Man protests with suicide
A man doused himself in kerosene and burnt himself to death in an apparent protest over the compensation he received for his demolished home, state media reported yesterday. Lu Erxiang, who was allegedly drunk, killed himself on Wednesday at the site of his former home in Chaohu City, Anhui Province, as more buildings were being knocked down to make way for a shopping mall, the Jianghuai Morning Post said. A police officer who tried to stop him also caught fire and was still being treated for burn injuries, according to the paper. Lu had signed an agreement about compensation with the property developer in October, but wanted more.
Missile test successful
Yesterday the government tested its longest-range nuclear-capable missile, the Agni III, which has a range of more than 3,000km, a scientist said. The launch of Agni, which means "fire" in Sanskrit, came after a failed test last July when the missile plunged into the Bay of Bengal after take-off. "The test launch has been successful but the final results will be known four hours later -- whether it met all the parameters," a scientist at the site on Wheeler island off India's eastern coast said. India, which has around 100 to 150 nuclear warheads, is developing a range of missiles including the Agni series as part of a defense strategy against neighbors China and Pakistan.
Activists want resignation
Thousands of protesters demanding that the country's president resign camped in the capital's main square yesterday, threatening political upheaval. The protest drew about 6,000 activists to a plaza square near the presidential headquarters on Wednesday, and the opposition vowed to at least double the number and to stay on until President Kurmanbek Bakiyev resigns. Bakiyev, who came to power himself following a popular street revolution two years ago, sought to head off the protest by signing constitutional amendments curtailing his power on Tuesday. The opposition, however, rejected his move and rallied the protesters to Bishkek's Ala Too square.
President may cancel trip
President Gloria Arroyo said yesterday she may cancel her official visit to China following her husband's heart surgery. Arroyo told reporters she was reviewing whether to go ahead with the visit, but gave no further details. "I'm still consulting with the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs]," she said when asked if she was planning to cancel her trip, scheduled from April 20-25. Cabinet members have said the president's trip to China would depend on her husband's recovery. Arroyo briefly left the hospital yesterday where her husband is confined for a meeting at the presidential palace, but returned a few hours later.
Wife tattooed by husband
A man who suspected his wife of infidelity gagged her, tied her to a bed with ropes and tattooed her arms, breasts and abdomen in order to "teach her a lesson," court documents showed yesterday. The 45-year-old man was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and six strokes of the cane by a Singapore court on Wednesday, a court official said yesterday. A friend who had helped the man to restrain and tattoo the 33-year-old woman is still at large, the court official said.
Diver dies in accident
Record-breaking French free-diver Loic Leferme died in an accident on Wednesday while training in the Mediterranean Sea, a statement posted on his Web site said. Leferme, 36, was training off the southeastern town of Villefranche-sur-Mer when his system of counterweights failed, the statement said. He dove to 170m and was resurfacing when the accident happened, the statement said. Leferme was unconscious when he was brought to the surface. He was evacuated to neighboring Nice, where emergency workers tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him for 45 minutes. Leferme broke the world record for free-diving in 2004 with his unassisted dive of 171m.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Movers drop grand piano
A moving crew showed that moving grand pianos was not their forte by dropping a £26,000 (US$38,000) instrument off the back of a truck, media reported on Wednesday. The 4m long Bosendorfer concert grand was being delivered to the Two Moors Musical Festival in Devon, where locals had spent two years raising the money to buy it. Festival organizer Penny Adie was taking photographs of the piano's eagerly-anticipated arrival for the event's archive when the ivories tinkled to the ground. "It made a noise like 10 honky-tonk pianos being hit by mallets," she told the Daily Telegraph. "Half a ton of piano landing like that must have had a catastrophic effect on its workings," she said.
