Tour guide goes on rampage
A knife-wielding Chinese tour guide wounded 20 people, including 15 tourists, in a rampage in the world-renowned scenic southern mountain town of Lijiang, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. The multiple stabbings occurred on Sunday and left two of the victims in serious conditions, it said. Xu Minchao, a tour group operator from Jilin Province, was arrested at the scene and was being interrogated, Xinhua said. It said the tourists were all from China. Lijiang is a UN World Heritage site because of its historic cobblestoned "old town" district and dramatic mountain scenery.
Weather causes chaos
Flooding and an avalanche have killed at least 51 people and destroyed hundreds of homes over the last 11 days following warm weather and heavy spring rains across much of the country, officials said. Daykundi Province Governor Sultan Ali Uruzgani said all the province's districts are flooded after heavy hail and rain storms on Thursday and Friday, and that the region was struck by an avalanche on Saturday. In total, 31 people have died in the province from the avalanche and flooding over the last 10 days, Uruzgani said late on Sunday.
No time for sex
Stress is taking a toll on city residents' sex lives, with 30 percent of middle-aged couples having no intimate relations, according to a survey published in the China Daily yesterday. The survey of nearly 33,000 people in 10 cities found that relentless pressure from families and jobs was having a major impact on the sex lives of both new and old couples. Thirty percent of middle-aged couples have given up on sex altogether as a result of physical or psychological problems related to stress, the report said. One quarter of couples aged under 30 reported similar problems. The survey, conducted by a US pharmaceutical firm and the Beijing-based China Population Communication Center, also found 45 percent of men in relationships suffered from erectile dysfunction.
Moonlighting on the rise
Hundreds of thousands of low-income civil servants are moonlighting in second jobs to make ends meet, including many who work as taxi drivers, the Star newspaper reported yesterday. The newspaper quoted Omar Osman, president of a government workers' union, as saying that about 800,000 of its 2.1 million members have taken up additional jobs. "The stumbling block is that workers are not paid accordingly," Omar, head of the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Service, or Cuepacs, was quoted as saying. Cuepacs is pressing the government for a 10 percent to 40 percent increase in salary scales and hopes that a favorable decision can be announced on Labor Day, the newspaper said. The last salary revision was 15 years ago, Omar said.
■ NEW ZEALAND
Group targets Easter bunny
Environment Canterbury is targeting the Easter bunny in a renewed war against one of the country's worst natural pests. The South Island group wants people to come up with an alternative Easter symbol as part of a campaign to highlight the damage caused by rabbits. "They're like an environmental curse," Mark Oldfield of Environment Canterbury said. "We did have a similar competition a number of years ago and we came up with the Easter Kiwi."
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Release Johnston: writers
Some 300 journalists yesterday called for the release of British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) correspondent Alan Johnston, abducted in the Gaza Strip three weeks ago. The appeal came in a full-page advertisement in the Guardian newspaper signed by many well-known journalists, including veteran interviewer David Frost, host David Dimbleby and BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman and by the editors of several national newspapers. Johnston, 44, was kidnapped from his car by masked gunmen on March 12.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Human heart part grown
A British research team has grown part of a human heart from stem cells for the first time, the Guardian newspaper reported yesterday. Animal trials are planned for later this year and, if successful, replacement tissue could be used in transplants for people suffering from heart disease within three years, it said. "The common pathway of death and suffering is heart failure," said leading heart surgeon professor Magdi Yacoub who is heading the research team. "Reversing heart failure could have a major impact."
Katsav faces more charges
The attorney general said on Sunday he intended to indict President Moshe Katsav, who is on leave of absence, on a second rape charge. The decision was taken after Katsav was questioned for three hours by police last week over a new complaint filed by a former employee of the tourism ministry he once headed, Menahem Mazuz's office said in a statement. The 61-year-old Katsav took a leave of absence from his largely ceremonial post in late January after the attorney general said he intended to indict him on a range of charges, including rape, sexual harassment, abuse of power, breach of trust and accepting bribes.
