■ Malaysia Wife mistaken for monkey \n \nA 68-year-old woman was shot dead by her husband after he mistook her for a monkey raiding their fruit trees, Malaysian media reported yesterday. It was the second shooting of a person mistaken for a monkey in as many days. Meah Hamid was plucking mangosteens from a tree behind their house in central Malaysia's Pahang state when her husband came by and saw the branches moving, the New Straits Times said. Thinking it was a monkey, the 70-year-old man took a shotgun and fired at the tree only to hear his wife cry out in pain, it said. He rushed her to a clinic but she succumbed to her injuries on the way. Police said shotgun pellets hit Meah's face and chest, and have detained the man for causing death through recklessness. Initial investigations showed he did not know his wife was in the tree, they said. \n \n■ Japan \n91-year-old thief arrested \n \nA 91-year-old woman was arrested this week in Tokyo for pickpocketing, with police saying she is the oldest habitual pickpocket, local media reported on yesterday. The woman, whose name was withheld, had been arrested 10 times in the past 10 years for pickpocketing, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun. The thief was arrested on Monday afternoon after store clerks saw her lift an envelope from the purse of a shopper in a clothing store. She told police that she knows she is a bad person but she cannot stop pickpocketing. The woman was released immediately, due to her old age. \n \n■ Australia USTRALIA \nTerrorist got visa \n \nA top al-Qaeda operative acquired a visa to visit Australia a month before Sept. 11, 2001, raising fears the terror group was actively plotting to strike the US ally, the government said yesterday. It was not believed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed traveled to Australia after being granted the visa in the name of an alias from the Australian High Commission in Pakistan, officials said. Khalid, one of Osama bin Laden's senior commanders, was arrested in Pakistan in February last year and is in US custody. \n \n■ Japan \nN Korea talks to continue \n \nJapan and North Korea will hold working-level talks in Beijing this weekend, focusing on the fate of Japanese citizens believed abducted by Pyongyang decades ago, officials said yesterday. The dispute over 10 Japanese who Tokyo says were kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s to teach its spies Japanese is the main stumbling block to forging diplomatic ties between the two countries, along with the North's nuclear programs. The talks will be held on Saturday and Sunday in the Chinese capital, and could continue into Monday, Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il agreed at a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in May to reinvestigate the fate of the 10 Japanese. \n \n■ Afghanistan \nUS soldiers killed \n \nThree US soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in a series of fierce clashes with suspected Taliban fighters in the south and east of the country this week, the US military said yesterday. Confirming two US deaths reported on Monday, spokesman Major Scott Nelson said another US soldier also died in Monday's fighting which saw eight separate attacks by militants on US and Afghan forces. He said 14 US soldiers and six members of the fledgling Afghan national army were injured in the fighting. Nine insurgents were killed and one Afghan soldier is missing. \n■ United States Beckhams to sue paper \n \nDavid and Victoria Beckham are to sue UK Sunday newspaper The News of the World over a story that claimed their marriage was in trouble. A statement from the couple's lawyers said the allegations, in an article headlined "Posh and Becks on Rocks," was untrue and "caused considerable distress to both the couple and their family." Sources at The News of the World said the paper would fight the legal challenge, in particular because the couple have never denied that the Real Madrid striker and England captain had an affair with his former personal assistant, Rebecca Loos. \n \n■ Leranon \nTerrorist plot foiled \n \nTerror suspects arrested for allegedly planning simultaneous bombings of the Italian Embassy and other foreign and domestic targets in Beirut received funding from extremist cells in Europe, Lebanon's Interior Ministry said yesterday. The group's other targets included the Ukrainian consulate in a Beirut suburb and a few Lebanese "security and judicial targets," the ministry said in a statement. The statement did not say what the motive might have been or give the nationalities of the suspects. The Italian news agency ANSA had first reported the foiled plot late Tuesday. The ministry said the group's unnamed leader has confessed to planning and preparing to send a car packed with 300kg of TNT to blow up the Italian Embassy. \n \n■ Italy \nBerlusconi touts Fiat chief \n \nItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi suggested Tuesday that he might retire from politics in the future because of his age, and indicated the head of Fiat as his possible successor. With a jovial