Uncles arrested for murder
Police arrested two men in a remote southern village and accused them of killing two young women for allegedly having sex outside marriage. The suspects, who are uncles of the women, were caught after authorities were tipped off by the girls' parents in southern Sindh Province, local police chief Ajmal Magsi said on Saturday. The two women, aged 18 and 20, were first cousins and unmarried, Magsi said. Magsi said it was a case of karo-kari, an ancient custom in which people accused of committing adultery are killed by their own relatives. Human right groups say hundreds of men and women are killed under this custom every year. Most attackers escape punishment.
Earthquake shakes Tibet
A moderate earthquake shook a sparsely populated region of Tibet yesterday morning, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury. The magnitude 5.3 temblor struck Tibet's Naqu region, a wide swath of grasslands a few hundred kilometers north of Lhasa, a duty officer with the seismological bureau said. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, the man said. There was no disruption of rail service along the multibillion-dollar Beijing-Tibet train because of the earthquake, said Duan Xiangzheng, head of the administrative office of Naqu.
Pets may have been eaten
Animal lovers are keeping a tight leash on cats and dogs in a southern state amid fears that foreign laborers have made meals out of missing pets, a newspaper reported yesterday. Residents say many pets recently vanished in several neighborhoods in Johor, with some residents claiming to have found animal skins discarded in trash cans, the New Straits Times reported. Suspicions that drug addicts stole these pets and sold them to migrant workers for US$1.40 an animal have led owners to maintain a close watch on their pets, the report added. The report did not say what specifically caused residents to blame migrant workers.
■ East Timor
PM to run for president
Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta told a cheering crowd in his hometown yesterday he would stand in April's presidential elections, vowing to help return peace and stability to the troubled nation. Ramos-Horta, who shared a Nobel Peace Price for nonviolent resistance to Indonesian rule, said in his candidacy speech he went through "weeks of reflection and hesitation" before deciding to seek the top post amid the worst crisis since the tiny nation broke from Jakarta in 1999. "We laid down the arms after the fight against the occupation, but now our fight is for our future," he said, speaking in the local Tetum language.
Ferry death toll doubles
Navy warships and fishermen have pulled 21 bodies from the Java Sea, more than doubling the death toll from an Indonesian ferry fire to 41, a navy spokesman said yesterday. The blaze broke out on the car deck of the Levina I before dawn on Thursday, sending hundreds of passengers jumping overboard. Several dozen people had been reported missing and rescuers have been searching for passengers for more than three days. The bodies of 18 men, a teenager, a woman and a baby were pulled from the water. Around 300 people were believed to have been on board the ferry. More than 290 people were rescued from the vessel's smoking hull and from the sea.
Poll has duo neck and neck
A poll released on Saturday said the presidential race between Socialist legislator Segolene Royal and conservative Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy was as close as ever. The poll by Ifop said that Sarkozy and Royal would both win 28 percent if the first round vote were held now. The poll has centrist candidate Francois Bayrou in third place with 17 percent of the vote. In a runoff, the poll said Sarkozy would edge out Royal 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent.
Famed ballet dancer dies
Hungarian ballet dancer Ferenc Havas, who performed with companies in Britain, Russia and France, has died, his wife said on Saturday. He was 71. Havas died on Friday in the city of Sopron, western Hungary, his wife, Krisztina Lukacs Havas, said. Havas had been gravely ill for three years and was hospitalized in Sopron with heart and kidney ailments three weeks ago. "He suffered a great deal," Lukacs Havas said. Although based in Hungary, Havas was a guest soloist of the London Festival Ballet -- known since 1989 as the English National Ballet -- between 1960 and 1964.
Crowds protest release plan
Thousands of people waving red-and-yellow Spanish flags rallied in Madrid on Saturday to protest a court ruling that has placed one of the Basque separatist group ETA's most notorious killers on the verge of parole. The crowd screamed "murderer, murderer, murderer" as they stood in chilly weather in the protest against the Supreme Court decision in the case of hunger-striking inmate Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos. They accused the Socialist government of being soft on ETA. De Juana Chaos has been in prison since 1987 for the deaths of 25 in a series of ETA of attacks. He was on the verge of release last year when he was charged anew over articles he wrote from prison that were deemed as threats of new attacks.
