Red Cross office attacked
An explosion in the parking compound of the Interna-tional Committee of the Red Cross headquarters in Peshawar damaged four vehicles but hurt no one early on Saturday, officials said. Red Cross spokes-woman Layla Berlemont confirmed the attack and lack of casualties in a telephone interview. She said the office had not received any threats before the attack and would continue its activities in and around Peshawar.
Mining officials charged
Officials and mining executives in Henan Province have been accused of concealing the severity of an accident that killed 24 coal miners, not seven as initially reported, state media said yesterday. Police have arrested five people, including Fu Faming (符發明), the owner and manager of the Xing'an coal mine, and four officials have been dismissed for trying to conceal some of the deaths that resulted from the Feb. 2 mine explosion, the Beijing Morning Post and other newspapers said.
■ Hong Kong
Travel agent accused
A Chinese travel agent has been accused of abandoning three mentally disabled children in the territory, where they could benefit from a better welfare system, the South China Morning Post said yesterday. The agent from Guangdong Province faces three counts of child abuse for bringing three boys to Hong Kong and leaving them at a parking lot and a playground, it said. "The nascent trend of mentally handicapped children from the mainland being abandoned here is ... a serious concern," the paper said in its editorial.
■ South Korea
Detention center fire kills 10
A fire at a detention center killed 10 foreigners and injured 17 others, mostly Chinese, who were waiting deportation for illegal entry, a fire department official said yesterday. Nine Chinese and one Uzbeck were killed in the pre-dawn fire at the detention center in Yeosu, 455km south of Seoul, the official said on customary condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to talk to the media. The 17 injured were mostly Chinese, he said.
Woman dies of bird flu
A 20-year-old woman died of bird flu early yesterday, bringing the number of people killed by the virus in the country to 64, health and hospital officials said. The victim -- identified only as Elis -- was from the village of Karangpawitan, West Java, where at least four other people also have fallen ill with symptoms of the disease, said Yogi Suprayogi, a spokesman at Slamet Hospital where she was admitted on Friday. "She was in really bad condition when she came here." Suprayogi said Elis apparently had contact with dead chickens a week before she was admitted.
F-22 fighter planes delayed
The arrival of 12 US F-22 fighter planes at a US air base on Okinawa was delayed yesterday without word on a new date for their first deployment outside the US. The US Air Force's newest fighter planes had been scheduled to arrive at the weekend at the US Kadena Air Base. But a statement from the Air Force in Okinawa said the aircraft had turned back to Hawaii for operational reasons, without elaborating. They were still scheduled to be deployed.
World kissing record broken
More than 6,000 couples kissed simultaneously with organizers of the event claiming to have set a new world record. Organizers of the annual pre-Valentine's Day celebration said they broke the record held by Hungary, where 5,875 couples kissed simultaneously in Budapest in 2005. "We broke the record, it's great," said Howard Belton, a Briton who spearheaded the midnight Saturday event. With fireworks, confetti, a giant TV screen and red balloons as the backdrop, couples locked lips and hugged for 10 seconds following the midnight countdown outside a Manila mall. An unofficial tally showed 6,124 couples kissed simultaneously, organizers said, but the number still needs to be verified by an independent auditor and approved by Guinness World Record officials before it becomes an official world record.
HIV infections spreading
The number of HIV infections in the country could surge by more than fourfold to 300,000 by 2015 as the virus spreads rapidly from high-risk groups to the general public, a senior health official warned yesterday. Other than drug addicts, official statistics showed the HIV virus that causes AIDS is spreading quickly to women, fishermen, truck drivers and factory workers, said Ramlee Rahmat, deputy director-general of public health. Some 73,000 Malaysians have so far been infected with HIV, of which three-quarters of them are intravenous drug users and 7 percent are women, he said. "Based on the trend that we are seeing, HIV infections can escalate to 300,000 cases by 2015 if we do not do anything," Ramlee said. He said the government has taken aggressive steps to fight HIV transmission under a five-year plan.
Farrow visits ravaged towns
Shaking hands with droves of cheering street children, US actress Mia Farrow began a weeklong tour on Saturday of the Central African Republic, saying she wanted to draw attention -- and aid -- to one of the world's most forgotten crises. The 62-year-old UN goodwill ambassador will tour towns recently ravaged by fighting close to the the border with Darfur. More than a year of instability in the nation's northeast boiled over into a rebellion in late October. The UN says the violence has affected 1 million people and says tens of thousands of women have been raped by different factions.
■ South Africa
Mandela calls for unity
Former president Nelson Mandela used the Saturday funeral of his close friend and African National Congress stalwart Adelaide Tambo to call for unity in the ruling party and a return to the values of a generation of heroes. Tambo, who died at her Johannesburg home on Jan. 31, was buried in the Tamboville Cemetery after the funeral service at which Mandela spoke. Mandela pleaded with the nation to make "this country of ours the caring and decent society for which this great South African dedicated her entire life and for which she sacrificed so much."
