China wants EU ban lifted
China urged the European Union yesterday to lift a ban on arms sales, saying that maintaining the embargo would affect relations and be tantamount to discrimination. The ban, imposed after Beijing's 1989 crackdown on democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, is likely to take center stage next week when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visits China and Premier Wen Jiabao heads to the Netherlands for a China-EU summit. "If the EU side continues to maintain the ban, we think this is a kind of political discrimination," Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui told reporters. The issue would be on the agenda when Schroeder visits Beijing from Monday and when Wen visits the Netherlands on Dec. 7-9.
PC Christmas in Sydney
Sydney Mayor Clover Moore has been cast as the Grinch who stole Christmas after decorating her city's town hall with just one meager Christmas tree out of fear of offending non-Christians. Moore has been accused of political correctness gone mad after residents woke to newspaper headlines demanding "Where's Our Christmas?" and complaints the city had not done enough to celebrate the festive season. Talkback radio programs were flooded with calls and even conservative Prime Minister John Howard joined in. "This is political correctness from central casting. It is unbelievable," Howard told Sydney radio 2UE.
Charity bike tour finished
Lloyd Scott, a 43-year-old Briton, has just completed a 2,642-mile charity bike ride across Australia -- dressed as Sherlock Holmes and riding a penny farthing bicycle -- has tales to tell of snakes, locusts, and extreme temperatures. The former leukemia sufferer also has, as he put it, a bruised "undercarriage" to back up those stories. Scott, from Rainham, Essex, east of London, England, traveled from Perth to Sydney in 50 days to raise money for Save the Children. The former firefighter is hoping to raise a million pounds Sterling. Scott started his challenge on October 13, following a route to Sydney.
65 missing in landslide
A landslide destroyed 25 village houses in the Guizhou Province yesterday and 65 villagers, asleep at the time, were missing, Xinhua news agency said. The accident occurred in the early hours of the morning in Nayong county and police and soldiers had now joined the search for survivors. "The landslide destroyed 25 houses in which an estimated 108 people were sleeping," Xinhua said, adding that 31 people had managed to escape and 12 had been rescued.
US jails could foster abuse
A recent classified report has found military prisons in Afghanistan have the "opportunity" for prisoner abuse like that which took place in US jails in Iraq, The Washington Post reported yesterday. The army general who inspected facilities in Afghanistan found a wide range of shortcomings, including an unwarranted use of rectal exams instead of metal wands to search for contraband, the Post said.
Robbers pose as soldiers
Thieves masquerading as NATO soldiers stole 1 million euros (US$1.3 million) from a Bosnian security van on the last day of the alliance's peace mission in the country on Wednesday. The robbers, wearing the insignia of NATO's outgoing Stabilisation Force (SFOR), set up a check point on a highway in northwestern Bosnia and stopped an armored van hauling cash for the Raiffeisen Bank, the daily Nezavisne Novine reported. The gang of five handcuffed security guards escorting the cash and left them in the back of the van, the newspaper added. The robbery was staged on the eve of NATO's handover of the 9-year-old peacekeeping mission to a new EU force, called EUFOR. Police declined to comment.