18 feared dead in crash
A plane with 18 people aboard crashed in bad weather in the remote north, probably killing everyone, rescue authorities said yesterday. The plane had been due at Lockhart River, an Aboriginal community of 350 people in Queensland state, about noon, Australian Search and Rescue spokes- woman Tracey Jiggins said. Wreckage burning in dense tropical forest was spotted from a search aircraft 11km northwest of the Lockhart River air strip late yesterday, Jiggins said. Two pilots and 16 passengers were aboard, she said, but it was unknown if there were any survivors.
Helicopter rescues climbers
A helicopter evacuated injured climbers from Mount Everest yesterday, two days after they were hit by an avalanche on the world's highest peak, rescuers said. The helicopter brought back two American, two Canadian and a Nepalese Sherpa guide to Kathmandu, where they were being treated for the injuries. They had been stranded on the base camp since Thursday. No one was killed in the avalanche, which swept through the first of four camps set up between Everest's base camp and the mountain's 8,850m summit.
■ Hong Kong
Tycoon donates HK$1b
Tycoon Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠) has donated HK$1 billion (US$1.283 billion) to the University of Hong Kong in what is believed to be a record contribution to a university in Asia, The Standard daily reported yesterday. The cash has been given by the Li Ka-shing Foundation, which said the money should be used for the university's development.
200-year old mummy found
The well-preserved remains of a 200-year-old mummy in Hanoi have been discovered, buried in layers of fine silk, an archaeologist said yesterday. The corpse -- estimated to be a man who died in his early sixties -- was unearthed last week by workers at a construction site, said Nguyen Lan Cuong of the National Institute of Archaeology. Cuong said the corpse was placed in a two-layer wooden coffin and sealed by a covering of limestone, sand, syrup and paper, and had remained intact. The remains were to be reburied later yesterday because experts were struggling to preserve it, Cuong said, adding that they had determined the man was not a famous historical figure.
Jolie meets president
Hollywood star and UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie met with President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad to discuss the fate of millions of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, the government said yesterday. Jolie later told reporters that she did not back Musharraf's suggestion on Friday to repatriate the refugees. "If we move people after 25 years to another camp, we would not be finding a solution," she said. She began working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2001, and has visited refugee camps throughout the world.
Abbot defrocked for karaoke
A Buddhist abbot accused of singing karaoke and wearing normal clothes has been defrocked, a newspaper reported on Friday. Police and villagers nabbed the monk, 21, as he returned last week to his temple wearing civilian clothes instead of his robes, the Cambodia Daily reported. Monks are not allowed to wear normal clothes or seek pleasure.
■ United Nations
Darfur `needs more troops'
The African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur needs to be strengthened but help from UN soldiers will be limited, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report Friday. Annan said although violence in Darfur was not occurring on the massive scale of last year, the general level of insecurity in Darfur was still hindering humanitarian aid and remained "unacceptable." He said attacks have continued, highlighting the destruction last month of the South Darfur village of Khor Abeche by armed militia from the Miseriyya tribe of Niteaga under the command of Nasir Al Tijani Adel Kaadir.
Rabbi's family beats local
The wife, son and daughter of Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi were arrested by police on Thursday night in connection with the kidnapping and beating of a 17-year-old boy who was in a romantic relationship with the rabbi's 18-year-old daughter. Police said the rabbi's son, Meir Amar, 30, had confessed to kidnapping his sister's boyfriend after arranging to meet him in the street, and then took him to Kalansawa, an Israeli-Arab village northeast of Tel Aviv. There, the boy, who is also Orthodox, was beaten, his side curls sheared off, his kippa, or skullcap, cut in two and the tzitziyot -- the fringes on his religious garment -- also cut off, all in order to frighten him into ending the relationship, according to the police.
