Two bodies found
Rescuers found two bodies believed to be Chinese crew members of a Cambodian cargo vessel that sank after it collided with a Japanese fishing boat in southern Japan, officials said yesterday. Three Chinese crew members went missing after their 1,123-tonne Guo Tong cargo ship sank after hitting the 296-tonne No.68 Taikei Maru in the Kanmon Straits, between Japan's mainland and its southern island of Kyushu, on Friday. Two bodies were recovered from inside the sunken cargo and are believed to be two of the missing crew members, regional coast guard official Hirotaka Matsushima said. He said rescuers were still looking for the third missing member. All six Japanese crew members aboard the Taikei Maru were unhurt. Officials were still investigating the cause of the collision.
Disease strikes again
Two new outbreaks of foot and mouth disease have sickened cattle in the southwest and northwest, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday. Thirteen cows and 72 pigs were slaughtered in a district of Chongqing municipality, once part of Sichuan Province, and 181 cows had been slaughtered in northwest Gansu Province, the ministry's Web site said. The cows were stricken with the Asia 1 strain of the disease, the site said. China has periodic outbreaks of foot and mouth, with recent ones reported in Qinghai Province in the northwest in September and another in Gansu in August, in which 607 sheep, cattle and pigs were slaughtered. Foot and mouth is not known to be a threat to humans, but it is highly contagious among other mammals. The disease affects cows, sheep, goats and other cloven-footed animals, causing blisters on the mouth and feet.
Tornado hits US base
A tornado hit a US military base on the southern island of Okinawa yesterday, injuring three Marines, including one who was rushed to a hospital after suffering cuts, police said. The gust hit Camp Schwab, a US Marine Corps base in northern Okinawa, around 1pm, prefectural police spokeswoman Tamao Ishikawa said. Two of the Marines suffered only scratches, but the condition of the third Marine, who suffered a laceration, was not known.
■ Sri Lanka
Forces clash at sea
The navy and Tamil Tiger rebels claimed yesterday they had sunk each others' craft in a sea battle off the northwestern coast as six people were killed in a mine blast elsewhere. "In a joint operation, the navy and the air force destroyed three Sea Tiger armed craft," the defense ministry said in a statement. However, the Tigers said the navy had attacked them while they were on a routine naval exercise and that they had retaliated, sinking a naval craft. The latest sea battle came as Tiger rebels set off a powerful landmine in the northern district of Vavuniya yesterday, killing three soldiers and wounding three more, local police officials said.
Aid reaches flood victims
Medical relief teams traveling by donkey arrived yesterday in a mountainous western province, where flash floods killed at least 53 people -- including six children -- and left dozens missing, officials said. Heavy rain lashed remote areas of Badghis Province on Thursday, inundating many villages surrounded by mountains with little access to main towns. In Balamurghad, at least 3,000 houses were damaged, and 2,000 sheep and other livestock were killed. Afghan officials prepared 8,000kg of medical supplies, blankets and other aid, which NATO planned to deliver by air to the area yesterday.
Afghanistan summit opens
An economic conference aimed at boosting Afghanistan's war-devastated economy and involving its neighbors in the reconstruction process was set to open in New Delhi yesterday. The conference will bring together Afghanistan's neighbors, including Pakistan, Iran and China, and members of the G8 group of industrialized nations. The meeting will also discuss ways to encourage regional cooperation in combatting the drug trade that flows through Afghanistan and address the issue of scarce shared water resources.
Blair meets with Musharraf
British Prime Minister Tony Blair was due to arrive yesterday, a day after the government freed a British man who had spent 18 years on death row. The British High Commission said Blair had nothing on his agenda for yesterday. Meetings with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz were scheduled for today. Blair's visit follows Musharraf's trip to Britain in September and a five-day tour of Pakistan last month by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. Charles is said to have appealed to Musharraf to commute the death sentence of Mirza Tahir Hussain, a British national sentenced to death for murdering a Pakistani taxi driver. On Wednesday, Musharraf ordered Hussain's death sentence commuted to life behind bars, and on Thursday he was released and flew to Britain.
Beauty lays down arms
Miss Israel has been given permission not to carry her assault rifle during service in the Israeli army because she says it bruises her legs. Reigning beauty queen Yael Nezri, a private who recently completed basic training, said the bruises were making it difficult for her to model in photo shoots. The Jerusalem Post reported that Nezri, 18, had been granted an exemption by her commanders during her two-year army stint.