Bird flu source unknown
International health experts probing the country's first recorded death from the bird flu virus have not been able to find the source of the infection, a senior official of the Food and Agriculture Organization said on Saturday. All the team found was that the chicken that caused the infection that killed a 22-year-old woman on Jan. 17 was bought from a live bird market in Lagos just before Christmas, said Tony Forman, leader of the UN team of experts helping in the probe. It was not clear how the chicken contracted bird flu. The country also reported cases of the H5N1 virus a year ago.
Protests target `racism'
Hundreds of demonstrators marched through central Athens on Saturday, demanding equal rights and citizenship for immigrant children born in the country. Holding banners reading "I was born here" and "no to racism," more than 600 immigrants called on the government to end what they described as "racial discrimination" against immigrants and to grant citizenship to children born in the country. Protestors also demanded authorities make it easier for registered immigrants to renew their work permits. The march was organized by immigrant and anti-racist groups as well as labor unions. The country is home to nearly 1 million immigrants.
Soldier killed in Dagestan
One soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a bombing on Saturday in the republic of Dagestan, authorities said. The bomb exploded on the outskirts of the town of Buinaksk, regional Interior Ministry spokeswoman Anzhela Martirosova said. The town is about 35km west of the capital, Makhachkala. The ITAR-Tass news agency said the blast went off as they were returning to their quarters for the night. Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, is plagued by violence against police officers and soldiers. The attacks are seen as connected with criminal operations and as a spillover of the separatist fighting in Chechnya.
■ United States
Cat found half-frozen
A cat found half-frozen in a water trough in Losantville, Indiana, is recovering, but may lose his tail. Melissa Jones said she found the cat on Tuesday when she stepped onto her porch for a cigarette. His tail and hind legs were stuck in about three inches of ice. She and her husband used buckets of hot water to free him. "His little ears are droopy and purple and so are his little feet," Jones said, adding that his new nickname is "Droopy." In the morning, she took the seven-month-old yellow and white tiger cat to a veterinarian, where he was given an antibiotic. The vet recommended a regimen of warm water and foot and tail massages to help its circulation, but still may lose its tail. Jones says the family will probably keep the cat indoors from now on.
■ United States
Students offend at party
A party that asked students to come dressed "politically incorrect" has prompted an investigation by Macalester College officials in St. Paul, Minnesota, who learned one student was costumed as a Ku Klux Klan member and another wore blackface with a noose around his neck. A campus-wide discussion is planned for tomorrow. The student newspaper, The Mac Weekly, quoted senior David Nifoussi, who attended the party, as saying it was meant to be a satiric comment on "things that would be considered taboo in most situations" at the liberal school.
■ United States
Bear injures love interest
As first dates go, this one did not end well. A male polar bear who was trying to court a female polar bear apparently pushed her over the edge of a 4m drop while playing this week, Memphis Zoo officials said. Cranbeary, the five-year-old female, had surgery on Saturday to insert two steel plates and 26 screws to repair a broken leg. Payton, the three-year-old male, is on loan from the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois as part of a breeding program. This may be both bears' first romance, and it got a little awkward, said Matt Thompson, mammal curator.
■ United States
Snorkeler in good condition
A snorkeler who was shot in the head after he was apparently mistaken for a swimming rodent was in good condition after surgery, a hospital said on Saturday. John William Cheesman, 44, underwent eight hours of surgery Thursday to remove shrapnel and bone fragments from his face. William Roderick, 60, has been charged with assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. Roderick told deputies he thought Cheesman was a nutria swimming in the Smith River near Reedsport, Oregon, about 145km southwest of Eugene, and shot him with a .22-caliber rifle, police said.
■ United States
Barge strikes cruise ship
A barge struck a cruise ship on the Mississippi River, leaving a 9m gash on the ship and forcing the cancelation of a five-day cruise to the Caribbean. There were no injuries reported on Carnival Cruise Lines' Fantasy ship or the barge, authorities and company officials said. The barge collided with the river bank, then struck the port side of the cruise ship as it waited to dock on Saturday, according to a statement from the cruise line. There was minor damage to the barge, which was one of six rice barges being pushed by a towing vessel. Carnival said the 2,050 passengers who had been allowed to board were later told their cruise had been canceled because repairs would take several days.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
SURGE CONTINUES: India recorded its steepest spike of more than 57,000 new virus cases in 24 hours, as Vietnam went from no virus deaths to reporting three South Korean prosecutors yesterday arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s COVID-19 response after thousands of worshipers were infected in February and March. Prosecutors in the central city of Suwon have been questioning 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges that the church hid some members and underreported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines. The Suwon District Court granted prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee over concerns that he could temper with evidence. Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they are