■ South Korea
Impeachment pact made
South Korea's two main opposition parties agreed yesterday to try to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun, but he dismissed the attempt to unseat him for breaking an election rule as an excessive gesture he had a duty to resist. The National Election Commission said last week Roh had violated election law by speaking in favor of the breakaway Uri Party last month ahead of an April 15 parliamentary election, but did not penalize him. The main opposition Grand National Party agreed yes-terday to join the smaller Millennium Democratic Party in submitting an impeachment bill to parliament today. The vote on impeachment would have to be held within 72 hours of the bill being introduced.
■ South Korea
Defector's life threatened
Police were investigating death threats against the country's top-ranked North Korean defector after a dozen menacing notes and a knife-pierced photo of him were discovered early yesterday on the office steps of a defectors' advocacy group. Hwang Jang-yop, a former chief of North Korea's parliament, defected to the South in 1997. The notes criticized Hwang's anti-North Korean activities and accused him of returning "North Korea's love and faith with betrayal."
Suicide over bird flu
The head owner of a poultry business accused of covering up the spread of deadly bird flu among its chickens apparently hanged himself with his wife on one of their farms, police said yesterday. Hajimu Asada, 67, and his wife, Chisako, 64, were found yesterday morning hanging from a tree outside a chicken pen in Himeji, about 480km west of Tokyo, a police official said. The Asada Nosan farm has come under fire for not telling authorities that its chickens were dying en masse, preventing officials from containing the disease at an early stage. Some 18,000 chickens had died of the flu on Asada's farm -- and some of the meat and eggs sold -- before an anonymous phone call alerted authorities.
Hunger strikers treated
The son of Malaysia's fundamentalist Islamic opposition leader collapsed and was hospitalized on the seventh day of a hunger strike to protest his deten-tion without trial for alleged militancy, human rights officials said yesterday. Nik Adli Nik Aziz, 37, was put on a drip and treated for dehydration at a hospital for several hours on Sunday before being returned to the prison camp where he has been held for more than two years, the officials said. Nik Adli is among 16 alleged members of a militant group allied to the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemmah Islamiyah at the camp who began refusing any food or drink March 1 to protest their detention. Another detainee was also hospitalized for hours on Sunday before being returned to the camp.
Jail time for kissing
Couples caught kissing passionately in public could spend five years in jail. Lawmakers have proposed an anti-pornography bill that includes a ban on kissing on the mouth in public. Heavy kissing could carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail or a 250 million rupiah (US$29,000) fine. Anyone caught flashing would face similar penalties. The bill also proposes bans on public nudity, erotic dances and sex parties, with jail terms ranging from three to 10 years.
■ United States
Water taxi search resumed
Authorities planned to continue searching yesterday for three people still missing and presumed drowned when a Baltimore, Maryland, water taxi capsized in a storm with 25 people on board. One person was confirmed dead in the mishap on Saturday in Baltimore's Inner Harbor with two survivors still in critical condition. The other 19 people aboard the flat, 10m-long pontoon when it was overturned in a fast-moving thunderstorm were plucked from the frigid water with few injuries. The search was suspended Sunday at dusk with more bad weather rolling into the city.
■ United States
State keeps bomber's papers
Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski has no right to donate his writings to a university for research, a federal judge has ruled. US District Judge Garland Burrell ruled on Friday that the government legally possesses the papers on behalf of the victims of Kaczynski's bombs, and may keep the documents indefinitely. Burrell overruled findings two months ago by US Magistrate Gregory Hollows, who ruled that the papers must either be returned to Kaczynski so he could donate them to a university, or be sold in order to raise money for his victims. But Burrell found that the former mathematics prodigy turned anti-technology serial bomber cannot decide what should be done with the papers.