Town criers make return
The independent mayor of a Budapest district whose councilors have suspended the local paper and TV station saying they are biased, is hitting back by employing town criers to call out the news. Tamas Derce, the mayor of Ujpest, said on Thursday he is reviving the medieval tradition in protest against the decision of the Socialist-liberal majority in his town hall to silence the local media. "I will hire someone who will stand with a drum at busy junctions of the district, and another one with a loudspeaker," Derce said. The town criers will keep working until the councilors reverse their decision, he said.
Smelly flyer loses legal suit
A court rejected a man's compensation claim against an airline after a cabin crew ordered him off a plane because other passengers were offended by his smell, authorities said on Thursday. An appeals court in Duesseldorf upheld an earlier ruling that British Airways (BA) had acted within its rights by removing the man from the aircraft after a female passenger sitting next to him complained about his smell. "The stewardess took him to one side and asked him if he could put on a fresh shirt, but they were all in the hold," a court spokesman said. "So then he was asked to leave the plane -- about two minutes before take off." BA said other passengers were upset by the smell, he added.
Cops hunt owner of fortune
Police are looking for the mystery owner of 1.8 billion euros (US$2.3 billion), held in several banks, after tax inspectors raised concerns that the accounts might contain laundered money. A court order has frozen the accounts, but the owner or owners have yet to step forward. If the cash belongs to one person, it would make them one of the 10 wealthiest people in Spain. The search follows police raids on banks and other financial businesses in Madrid and Barcelona a fortnight ago.
Detainees offered refuge
The US has released three detainees held at its Guantanamo Bay prison facility to Albania, after determining they were no longer "enemy combatants," the Department of Defense said on Friday. The three detainees -- an Algerian, an Egyptian and an ethnic Uzbek born in the former Soviet Union -- would have an opportunity to "rebuild their lives" in Albania, a statement from the department said. The release comes as part of a 2004-2005 status review of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility and the US has since been in talks with various countries to resettle inmates no longer deemed a threat. Albania had already agreed in May to accept five of 15 ethnic Uighurs held at Guantanamo, who the US government had been reluctant to return to China over concerns they could face religious persecution.
■ United States
Top publisher claims abuse
To explain why she is publishing O.J. Simpson's book, Judith Regan released a statement on Thursday in which she claimed to have been the victim of abuse at the hands of an unnamed former boyfriend. It was this history, Regan said, that made her determined to get a "confession" from Simpson in the book, If I Did It, and in a two-part interview. David Buckley, who acknowledged he was the person described in Regan's statement, denied her accusations on Friday. "I'm tired of being accused of being a wife beater," Buckley said by phone from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "Her statement is untrue. It's purely for publicity," he said.
Suspected spy detained
A suspected Russian spy was detained at Pierre Trudeau International Airport in Montreal earlier this week by the government under controversial legislation now being reviewed by the country's top court, a newspaper report said on Friday. The man, who has not been identified, was charged with using fake identification, according to unnamed sources quoted by the newspaper. He was also charged with "engaging in the act of espionage," the newspaper said. The story identified the man with his bogus name of Paul William Hampel. The Russian embassy in Ottawa said the suggestion the man was a Russian spy was "ridiculous."
■ United States
Bridge considers sponsors
The operators of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, its orange towers recognizable the world over, are looking into selling corporate sponsorships for the landmark to reduce a budget shortfall, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. The authority operating the bridge faces a shortfall of US$87 million over the next five years. "It's actually something we've been thinking about for the past few years," said spokeswoman Mary Currie. The authority does not intend to sell naming rights or hang advertising banners on the bridge, Currie said.
■ United States
FDA approves implants use
A US government regulator on Friday approved the sale of silicone breast implants for cosmetic use, overturning a 14-year ban imposed due to safety concerns. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the implants' use for breast augmentation in women of 22 years and older, but said that safety tests would continue. The gel-based product supposedly has a more natural feel than saline-filled implants that had not been subjected to a ban. Analysts said that due to the ruling the sale of breast implants may double in the next few years.
Collision pilots must stay
Two US pilots involved in a mid-air collision with a jetliner had their request to leave the country denied on Friday, pending the end of an investigation into the country's worst-ever plane crash. All 154 people onboard a Boeing 737-800 were killed when the plane crashed after colliding with a twin-engine Embraer Legacy. Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino had their passports confiscated shortly after the collision, and a request to retrieve them was denied by a regional judicial tribunal. Originally accused of causing the collision by flying at the wrong altitude and refusing to change their height, the two pilots were cleared earlier this month. But there remain some outstanding issues, including suggestions that the aircraft's anti-collision and communications systems were turned off.
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”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after