More coal miners die
At least 29 miners were killed in a coal mine after a gas explosion on Tuesday, state media reported, in the latest accident to plague the nation's notoriously dangerous mining industry. The explosion occurred at the Weijiadi coal mine in the northwestern province of Gansu when 71 miners were working underground, Xinhua reported. At least 19 people were injured, it said. A ventilation system was being checked when the blast occurred, general manager Wang Jun was quoted as saying.
Mogul detained over tax
Multimillionaire Zhou Weibin (周偉彬), a member of China's top 500 rich list, has been detained on suspicion of tax evasion, state media said yesterday. Zhou, the head of a printing ink empire in Guangdong Province, is suspected of deliberately failing to pay value-added taxes worth 6.47 million yuan (US$820,000), the China Daily said, citing police. With a personal wealth of 800 million yuan, Zhou was No. 438 on a rich list compiled by Shanghai-based accountant Rupert Hoogewerf and published last month.
Groups cool on reform
Human rights groups yesterday welcomed changes to China's death penalty law with reservations, urging the country to disclose the number of people it executes and embrace broader legal reform. China, which executes more people than the rest of the world combined, said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court would reclaim its right to final review of death sentences from Jan. 1, ending the practice of allowing executions on the order of lower courts.
Three militants killed
US and Afghan troops killed three "terrorists" during a clash yesterday with militants in violence-hit southeastern Afghanistan, coalition officials said. Another suspect was captured during a raid at a compound in Khost Province near the Pakistani border. "Credible intelli-gence led the combined force to the compound which was a refuge for terrorist network facili-tators," officials said. According to the officials, the militants were hiding among women and children, none of whom were injured during the attack.
Not too violent, please
Film chiefs have told the makers of Rambo IV: In the Serpent's Eye movie due to start filming in early next year to avoid excessive violence for fear of corrupting youth or dama-ging the environment. "We have warned them that any violence has to be reason-able because we care about young people," said Wanasiri Morakul, a director at the Thailand Film Office. Much of the movie will be filmed in national parks and Wanasiri said officials would be keeping a close eye on the movie-makers to ensure they did not damage their surroundings.
Man sentenced in scandal
The Tokyo District Court yesterday sentenced Akira Shinozuka, a former construction company branch manager, to a suspended prison term in a high-profile construction scandal involving falsified earthquake-resistance data, a court official said. The scandal, which broke last year, has caused wide-spread concern in one of the world's most earth-quake-prone nations. Some residents in the more than 200 buildings for which false data was used, have been forced to move out of their condominiums so they could be demolished because they did not meet safety standards.
Dengue kills 12
An outbreak of dengue fever has claimed 12 more lives across the country, taking to 151 the number of people killed by the deadly mosquito-borne illness, a senior health ministry announced on Tuesday. Six of the deaths during the past 24 hours were reported from New Delhi, which took the dengue toll in the national capital to 67, with 2,640 people infected. Nationwide, 8,951 dengue-related cases have been reported since July-end when the virus first surfaced. Another 1,682 people were suffering from chikungunya disease which, like dengue, is transmitted to humans through bites of the Aedes mosquitoes during the rainy season.
Japanese prince visits
Prince Akishino of Japan will kicked off a four-day visit yesterday, where he will join the ethnic Japanese community in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants' arrival. Akishino's visit is meant to "strengthen ties and evaluate the state of Japanese cooperation" with Paraguay. The two countries established bilateral relations in 1919. Some 10,000 Japanese immigrants and people of Japanese descent are expected to welcome Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. From there, Akishino will spend two days in Santiago, Chile before returning home on Nov. 7.
Cannabis prices up
Israel's recent war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas has sent cannabis prices sky high in the Jewish state. Boosted security on the Lebanon frontier brought a drastic reduction in drug smuggling, with the cost of cannabis in Israel up eight-fold, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Tuesday. Smoking and selling cannabis are illegal in Israel. Trafficking from Egypt has also been curbed by Israeli patrols aimed at preventing Palestinians from smuggling in arms.
■ South Africa
Apartheid president dies
South Africa's last hardline white president P.W. Botha died late on Tuesday, according to the South African Press Association. He was 90 years old. The association quoted security staff at his home on the southern Cape coast as saying that he died at 8pm. Captain Frikkie Lucas said: "Botha died at home, peacefully." Botha led the country through its worst racial violence and deepest international isolation. Known for his finger-wagging, confrontational style and nicknamed the "Great Crocodile" for his feared temper, Botha served as head of the apartheid government from 1978 to 1989.
