■ South Korea
Ruling party loses elections
President Roh Moo-hyun's ruling Uri Party suffered a crushing defeat in by-elections, failing to win a single parliamentary seat yesterday. South Korea's main opposition Grand National Party, or GNP, swept five out of six parliamentary seats up for grabs in Saturday's polls, and increased its seats to 125 in the 299-member National Assembly. An independent lawmaker won the final seat. The ruling Uri Party, which currently holds 146 seats, had hoped to restore its majority in the parliament. The party lost its parliamentary majority earlier this year after five of its lawmakers lost their seats for election law violations.
Australian citizen deported
Red-faced officials yesterday said they were searching for a woman accidentally deported as an illegal immigrant four years ago, even though she was a naturalized citizen. Acting Immigration Minister Peter McGauran said the case was "particularly disturbing" and departmental officers were trying to find the woman after being contacted by concerned members of her family. "The individual is still overseas and we're attempting to locate the individual and we're liaising with the family," he said. He refused to give details about the woman or identify the country where she was deported. Critics said the case showed overzealous bureaucrats had too much power in determining immigration cases.
■ United States
Bollywood lauds Hasselhoff
India's version of the Oscars were handed out at the glittering Bollywood movie award ceremony in Atlantic City, where a veteran director swept the top honors and US actor David Hasselhoff was named international star of the year, because his successful television series are among the most popular on Indian television. An audience of composed largely of Americans of Indian origin cheered veteran Yash Chopra, who was named best director for his film Veer-Zaara, which also picked up the award for best film and best actor for its star Shah Rukh Kahn. Rani Mukherjee won the best actress award for her role in Hum Tum.
■ Hong Kong
Critics slam `fake' vote
An election yesterday to choose delegates who will select Hong Kong's next chief executive was condemned as pointless amid widespread belief Beijing has already decided who will win the leadership race. A tiny turnout of the 47,000 eligible voters -- just five percent by 2pm, six and a half hours after polls opened -- also added fuel to critics who slammed the exercise as a "fake" poll. At stake are 33 vacant seats on the 800-member election committee, which will gather on July 10 to select the chief executive of the territory.
Zoo forced to rethink safety
A moat now separates spectators from an African wild cat performing at the Singapore Zoo's nightly shows after the animal scratched a tourist, a crocodile bit its keeper and a jaguar escaped. The zoo is considering changing the stage design of its "Creatures Of The Night" show amid calls to ban such performances. An audience was waiting for a serval (wildcat) to jump up and grab some meat on a stick when the animal strayed and scratched the leg of a Chinese woman with her child instead. The day before, a female jaguar escaped and wandered around for 30 minutes before it was sedated and returned to its enclosure, causing hundreds of zoo visitors to be evacuated. In a third incident, a gavial (crocodile) bit a keeper cleaning the den.
■ United Kingdom
Scientists probe Mars
Scientists are about to deploy a giant radar telescope above Mars in a bid to pinpoint underground lakes and flooded caverns. Discoveries of these hidden seas would be a major boost for researchers seeking life on the Red Planet. Water is considered essential for the evolution of life. The instrument is carried on Europe's Mars Express satellite. Over the past 16 months, it has made several key discoveries of dried-up lakes and seabeds on the planet. Now it is hoped Marsis will find reservoirs of water beneath the surface.
200 firefighters battle blaze
Flames were shooting 50 to 100m into the air early yesterday at a recycling center on the southeastern edge of Berlin after a large quantity of old tires caught fire. About 200 firefighters were on the scene at the center in the city's Schmoeckwitz district, a fire department spokesman said shortly after midnight. He described it as a very large fire. There was no apparent danger to people beyond the compound, though the entire recycling facility and an adjoining wooded area were threatened. Dry conditions for several weeks have created a risk of wildfires in eastern Germany.
■ Gaza Strip
New security plan started
The Palestinian security forces began yesterday implementing a new security campaign aimed at imposing law and order in Gaza. The spokesman of the interior ministry Tawfik Abu Khousa said in press statements that the Interior Minister, major general Nasser Yusef, met with his security commanders Saturday at the presidential headquarter in Gaza city. Abu Khousa said the meeting had discussed the preparations for security campaigns covering the whole Gaza Strip.
