■ East Timor Martial arts gangs clash \n \nTwo martial arts gangs clashed in East Timor, leaving four dead including a 70-year-old man who tried to break up the brawl, police said yesterday. The clash started late on Tuesday when one gang accused the other of attacking innocent civilians in Urahu village, about 50km outside the capital of Dili, National Police Commissioner Paul Fatima Martins said. The fight quickly escalated to include hundreds of villagers fighting mostly with sticks and homemade spears as friends and supporters of the gangs joined the fray, Martins said. \n \n■ China \nDeath for baby trafficking \n \nA woman has been sentenced to death and two others given life imprisonment after being found guilty of trafficking 120 babies in impoverished Henan Province, state press said yesterday. Li Guoju was sentenced to death by the Puyang intermediate court on Friday for buying and selling children, the Legal Daily reported. Eleven other defendants were convicted in the case, with two sentenced to life imprisonment, the paper said. The gang bought and sold mostly baby girls from August 1998 to March last year, it said. Li planned to appeal the verdict, it added. Police have said 42,215 women and children kidnapped in the three years since 2001 had been located and freed from captors. \n \n■ Malaysia \nHK gang leader caught \n \nMalaysian police have captured a gang leader wanted in Hong Kong and Macau for his alleged involvement in a wave of killings and car bomb attacks, a news report said yesterday. Kai Hong -- the leader of a Hong Kong-based triad crime gang known as Sun Yee Onn -- was on the run for over a decade before he was arrested in a drug bust last week in Malaysia, the New Straits Times newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. Kai Hong is wanted in Macau for allegedly attempting to kill the police chief. Separately, six Chinese nationals were also arrested in and around Kuala Lumpur last week in connection with an international methamphetamine-making operation in Fiji. \n \n■ Myanmar \nSuu Kyi's birthday celebrated \n \nMore than 400 members of Myanmar's pro-democracy party yesterday prayed for the release of their leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she spent her 59th birthday under house arrest. Gathering at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, party members released nine doves and 60 balloons to mark the beginning of Suu Kyi's 60th year. After the meeting at their headquarters, about 200 of the NLD members marched to Yangon's hilltop Shwedagon Pagoda, where they prayed for Suu Kyi's health and freedom. The group was closely watched by about 30 security personnel, but no incidents were reported. \n \n■ Hong Kong \nHut razed in call for help \n \nAn elderly Hong Kong man -- hungry and stuck in his telephone-less home due to leg injuries -- tried to signal for help by setting fire to a quilt but started a blaze that razed his single-story hut, police said yesterday. The 60-year-old man, identified only by his surname, Leung, was seriously hurt in the fire, police spokesman Ng Ting-kai said. Leung said he had run out of food following an accident six days earlier that injured both his legs, Ng said. The burning house prompted a neighbor to call the police, and Leung -- found sitting outside the ruins of his home with his hair singed from the fire -- was later arrested for arson, Ng said. \n■ Colombia Police officers killed \n \nAt least four Colombia police officers were killed in a bomb attack believed to be carried out by leftist rebels, an official said late Friday. The car bomb went off on a street connecting Florencia and Neiva in southern Colombia as the police officers passed by, said General Martin Carreno. Carreno said Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were believed to be responsible for the attack. Peace talks between the government and FARC have failed. \n \n■ Russia \nPutin backers slam media \n \nA pro-Kremlin youth organization has denounced "corrupt media" and declared a campaign against some of the last independent newspapers left in the country The group, which calls itself "Those who walk together," on Friday released a file on "false reporters," which mostly included newspapers critical of the authorities. Vasily Yakemenko, chief of the organization, which claims to work to promote morality and makes President Vladimir Putin's portrait their emblem, called on the incriminated newspapers to "recognize their faults and apologize before the entire society, which they lied to." \n \n■ Israel \nCommanders dismissed \n \nThe Israeli army dismissed the commander and deputy commander of a platoon whose gunfire killed a 31-year-old Palestinian in a wheelchair on June 6 near Ramallah, a military spokesman announced on Friday. It also transferred the entire platoon from the Kalandia refugee camp outside Ramallah and compelled them to undergo retraining. According to a statement issued by the army, Arafat Ibrahim Yaakub was shot and killed while people described as Palestinian