Four detained after accident
Four people were detained after a horrific accident in which more than 25 tonnes of molten steel engulfed a room where workers were changing shift, killing at least 32, state media said yesterday. An industrial ladle was moving into the pouring position at the plant in the northeastern province of Liaoning when it sheared off an iron rail, spewing out its 1,500oC contents. "The liquid metal engulfed the room, bursting through the door and windows and burying the workers," the China Daily said of Wednesday's tragedy at a plant belonging to the Qinghe Special Steel Co Ltd.
Riot police calm tensions
Riot police stepped in to calm political tensions yesterday after rival factions hurled bottles, stones and abuse at each other as the nation geared up for a possible early general election. In heavy rain, thousands of supporters of the ruling coalition and of opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim traded insults in the small town of Ijok outside the capital where a by-election will be held next week. Police moved in to keep the peace after about 2,000 Anwar supporters confronted a pro-government crowd of about 5,000, accusing the coalition of corruption and raising living costs.
Mock elections to be staged
As the isolated Himalayan kingdom prepares for historic elections, many of the 100,000 refugees languishing outside the country are appealing for the chance to return and take part. On Saturday, the kingdom takes a big step towards ending a century of absolute royal rule by staging a mock election, a dress rehearsal with dummy parties, for the real thing in 2008. But this version of democracy will be a tightly controlled affair, critics say.
Celebrity cub gets guards
Polar bear cub Knut has received an anonymous death threat, causing alarm at Berlin Zoo yesterday and prompting heightened security. The police said they did not believe the threat was serious. The top-selling Bild newspaper said the zoo had received a hand-written fax from a suspected animal hater with the words: "Knut is dead! Thursday midday." It said the zoo had tripled the number of Knut's minders to 15. Bild published a picture of a security guard in civilian clothes guarding Knut from behind a rock.
Arab League picks duo
The Arab League chose Egypt and Jordan to take the lead in approaching Israel to promote the Saudi-drafted peace plan. Arab countries are hoping to pitch the plan as a basis for resuming peace negotiations with Israel. The initiative calls for Israel to withdraw from lands seized in 1967 and negotiate a fair solution to the refugee issue in return for full recognition of Israel by all Arab countries. Jordan and Egypt would try to "initiate direct talks" with Israel and "call on the Israeli government and all Israelis to accept the Arab peace initiative," the Saudi foreign minister said.
Nazi-era heroine honored
An 86-year-old former teacher who risked her life to save more than 300 Jewish children from the Nazis in Belgium was granted honorary Israeli citizenship at an emotional ceremony where she was reunited with dozens of the people she rescued. "What I did was merely my duty. Disobeying the laws of the time was just the normal thing to do," Andree Geulen-Herscovici said softly in French on Wednesday in accepting the honor. Geulen-Herscovici was a teacher in Brussels in 1942 when she witnessed a Gestapo raid on a school, prompted her to join a rescue organization for children.
Bombing footage aired
Television on Wednesday aired for the first time footage of a bombing on an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and minute preparations leading up to the widely condemned attack. The 90-minute film directed by Nir Toyb showed how the secret service and the army planned the attack and prepared the pilots for any eventuality, then showed the actual June 7, 1981, raid on the Tammouz reactor, west of Baghdad. Tammouz was believed to be key to an Iraqi nuclear bomb program. The attack was condemned internationally.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Dementia patients in focus
Science and Innovation Minister Malcolm Witts suggested on Wednesday that satellites could be used to track people suffering from dementia. Witts told a parliamentary committee that satellite tracking could allow people such as Alzheimer's disease patients to move freely -- while ensuring they were being supervised. More than 700,000 suffer from dementia nationwide, the Alzheimer's Society said.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Sex `theme park' opens
An adults-only sexual "theme park" opened on Wednesday in London, promising to help visitors improve their sex lives. Amora -- which promotes itself as a "love and relationships academy" -- is located on Piccadilly Circus, across from the statue of Eros, the Greek god of love. Amora features interactive exhibits exploring aspects of sexual relationships ranging from flirting to fetishes.
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