■ United States
Two caught over body parts
Two people, including the man who oversees the cadaver program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have been arrested in connection with the alleged theft of body parts from the school. Henry Reid, director of the UCLA program that makes donated bodies available for medical education and research, was arrested on Saturday for investigation of grand theft for allegedly selling corpses and body parts. Reid, 54, was released on US$20,000 bail. On Sunday, Ernest Nelson was arrested for investi-gation of receiving stolen property, according to the university. The school said Nelson was not a UCLA employee. Nelson, 46, was released on US$30,000 bail.
■ United States
Tax protester sought
A federal judge in Sacramento has issued an arrest warrant for a California businessman who stopped withholding taxes from his employees' paychecks four years ago. The man, Al Thompson, a prominent figure in a movement claiming the tax laws are a hoax, asserted on Sunday that any arrest warrant would be invalid if his name was printed in capital letters. Judge Frank Damrell of US District Court issued the warrant on Friday when Thompson failed to appear at a hearing into why he has not paid US$500,000 in back taxes.
Men steal for Women's Day
Russian police carrying out an operation to prevent terror instead thwarted the party plans of three men accused of stealing electric wire to buy food, drink and gifts for their female friends for an International Women's Day celebration. The men are suspected of stealing about 2km of wire that was part of the power supply system in Vesyegonsk, north of Moscow, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. The March 8 holiday honoring women is celebrated widely in Russia. The men were caught during an ongoing police action called Operation Whirlwind-Antiterror.
■ South Africa
Taxi drivers strike
Thousands of commuters in Johannesburg were left stranded at rush hour yesterday as minibus taxi drivers embarked on a two-day strike, radio reports said. Around 5,000 taxi drivers and operators were expected to march through the city streets amid tight security to protest impounding of their vehicles by authorities and alleged police harassment. Minibus taxis form a key component of the city's transport system, ferrying hundreds of thousands of people between the townships, suburbs and city center. Minibus taxis -- many vehicles are often found to be unroadworthy, and their drivers reckless -- are often seen as a menace by motorists on the roads.
Rightist wins big
Joerg Haider brought his party a stunning victory in his home province, confounding pundits and increasing the odds of a national comeback for the rightist known for anti-Jewish slurs and friendship with former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Haider's Freedom Party received 42.4 percent of the vote in Sunday's poll in Carinthia, compared to just over 38 percent for the rival Socialists, final results showed, assuring Haider reappointment as governor of Austria's southernmost province. The People's Party, the senior coalition partner of the Freedom Party in the federal government, was the biggest loser, dropping nearly half its strength while gaining little more than 12 percent of the vote. While the voting was restricted to Carinthia, its significance extended further.
■ United States
Gay bishop makes it official
With three mighty thumps on the church door Sunday, Gene Robinson knocked and was welcomed into St. Paul's sanctuary, where he officially became the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop. Sunday's investiture ceremony does not carry the same weight as Robinson's consecration, which rocked the Episcopal Church in November. But it gave a capacity crowd of more than 700 the chance to welcome the new leader of the Diocese of New Hampshire with whoops, cheers and a standing ovation. Bells rang out from the church tower. "Journeys of faith, you know, are a risky business," Robinson said during his sermon. "God is always calling us out of our comfort zones." Bishop Douglas Theuner, who officially retired Sunday, handed Robinson the ceremonial staff that transferred the diocese into his hands.
■ United States
Buffett happy to pay tax
Wonder-investor Warren Buffett, the second richest man on the planet, said he would be happy to see his Berkshire Hathaway group of companies pay more tax as long as the rest of corporate America ponyed up as well. Known as the "Sage of Omaha" for his savvy business acumen, Buffett claims too many US corporations "pay nothing close" to the stated federal tax rate of 35 percent. Corporate tax evasion has become a hot topic on Capitol Hill where US lawmakers have accused companies of opening offshore shell companies in order to pare their taxes. "We hope our taxes continue to rise in the future -- it will mean we are prospering -- but we also hope that the rest of Corporate America antes up along with us," Buffett said in an annual letter to shareholders published on Saturday. Buffett also pointed out that Berkshire Hathaway pays a heftier wedge of tax than most of corporate America.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘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