■ South Korea \nProtesters block prosecutors \nAbout 200 opposition party members blocked prosecu-tors and scores of riot police from arresting a political -ally of former president Kim Dae-jung on corruption charges, a party official said. Prosecutors allege Hahn Hwa-kap, a lawmaker from the opposition Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), received 1 billion won (US$530,000) in illegal election funds in 2002 from firms such as SK Group. Backed by about 150 riot police, prosecutors tried several times to enter the party's headquarters in Seoul, where Hahn had holed up, on Sunday, but were obstructed by about 200 MDP members blocking the entrance. No clashes were reported, and prosecutors gave up shortly before midnight, a party official said on condition of anonymity. \n■ Indonesia \nBuffalo tries to flee fate \nA water buffalo, reluctant to be sacrificed to mark the Islamic holiday of Id al-Adha, escaped from a mosque and ran amok for five hours on Sumatra before being caught and killed yesterday. The animal escaped from the grounds of the Al Rahman mosque in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province late on Sunday and was only caught early yesterday, the state Antara news agency said. The water buffalo broke loose from its rope and took to the street. It injured several people, and forced others to jump into a sewage ditch to escape its attack, the agency said. The buffalo also managed to escape the efforts of three pickup trucks sent to try to corner it. \n■ Nepal \nStrike shuts Katmandu \nA strike by Nepal's main opposition parties to press demands for a new govern-ment virtually shut down Katmandu yesterday with shops closed, most schools empty and public transport off the streets. There were no reports of violence in the first hours of the one-day strike in Kathmandu and two other nearby cities, police said. "The strike is ... to pressure the king to correct his regressive step," the opposition parties said in a statement. The king fired an elected prime minister in October 2002, and named a loyalist in his place. Banks and government offices were open but most employees had to walked to work as most buses and other public transport was not running. \n■ New Zealand \nBoy fires rifle at school \nAn eight-year-old boy fired \nat least four shots at a school yesterday as children arrived for classes in the South Island city of Dunedin, police said. No one was hurt when the boy fired the .22 caliber rifle from his bedroom window, piercing a neigh-bor's window before turning and firing at the school, said police sergeant Shane Fogarty. Police were inves-tigating the boy's motive. Two shots shattered the window of the house 60m across the street, showering a resident with glass. The boy then fired four shots at the school, 120m away. \n■ China \nSecond space trip planned \nChina's official media said yesterday that the country would begin training next month for a second manned spaceflight. The mission will probably involve two astronauts -- possibly including Yang Liwei (楊利偉), who in October was the lone astronaut aboard Shenzhou 5, China's first manned mission into space, the official Xinhua News Agency and the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper said. The date of the mission remains unclear, though some reports have said it could be in the first half of next year. \n■ France \nSurveillance of judge probed \nThe French justice minister on Monday ordered an inquiry into allegations of undercover searches, break-ins and multiple phone taps at the offices of the judge who last week convicted President Jacques Chirac's most loyal lieutenant of political corruption. A court in Nanterre on Friday handed Alain Juppe, the chairman of Chirac's ruling UMP party and widely seen as its next presidential candidate, an 18-month suspended jail sentence and barred him from elected office for 10 years over a fake jobs scandal involving party militants whose salaries were paid by Paris city hall. Juppe is considered to have carried the can for Chirac who, as mayor of Paris for 18 years, would certainly have been among the accused were it not for his presidential immunity. \n■ Kenya \nBritish farmer murdered \nAn elderly British farmer was murdered and his wife seriously injured by intruders who broke into their farm in Kenya, it emerged on Sunday. There was no evidence of a robbery and police have not yet established a motive for the attack, which has shocked the closely knit community in Gilgil, in the Rift valley. Neighbors said there had been a spate of violent burglaries in the area. They do not believe the murder had a racial motive. Police used sniffer dogs to track down three suspects, including the couple's gardener. \n■ Poland \nWicker coffins a hit abroad \nThe owner of a Polish company that manufactures coffins made out of wicker is making a killing in Britain, where they are being snapped up because they are cheap and burn easily, the PAP news agency reported Sunday. The coffins, which are patented in Poland and can withstand a weight of 300kg, have also raised interest in France, Sweden and Denmark, where cremation is customary, the manufacturer Stanislaw Walicki is quoted as saying. "We are sending a first shipment of 30 coffins to France," he said. He said he sends on average about 100 coffins a month to Britain. In Poland the invention has attracted little attention even though Walicki has offered a wicker coffin free of charge to the first customer. \n■ United States \nManilow suffers chest pains \nSinger Barry Manilow was rushed to a hospital in Palm Springs, California, suffering from chest pains, his publicist said. Manilow was hospitalized after returning home earlier in the day from New York, where he "endured two of the most grueling days of arbitration" in a lawsuit in which he and co-writer Bruce Sussman are fighting to regain the rights to their stage musical Harmony, said publicist Jerry Sharell. Manilow, who has released more than 40 albums, was most popular in the 1970s, when he turned out a string of popular radio hits including Mandy, I Write the Songs and Copacabana. \n■ United States \nCouple names son `2.0' \nTacking `Junior' or `II' onto a boy's name is too common, a new father decided, so the self-described engineering geek took a software approach to naming his newborn son. Jon Blake Cusack talked his wife, Jamie, into naming their son Jon Blake Cusack 2.0. Version 2.0 was born last Tuesday. "I wanted to find something different to name him," Cusack said. He said he had the idea for a few months, and spent the better part of that time persuading his wife to go along.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
SURGE CONTINUES: India recorded its steepest spike of more than 57,000 new virus cases in 24 hours, as Vietnam went from no virus deaths to reporting three South Korean prosecutors yesterday arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s COVID-19 response after thousands of worshipers were infected in February and March. Prosecutors in the central city of Suwon have been questioning 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges that the church hid some members and underreported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines. The Suwon District Court granted prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee over concerns that he could temper with evidence. Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they are