Teacher and cop in shootout
A religious teacher who fired on a Thai policeman was shot and wounded in retaliation yesterday, marking the latest violence in the troubled Muslim south, police said. The 28-year-old teacher, riding pillion, shot and wounded the policeman as he rode home on his motorbike after completing a night shift in the southern province of Pattani. Thai police said the officer returned fire, toppling the gunman from the motorbike. The rider escaped. The police were hunting for the motorbike rider and were investigating a suspected student of the teacher's class.
Nude farmers appease gods
Female rice farmers are plowing their fields at night in the nude to please the rain god during a dry spell in Baijapur, southwestern Nepal, a news report said yesterday. A farmer, Ambika Tharu, 35, said she and other women were daring to bare all for the rain god because of a delay in the annual monsoon season. "My mother-in-law said the god would be pleased and make rain fall if women till the land naked," Tharu told the Himalayan Times. The delay of the monsoon rains, which usually begin in early June in Nepal, have prevented farmers from planting rice. Forecasters in Katmandu said rain is expected to arrive in the next few days.
Pilot licenses upgraded
In a move to boost aviation security, authorities said yesterday they are upgrading Australian pilot licenses to make them more difficult to counterfeit. In a statement, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority said it would issue photographic licenses with passport-style security measures to more than 33,000 pilots licensed in the country. The cards will include "embedded images that cannot be tampered with," the authority said. "The identification card now gives CASA and people in the aviation industry greater certainty about the identity of pilots," said the authority's chief executive officer, Bruce Byron.
Calf too much for python
A wild, 5m-long python swallowed a whole 30kg, two-month-old calf, but died because it could not breathe with such a big mouthful, news reports said yesterday. Somporn Pengsuksri, a cattle rancher in the southern province of Trang, said he left one of his cows with its calf in a jungle to graze on Saturday. When he returned he could not find the calf, which had wandered into the forest. When he found the giant snake with distended jaws and a huge bulge in its body he tried to pull the calf out, but after a long struggle the python and the calf were dead.
Six communist rebels killed
An army officer and six communist rebels were killed in a clash on Saturday in the central Philippines, the military said. Soldiers from the army's 14th Infantry Battalion were patrolling a village outside the town of Oras, in Eastern Samar province, when they encountered about 50 New People's Army guerrillas. The patrol leader, Lieutenant Dixson Dacoro, was killed along with six rebels in a 45-minute firefight, said Major General Glen Rabonza, commander of the army's 8th Infantry Division. More troops were deployed to the area to pursue the fleeing rebels, who left behind their slain comrades and weapons, Rabonza said.
Iran filing Saddam brief
Tehran has prepared a complaint against Saddam Hussein for his 1980 use of chemical weapons in an attack on Iran, and will soon file it with the Iraqi tribunal putting the former president on trial, Iran's foreign ministry said yesterday. "One of the crimes of Saddam Hussein is the attack against Iran," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said. Urging the Iraqi court to "act with transparency and in a public manner," Asefi also com-plained that Saddam's 1980 land grab -- which sparked the catastrophic 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war -- was not on the original list of charges.
Chechen insurgent surfaces
After at least two years without being seen in public, a Chechen guerrilla commander reappeared Friday on a videotape in which he vowed to continue the war in Russia. But the commander, Shamil Basayev, apparently seeking to make a claim of containing the long-simmering war, pledged to refrain from terrorist acts in other nations. The video was received Friday by Al-Jazeera, a TV network in Qatar. Basayev has claimed responsibility for the siege at a Moscow theater in 2002 that ended with the deaths of more than 120 hostages. More recently, Basayev took responsibility for the assassination of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov.
Africa talks target Sudan
Heads of dozens of African states are set to endorse long-term security projects at a summit this week, as the crisis in Sudan emerges as a crucial test case for the credibility of the new African Union. When the summit starts tomorrow, "we are expecting to get the go-ahead for ... the establishment of the African Standby Force," said Sam Ibok, the group's peace and security director. By 2010, the force is supposed to have five brigades and financial and material support from the EU, UN and US. An African non-aggression pact is also on the agenda.
■ United States
Workplace gun victim dies
A man who was seriously wounded Friday in a shooting spree at a Kansas City meatpacking plant has died, police said Saturday. The gunman, identified by police as Elijah Brown, 21, an employee of the ConAgra Foods plant, shot and killed four of the victims Friday in the plant's cafeteria and then shot and killed himself. A ConAgra worker said Brown recently had fought with some of the employees who were shot and had been reprimanded. Other employees said Brown felt teased and picked on by his colleagues. Reports said a sign is posted at the entrance to the ConAgra plant that says no guns are allowed in the plant.
■ United States
Actor faces sex charge
Actor Jeffrey Jones, best known for playing the high school principal in the 1980s comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is accused of failing to register as a sex offender. Jones, 57, pleaded no contest last July to a felony charge of employing a 14-year-old boy to pose for explicit photos. The actor was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to register as a sex offender and undergo counseling. Officials said Jones moved in March without register-ing. On Thursday in Sarasota, Florida, police arrested Jones and charged him with failing to register, releasing him on US$1,000 bail. Jones appeared in the new HBO series Deadwood.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications