Joint patrol agreed upon
Beijing has signed an agreement with Vietnam to engage in joint military patrols of the Gulf of Tonkin where the two nations have been involved in a border dispute for years. The deal was signed on Wednesday between Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan (曹剛川) and his visiting Vietnamese counterpart Pham Van Tra. "China and Vietnam are friendly neighbors, in recent years the mutual confidence in the political area has continued to deepen and military exchanges are increasingly deepening," Cao said. In August the two sides agreed to speed up the demarcation of their shared border and were expected to finalize a border treaty that would also include neighboring Laos within a year's time.
Gay Web site banned, fined
The government banned a gay Web site and fined another after both were deemed to carry offensive content. The Media Development Authority in July put one of the sites on a list of 100 that are banned, after officials received complaints that it promoted promiscuous homosexual behavior and recruited underage boys for sex and nude photography, the Straits Times reported. The ban means that Web surfers in Singapore can no longer access the site, which is based overseas. Most of the banned sites on the list contain pornographic material. A local Web site called "Meet Gay Singapore Friends" obeyed a government warning to remove allegedly offensive content and was fined S$5,000 (US$2,960). Singapore bans gay sex, defining it as "an act of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. There have been few prosecutions, however.
Model's drug trial begins
Wearing a white Muslim headscarf, an Australian model went on trial in Bali yesterday after being caught with ecstasy. Michelle Leslie is facing charges of possession carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years. However, she also faces a charge of receiving drugs as a user, which carries a three-month term. Local reports have said Leslie converted to Islam after she was arrested. "Michelle Leslie was caught early on Aug. 20, with two pink ecstasy pills in her handbag," prosecutor Risman Tarihoran told the court. Leslie has told the police the pills were not hers and were put in her bag by someone else.
■ New Zealand
Too many Maori in jail
The high crime rate among native Maori is worrying Justice Department officials. Maori comprise 14.5 percent of the country's population of 4 million but make up more than half the 7,500 people in jail for serious crimes, according to a Justice Department report issued yesterday. The report said the department was working with Maori community leaders to lower the Maori crime rate. But Green Party spokeswoman Sue Bradford said the high Maori crime rate was the result of high unemployment and lack of affordable housing following the 1980's economic reforms. The report said that overall crime in New Zealand was continuing to decrease.
Girl sold twice in a day
Police yesterday were applauding the bravery of a 15-year-old girl who, after being raped and sold twice in one day by traffickers, made her way back home from Thailand and led police to the two women whom she alleges first sold her. The girl, whose name was withheld, alleged she had first been tricked by fruit shake vendor Sang Navy, 39, and her niece Song Leb, 19, who introduced her to a Cambodian man they said was a trusted customer and told her it was okay to go for a walk with him and get something to eat. She woke up naked and locked in a room in a hotel on the Thai border the next morning. She was then apparently sold again and taken to Bangkok, where she was again locked in a room and abused. However this time the girl managed to escape and to find her way back home where she reported her experiences to police.
Militants in drag shoot two
Two Islamic militants disguised as fully veiled Muslim women shot dead an imam and seriously wounded a village official in the south, police said yesterday. Matorhe Dueramae, 25, second-most senior imam at Borko village mosque, was killed as he traveled by motorcycle with his friend Mayusoh Yitasor, deputy headman of the same village in Narathiwat province.
■ United Kingdom
Dogs heavily stressed
More than a quarter of all dogs in Britain are as stressed out as their over-worked owners, and a third are prone to vomit or have diarrhea as a result of neglect, a survey said on Thursday. The survey found 26 percent of dog owners polled believed their furry friends are suffering from stress and 53 percent described their own lives as being stressful. "The number of people living alone has increased greatly over the last 20 years and we are working ever-longer hours, said Roger Mugford, a pet behaviorist.
Expelling whites `not policy'
Vice President Joseph Msika says his government's land reform did not intend to drive all white farmers from their farms. "Our policy is not to drive all whites," Msika told a meeting of black farmers in Bulawayo. He said he had heard that veterans were trying to drive out white tomato farmers. "That is not our policy," Msika said. Other officials appear to be exasperated with the evictions. Msika said new black farmers should learn from the experience of the white farmers. "The whites used us during the colonial era. So now we should use them," he said.
