Military probes `pirate' raid
The military said yesterday it has launched an investigation into an apparent pirate attack on a Chinese fishing vessel that left four crewmen dead in disputed waters in the South China Sea. Chinese state media said last week's attack near the Spratly Islands on the Jinghai 03012 fishing vessel could have involved Filipinos. Rear Admiral Tirso Danga, the navy chief in the western Philippines, has already visited the area and is expected to submit a report soon, military spokesman Colonel Tristran Kison said. "It appeared to be a pirate attack but the investigation is still ongoing," Kison told reporters. The Chinese government had asked the Philippine foreign office to investigate the incident.
■ Hong Kong
Poll shows Tsang popular
Nearly 75 percent of people support a second term for their Beijing-appointed leader but most also want to see a contest for the top job, according to a poll yesterday. Seventy-three per cent said they would like to see Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) get a full five-year term when he comes up for re-election next year. Most interviewees in the poll seemed happy for Tsang to remain as leader with 79 percent saying they were satisfied with his performance and only 13 percent saying they were not. Nevertheless, 80 percent of the 800 people questioned by the Hong Kong Transition Project said they would like to see Tsang contest the position with another candidate. He took over unopposed as chief executive in 2004 and was rubber-stamped by a largely pro-Beijing 800-member election committee which will convene again when Tsang seeks a second term next year.
Fortune-telling judge sacked
A judge who claimed he could see into the future and admitted consulting mystic dwarfs has asked for his job back after being fired by the country's Supreme Court. "They should not have dismissed me for what I believed," Florentino Floro told reporters after filing his appeal. Floro was sacked last month and fined 40,000 pesos (US$780) after a three-year investigation found he was incompetent, had shown bias and had criticized court procedure, a ruling showed. He told investigators that three mystic dwarfs helped him carry out healing sessions during breaks in his chambers. The Supreme Court said it was not within its expertise to conclude that Floro was insane, but agreed with the court clinic's finding that he was suffering from psychosis.
Hope for miners
Two miners trapped for more than a week in a tiny cage nearly 1km underground were given iPods on Wednesday to help them pass time as rescuers began drilling an escape tunnel toward them. The manager of Beaconsfield Gold Mine said Brant Webb, 37, and Todd Russell, 34, were given the iPods as they entered their eighth day entombed under tonnes of rocks after an April 25 earthquake. A special tunneling machine was used to dig 16m through solid rock yesterday and a 20cm diameter pilot hole has been made, but must now be widened to 1m before the miners can be rescued.
■ Sri Lanka
Blast kills two guards
An explosion in the northern garrison town of Vavuniya killed two neighborhood guards yesterday as officials announced a visit by a Japanese peace envoy. The blast also wounded two other guards when the group of four guards were returning home on bicycles after night duty, a police officer said. Japan is Sri Lanka's top donor and one of the "co-chairs" of the country's peace process.