Woman to run for president
A second Iranian woman on Saturday announced her readiness to run in the June 17 presidential race, IRNA news agency reported. Azam Taleqani, secretary of the Islamic Revolution's Women Society (IRWS), told IRNA that the IRWS had urged her to run in the race. Ultra-conservative MP Rafat Bayat was the first woman to express interest in running in the election against political heavyweights such as former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and former foreign minister Ali-Akbar Velayati. Unlike Bayat, 48, who even disagrees with women in Iran being suppressed and their basic rights violated, Taleqani is a renowned women rights activists in Iran.
■ United States
Missing bride found
Distressed, out of cash and in disguise, a missing Georgia bride-to-be turned up on a seedy stretch of Route 66 and told authorities she'd been abducted, then copped to the truth -- she fled the pressure of her looming wedding. Jennifer Wilbanks, 32, was picked up by police Saturday after a bus trip that took her through Las Vegas, Nevada, to a payphone outside an Albuquerque 7-Eleven where she called her fiance, John Mason, and the police emergency 911 number late on Friday and said she had been freed by kidnappers. Family members began celebrating outside the couple's home in Duluth, Georgia, but hours later, Wilbanks admitted her disappearance was voluntary. She was "scared and concerned about her impending marriage and decided she needed some time alone," police said.
■ United States
Killer brags of deed on phone
A house painter arrested Friday on charges that he murdered a Rockland County, New York, woman fled her home with her cell phone and made more than 20 calls to her friends and relatives, bragging about the killing, the authorities said Saturday. The painter, Douglas Herrera, 39, of Spring Valley, New York, who was found Friday afternoon after a three-hour search, pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of first- and second-degree murder in the death of Mary Nagle. He was ordered held without bail. Herrera, who was power-washing the deck of Nagle's home in New City on Friday morning, stopped working, went inside and then beat and stabbed her to death, the authorities said.
Kids on steroids to look sexy
Health officials are warning of a dangerous new trend: girls as young as nine using illegal steroids to pump themselves up to resemble their favorite stars. More commonly abused by athletes, the body-building drugs have become increasingly popular with schoolchildren, many looking to artificially acquire more curves and body tone. "Kids are taking steroids for looks," said Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of the Division of Health promotion at the Oregon Health and Science University. "They want to look sexy, they want to get bigger and they want their bodies to be better toned. Unfortunately, they are ignoring the damage they are doing.
Indians free police officers
Brazilian police on Saturday secured the release of four police officers kidnapped more than a week ago by a group of Amazon Indians from a village near Boavista, officials said. Around 1,000 indigenous Macuxi people, opposed to boundary fixing in the massive Raposa Serra do Sol reservation, were involved in seizing the group, calling for Justice Minister Marcio Thomaz Bastos to intervene in negotiations. Both federal police superintendent Francisco Mallman and Roraima's indigenous council confirmed the group's release Saturday.
■ United States
Minutemen stop immigrants
Volunteers recruited to monitor illegal immigrants crossing a stretch of Arizona's border ended a month-long vigil as organizers said they plan to expand the mission to the other states bordering Mexico and parts of the Canadian border. Organizers said volunteers' calls to the US Border Patrol resulted in the arrests of 335 illegal immigrants. Project organizers had ordered volunteers not to detain any illegal border crossers they encountered, and no major incidents were reported. "This could not have been done without all of you. You did this together -- you the people," the organizer said.
Firm sold arms to Iran
Two leading magazines reported on Saturday that a company is under suspicion of selling weapons technology to Iran. Der Spiegel said the company is suspected of delivering rocket-building technology to Iran as far back as as 2002. Focus weekly magazine identified the company in question as being called Tira and said its deliveries were intercepted by the intelligence agents of an ally late last year in Dubai. Both Spiegel and Focus said the German technology was intended for use in Iran's Shahab, or Shooting Star, medium-range missile program that can carry a nuclear warhead and reach Israel and various US military bases in the region.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
BEYOND CULTURE: The US State Department was expected to announce that the Chinese government-funded institutes would have to register as foreign missions US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by