■ United States
Idi Amin an ape: Nixon
Former president Richard Nixon considered Ugandan dictator Idi Amin an "ape" and mistrusted his own State Department as "always on the side of the blacks," according to documents made public this week. The once-classified documents show Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger in raw form in dealing with African crises in 1972, including Uganda's mass expulsion of Asians and genocide in Burundi. But for all of the rough language, the transcripts of phone conversations and other texts highlight the US reluctance to take a stand on atrocities committed by Amin's regime until US citizens were threatened.
Jailed dads may get kids
The prison service may allow babies to live in prison with their fathers, putting men on an equal footing with women in prison parenting. "It would be a possibility for men, but only in rare cases where social services find it is in the child's best interests," a prison official said. "It would not become their right, just a possibility." Only nine or 10 women a year are given custody of their babies inside jails, she said, and making this possible for men was not a question of gender equality but of minimalizing the effects on babies of their parents' imprisonment. Once over a year old, children are not permitted to live behind bars. Those with babies live in open prisons, not in cells in high-security jails.
Arms link between rebels
A group of French Algerians with links to Chechen rebels obtained missiles in 2002 that they planned to use in an attack against a French airport, Le Figaro newspaper reported, without citing sources. It said the information emerged during a probe by France's leading anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere into links between Islamic militants and rebels in Russia's largely Muslim republic of Chechnya. It said suspected French militants, detained by police from 2002 to last year, had wanted to attack a commercial airliner in France and obtained two surface-to-air Soviet-made SAM-18 missiles in 2002. Bruguiere had previously suspected the group of planning a chemical attack in Paris.
■ United States
Watch for `sumpnspicious'
For Washington commuters, unattended bags spell "sumpnspicious." The newly coined term is part of a novel campaign by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to make people stay alert to terrorist threats despite a slew of false alarms. Five hundred buses and about 90 subway cars now carry ads with definitions of made-up words urging people to keep an eye out for danger. "Sumpnspicious" -- a play on the slang pronunciation of "something suspicious" -- is defined as "n. [noun] unattended package or odd, unusual behavior that is reported to a bus driver, train operator ... station manager or Metro Police." There is also "PlanBdextrous: ... adj. [adjective] able to plan an alternate route home in case Metro is inaccessible due to unforeseen circumstances."
US aid offer accepted
President Fidel Castro said on Thursday that Havana would accept US help in rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Wilma struck the island. "We have no objection at all that the three US officials visit us to give their assessments and hold an exchange on these matters," Castro said on state TV, reading a letter to the US interests section in Havana. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US offered on Monday to send in a needs-assessment team after the storm, which forced the evacuation of some 260,000 Cubans. It was the first time in US State Department memory that Castro's government has said yes to US largesse.
■ United States
Ex-FEMA boss still gets paid
Michael Brown, who resigned as leader of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Sept. 12 after criticism of his performance in leading the agency's response to Hurricane Katrina, will remain on the government pay roll for yet another month. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA, agreed to hire Brown as a contractor at his US$148,000 annual salary, first for one month, and now for a second month, said Russ Knocke, a department spokesman. "This will allow him to continue transferring information and data to staff," Knocke said.
■ United States
Lost cat found in France
When Emily went missing a month ago, her owners looked for their cat where she had ended up before -- the animal shelter in Appleton, Wisconsin. This week they learned Emily sailed to France. Lesley McElhiney now figures Emily went prowling around a paper warehouse near home and ended up in a container that was shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. Employees at a French company found her in the container, checked her tags and called Emily's veterinarian back in the US. He faxed the cat's vaccination records to France to help remove her from quarantine, but the family is wondering exactly how they will retrieve the pet.
Maradona denounces Bush
Soccer hero Diego Maradona promised President Fidel Castro on Thursday he would be at the front of an anti-Bush march in Argentina next week. US President George W. Bush will attend a summit of leaders from all countries from the Americas -- except Cuba -- in Mar del Plata, Argentina, next Friday and Saturday. "I think Bush is a murderer ... I'm going to head the march against him stepping foot on Argentine soil," Maradona said on Cuban TV. Maradona was in Havana to interview Castro.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s