grin he said that his job would at some point be available to Luca Cordero de Montezemolo, a former head of Ferrari, who became chairman of Fiat and president of the employers' body Confindustria earlier this year. Berlusconi, who turns 68 at the end of this month, has aged visibly during his three years in government. He said he would not hesitate to stand down when he knew he was no longer up to the job, but is the first time that he has suggested anyone could take over his job. \n \n■ Israel \nCourt orders end to strike \n \nIsrael's national labor court ordered public sector workers to end their general strike on Wednesday and ruled that thousands of municipal workers must be paid their overdue wages immediately. Officials from the Histadrut trade union confederation are now studying the ruling but they have yet to tell their members to return to work. Much of the country has been paralyzed by the strike which began on Tuesday. Train services, government buildings and even the country's only international airport were all closed for business. \n \n■ United Kingdom \nReport faults arms subsidies \n \nUK government subsidies to arms exports cost the taxpayer at least ?450 million (US$805 million) and possibly up to ?930 million a year, according to a report published yesterday by three UK security policy think tanks. The subsidies are both explicit and hidden, consisting of cheap export credit insurance, investment in military research and development, and distortions in the way the defense ministry procures weapons systems, it says. The report suggests the government exaggerates the importance of arms exports for maintaining jobs. \n■ Mexico Singer free after rape drama \n \nFormer Mexican pop superstar Gloria Trevi strolled out of prison in Chihuahua to cheers early yesterday, after a judge acquitted her of rape, kidnapping and corruption of minors charges. Judge Javier Pineda spent more than a month deliberating, but finally ruled on Tuesday night that there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict the 36-year-old fallen icon and two backup-singers. Pineda read his decision in front of a courtroom cage holding Trevi and Maria Raquenel Portillo. The second backup singer, Marlene Calderon, was in the room, but not behind bars. Prosecutors had alleged that Trevi, Portillo, Calderon, and their manager, Sergio Andrade, sexually abused girls who joined their globe-trotting entourage looking for musical training. \n \n■ United States \nCat Stevens on terror list \n \nThe former pop singer Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, was denied entry to the US and his flight from London was diverted to Maine, after his name turned up on a watch list, a US transportation security official said. United Flight 919 enroute to Washington was diverted to Bangor where Islam was questioned and detained by federal authorities who planned to put him on a return flight early yesterday, the official said. US Customs and border protection authorities discovered that the name matched a federal watch list by checking passenger information transmitted by the airline after the flight departed from London, the official said. \n \n■ United States \nUS targets video voyeurs \n \nThe US House of Representatives has moved to crack down on video voyeurism by adopting a bill that makes secret production and distribution of pictures of people caught in their "private moments" punishable by fines and up to a year in jail. "Video voyeurism is something that has been in the news a lot lately, in part due to the improper use of camera cell phones that have become so popular," Republican Representative Michael Oxley said. The legislation, passed by voice vote on Tuesday, creates a crime of video voyeurism on federal property, such as national parks and public buildings. \n \n■ United States \nCaptain Kirk invades Iowa \n \nCaptain James Kirk came home to Riverside, Iowa, this week. William Shatner, who played the commander of the starship USS Enterprise in the 1960s Star Trek series, arrived in Riverside on Tuesday to hold auditions for four small parts in a low-budget sci-fi movie he wrote with Star Trek co-star Leonard Nimoy. The working title of the movie is Invasion Iowa. The 73-year-old actor and more than 100 crew members will be in Riverside for several days to film scenes for the movie. Although Kirk's hometown was never mentioned in the TV series, Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote that Kirk was "born in a small town in the state of Iowa." \n \n■ United States \nTobacco trial starts \n \nThe US government opened a US$280 billion civil trial against the giants of the tobacco industry on Tuesday, arguing that the firms conspired for decades to hide the dangers of smoking, and illegally marketed cigarettes to children. In opening statements, lawyers described a clandestine campaign by the tobacco industry to combat scientific evidence linking smoking to disease. "The industry believed its survival depended on fraud," said Frank Marine, a lawyer for the Department of Justice.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and