■ United Kingdom
Home terror threat high
The threat of homegrown terrorists is greater now than any time since the Sept. 11 attacks in the US, a newspaper reported yesterday, citing a leaked intelligence document. More than 2,000 British-based Islamic terrorists are believed to be plotting attacks, according to a government threat assessment prepared this month, which the Sunday Telegraph said it had seen. "The scale of al-Qaeda's ambitions towards attacking the UK and the number of UK extremists prepared to participate in attacks are even greater than we previously judged," the newspaper quoted the document as saying.
Whale warning issued
Authorities want ships to slow down and watch out for whales while passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the world's busiest maritime routes. The recommendation drew praise on Saturday from environmentalists who have sought for years to prevent collisions with whales. Fast ferries especially can be a threat to endangered sperm whales, which number between 20 and 30 during the feeding season. Year round, there is a population of about 300 smaller pilot whales. Collisions are difficult to document partly because currents in the strait are so strong that when a whale gets hit it is quickly washed into the open Mediterranean. There were two collisions with sperm whales and three with fin whales between 2001-2005, according to a report by environmentalists.
■ United States
1990 murder solved
A man has been charged with the 1990 slaying of his former wife after his adult daughter told police that he confessed to killing her, authorities in Crown Point, Indiana, said. Prosecutors on Friday charged Rodney Boesel, 51, with murder in the death of Donna Boesel, then 22, said Lake County Sheriff Rogelio "Roy" Dominguez. Authorities said the confession came as Alicia Boesel, 19, was looking at a machete in his home on Wednesday. After five hours of questioning, Dominguez told detectives he had killed his wife, but did not use a knife, authorities said.
■ United States
Koreans denounce publisher
Korean-American community leaders said they plan to launch a protest against the publisher of a popular South Korean comic book that contains anti-Semitic images. One comic strip in the book shows a man climbing a hill and then facing a brick wall with a Star of David and "STOP" sign in front. "The final obstacle to success is always a fortress called Jews," a translation says. Another strip shows a newspaper, magazine, TV and radio with the description: "In a word, American public debate belongs to the Jews, and it's no exaggeration to say that US media are the voice of the Jews."
■ United States
Cheney's plane has problem
Vice President Dick Cheney's plane experienced a minor mechanical problem but was making a refueling stop in Singapore as planned yesterday, the White House said. Australian Prime Minister John Howard had said earlier that he had received a report that Cheney's plane was being diverted after it took off from Sydney, but that he did not have any details. A White House spokeswoman confirmed late on Saturday that the plane experienced a minor mechanical problem, but said it was not diverted. Instead, she said it was making a previously scheduled refueling stop in Singapore after leaving Sydney at about 5pm.
■ United States
Brown U addresses slavery
Brown University promised to raise US$10 million for local public schools and give free tuition to graduate students who pledge to work there in response to a report that found slave labor played a role in the university's beginnings. The university will also explore creating an academic center on slavery and justice, strengthen its Africana Studies Department, begin planning for a slavery memorial and revise its official history to provide a more accurate account of the school's early years. The report was issued last fall by a committee that was instructed in 2003 to study the university's early relationship with slavery and recommend how the school should take responsibility.
■ United States
Memorial to be rebuilt
A US$52 million project is planned to renovate and rebuild the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center in Honolulu, which commemorates the 1941 Japanese attack on Hawaii's Pearl Harbor that thrust the US into World War II. The current center is on unstable ground and slowly sinking below the ocean water in the harbor. "We think it's got maybe the life of another five or six years and then it's got to go," said Jonathan Jarvis, regional director of the National Park Service. The Park Service plans to raise the money through private donations and hopes to reopen the center by Dec. 7, 2009, the 68th anniversary of the attack.
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
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
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent