Sewage polluting ocean
Eighty-four percent of the sewage discharged into the ocean exceeds national pollution standards, state media reported yesterday. Last year alone, the world's most populous nation poured 14.6 million tonnes of fecal bacteria and other pollutants into the sea, the Xinhua news agency said, citing the State Oceanic Administration. "The natural ecological conditions in estuaries, bays and coastal wetlands are negatively affected," an unnamed agency official said.
Woman at fault in death
A woman pleaded guilty to negligence for ordering her Indonesian maid onto her condominium ledge from which she plunged to her death, a court official said yesterday. Ngu Mei Mei, 37, pleaded guilty to negligence and endangering the life of her maid, Yanti, 22, in December 2003, a court spokeswoman said. Yanti fell after Ngu ordered her onto the ledge of her eighth-floor condominium to dry laundry, the Straits Times reported. Ngu will be sentenced on Feb. 7, the official said. She can be jailed for three months and fined S$250 (US$153).
■ Hong Kong
Chickens still in demand
Residents were continuing to buy poultry from across the border in southern China despite a smuggled chicken testing positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, a news report said yesterday. One seller at a market close to the border said Hong Kong residents would ask vendors to kill and pluck the birds to make it easier to get them through customs, according to the South China Morning Post. Trade is good at this time of year, he said, because chicken is a traditional dish eaten over the Lunar New Year holiday.
■ New Zealand
Parrots face karate experts
Organizers of a vintage car rally have hired karate experts to protect vehicles from marauding native parrots, a media report said yesterday. Around 40 members of a Wellington karate club have been enlisted to protect around 140 classic cars due to visit an alpine village near Mount Cook on New Zealand's South Island tomorrow, the New Zealand Press Association reported. The karate experts will protect the cars from Keas, which have been known to damage vehicles in their search for shiny items. Denis Callesen, manager of the nearby Hermitage Hotel, said the karate experts would not use martial arts moves on the parrots, but merely scare them away.
Earthquake rocks northeast
A strong earthquake registering magnitude 5.9 shook northeastern Japan yesterday, but there was no danger of a tsunami, the Meteorological Agency said. The quake was centered about 30km below the seabed in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture, the agency said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage local police said. Ibaraki is about 130km northeast of Tokyo. The temblor was also felt in the northeastern prefectures of Fukushima and Miyagi but hardly felt in Tokyo.
Mine-sniffing dogs donated
Sweden has donated 10 mine-sniffing dogs to help rid Cambodia of its leftover wartime scourge, an official said yesterday. The dogs spent eight months training in Bosnia-Herzegovina, another of the world's most heavily mined countries, and were to train an additional four months in Cambodia before starting work, said Heng Ratana, deputy director-general of Cambodian Mine Action Center. Each dog is valued at about US$40,000, including the cost of training, he said. Cambodia currently has 56 mine-sniffing dogs, but six will be retired in March, he said. Mine-sniffing dogs generally have a working life of up to 12 years, but Cambodia's hot climate limits their working time to about six years, he said.
Don't let bed bugs bite
Pest control operators have reported a 1,000 percent increase over the last four years in the number of bed bug infestations reported and treated, according to Stephen Doggett of Sydney's Westmead hospital. Doggett said Australia and other countries are at risk of a "worldwide pandemic" of bed bugs, due largely to increasing numbers of tourists arriving from developing countries where the bugs are common. He said some hotels and backpacker hostels have been forced to temporarily close to eradicate the pests.
Euro coin to feature Christ
An image of Christ's immersion in water by John the Baptist will be shown on Maltese euro coins, reflecting the cultural heritage of the deeply religious Mediterranean island, officials said on Thursday. Malta, which joined the EU in 2004, hopes to adopt the single currency in January 2008. Each member of the 25-member EU is allowed to design one side of the euro coins. The image of Christ's baptism is a reproduction of a marble sculpture at Valletta's St John Cathedral. Images of Malta's coat of arms and Stone Age temples of Mnajdra will also be included on the coins.
■ United Kingdom
Speeding cop faces retrial
A British traffic officer caught driving at 255kph but cleared by a court of speeding and dangerous driving faces a legal move at the High Court in London on Wednesday to convict him. The Attorney General will appeal against the acquittal of constable Mark Milton and seek a High Court order that the police driver should be convicted over his high-speed blast in the early hours of Dec. 5, 2003. Milton, a qualified advanced driver, was recorded by an onboard camera in his police car traveling at 146kph in a 48kph zone and hitting 255kph on the M54 motorway.
Worker wakes up in cargo
It was a short flight, and Muhammet Ahmet Mursi slept almost the whole way. Only the heat wasn't on and it started to get a little cold. Cold enough to make Mursi wake up. Cold enough to make him realize he was in the cargo hold. Cold enough that he screamed so loud the pilots heard him. Mursi, a cargo worker in Saudi Arabia, fell asleep on the job on Wednesday night as he loaded suitcases on a Turkish Airlines flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Diyarbakir, Turkey, NTV television said on Thursday. Now in a hospital in Diyarbakir for medical treatment, he will be returned to Saudi Arabia when his treatment is complete, NTV said.