Military cedes air control
The military agreed to relinquish control of the nation's air traffic control system, bowing to demands from disgruntled controllers who brought air travel to a near halt this weekend by walking off the job. The Air Force said in a statement late on Saturday that it would cede control to a new civilian agency that will answer to the defense ministry. Under the new system, the Air Force will remain in charge of defending the nation's air space from potential threats but air traffic controllers will no longer be subordinated to the military. The change will allow for higher salaries and more flexible workdays. It was unclear when the new civilian agency would take over air traffic control.
■ UNITED KINGDOm
Inmate sues phone firm
A long-term prisoner has launched an attempt in the high court to stop BT charging inmates more than five times the national call box rate for phone calls, claiming it breaches human rights. The action, which began last Thursday, has the backing of the prisons ombudsman, the chief inspector of prisons and reformers. Critics say the charges fly in the face of the Home Office's commitment to maintaining ties between prisoners and their families. It has also emerged that the British Prison Service receives a 10 percent commission from BT from the sale of phone credits to inmates. The application for a judicial review of the practice is being brought by lawyers acting for Richard Davison, a prisoner who is serving 12 years for drug offenses at Emley jail.
■ UNITED STATES
Clown finds his `bitty bike'
A star circus clown got his custom-made mini-bike back on Sunday, a few days after it went missing on a Manhattan street. Bello Nock, the star daredevil clown of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, had made pleas in the media for the return of the 30cm-high, 5cm-wide contraption, and a US$1,000 reward was offered. Rickey Robinson found the "bitty bike" outside a restaurant on Friday night on Manhattan's west side, not far from Madison Square Garden, where the circus is performing. Bello lost the bike on Friday when he and other clowns were doing an impromptu street show.
■ UNITED STATES
Fire destroys synagogue
A fire destroyed the synagogue and residence of a senior rabbi of an anti-Zionist Jewish group whose members attended an Iran-sponsored conference late last year that debated the occurrence of the Holocaust. The Ramapo police and fire investigators said the blaze in Monsey, New York, on Sunday night was considered suspicious because the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group, Neturei Karta, has been the target of threats, the Journal News reported on its Web site. Police would not confirm that the blaze was considered suspicious. A crime scene was established at the synagogue and arson investigators were looking into the cause, Monsey Fire Chief Douglas Perry said. Weiss said that the group suspects arson because of previous threats.
■ UNITED STATES
Mother tries to solicit child
A 33-year-old Taylor, Michigan, woman was arraigned on Sunday on charges alleging she offered to let an undercover investigator take pornographic photos of her seven-year-old daughter and have sex with the girl, authorities said. The woman was arrested on Friday after taking the girl to a hotel in Romulus, near Detroit Metropolitan Airport, where she had agreed to meet the investigator, the Wayne County sheriff's department said. A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of the woman, who was not represented by a lawyer at the arraignment, department spokesman John Roach said. She was held in lieu of US$1 million, and an examination was scheduled for April 12.
■ UNITED KINGdOM
Falklands statement issued
The British government said it regretted the deaths on both sides in the 1982 Falklands war, and invited relatives of fallen Argentine soldiers to hold a private memorial service on the islands. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett released a statement ahead of yesterday's 25th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falklands, a British South Atlantic colony about 600km off the South American mainland. The invasion on April 2, 1982, sparked a 10-week war in which some 650 Argentine troops, more than 250 British personnel and three islanders were killed.
■ UNITED KINGdOM
Entire kitchen stolen
A British holidaymaker returned to his home in central England to find that thieves had stolen everything in his kitchen, quite literally stealing the sink, his home insurance company said yesterday. Burglars had broken into James Elstub's Dewsbury home while he was vacationing in Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the US, and stripped his kitchen, taking his oven, all the wall units, and the sink. "I can't believe I returned home from my holiday to find burglars had stolen my kitchen sink," Elstub said, adding that he had to endure two weeks of microwave meals.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear