Suicide bomber kills official
A Chinese local government official was killed in a suicide bombing by a villager apparently dissatisfied with the compensation he received for his appropriated land, state media reported yesterday. The bombing on Wednesday in a private office in Sichuan Province killed official Ge Junming and villager Zhang Mingchun, the Xinhua news agency reported. Ge was also the chairman of a corporation called Mingda, which appropriated a sand quarry owned by Zhang to build a road to a power station. The villager was apparently not satisfied with the compensation the corporation offered for his land and took 2kg of explosives and a detonator to Ge's office at Mingda and blew them up.
Human cloning ban lifted
The government's top science council has voted to adopt policy recommendations that would permit limited cloning of human embryos for scientific research in Japan. Japan banned human cloning in 2001, but has permitted researchers to use human embryos that aren't produced by cloning. The recommen-dations, approved on Friday, would let researchers produce and use cloned human embryos, but only for basic research, said Tomohiko Arai, an official at the Cabinet's Council for Science and Technology Policy. The cloning won't be allowed for use in treating human patients.
Lovesick son goes berserk
A son whose parents insisted he could not marry his sweetheart and should become a Buddhist monk instead went berserk and torched his parents' motorbike after his father refused the son's demands to behead him with a cleaver, police said yesterday. "Khon Sokna is a good son but he was heartbroken when his parents refused to let him take a wife. He went to the shop to drink rice wine, and then he came back home and demanded his father kill him with a cleaver before setting his parents' motorbike on fire," said Kim Sokun, deputy police chief of Ang Snoul district, Kandal province, about 20km outside Phnom Penh.
Opposition leader inhaled
Australian opposition leader Mark Latham yesterday admitted smoking marijuana in his youth, saying he went further than former US president Bill Clinton and inhaled the drug. On the campaign trail in the southern city of Melbourne, Latham was asked if he had ever dabbled with marijuana. "Yes I did and, I have got to own up, I did inhale. So there you go. How about that?" he told reporters. Latham refused to elaborate on his experience when pressed by a journalist. Latham, 43, has been pitched by his Labor Party as offering a generational change in leadership as he attempts to oust conservative Prime Minister John Howard, 64.
■ Hong Kong
Laziness HK's leading killer
Laziness has become Hong Kong's number one killer and is shortening the lifespan of one in five people, a news report said yesterday. The study found one in five people aged over 35 was more likely to die of causes linked to physical inactivity than other causes, according to the Hong Kong Standard. More than 24,000 deaths were analyzed by the University of Hong Kong for the study. Researchers found 50 per cent of the people who died were physically inactive, meaning they not been involved in physical activity for longer than 30 minutes a month.
■ United States
NATO hosts Olympics troops
US forces on standby in case of terrorist attacks during the Olympics may be based in Greece despite the host's insistence that no foreign troops be deployed on its soil, NATO diplomats said on Friday. NATO agreed to take command of 400 US special forces personnel during the Aug. 13-29 games. But the 26-nation alliance's "decision sheet," its formal agree-ment, deliberately avoided specifying where they would be based. Greek Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis said on Thursday that the NATO-led troops would be on alert "in some third country." A New York Times report that the NATO-commanded troops would be deployed to protect US athletes and dignitaries during the games provoked a furor in Athens this week. Diplomats said protection for US citizens in Greece was essentially a job for bodyguards.
Summer camp teaches theft
Police in Russia's Pacific island of Sakhalin have discovered a mob-run summer camp teaching youngsters how to become thieves, a police spokesman said on Friday. The 30 teenagers were living in what at first looked like a perfectly ordinary summer camps, complete with tents and a field kitchen, but they were supervised by two criminals on probation. In addition to the fine art of stealing, the youngsters were taught the hierarchy of the underworld, and how to react in case they were arrested. Investigators were trying to find out who stood behind the camp.
Women like male-free life
More than 80 percent of single German women are perfectly happy living without a man and say they have more freedom to do what they want, according to a Stern magazine survey. Coming amid mounting political alarm about Germany's low birthrate and aging population, the survey of 1,003 women showed only 2 percent did not enjoy their solitary lifestyle and 36 percent said they opted to stay single because it was more fun. Thirty-six percent said that with no resident man they didn't have to endure watching TV sports.
Bird blasted for vandalism
A bird with a penchant for 17th-century Dutch art has paid the ultimate price for flying into a museum gallery and pecking a hole in a masterpiece. "We tried everything to catch the pigeon and called in experts to grab it, but in the end they had to shoot it out of the air," a museum official said. The other victim, Thomas de Keyser's 1633 painting of a civic guard gathering, was restored and put back on display on Thursday. "It's one of the more important civic guard pieces," said the official, referring to the city watchmen depicted in the work. "Luckily the hole was in a shadowy part of the painting and not in one of the guards' faces."
Postmen snap at dog treats
Dogs chomping on mail carrier-shaped treats is no laughing matter for Canada Post. The agency convinced Pet Valu stores to stop carrying dog biscuits that come shaped like cats and letter carriers. "This is not in any way, shape, or form funny for us, and to make light of that ... I don't see that as funny at all," said Canada Post spokesman John Caines. The store chain, which has 292 outlets in Canada, withdrew the treats after it received a protest from Canada Post.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of