Moon mission mulled
The government on Thursday held out the possibility of sending astronauts to the moon by 2020 and called for a national debate on whether it should enter a space race with richer nations. The Indian Space Research Organization says it could have a manned spaceship ready in eight years to orbit the Earth and put astronauts on the lunar surface in 14 years. To date India has shied away from putting humans into space as the costs have been considered prohibitive.
Six police killed in ambush
Suspected militants ambushed a police patrol killing six policemen and wounding three others, an official said. The police car was sprayed with bullets in the Adraskan district of Herat Province late on Thursday, said Nasar Ahmad Paykar, the provincial deputy police chief. Adraskan's district police chief was among those killed, he said. Paykar blamed Taliban militants for the ambush. Three wounded policemen were brought to Herat hospital for treatment.
Students felled by poisoning
Twenty-one young students fell ill and were hospitalized after eating in a school's cafeteria, state media reported yesterday, in the latest in a series of such food poisoning cases. The students at the private school in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region complained of headaches, abdominal pain and vomiting after lunch on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency quoted a local health official as saying. Nineteen of the students, ages 6 to 14, were discharged from hospital the same day after treatment, while the others were still hospitalized but not in critical condition, the official was quoted as saying.
■ United Kingdom
Man jailed for killing child
A man who killed his daughter with chloroform to punish his wife for being unfaithful was jailed for 15 years on Thursday. Gavin Hall, 33, a hospital radiographer, murdered Amelia, 3, as her mother and sister slept in their Northamptonshire home. The jury at Northampton Crown Court heard that he gave his daughter sleeping pills before he smothered her with a rag soaked with chloroform, media reports said. Hall, who admitted manslaughter but denied murder, tried to commit suicide after the killing. Hall suffered an emotional breakdown after discovering his wife was having an affair with a judge she met on the Internet, media reports said.
Halloween prank backfires
A police bomb squad raced across the country by helicopter on Thursday to investigate a mysterious, wired package that turned out to be a discarded Halloween prop left behind by a young man who had dressed up as a suicide bomber. The package, with wires sticking out of it, was found on a car said Asbjoern Andersen of Bergen police. The car's owner had no idea what the package was, so police evacuated the surrounding area. Then they summoned bomb experts from Oslo, who flew 300km by helicopter to assess the threat. "We really had no choice," Andersen said about bringing in experts from the capital.
■ United Kingdom
Migration trend continues
An estimated 380,000 people migrated from Britain last year, with Australia the most popular destination followed by Spain and France, according to data published on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics. The level of migration has grown steadily from 264,000 in 1996. Nearly 200,000 of those who left last year intending to live abroad for more than 12 months were British citizens, with the rest foreign nationals returning home. The data also shows that the number of people coming into the country for longer than 12 months last year stood at 565,000, slightly down on the previous year.
Officials are trying to figure out how some 1,500 euro banknotes were contaminated with acid, sometimes causing the brittle bills to disintegrate. The notes, most of them in denominations of less than 100 euros (US$128), started surfacing in June, according to Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank. So far, the disappearing cash has been found in 17 cities. The bills "apparently were contaminated with an acid and may disintegrate," Interior Ministry spokesman Stefan Kaller told reporters on Thursday. He said that there were "no clear information yet as to how acid got onto the notes."
■ United Kingdom
Titanic baby ashes scattered
The ashes of a 92-year-old British woman conceived onboard the Titanic, whose parents are thought to have inspired the hit film, have been scattered at sea, a coastguard official said on Thursday. Ellen Walker was born nine months after her mother, 19-year-old sweet shop assistant Kate Phillips and father Henry Morley, 40, eloped on the vessel, which sank on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg in 1912. The couple, who traveled under the name Mr and Mrs Marshall, are believed to have inspired the characters of Jack and Rose, played by Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet in the Oscar-winning 1997 film.
■ United States
Former inmate sparks scare
Jail officials in White Plains, New York, feared an escapee was on the loose on Halloween night when a former inmate was spotted trick-or-treating in his orange prison jumpsuit, authorities said. A corrections officer spotted the former inmate, Oscar Aponte, 32, going house to house with his son in his hometown of Peekskill, north of New York City. The officer alerted the Westchester County Jail and the prison was locked down while all inmates were accounted for, said Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to the county executive. Authorities believed the former inmate smuggled the orange jumpsuit out of the jail when he was released in September.
■ United States
Abstinence hasn't worked
US efforts to promote abstinence as a cornerstone of sexual education have not lowered levels of sexually transmitted diseases, two former US surgeon generals said on Thursday. Joycelyn Elders and David Satcher told a news conference in San Francisco that a broad effort was needed to promote the "sexual literacy" of Americans to counter unacceptable levels of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, especially among teens and young adults. "The vows of abstinence break far more easily than latex condoms," said Elders, who was fired by President Bill Clinton after she suggested that schools teach children about masturbation.
Child abuser arrested
A 34-year-old man was arrested hours after he sent live images of himself sexually abusing a pre-school girl this week to a shocked undercover officer, police said on Thursday. "The officer was in conversations with the accused at the time," Detective Constable Paul Krawczyk, a Toronto police officer who witnessed the violent abuse, told reporters. "I can't get into details of what exactly happened but certain things in the images and in the chat with the person, it was obvious that it was happening live ... We saw live abuse happening." Krawczyk said the Toronto child exploitation unit had struck up an online conversation with the suspect, when he sent the undercover officer images of himself sexually assaulting a girl "in the moments following the assault."
Bungled bombing kills two
A jeep carrying explosives went up in flames just south of the capital of Bogota, killing two passengers and injuring five, authorities said. The apparent accident late on Thursday, which authorities believe may have pre-empted a planned terrorist attack by leftist rebels, comes a day after 17 police officers and two civilians were killed during a guerrilla raid on a remote hamlet in the country's northwest. Two other car-bombings, one of them deadly, have occurred in the past two weeks.
Police investigator poisoned
An official who died just after opening an investigation into possible ties between traffickers and the nation's anti-narcotics forces was poisoned in a contract killing, the government said on Thursday. Franklin Brewster, a high-ranking police investigator, became ill and died in July, days after launching the probe into suspected infiltration of drug-fighting forces by traffickers. A spokesman for the public prosecutor's office said that the killers were paid US$500,000 to murder Brewster, and that three people who worked with the victim were under investigation for murder.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”