PETA activists kicked out
Two activists from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been picked up in Singapore and ordered to leave after authorities caught wind of their plans to stage a naked protest outside a KFC outlet. Jason Baker, PETA's Asia Pacific director, and fellow activist Ashley Fruno, were to leave the city-state yesterday, the group said in a statement. The pair were rounded up at a cafe by police on Thursday and detained for questioning for nine hours, Baker said.
N Korea ambassador picked
The government has appointed a career diplomat with expertise in US affairs as ambassador to North Korea, state-run Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Liu Xiaoming (劉曉明), 50, replaces Wu Donghe (武東和) as China's top diplomat in Pyongyang at a time when the fate of talks aimed at ending the secretive nation's nuclear program appear uncertain. South Korean media reports suggested recently that Liu's first mission upon arrival in North Korea would be to hand over a formal invitation to its leader, Kim Jong-il, to visit China.
Multilaterals issue joint plea
The World Bank and IMF yesterday urged the nation to allow all activists invited by the international finance institutions to attend this month's meetings in the city-state. The Singapore government has informed the World Bank and IMF that it objects to the accreditation of several civil society representatives, and stated its intention to prevent them from attending next week's meetings, the two institutions said in a joint statement. The statement did not identify the individuals.
`Crikey, it's Khaki Friday'
Admirers of Australian "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin were being urged to wear his trademark color of khaki yesterday in an international tribute to the slain wildlife warrior. A cyber campaign in the form of a chain e-mail called on fans around the world to don khaki clothes for the day. Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper joined in the call and said top politicians would take part, with opposition leader Kim Beazley set to turn out in khaki trousers while New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma was planning to wear a khaki tie. The Australian Radio Network launched its own "Crikey, It's Khaki Friday" drive to raise cash for Irwin's charity, Wildlife Warriors Worldwide.
Burlesque sparks brouhaha
A saloon-style striptease, complete with corsets and balloons, at a government-sponsored conference on global warming left some scientists hot and bothered and the organizers in boiling water. The show was cut short and organizers issued an apology after some delegates at the Australia and New Zealand Climate Forum's dinner in Canberra walked out in disgust at what was intended as a lighthearted break. Rebecca Gale, who led the dancers from Miss Kitka's House of Burlesque, said the show was in reasonably good taste and she didn't understand what the fuss was about. When Environment Minister Ian Campbell got wind of the show, he canceled his department's A$3,000 (US$2,290) sponsorship. The Agriculture Department followed suit, withdrawing A$5,000.
Three die in dump collapse
Three people were killed when a garbage dump collapsed on the outskirts of Jakarta yesterday, and dozens of scavengers were believed trapped beneath the rubble, police said. Rescuers used heavy machinery to search for survivors after a 10m high pile of trash crashed onto people trying to eke out livings by digging for recyclables at the dump, the main drop-off point for garbage from Jakarta.
Bikini champ stirs outrage
A prize-winning bikini competition contestant who claimed to represent Pakistan, sparking some outrage in the Muslim country, says she wanted to project the nation as a modern one. Officials in Pakistan, which does not hold beauty pageants, said on Thursday they were investigating how Texas-based Mariyah Moten, 22, entered a "Miss Bikini" pageant in China last month as a Pakistani contestant. Pakistan-born Moten, who holds a US passport, won a "Best in Media" title for being the most photographed and interviewed contestant, media reports said.
Guantanamo militant sought
Jakarta will ask Washington for consular access to Hambali, an Indonesian al-Qaeda-linked militant currently detained at Guantanamo Bay, a foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday. Hambali, allegedly a key member of the Jemaah Islamiyah extremist network blamed for numerous bombing attacks in Indonesia, is one of 14 terror suspects to be tried by military commissions, US President George W. Bush said. "Now it is clear where he is, we're going to request consular access to ensure a fair trial," foreign affairs spokesman Desra Percaya said. Hambali, accused of helping to plan the 2002 Bali bombings, was captured in Thailand in 2003 and had been detained at an undisclosed location.
■ United States
Intersex fish raise concerns
The discovery of intersex fish -- males with some female characteristics, including some carrying eggs -- in Washington's Potomac River is raising concerns about pollution from chemicals that can affect hormones. A preliminary investigation by the US Geological Survey found a high incidence of intersex among smallmouth bass in the South Branch of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, both near Washington.
Kabila declared winner
A bloc led by President Joseph Kabila won landmark polls but failed to secure a legislative majority, according to Independent Electoral Commission results announced yesterday. Kabila's Alliance of the Presidential Majority bloc emerged as the biggest single political force in the country, capturing more than 200 of the 500 seats in the new National Assembly, according to the last of the provisional results of the July 30 election.
