US Marines have found beheading chambers, bomb-making factories and even two hostages as they swept through Fallujah -- turning up hard evidence of the city's role in the insurgent campaign to drive American forces from Iraq. \nMarines on Sunday showed off what they called a bomb-making factory, where insurgents prepared roadside explosives and car bombs that have killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians and US troops. \nWires, cellphones, Motorola handheld radios and a foam box packed with C4 plastic explosives sat in the dark building down an alley, along with three balaclava-style masks reading: "There is only one god, Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger." \n"It's all significant because this is not the kind of stuff an average household has," said Lieutenant Kevin Kimner, 25, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. \nSo far US troops have only found two hostages, one Iraqi and one Syrian. Marines last week found the Iraqi in a room with a black banner bearing the logo of one of Iraq's extremist groups. He was chained to the wall, shackled hand and foot in front of a video camera. The floor was covered with blood. \nThe rescued Syrian was the driver for two French journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, missing since August. The journalists have not been found, but France maintains they are still alive. \nA Marine officer said he found signs that at least one foreign hostage was beheaded in the room. The Marine, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not give details. \nThe Iraqi hostage, who had been beaten on the back with steel cables, said his tormentors were Syrian and that he thought he was in Syria until the Marines found him, the Marine said. Other militants came and went, but "The Syrians were always in charge," the Marine said. \nThe hostage was in a room -- inside a compound that also had AK-47 rifles, improvised bombs, fake ID cards and shoulder-fired missiles that could down an airliner. Beneath it were tunnels running under the neighborhood. \nMarines said weapons depots were strategically placed throughout Jolan. Insurgents marked many of the caches with a piece of brick or rock, suspended from the buildings by a piece of string or wire. \nAmong the rebels' most-fearsome weapons have been the car bombs and roadside explosives that have targeted military convoys but also Christian churches and other areas where civilians gather. \nA hollowed-out plastic foam container about the size of two shoe boxes lay in the bomb lab on Sunday, packed with plastic explosives and wires. The plastic foam box was covered in cloth to disguise it as an innocuous package. \nScattered on the ground nearby -- cellphones, walkie-talkies, Motorola handheld radios -- all used as detonators lay tangled in coils of wire. There was a computer without a hard drive and a box full of professional explosives-triggering. \nWhen Marines uncovered the lab in a sweep Saturday, they also found Islamic Jihadist writings. A complete reading of the Koran on cassette tape lay in a box. Also among the clutter were two wills, addressed to friends and family in Algeria. \nA Marine staff sergeant, who deals with detainees, told reporters it appeared as though a kidnapping squad used Fallujah to hold its captives. \n"These guys have a kidnap squad, working outside Fallujah and bringing their victims to the city," he said.
Chinese state media blasted television host John Oliver’s comedy segment on Taiwan, saying that he “dodged facts” and misled the public about the nation. “As a comedian show that sometimes covers politics, it is not surprising that it didn’t take the issue seriously,” the Global Times said in an opinion piece on Tuesday. “Yet it reflected that most Westerners don’t know why the Taiwan question matters and they don’t care about it,” the op-ed added. The English-language newspaper is the Chinese government’s main vehicle for communicating unofficial government messages to Western audiences. During the segment, Oliver sought to untangle the complicated relationship between Taiwan
Sri Lanka has barred a Chinese ship carrying desperately needed organic fertilizer that experts have found to be tainted with harmful bacteria, officials said yesterday. The ban comes as Sri Lanka battles food shortages caused by a currency crisis. Farmers have said that a ban on chemical fertilizer could ruin their crops this year. The office of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the Sri Lankan National Plant Quarantine Services had tested a sample from the unnamed Chinese vessel and “confirmed the presence of organisms, including certain types of harmful bacteria.” The Sri Lankan Commercial High Court has banned any payment to
PROMPTING MOCKERY : A cryptic announcement of the pianist’s detention by Beijing police was followed by CCTV commenting on the ‘social morality’ of celebrities Concert pianist Li Yundi (李雲迪), one of China’s most famous musicians, has been detained in Beijing over prostitution allegations, state media said on Thursday, prompting some incredulity and a lot of mockery on Chinese social media. Reuters was unable to immediately reach Li or a representative for comment. Police in the Chinese capital’s Chaoyang District said they had detained a 39-year-old man surnamed Li, along with a 29-year-old female surnamed Chen, after receiving reports from the public of prostitution in a neighborhood they did not identify. Both people confessed to the illegal activity, the police said in a statement on a microblogging platform. The
DEMAND-DRIVEN: The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, said law enforcement has allowed palm oil plantations on UNESCO sites, parks and tiger habitats Almost one-fifth of the land used for Indonesian palm oil plantations is located in the country’s forest conservation areas, despite a law banning such activity, a study by Greenpeace has found. The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, describes a catastrophic failure of law enforcement that has permitted swathes of land — including UNESCO sites, national parks and areas mapped as habitats for orangutans and Sumatran tigers — to be cultivated as palm oil plantations. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, which is used in many everyday products and foods, from shampoo and lipstick to chocolate and frozen pizzas. However,