Cannabis pharmacy to open
The city of Groningen looks set to open the country's first pharmacy totally dedicated to providing high-quality cannabis for pain relief at affordable prices, a report said on Wednesday. Although cannabis is readily available in Dutch coffee shops, the foundation for Medicinal Cannabis Netherlands, a support group for patients, intends to launch a pharmacy in the northern city so people can have access to high-grade cannabis for medical use, the daily NRC Handelsblad said. The Office of Medicinal Cannabis, the community of Groningen and the local police back the idea and a site has been chosen.
Officials' phones tapped
The mobile phones of the prime minister and several Cabinet members were tapped by unknown perpetrators for about one year, the government said on Thursday. "The phones tapped included the prime minister's, those of Cabinet members, one former minister, now in opposition, and others," government spokesman Theodore Roussopoulos told a news conference, confirming an earlier report in the major daily Ta Nea. He said public prosecutors had brought charges of violating the privacy of telephone communications against unknown perpetrators, and a judicial investigation would also look into possible charges of espionage.
■ United States
Dealers use puppy mules
Colombian drug dealers smuggled heroin into the US by surgically implanting the powerful drug into puppies, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said on Wednesday. Special Agent-in-Charge John Gilbride of the DEA's New York Field Division said in a statement that 21 Colombian nationals were arrested on Wednesday for smuggling over 20kg of heroin, worth US$20 million at street prices, into the US. Among the methods used to transport the drugs were human couriers, who swallowed heroin packets, as well as the Labrador Retriever puppies. In one planned shipment, six puppies were found impregnated with three 3kg of liquid heroin packets.
■ United States
Husband set up by wife
When Beth Ortiz's husband refused to give her money, she arranged for two men to rob him in his bed, police said. Beth Ortiz, 35, was arrested last Friday, along with Raymond Alleyne, 22, and Anthony Perkins, 20, all of Nashua, New Hampshire. Ortiz was charged with conspiracy; Alleyne and Perkins were charged with burglary and Perkins was charged with simple assault, accused of punching Ortiz's husband, Valente Ortiz, in the head.Alleyne and Perkins are accused of stealing more than US$2,500. Police say the burglary was prompted by a suggestion from Beth Ortiz, who had argued with her husband over money earlier that night.
■ United States
Sizemore fails drug test
Prosecutors accused actor Tom Sizemore of failing another drug test and of getting thrown out of a drug treatment program for arguing with another person. Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney told a judge that Sizemore violated his probation by testing positive for drugs on Jan. 23 and being ousted from a treatment program on Tuesday. But Sizemore told Superior Court Judge T.K. Herman he was just talking with the other person at the program. Herman called the hearing on Thursday to determine if Sizemore's probation, stemming from a conviction for methamphetamine possession, should be revoked a second time. The actor appeared in Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down.
Red Bull fined for dive
Mexico City officials announced a US$682 fine on Thursday against energy-drink maker Red Bull for sponsoring a parachute dive off Latin America's highest building. The company was cited for violating the city's public events law because it did not obtain the necessary permit for the Monday dive and potentially put at risk the safety of stuntman Felix Baumgartner and onlookers, authorities said.The city said the company, based in Fuschl, Austria, had approached officials about the feasibility of the event and promised to provide insurance against possible accidents. But the city said it never approved the event. Baumgartner, 36, launched himself off the 225m Torre Mayor in Mexico City.
■ United States
Plane hits deer
A small airplane struck a deer while attempting to land on the runway of the Bessemer airport in Alabama, forcing the plane to fly on and make an emergency landing in Birmingham. The pilot of the single engine plane was warned about a herd of deer on the runway before a landing attempt on Wednesday evening, said Abe Alibrahim, the airport owner. The plane avoided most of the herd, he said, but struck one of the animals with its landing gear.
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
‘LEAST WE CAN DO’: The gesture was made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality that targeted minorities They are images that surprised and moved Americans: police officers taking a knee alongside protesters in the most widespread civil unrest to rock the US in decades — and in doing so embracing an anti-racism gesture denounced by US President Donald Trump. As Trump pushes for a crackdown on often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd, police officers from New York to Los Angeles to Houston, Texas, are making gestures of solidarity with demonstrators incensed at the latest case of an unarmed black man dying while in police custody. “I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do
RALLYING A DEFENSE: Former envoys wrote an op-ed piece defending Anna Lindstedt, who was removed for attempting to free Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai in China Sweden’s former ambassador to Beijing goes on trial in Stockholm on Friday for allegedly overstepping her mandate by trying to negotiate the release of a Chinese-Swedish dissident held in China. Anna Lindstedt is accused of brokering an unauthorized meeting during her time as ambassador to free publisher Gui Minhai (桂民海). Lindstedt — a veteran envoy who had previously represented Sweden in both Vietnam and Mexico, and acted as Sweden’s chief negotiator at the 2015 climate summit in Paris — has denied the charges. Gui, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders out of a Hong Kong book
From boiled catfish soup to spicy fried frog, an eight-year-old in pyjamas and a chef’s hat is delighting Myanmar with her culinary prowess in a nation still being told to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moe Myint May Thu’s mother posted a video online at the end of April showing off her daughter’s skills as the youngster threw together some spicy fried prawns. With her wide, gap-toothed grin, the video has bounced across social media and brought stardom to the child along with an online moniker: “Little Chef.” She now sells dishes to order and is counting the dividends. “I just