rioters were sabotaging a fence near the inactive Atarot Airport. Israeli soldiers who were sent to the scene pursued the Palestinians, who then began hurling firebombs and rocks. \n \n■ United States \nGays target VP's daughter \n \nA campaign to compel the US vice president's lesbian daughter to oppose a proposed ban on gay marriage is launching its first Internet ad tomorrow. A series of cartoon panels features stick figures of Mary Cheney and Vice President Dick Cheney. One image reads, "Dick's daughter sold out to help Dick run again." The story line refers to Mary Cheney's job as director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney campaign. President George W. Bush is asking Congress to move on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. "They've clearly made the decision to keep her in the closet for this campaign," said John Aravosis, who launched www.DearMary.com. \n \n■ United Kingdom \nKnighthood for Wiesenthal \n \nBritain has awarded an honorary knighthood to Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal in recognition of a "lifetime of service to humanity." Wiesenthal, 95, survived incarceration in Nazi prison camps in eastern Europe during World War II and has since dedicated his life to bringing those responsible for the Holocaust to justice. He is perhaps best known for his role in tracking down Adolf Eichmann, the one-time SS leader who organized the extermination of the Jews. Eichmann was found in Argentina, abducted by Israeli agents in 1960, tried and hanged for crimes committed against the Jews. \n■ United States Pope to get US medal \n \nUS President George W. Bush has selected a dozen people, including Pope John Paul II, to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced. Two of the recipients will be honored posthumously, while the others are invited to receive America's highest civilian honor at a White House ceremony with Bush next Wednesday. Among medal recipients are: Doris Day, Pope John Paul II, Estee Lauder, and golfer Arnold Palmer. \n \n■ United States \nCommission wants info \n \nThe leaders of the Sept. 11 commission called on Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday to turn over any intelligence reports that would support the White House's insistence that there was a close relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. The commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, and its vice chairman, Lee Hamilton, said they wanted to see any additional information in the administration's possession after Cheney, in a television interview on Thursday, was asked whether he knew things about Iraq's links to terrorists that the commission did not know. "Probably," Cheney replied. \n \n■ United Kingdom \nNATO force planned for Iraq \n \nLondon and Washington are drawing up a plan to send a NATO force including up to 3,000 British troops to Iraq to support the interim Iraqi government as it takes over power, a British newspaper said yesterday. The troops would be "temporarily extracted" from NATO and labelled a British-led international force to make it more politically acceptable to members of the alliance -- notably France and Germany -- that were opposed to the war, The Guardian said. Officials said that the plan is expected to be formally agreed at the NATO summit in Istanbul on the eve of the official handover of sovereignty on June 30. \n \n■ United States \nMinimum wage to rise: Kerry \n \nAsserting that "right now our economy is not working for the average American," Senator John Kerry on Friday promised to increase the federal minimum wage to US$7 an hour from US$5.15 by 2007 if he is elected. "You put in a week's work, you ought to be able to take care of your family, you ought to be able to pay your bills," Kerry, the Democrats' White House hopeful, told a small audience of union workers at Northern Virginia Community College. "If we're going to say to people, `Go to work,' if we're going to say to people, `work is a value in America,' and if we're going to say to people, `You ought to be able to go to work and be able to do better,' then we've got to make it real." \n \n■ United States \nMarshmallows cause trouble \n \nA teacher's aide who forgot to put away her marshmallows and hot chocolate at Yellowstone National Park last year was taken from her cruise ship cabin in handcuffs and hauled before a judge, accused of failing to pay the year-old fine. Hope Clarke, 32, crying and in leg shackles, told the judge on Friday that she was roused at 6:30am by federal agents after the ship returned to Miami from Mexico. She insisted that she had paid the US$50 fine before she left Yellowstone, which has strict rules about food storage to prevent wildlife from eating human food. US Magistrate Judge John O'Sullivan, who had a copy of a citation indicating the fine had been paid, apologized to Clarke, who spent nearly nine hours in detention, and demanded that the US attorney's office determine what went wrong.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year