Factory fire kills seven
A fire gutted a garment factory in eastern India yesterday, killing seven workers, officials said. The fire hit a sari embroidery factory in Howrah, a suburb of Calcutta, when sparks from electrical wires ignited a can of diesel fuel lying in the factory, said Gopal Bhattacharjee, the director of the staste fire department. The fire, which broke out very early yesterday, has been brought under control, he said, adding that a detailed investigation is under way.
Bangalore police on alert
Thousands of riot police fanned out across India's technology hub of Bangalore yesterday ahead of a court ruling on a century-old water dispute which authorities fear could lead to a repeat of deadly 1991 riots. Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka, a southern state in dispute with neighboring Tamil Nadu over access to water from their shared Cauvery river. A 1991 interim court order telling Karnataka to release 205 billion cubic feet of water from Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu sparked riots against Tamils in Bangalore, a linguistic minority in the city, leaving more than 18 people dead.
Suspected rebels arrested
Police arrested four suspected Islamic rebels after a gunbattle on a busy street in the Indian capital, a news report said yesterday. The shootout took place on Sunday night in the center of New Delhi after the police, acting on a tip, intercepted the suspected militants, the Indian Express reported. Police also seized explosives and weapons, including 3km of the explosive RDX, used in past bombings in India, six hand grenades and four detonators, the report said. The police say the men are members of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, which has been blamed for several attacks in India, including numerous bombings and shootings in New Delhi's part of Kashmir.
Man wants to reject Islam
An ethnic Chinese man who was mistakenly handed to a Muslim couple at birth in a hospital mix-up found his biological parents 21 years later, but now faces a new battle -- to renounce Islam and acquire a Chinese name, the Star reported yesterday. The family went public with their story only now because Zulhaidi Omar, 29, wants to take up a Chinese name and change his religion to Buddhism. But the Constitution does not allow Muslims to renounce their religion. Doing so is considered apostasy and is punishable by jail. Michael Tay, a politician who is helping the family, said that if negotiations with state officials and the hospital where Zulhaidi was born failed, the family might have to seek legal recourse.
Fugitive to fly home
An Australian fugitive wanted on fraud charges in two South Pacific nations said he would fly home yesterday from Vanuatu where he was jailed for a visa offense. Peter Foster, 44, was sentenced in the Port Vila Magistrates Court last Friday to six weeks in prison and fined 120,000 Vanuatuan vatu (US$1,080) for arriving on Vanuatu without a visa last month. Foster, who gained international attention for dating former British topless model Samantha Fox and for advising Cherie Blair, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair has served time for fraud-related offenses in Australia, the US and Britain.
President's lawyer quits
The main lawyer of Israeli President Moshe Katsav, faced with a looming indictment for rape and sexual harassment, announced on Sunday he would no longer represent the embattled head of state. David Libai, a former justice minister, said he had agreed to defend Katsav before the revelations of alleged sexual harassment, the media reported. His decision to resign was taken after the rape and harassment charges emerged. "Moshe Katsav and David Libai jointly decided a week ago that Katsav would no longer be represented by lawyer Libai," the president's office said.
Mayor murderer confesses
In a case that could be the plot of a murder mystery novel, the main political and business rival of a murdered mayor in a remote Spanish hamlet has confessed, newspapers said on Sunday. "I did it all on my own. I killed the mayor because I couldn't stand him any longer," Santiago Mainar, forester, hotel owner and losing candidate in recent mayoral elections, confessed to the Spanish daily El Pais. However, sources close to the enquiry cited by the Spanish media on Sunday said that the confession of Mainar, who was arrested on Friday, contained "several discrepancies" and that he is suspected of having had accomplices. The murder victim, Miguel Grima, 50, had defeated Mainar in elections and ran a rival hotel.
Tenants' space restricted
More than 100 German housing association tenants are obediently following tough new rules by agreeing not to use all the space in their apartments to avoid being forced to move out. The housing authority in the town of Loebau said on Friday the new regulations stipulate the tenants now only qualify for smaller homes. Because there is a shortage of smaller dwellings, the tenants are being allowed to stay, so long as the space they use does not exceed the new limit. Not everyone sees the sense of living in an apartment with off-limits areas. "It feels stupid not being able to go into all the rooms of your apartment any more," one 49-year-old woman was quoted as saying in the Dresdner Morgenpost newspaper.
■ United Kingdom
Molly set to go to convent
A Scottish girl who was at the center of an international custody battle will enrol in a convent school in Pakistan, the Daily Mail reported yesterday. The Pakistani Supreme Court decided earlier this year that 12-year-old Molly Campbell could stay with her father, Sajjad Ahmed Rana, after a lower court decided to order the girl to return to her mother in Scotland. "I am looking for a good school. My friends have suggested I get my daughter enrolled in Catholic schools because they have high educational standards and a safe and disciplined environment," Rana was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
■ United States
`Oz' actor arrested
An actor from the former HBO prison drama Oz was arrested in connection with the death of a man who fell down an elevator shaft during a scuffle at a nightclub, police said on Sunday. Granville Adams, 43, was arrested on Saturday and charged with criminally negligent homicide, police said. Adams acted in more than 20 episodes of Oz, playing the character Zahir Arif. He had been working as a manager at the upscale nightclub BED in Manhattan.
‘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
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
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big