■ United Kingdom
Wanted gangster nabbed
A Mafia mobster who has been on the run for more than 10 years was arrested in London in a police operation that left one officer injured, officials said yesterday. Raffaele Caldarelli, 35, was captured on Tuesday after months of undercover police work and surveillance. Dozens of police were involved in the arrest in east London near a shoe shop that Caldarelli ran that specialized in Italian footwear. Italian police confirmed the arrest and said Caldarelli had been living in a nearby apartment with his wife for at least three years. Caldarelli is wanted for Mafia association and extortion as well as trafficking in drugs and arms.
Heads roll on the dancefloor
An armed gang of suspected drug traffickers wearing ski masks threw five human heads onto the dance floor of a bar on Wednesday in an apparent revenge killing, prosecutors said. Some 20 men dressed barged into the Light and Shade club on the edge of Uruapan City, in Michoacan state, shortly after midnight and fired shots in the air. They forced revelers to lie on the floor and pulled the five male heads out of plastic bags, dumping them on the dance floor along with a handwritten message, a spokesman for the state prosecutor's office said. A spokesman for the local attorney general's office said the killings could be revenge for the murder in the same city on Sunday of two women, one of whom was beheaded and had a finger sliced off.
■ United Kingdom
TV chef blasts kids' lunches
Jamie Oliver, the television chef famous for his crusade to improve school dinners, lashed out at parents on Thursday over the food they give to their children. Speaking at the launch of his new TV program, Oliver said 70 percent of packed lunches in Britain were "disgraceful" and he would like to see them banned. He said the decisions parents made regarding the diets of their children were just wrong. "I've spent two years being politically correct about parents but it's time to say, if you're giving your young kids fizzy drinks, you're an arsehole and a tosser," Oliver said. He said headteachers were too frightened of some parents to tell them what they should give their child to bring to school. He was particularly critical of parents who give their children Red Bull -- an energy drink -- when they are tired, saying it was not much better than giving them a line of cocaine.
■ United States
Man drills for oil at home
Oil prices are so high that oilman Steve Jordan is drilling a well next to his home near Lake Charles, Louisiana, he said on Wednesday. Jordan, 52, said he will bore down 2,591m under his house and swimming pool and below the adjacent Calcasieu River. He hopes to strike oil in about 10 days on a prospect that wouldn't have been worth drilling when prices were lower, he said. "I'm not trying to prove anything," Jordan said in a telephone interview. "I'm trying to make money." The Independent Petroleum Association of America, which Jordan belongs to, is publicizing the project.
■ El Salvador
Your intestine is ringing...
Four prisoners in an El Salvador jail hid cellphones, a phone charger and spare chips in their bowels so they could coordinate crimes from their cells, prison officials said on Wednesday. The four men, all gang members, wrapped their phones and accessories in plastic and inserted them into their rectums as far as their intestines, said Ramon Arevalo, director of the maximum security Zacatecoluca prison. Arevalo said the ruse was discovered during X-ray examinations following six weeks of investigations.
■ United States
Girl finds infant in park
A girl walking through a park found a baby lying in the grass, police said. The baby, less than a day old, was wearing a light blue outfit and a pink bonnet. Paramedics, who took the baby to a hospital, said on Thursday she appeared to be in good health. Police were looking for her parents and handed out fliers seeking information in the Bronx neighborhood where she was found on Wednesday morning. Area resident Ray Concepcion said he heard the commotion outside his Pelham Parkway apartment building on Wednesday morning and saw a girl handing the baby over to police. "You just don't dump a baby like that, like a piece of garbage," Concepcion said.
■ United States
Manson follower not paroled
Leslie Van Houten, the former Charles Manson follower convicted of taking part in a murderous rampage that terrorized Los Angeles 37 years ago, was denied parole for a 16th time. Now a gray-haired 57-year-old prison inmate, Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for her role in the 1969 slayings of wealthy grocers Leno and Rosemary La Bianca. The La Biancas were killed in August 1969, one night after Manson's followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. Van Houten did not participate in the Tate killings, but went along on the next night when the La Biancas were slain in their home.
■ United States
LA puzzled by mystery signs
Phony signs promoting Donald Trump's new golf course have cropped up along Los Angeles freeways, stumping transportation officials and Trump executives alike. Commuters first spotted the fake signs for the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes a week ago. Since then, California Department of Transportation workers have pulled down at least four of them. Most mimic the green freeway directional signs common throughout California. Mike van der Goes, the golf club's general manager, said Trump has denied any involvement. "We have no idea who put them up," van der Goes said on Wednesday. "I spoke with Mr. Trump and he knows nothing about them." Nor do leaders of a guerrilla artist group known as Heavy Trash that some suspected as the culprit.
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