Jailhouse fashion on show
Four women held at a prison in Vercelli, east of Milan, designed and made a collection of boldly striped hooded jumpers, shorts and mini-skirts with a bar code logo for a fashion show at Milan's glamorous Il Gattopardo nightclub on Tuesday. Two of the designers were not allowed to attend the show because of the nature of their jail terms, details of which were not given. The other two, a loud, smiling Nigerian recently released after a five-and-a-half year sentence, and a quiet, earnest-looking Italian, turned into fashion stars for a night as non-prison volunteers presented the clothes on the catwalk.
Kids mistaken for robbers
Two sharp-eyed people saw what they thought were masked bank robbers in a car with tinted windows in front of a bank and called police, but the occupants turned out not to be thieves but children in Halloween masks. The two women in the small northern town of Bad Zwischenahn separately spotted the vehicle, police said on Monday. But it took off before police arrived. Authorities picked it up two hours later and detained the driver and three passengers -- children in Halloween costumes. "We got a call that there were 'masked people in front of a bank' and assumed it was a hold-up," officer Juergen Harms said.
■ Ivory Coast
Rebels demand leader quit
Rebels called on the war-divided country's president to step down on Tuesday, saying his mandate, extended by the UN last year for 12 months and which expired Tuesday, ran out long ago. The president has repeatedly said the constitution allows him to remain in power and delay elections if war or natural disaster prevent polling from taking place. "His mandate has expired and he should go. We said it last year, and we say it again," rebel spokesman Sidiki Konate told reporters. The African Union has recommended Gbagbo remain in office for another year -- provided he transfers most of his powers, including control of the security forces, to Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny.
■ United States
Dead woman elected
A coin toss made a dead woman the winner of a rural school board race in Adak, one of the Aleutian Islands, a chain of islands extending southwest from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. Incumbent Katherine Dunton and challenger Dona Highstone were tied after the Oct. 3 election -- the same day Dunton died. Even with Dunton's death, state law requires a tie vote to be settled by lot after an official recount. Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster flipped the coin to determine the winner Friday. Highstone called heads, but the coin landed on tails. The school board must now find a replacement for the three-year term.
■ United States
Suspected arsonist arrested
Authorities arrested a man who is suspected of intentionally starting two wildfires this summer and is considered a person of interest in a blaze started last week that killed five firefighters. Raymond Lee Oyler, 37, of Beaumont, California, was arrested on Tuesday on two counts of arson related to wildfires in June, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. Oyler was not named as a suspect in the wildfire that started last week and roared across more than 150 square kilometers. Four US Forest Service firefighters died shortly after the blaze began last Thursday when flames overran them as they tried to protect homes in the area. A fifth firefighter died on Tuesday evening.
■ United States
Scariest homes listed
Forget the Halloween witches' hats and the fake cobwebs -- some of the creepiest haunted homes can scare up a treat all year round. From novelist Edith Wharton's palatial mansion in Lenox, Massachusetts, to a Gold Rush shack in California where rocking chairs rock by themselves, a Web site on Tuesday profiled 15 of the nation's spookiest houses -- and offered some tips on how to hire a reliable ghostbuster.
■ United States
Man causes bomb scare
Traffic was blocked off several streets near the White House briefly after a man outside the Treasury Department falsely claimed to be carrying an explosive, the Secret Service said. No explosive was found and the man was taken into custody for a mental evaluation on Tuesday evening, Secret Service spokeswoman Kim Bruce said. He was not immediately charged and his identity was withheld pending the outcome of the evaluation. Bruce said the incident began at 9:45pm when a man told a uniformed Secret Service officer on 15th Street outside the Treasury, one block east of the White House, that he had an explosive device in his backpack. The man surrendered the backpack without a struggle and police determined there was no explosive in it, Bruce said.
Rio to improve shantytown
Rio de Janeiro plans to build a hospital, day-care centers and roads in the city's biggest shantytown while destroying other illegal settlements to prevent encroachment on the Atlantic rain forest, officials said on Tuesday. The government will spend about US$37 million to make improvements -- which will also include a factory for building materials, a technical school and a movie theater -- to the Rocinha shantytown, said Andrea Cardoso, an architect in the Rio de Janeiro state Environment and Development Department. Rocinha is considered the largest of Rio's estimated 600 shantytowns, or favelas, with some 200,000 residents.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year