Mayor unveils platform
The mayor of the capital began unveiling his platform for a presidential candidacy, assuring foreign interests he's a leftist but not a radical, and saying migration would be at the top of his foreign policy agenda. Capping a triumphant week in which the government dropped a legal case against him, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador emerged Friday with a grin and a thumbs-up gesture from a meeting with President Vicente Fox that was intended to cement the peace pact between the mayor and the federal government. He refused to praise Fox for Wednesday's decision to dismiss charges for failing to obey a court order in an obscure land case.
■ United Kingdom
Shredder sales take off
With much whirring and the occasional swear-word as the little metal teeth jam on a staple, Britain is becoming a nation of security-obsessed shredders. Supermarket sales reveal that hundreds of thousands of homes are adopting a routine more associated with the secret service, by turning receipts and other data into illegible paper worms. Shredders, this year's most popular domestic accessory, are now outselling toasters at the UK supermarket giant Tesco. Sales have topped 10,000 a month since Christmas and saw a 25 percent increase in the last six months.
■ United States
Thief reports car he stole
A man accused of stealing a car reported it stolen two weeks later after it was located by the owner and towed away by police, a newspaper reported Friday. Gregory Alston, 20, called police in Baltimore, Maryland, and said he was missing his car, The Sun said. It was indeed stolen, but by Alston himself and two weeks earlier, police told The Sun. The reason Alston couldn't find the car was because its true owner spotted it only a couple of blocks from where it was stolen and had police tow it away.
Court lifts probe deadline
The Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended a deadline for an end to investigations into alleged human rights abuses during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The decision came after human rights organizations complained to the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights against the deadline set by the court earlier this year. The ruling means judges will be given extra time to investigate more than 150 cases, some of which involve Pinochet. The court announced in January that all cases relating to human rights abuses under the 1973-1990 dictatorship must be investigated by July 25, supporting its decision by saying that the ongoing investigations were unfair to the alleged perpetrators.
■ United States
`Viagra sting' involves mob
Three physicians were charged Thursday with illegally peddling Viagra pills to the Gambino family in exchange for favors ranging from construction work to auto repairs. The doctors were freed on US$50,000 bail each, and if convicted each could face up to 10 years in prison. One defense lawyer said the government was trying to turn legitimate medical work, such as providing drug samples to patients, into a crime. Another said his client had been treating one of the reputed mobsters for many years for a heart condition but had done nothing wrong. The US attorney's office said the charges resulted from a three-year investigation in which an FBI agent worked undercover in one of the family's crews. The indictment led to the arrest of 32 defendants, including the family's acting boss and underboss.
■ United Kingdom
Harry back on page one
Prince Harry was back in the headlines yesterday, this time after his limousine failed to stay at the scene of an accident when it clipped and scraped a parked car. The Sun newspaper said Harry -- who begins army officer training this weekend at Sandhurst military college -- emerged in the wee hours of Friday with a "tipsy" friend after "an all-night bender" at a posh London nightclub, Raffles. With the 20-year-old seen laughing in the back seat, the chauffeur-driven limousine clipped the wing mirror off a parked Citroen, and scraped the side of the vehicle, before stopping a few seconds and then driving off.
Not enough rain in Spain
The Spanish cabinet approved a US$25 million package for emergency projects to combat the country's worst drought since record-keeping began in 1947. Among the measures approved are reactivating disused canals and wells and opening connections between reservoirs and rivers in different areas. Over the winter, Spain received an average of 70mm of rain, instead of the normal 200mm. On average, the reservoirs are only 26 percent full. Combined with very cold weather, the drought could do serious damages to crops, especially olives and vines. The last serious drought in Spain was in 1990 and lasted five years.
Memorial service triggers riot
A memorial service for a young man stabbed to death by a foreigner ended in violence as several hundred youths went on an anti-foreigner rampage through the streets of Madrid early yesterday that resulted in injury to four immigrants. Among the injured was a Colombian journalist. Two reporters from the Spanish newspaper El Pais also said they were accosted by the youths.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday