the country's Baltic Sea coast. To the astonishment and glee of hundreds of residents, the still-green bananas were swept onto 7km of shore near Sventoji, 300km west of the capital, Vilnius. People rushed to gather and haul them away in sacks and minivans, officials said. \nThey speculated that crates of bananas washed overboard from a merchant ship plying the stormy Baltic Sea. But health officials may have spoiled their banana-induced cheer. They warned that the fruits were waterlogged with sea water and that anyone who eats them may become ill. \n■ Kenya \nMan hacks off own testicle \nA Kenyan man chopped off one of his testicles in a row with his wife and then walked naked to a police station to report the incident, police said. Police rushed Stephen Ongala, 26, to hospital after he stumbled into their police station in the border town of Busia in western Kenya bleeding heavily. "He said he did it because he had had a disagreement with his wife," said deputy police chief Shadrack Maithya. "If we get evidence that he tried to take his life, then we may charge him because it is a criminal offence." \n■ Germany \nNazi rockers sentenced \nA German court found members of a neo-Nazi rock group guilty of forming a criminal association in the first case of its kind in the country. The 38-year-old lead singer of the band Landser was sentenced to three years and four months in prison, while two other members received suspended sentences of 22 and 21 months. The band had "massively disrupted society's cohesiveness" with its song lyrics inciting racial hatred, the court ruled. This is the first time a collective prosecution of this kind has been brought against a musical group. \n■ United States \nRoy Horn out of hospital \nMagician and animal trainer Roy Horn, who was mauled and severely injured by a tiger while on stage nearly three months ago, was released from hospital and will spend Christmas at home in Las Vegas, his spokesman said Monday. Dave Kirvin said Horn, 59, was released from the University of California Medical Center in Los Angeles and had returned to the glittery gambling and entertainment mecca in the Nevada desert. Horn, half the show duo Siegfried and Roy, was bitten in the neck on Oct. 3 by a white Bengal tiger and stage veteran named Montecore during a show at the Mirage hotel and casino. \n■ Iraq \nBasketball angers students \nIraqi students at Diyala University outside Baquba, 60km northeast of Baghdad, rioted on Monday when US soldiers visited the campus to play a game of basketball, witnesses said. The soldiers, from the 4th Infantry Division posted around Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, had been invited to play a friendly match with students. But some 200 people, angered by the US presence, started to demonstrate, said university spokesman Qusay Abdul Khaleq. \n■ Iraq \nSaddam card wows troops \nChristmas arrived early this year for some 30,000 US troops in Tikrit who caught Saddam Hussein near his home town a week ago -- and how better to celebrate than with a captivating card? The Saddam Santa card features a picture of the heavily bearded former dictator as he looked when he was pulled from his hiding hole last weekend -- except Saddam is depicted in a Father Christmas hat and his whiskers are whiter than white. The picture and others like it are springing up as decorations around the barracks of a US army unit in Iraq and have become popular as greeting cards. Pictures of Saddam taken after he was pulled out of a hole in the ground 15km south of Tikrit also drew criticism from the Vatican, which said they were degrading. \n■ United States \nSoot ups global warming \nSoot, mostly from diesel engines, is blocking snow and ice from reflecting sunlight, contributing to "near-worldwide melting of ice" and as much as a quarter of all observed global warming, top NASA scientists say. The findings about the snow and ice albedos -- their power to reflect light falling on the surface -- raise new questions about human-caused climate change from the Arctic to the Alps. Soot comprises carbon particles that are, along with salts and dust, byproducts of burning fossil fuels and vegetation. In developed countries, the biggest source is diesel fuel. NASA officials found soot was twice as potent as carbon dioxide in changing surface air temperatures in the Arctic and the Northern Hemisphere. \n■ United States \n`Drunk' pilot bailed \nA veteran Virgin Atlantic Airways pilot accused of showing up drunk to fly a plane on Friday with almost 400 passengers from Washington to London was released from a Virginia jail on Monday after posting US$25,000 bond. Authorities ordered Richard George Harwell to surrender his passport and not to leave the country. Harwell, 55, was dressed in an orange jumpsuit when he appeared for his hearing on a closed circuit TV link from jail. \n■ United Kingdom \nBritain targets Syria \nBritain plans to combine with France and Germany to put pressure on Syria over weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and Iraq, a London newspaper said yesterday. The report follows Libya's surprise agreement on Friday to dismantle its weapons arsenal and give up its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The plan, according to The Guardian, is for a joint initiative by Britain, France and Germany and is modeled on a similar tripartite effort which persuaded Iran to accept nuclear inspections. The goal, the paper said, would be to persuade Syria, facing the threat of UN sanctions, to sign up to the chemical weapons convention.
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
‘LEAST WE CAN DO’: The gesture was made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality that targeted minorities They are images that surprised and moved Americans: police officers taking a knee alongside protesters in the most widespread civil unrest to rock the US in decades — and in doing so embracing an anti-racism gesture denounced by US President Donald Trump. As Trump pushes for a crackdown on often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd, police officers from New York to Los Angeles to Houston, Texas, are making gestures of solidarity with demonstrators incensed at the latest case of an unarmed black man dying while in police custody. “I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do