Russia seizes fishing boat
A Japanese fishing boat has been seized by Russian authorities in disputed waters on suspicion of fishing without a permit, Japan's Coast Guard said yesterday. The 13-tonne vessel was seized on Thursday morning about 250km east of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island -- in waters controlled by Russia but also claimed by Japan, according to Coast Guard official Takashi Sato. The boat and its six Japanese crew have been escorted to Korsakov in Sakhalin for questioning over allegedly fishing in the area without a permit, Sato said. Russian authorities notified Tokyo of the seizure on Friday afternoon, and said the crew members were in good health, according to Sato. The Russians told the Coast Guard they found almost 10 tonnes of salmon on the boat. A string of islands northeast of Hokkaido were occupied by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II. A bilateral pact allows some Japanese fishing boats to enter the surrounding waters while the two sides negotiate rights in the area.
Treacherous roads claim 32
At least 32 people, including two traffic police and three ambulance workers, were reported dead yesterday in a series of major accidents on China's roads. The two police and three rescuers were struck and killed by a truck as they were responding to a hit-and-run accident in Urumqi, the regional capital of western China's Xinjiang region, on Friday, the Beijing Morning Post reported. One other ambulance worker was injured when the truck plowed into two police mini-vans and an ambulance that had arrived to attend the hit-and-run accident which also left two pedestrians dead, the report said. In separate mishaps that also occurred on Friday, at least 13 people were killed when their mini-bus plunged off a mountainous road in southwestern China's Chongqing municipality, the Chongqing Evening News reported. Twelve people remain in hospital after the wreck.
Student torches his home
A Japanese boy in Tokyo burned down his home, killing his stepmother and two younger siblings, for fear his parents would find out he had lied about his score on an English test. The 16-year-old, whose name has not been released, is thought to have set fire to the house in Nara, western Japan, and left his stepmother to die along with his seven-year-old brother and five-year-old sister, domestic media reports said on Saturday. The boy's parents had been scheduled to attend a meeting with teachers about his exam results that same day, reports said. The teenager told police his father, a doctor, had put him under extreme pressure over his academic performance, Kyodo news agency said.
Leaping robbers grounded
Beijing police have detained a gang of thieves who pulled off a high-speed highway heist straight out of a Hollywood action movie. Police patrolling a Beijing freeway saw several people "surfing" on top of a van as it pulled alongside a truck loaded with cargo, the Beijing News said on Friday. "The men leapt from the van onto the truck's trailer and started throwing back bags of a white-colored substance" into the moving van, the paper said. After several kilometers, the men leapt back on to the van and sped away. Police later intercepted the van, the thieves and a 1 tonne cache of polyethylene, used originally in making hula hoops, worth more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,250).
Troops enter Gaza Strip
Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip before dawn yesterday to arrest two members of the Hamas militant group pulling out of the area in what was apparently the first incursion to the Palestinian-controlled area since withdrawing last summer, Israeli military officials said. The troops entered the southern Gaza Strip, east of the town of Rafah, about 700m to storm a house, make the arrests, and then withdraw, Hamas said. They stayed in for about an hour but were still located near the border later in the morning, the group said.
Deportation deal reached
Spain and Mali agreed on Friday to seek a legal framework for deporting illegal immigrants, as Madrid warned it could not accommodate any more poor African migrants seeking jobs. Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Bernardino Leon said after meeting Malian Prime Minister Ousmane Issoufi Maiga that Spain hoped to foster development in Mali by improving agriculture and the security of its food supply. With more than 9,500 migrants flooding the Spanish Canary Islands this year in ramshackle boats, Madrid has launched a diplomatic offensive offering aid to stem the tide from West Africa and return the immigrants to their countries of origin.
Finance minister fired
The sacking on Friday of the liberal Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska amid accusations she lied about her alleged communist past sent a shockwave through investors and revived the specter of the country's communist past. Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz fired Gilowska after a judge announced he had opened an inquiry to determine if she had lied during a vetting procedure in 1999 about her links with the nation's former communist security forces. "I have no reason to doubt the good faith of Mrs Gilowska, but the principles regulating the government have to be applied to each minister," Marcinkiewicz said.
Refugees refuse to leave
About 1,000 refugees who fled a civil war in Sierra Leone to camps in neighboring Guinea are refusing to return home and want to be moved to Western countries, a humanitarian source said on Friday. Guinea shelters about 42,000 refugees from wars in neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, mainly in the capital Conakry and in the southeastern Forest Region, near the border with those countries. The UN announced this week that it would close the Boreah camp at Kissidougou in southeastern Guinea, about 600km from Conakry.
Mayor pulls plug on neon
Madrid is switching off 120,000 neon signs that illuminate the capital in an attempt to give the brash, noisy city center a more upmarket ambience. Under a new city ordinance, Madrid's stores, hotels, cinemas and even chemists with their flashing green crosses will have to tone down their advertising or face fines of up to 3,000 euros (US$3,765). Madrid's conservative mayor, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, said the lights-out law would save energy, reduce light pollution and improve the overall aesthetics of the city, which he described as a "chaotic, disorderly and out-of-control shop window."
■ United States
Judge orders visa decision
A federal judge in New York on Friday ordered the Bush administration to decide by September whether to grant an entry visa to a prominent Muslim scholar. The scholar has been barred from entering the country for nearly two years, first because of supposed ties to terrorism, then for unspecified national security reasons. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of three academic groups, including the PEN American Center, which had invited the scholar, Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, to speak at its meetings.
■ United States
Mineta leaves Cabinet
US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the only Democrat in Republican President George W. Bush's Cabinet and one of its three remaining original members, will step down on July 7. Mineta, the son of Japanese immigrants, oversaw the huge transportation security buildup after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He had been plagued at times by back problems and spent months working from home and the hospital. But he has since recovered. He is "moving on to pursue other challenges," his spokesman, Robert Johnson, said on Friday. White House press secretary Tony Snow announced the resignation. Asked why Mineta, 74, decided to leave, Snow said: "Because he wanted to," Snow said.
■ United States
Man wins implant suit
The Rhode Island Supreme Court on Friday awarded a former handyman more than US$400,000 in a lawsuit over a penile implant that gave him a 10-year erection. Charles "Chick" Lennon, 68, received the steel and plastic implant in 1996. The Dura-II is designed to allow impotent men to position the penis upward for sex, then lower it. But Lennon could not position his penis downward. He said he could no longer hug people, ride a bike, swim or wear bathing trunks because of the pain and embarrassment. He has become a recluse and is uncomfortable being around his grandchildren, his lawyer said.
■ United States
Police nab 13 `flashers'
New York police said on Friday they had nabbed 13 flashers and gropers in a recent sting operation on the city subway system that used undercover policewomen as bait. "We hope there'll be deterrent value for potential perpetrators who recognize their victim may be a police officer," said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. The two-day sting mission, dubbed Operation Exposure, was actually carried out last month in response to increased complaints from women commuters of men behaving lewdly on the subway network. The 13 suspects were charged with forcible touching or public lewdness.
■ United States
Arnie turns down request
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week rejected a request from the Bush administration to send an additional 1,500 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, the governor's office confirmed. The National Guard Bureau asked for the troops to help with the border-patrol mission in New Mexico and Arizona, but Schwarzenegger said the request would stretch the California Guard too thin in case of an emergency or natural disaster. Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn confirmed the governor's decision on Friday. Mendelsohn said the governor believed sending more troops would create an inappropriate burden on the state.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown