■ China \n25 killed in fireworks blast \nAt least 25 people died and nine were injured after fireworks exploded at a firecracker factory in northern China's Shanxi province, local officials said yesterday. State media said most of the victims of the accident Tuesday afternoon at the Xiangliu firecracker factory were young women. Police were searching for the factory owner, who fled after the explosion, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The cause of the accident was under investigation, it said. \n■ Vietnam \nChina `attacks' fishermen \nThe Chinese coast guard fired on two Vietnamese fishing boats in separate attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin, killing nine Vietnamese fishermen and wounding six others, an executive said yesterday. Nguyen Phi Phuong, director of Hung Cuong Fishing Cooperative in northern Thanh Hoa province, said two Chinese coast guard boats armed with machine guns attacked one of his company's vessels on Saturday. The Vietnamese were fishing in waters jointly shared by Vietnam and China when they came under fire, Phuong said. However, a spokesman at the Chinese embassy in Hanoi said the embassy had received an unconfirmed report that Vietnamese pirates attacked Chinese fishermen who were fishing in China's territorial waters, he said. \n■ China \nIsrael denies drone report \nThe Israeli military denied reports that Israel had suspended an upgrade for drone aircraft it sold to China in the 1990s. Rachel Niedak-Ashkenazi, spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Ministry, said Tuesday that Israel had not returned parts to the Chinese military as earlier reported. Several Israelis close to the deal had said Israel returned the parts without upgrading them in apparent deference to Washington's concern that the Harpy attack drones threatened Taiwan. However, another Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed Niedak-Ashkenazi's assertion that the parts are still in Israel. \n■ Hong Kong \n`Longhair' strikes again \nHong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) was forced to delay his policy address speech by 15 minutes yesterday when rebel Legislator Leung "Longhair" Kwok-hung (梁國雄) shouted protests as he entered the legislative council chamber. Legislative Council President Rita Fan (范徐麗泰) adjourned the speech and took Leung to one side to seek an assurance that he would allow Tung to continue his speech uninterrupted. Leung then delivered a brief, defiant speech before walking out. "I just want to say one thing -- that is that absolute power leads to absolute corruption," he said. \n■ India \nHomeless seek tsunami aid \nBeggars from the south Indian technology capital Bangalore have shifted operations to the tsunami-hit coastline where aid cash and supplies is overflowing, a newspaper reported yesterday. The traditional haunts of Bangalore's beggars -- temples, mosques and churches as well as train and bus stations -- are virtually deserted, The Times of India said. No one has an official count for the number of beggars, but Karnataka state's Beggar Relief Committee has noticed the migration. "In fact we expected more beggars from Tamil Nadu and other tsunami-affected areas to inhabit the city," committee superintendent Chandrappa B. Madar told the Times. "We are happy the numbers have reduced in the city for now," he said. \n■ United States \nKicking bunny' on trial \nA Playboy Playmate accused of grabbing a dance pole and karate-kicking the ex-girlfriend of NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia went on trial on a misdemeanor assault charge. Carmella DeCesare, who is dating the Cleveland Browns player, faces a misdemeanor assault charge in the Aug. 21 barroom fight with Kristen Hine. According to testi-mony Tuesday, Garcia dated Hine, 32, four or five times but later dropped her for DeCesare, 22. Nasty phone calls and threatening voice mails followed and culminated in a confron-tation last Aug. 21 at the Tramp nightclub. Name-calling ensued, and a friend of Hine's dumped a drink on DeCesare. Each woman had to be restrained and when Hine tried to walk away, DeCesare allegedly grabbed a dance pole and kicked Hine in the head, snapping her head back. \n■ United Kingdom \nThree die in heavy storms \nThree motorists have been killed as heavy storms lashed Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland, leaving thousands of homes without power, police said yesterday. The full force of the weather was unleashed in Scotland, where 60,000 people lost electricity after gales brought down trees and telegraph poles. A Spanish fishing trawler with a crew of 19 was missing in the Outer Hebrides, 200 miles off the coast of Skye, Scottish coast guards reported. But northern England and Northern Ireland were also badly hit by the high winds, which blew over two trucks, claiming the lives of two motorists. \n■ Switzerland \nGeneva buys costly toilets \nSwitzerland is renowned as one of the richest, cleanest and most efficient countries in the world. Now, authorities in Geneva are bringing the city's public conveniences up to scratch -- at a cost of US$13 million for just 35 new toilets, Swiss daily Le Matin reported on Tuesday. Each facility is designed by a different architect at a cost of 370,000 Swiss francs (US$313,000) -- about the same as a one-bedroom, city center apartment. "Inside they are functional and equipped to a high sanitary standard," the city council said on its Web site. "On the outside, each public toilet is different and adapted to its surroundings." \n■ United States \nJackson trial re-enacted \nTwo television companies found a creative way around the ban on cameras for Michael Jackson's child-molestation trial: dramatic re-enactments. E! Entertainment Television and satellite company British Sky Broadcasting, BSkyB, are joining to present daily recreations of the trial, executives announced on Tuesday. Given international interest in the pop star's case and the lack of cameras, the series will "bring the trial to life," said Ted Harbert, president and chief executive officer of E! Networks. Court transcripts will be used to highlight the previous day's testimony and court events, with each network packaging the recreations with its own hosts.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of