Tourists die in bus crash
Four Malaysian tourists were killed and 14 other people were injured when the tour bus they were riding in fell into a ravine in central China, the Xinhua News Agency said yesterday. The bus was carrying 19 people, including 17 Malaysians, on a sightseeing outing when the driver lost control in Shanxi Province on Friday Xinhua said. Three Malaysians were seriously injured and 11 others, including a Chinese tour guide, received light injuries, Xinhua said. The bus driver apparently fled and his whereabouts were not known.
Volcanic activity increasing
Activity increased yesterday at Mount Merapi with repeated bursts of red-hot lava, hot gases and clouds of ash, an official said. The mountain is located near the area of Java where an earthquake struck one week ago, killing more than 6,200 people. Lava and hot clouds spewed from the mountain scores of times yesterday morning, said Subandrio, a government scientist who uses one name. He said the mountain's lava dome had grown by 17m in the past week to reach 100m. The government volcanology center recommended that all activities be halted within 7km of the summit.
■ New Zealand
Rugby fans bid for handbag
Rugby fans are bidding thousands of dollars for the chance to own the handbag that reduced a burly All Blacks player to tears. Former New Zealand captain Tana Umaga tangled with Hurricanes club team mate Chris Masoe in a nightclub last week. Masoe, who has played two tests for New Zealand, tripped over a man's feet in the club in Christchurch early last Sunday and then hit the man in retaliation. Umaga, who played 74 tests for the All Blacks, stepped in to break up the scuffle, picking up a woman's handbag and hitting Masoe twice over the head.
Bomb blast kills policeman
A roadside bomb exploded near a vehicle carrying policemen killing one of them and wounding two others, an intelligence official said. It was not immediately clear who was behind late Friday's attack in Khar, the main town in the Bajur tribal region bordering Afghanistan, and the official said they were still investigating. "So far we only know that the policemen were on a routine patrol when the bomb went off, but we don't have any further details," the official said on condition of anonymity. Bajur has been the scene of several attacks against government forces since earlier this year, when a US missile strike reportedly killed some top al-Qaeda operatives and civilians.
Tokyo seeks better PRC ties
Japan hopes to hold military exchanges with China as a way to ease tensions between neighbors who have sparred recently over wartime history, Tokyo's defense minister said yesterday. Fukushiro Nukaga sought to assuage concerns that recent spats between Tokyo and Beijing stemming from Japan's 1930s invasion of China and overlapping maritime claims could be handled peacefully. "We are considering exchanges in the defense field and other areas, in the belief that this region's security requires mutual coordination between Japan and China," he told the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security forum in Singapore. "It is desirable to build a partnership through healthy competition, and I hope that beginning with defense exchanges, we can promote better ties," Nukaga said.
■ United Kingdom
Hamster escapes shredder
Another chapter was written on Friday in the history of great hamster escapes, when a pet called Mike survived three types of crushing machine and a shredder at a waste recycling plant. The small rodent was left with only a minor foot injury after astonished staff discovered him limping into a final sorting area after going through a process which rips cookers and washing machines into stringy bits of metal. Mike's white-knuckle ride through the Recyclo works on Deeside, north Wales, adds to the remarkable survival record of mesocricetus auratus over many years. Hamsters have returned from premature burial, travelled through the post in envelopes (a highly illegal practice) and contentedly shared pet cages with poisonous snakes.
Five dead after clashes
Turkish soldiers battled Kurdish rebels near the Iraqi border, leaving four rebels and one soldier dead, a government statement said on Friday. The governor's office in the southeastern town of Sirnak issued a statement reporting the deaths but gave no details of the fighting. Autonomy-seeking guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, have stepped up attacks recently. Fighting this week has killed four soldiers, three government-paid village guards and six Kurdish rebels. Village guards are local residents paid and armed by the government to be the first line of defense against the rebels.
Divorced man can't visit dog
A Spanish court has ruled that dogs should not be treated like children in divorce cases and be the object of visiting rights. A Spanish man was originally given permission by his wife to visit Yako, a golden retriever, when they separated but he appealed to a lower court when she stopped him from seeing the dog. The court ruled in his favor and set up visiting hours. But the provincial court of Barcelona then overturned that decision, saying it set a precedent for pets to be treated like children in divorce cases.
Putin blames Japan
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday blamed Japan for a protracted deadlock over disputed Pacific Ocean islands but said that Moscow was ready to continue searching for a solution. The dispute over the four islands seized by the Soviet forces in the closing days of World War II -- which Russia calls the Kurils and Japan refers to as the Northern Territories -- has prevented the two nations from signing a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities. Putin said that Japan had initiated the discussion of a 1956 Soviet-Japanese declaration under which Moscow had agreed to return two of the islands but backed off when the Kremlin agreed to honor the commitments.
■ United Kingdom
Alleged hitmen caught
Police arrested two Belfast men on Friday on suspicion of involvement in this week's attempted assassination of a prominent member of an outlawed Protestant group, the Ulster Volunteer Force. Mark Haddock, 36, was shot several times at close range on Tuesday as he met other Protestant militants on the edge of north Belfast. His condition improved on Friday at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, where he was removed from the critical list.
■ United States
Mouse burrito felon jailed
A man was sentenced on Friday in Traverse City, Michigan, to 16 to 30 months in prison for trying to extort money from a Taco Bell restaurant by putting a dead mouse in a burrito. Ryan Daniel Goff, 20, pleaded guilty on May 5 to a felony count of attempted false pretenses. He will get credit for 87 days served, the court clerk said. Investigators said Goff complained to a restaurant employee on Jan. 24 that his burrito tasted "funny." After Goff filed a report with the local health department, investigators said his girlfriend told them he bought frozen mice from a pet store and slipped one into his burrito.
■ United States
Pilot battles snake in air
Monty Coles was 900m in the air when he discovered a stowaway peeking out at him from the plane's instrument panel -- a 1.35m black snake. Coles had left Charleston last Saturday in his Piper Cherokee and was preparing to land in Gallipolis, Ohio, when the snake revealed itself. While maintaining control of the single-engine plane with one hand, Coles grabbed the reptile behind its head with his other. Radioing for emergency landing, Coles told them "I had one hand full of snake and the other hand full of plane. They cleared me in." After a smooth landing, Coles posed for pictures with the snake, then let it loose.
Police arrest terror suspects
More than 10 people were arrested on Friday on "terrorism-related" charges in police raids in Toronto, said Corporal Michele Paradis of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, adding that "they'll be charged tomorrow [yesterday]." Reports said that the group had videotaped the CN Tower, one of the world's tallest structures, and the local subway, which carries some 800,000 commuters each day. Paradis refused to comment on those reports, but said more than 400 officers were involved in the investigation and more arrests were expected in the case. "It's still ongoing and we're anticipating further arrests," she said.
Kids' donations returned
Some children in Canada are so well-off and so keen on current affairs that they donate thousands of dollars to politicians -- at least, that's what one contender for the leadership of the opposition Liberal Party seems to believe. Former immigration minister Joe Volpe hit the spotlight this week after it emerged that a pair of 11-year-old twins and their 14-year-old brother had each donated C$5,400 (US$4,900) to his leadership campaign. On Thursday, Volpe ordered that five donations from people under 18 be given back. "All the donations were in complete compliance with the law but the perception was not good and that's why they were returned," Volpe spokesman Corey Hobbs said.
■ United States
Bush backs marriage plan
US President George W. Bush yesterday backed a resolution to amend the Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman even though the idea has little chance of being passed in the Senate. "Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society," Bush said in his radio address yesterday. Democrats say Senate floor time is being wasted on the issue, and accuse Republicans of making a pre-midterm election appeal to social conservatives whose votes were key to Bush's re-election.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of