Venom tested as cure
Researchers in Haifa are looking into whether venom from spiders, including the deadly black widow, could help cure impotency, the Yediot Aharonot reported yesterday. The research was launched after observations that some men bitten by spiders "suffered from prolonged erections," the mass-selling daily said. "This is the first research of its kind and could help a great number of men," the paper said. Among the spiders beings studied are the black widow, the female spider who is known for sometimes eating her mate after copulation, as well as two other arachnids that can be found in Africa and South America, it said. The research is being carried out by the urology department at Rambam Hospital in the northern city of Haifa.
Seabed restoration planned
The government said on Wednesday it would earmark around 500 million kronor (US$72 million) over three years to help restore damaged Baltic and North sea environments. Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren and EU Affairs Minister, Cecilia Malmstrom, outlined the plan in an opinion article in a Stockholm daily. It will include projects to re-oxygenize seabeds and recreate natural marine migration paths for various fish species. The plan will be presented in the public spring budget next week.
Sailors' story to be filmed
Tehran beat Hollywood to the mark by pledging to recount the entire 13-day affair of the British naval captives in a film. A book will also tell the story of the British sailors, accounts that are likely to dwell on the hospitality and fun they had, rather than the imprisonment and isolation, Iran's armed forces headquarters said. Tehran said the idea was hatched partly as a riposte to the sailors' selling their stories to the British media, which was greeted with bewilderment in Iran.
■ UNITED STATES
Anchor rocked by plagiarism
A pillar of the media establishment took a knock yesterday on Wednesday with an admission of plagiarism in a video essay attributed to the CBS anchor Katie Couric. Couric's producer was sacked and her network obliged to apologize for the incident which occurred in a commentary called Katie's Notebook, which purported to be a personal essay from the anchor and was posted on her blog. Couric was horrified to learn of the plagiarism, press reports said yesterday. The piece on the joys of getting her first library card as a child relied heavily on a column that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last month.
■ UNITED STATES
Flu vaccine breakthrough
A flu vaccine grown in caterpillar cells instead of the usual risky and uncertain method based on chicken eggs is not only safe but effective in people, researchers reported on Tuesday. They said their findings suggest a possible short-cut to making flu vaccines, focusing on a single protein in the flu virus. John Treanor of the University of Rochester in New York, who led the study, believes the vaccine may be quicker and easier to make than current vaccines and might help create a bigger supply of vaccines to fight the common seasonal flu as well as a future pandemic.
Anteater attacks zookeeper
An anteater attacked a young zookeeper, ripping open the woman's abdomen and legs with its long claws and leaving her in critical condition, a doctor said on Wednesday. The female anteater apparently attacked her keeper at a Buenos Aires-area zoo to protect her offspring. The unusual attack damaged the zookeeper's stomach, liver and lungs, said Jose Potito, director of the hospital where the woman was being treated. "The woman's condition is very serious," Potito told local TV channel America. Anteaters, which can measure up to 2.8m long and weigh as much as 50kg, are usually not aggressive, but their long, knife-like claws can do serious damage to predators when they defend themselves.
■ UNITED STATES
Six killed in snowstorm
Hundreds of flights were grounded, a major league baseball game was canceled and six people were killed in accidents on icy roads as yet another spring snowstorm hit the upper Midwest. North Dakota and South Dakota both suffered about 18cm of snow on Wednesday. More than 500 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport because of poor visibility, said city aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham. Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport also had delays and cancellations. Six people were killed in two separate accidents in Iowa, including a woman and her two children when their minivan crashed in the south-central region.
Burning ship abandoned
A raging fire aboard a navy icebreaker forced all 296 crew and passengers to abandon ship in the South Atlantic, where they spent hours in lifeboats awaiting rescue by an oil tanker and fishing vessels, the military said on Wednesday. The fire broke out in the Almirante Irizar's generator compartment late on Tuesday, and Captain Guillermo Tarapow ordered all aboard to abandon ship in 24 lifeboats when the flames became uncontrollable. An oil tanker and two fishing vessels rushed to the area and, within hours, plucked people from most of the lifeboats drifting off the remote Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting