Get carried away
Bids will start at 128 million yuan (US$15.9 million) to sail away on the Minsk, an ex-Soviet aircraft carrier based in China, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday. The carrier will be auctioned off next month after its owner turned it into a military-themed amusement park and went bankrupt, the agency said. Once the pride of the Soviet Union's Cold War-era Pacific Fleet, the carrier -- decks crammed with carnival attractions and souvenir booths -- now looms over fishing boats in Shenzhen.
Ex-deputy PM dies
Former deputy prime minister S. Rajaratnam, a founder of the city-state's ruling People's Action Party, has died at the age of 90, a TV news station reported on Wednesday. The report by Channel NewsAsia did not say what the cause of death was. Rajaratnam started out as a journalist but quit in 1959 to run in legislative assembly elections. In 1965, he became Singapore's first foreign minister following its independence from Malaysia. He also served as culture minister, labor minister and later as second deputy prime minister, a post which he held until his retirement in 1988 at age 73.
■ South Korea
Ex-spy HQ reopens as hostel
The nation's former spy headquarters opened its doors again yesterday, but this time as a youth hostel. Perched on the picturesque foothills of Mount Namsan in the heart of Seoul, the six-story structure was for years a feared symbol of rulers' pursuit of perpetual power. First opened in 1972 as the headquarters of South Korea's Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), it was the center of work directed as much at its own people as Communist North Korea.
Foul frogs repel mozzies
Scientists have discovered a natural mosquito repellent in the smelly secretions of green tree frogs. Researchers at James Cook University in northern Queensland and at the University of Adelaide found that chemicals released through the skin of the frogs produces a pungent smell that wards off mosquitoes. "The smell is just not very good. Some smell of rotting flesh, some of nuts, some of thyme leaves," researcher Craig Williams said yesterday. But he said he did not expect the findings would lead to a new frog-based mosquito repellent for humans. "In the concentrations you would need, it would not smell good enough," he said.
Burglar sniffed out victims
A man arrested for alleged burglary picked his victims by sniffing women's homes for expensive perfume, police said on Wednesday. Seiichi Shirota, 46, sniffed at the doors of potential targets for expensive women's perfume to determine if the occupant was a single woman likely to own a collection of expensive designer bags, watches and jewelry, according to Kanagawa prefectural police spokesman Tsuneo Kosuge. The suspect was arrested on Dec. 23 last year for allegedly stealing three rings worth about ¥300,000 (US$2,530) after breaking into a woman's apartment in Yokohama Kosuge said. Shirota told police he relied on his smelling abilities to target apartments of single women. The alleged thief also made sure laundry hanging from a clothesline at a balcony included no men's underwear.
Seven executed in Veracruz
The bodies of seven people executed in what appeared to be a gruesome settling of accounts among drug gangs were found on Wednesday in Mexico's Veracruz state, the latest victims in a wave of drug-related violence. The unidentified victims, between 20 and 30 years old, had all been shot in the head, their eyes and mouths covered and hands and feet bound. Each was found with a small wooden crucifix, investigators said. They were found in the town of Amatlan de los Reyes in the Gulf Coast state.
■ Ivory Coast
Murder suspect nabbed
Youssouf Fofana, suspected head of the "Gang of Barbarians" wanted for the kidnap, torture and murder of a young Jewish Frenchman near Paris, was arrested in Abidjan early yesterday by Ivorian police, a source close to the inquiry said. Fofana, a 25-year-old convicted petty criminal, is of Ivorian origin. In a sign of the affair's growing emotional impact, French President Jacques Chirac was to attend a Jewish memorial ceremony yesterday for Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered in what French authorities now say was a crime motivated in part by anti-Semitism.
Man booked for smelly feet
Police in Nijmegen have booked a man for his smelly feet, the Telegraaf newspaper reported yesterday. The 56-year-old turned up at a shelter for the homeless in the city near the German border and took his shoes off before putting his feet up. The stench was so unbearable that staff asked him to put his shoes on again -- a request the man refused to heed. The police were called, but the man refused to leave the center. He was detained and taken to the local police station where the incident was booked.
Diana photographers fined
Three photographers who took pictures of Princess Diana on the night she died in a car crash have been fined a symbolic 1 euro each for invasion of privacy. The French appeals court decided the photographers who were among a swarm of paparazzi trailing the British Princess and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in the early hours of Aug. 31 1997, had invaded the couple's privacy. It was a victory, of sorts for Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, who has pursued the photographers through the French legal system since his son's death. The complaint focused on three photographs of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed leaving the Ritz Hotel in Paris by car and three taken after the accident.
■ United States
Google facilitates ogling
Google Inc's image search service violates the copyrights of adult magazine and Web publisher Perfect 10 Inc by displaying thumbnail-sized photographs from its Web site, a federal judge has ruled. However, Google is likely not responsible for displaying the underlying images from Perfect 10's Web site, a judge in the US District Court for the Central District of California said in a ruling last week that was made public on Tuesday. The order could effectively bar Google from featuring thumbnail photos, but not limit it from linking to actual photos which exist on other Web sites.
■ United States
Court upholds postal suit
The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the US Postal Service can be sued by a woman who tripped over mail left on her porch. The 7-1 decision revived a woman's claim that she was entitled to damages after suffering wrist and back injuries during the 2001 fall at her home in suburban Philadelphia. The letters, packages and periodicals were put on Barbara Dolan's porch instead of in her mailbox. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, dismissed government concerns of costly litigation. "The government raises the specter of frivolous slip-and-fall claims inundating the Postal Service," he wrote. "Slip-and-fall liability, however ... is a risk shared by any business that makes home deliveries."
■ United Kingdom
AI blasts rights abuse
Leading human rights group Amnesty International (AI) blasted the UK for increasing the risk of security suspects being tortured due to its measures designed to clamp down on extremists. AI released a report which it said exposed the damaging effect of the country's anti-terror policies on human rights. AI secretary general Irene Khan said: "There is now a dangerous imbalance between draconian actions the UK is taking in the name of security and its obligation to protect human rights. These measures tarnish the UK's image and its ability to promote human rights abroad." The government has attempted to give police and prosecutors tougher tools to confront terrorism in the wake of the London bombings in July.
■ United Kingdom
Gay weddings a hit
Gay weddings in the country reached 3,648 as of Wednesday, six weeks after they became legal, according to government statistics. The figures, the first to emerge since the Civil Partnership Act came into force on Dec. 5, reveal that twice as many men as women entered into partnerships. It means that 7,296 lesbians and gay men are now in legally recognized relationships with someone of the same sex and eligible for new shared rights in areas such as employment, pensions and inheritance.
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘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
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
‘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