■ HONG KONG
Thaksin `buys' property
Ousted Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra has purchased a HK$210 million (US$27 million) townhouse on the Peak -- an exclusive Hong Kong neighborhood that's home to tycoons, celebrities and diplomats, the Standard newspaper reported yesterday. The buyer's name was not made public, but the newspaper quoted three unidentified sources close to the deal as saying Thaksin bought the 474m2 property, called "House 1 at Severn 8." Thaksin has visited Hong Kong a few times since being ousted in a bloodless coup last September. The Thai government has frozen more than 52 billion baht (US$1.6 billion) of his assets.
Storm death toll hits 125
Emergency workers continued their gruesome search for bodies in southeastern Chittagong yesterday as the death toll from landslides and storms rose to at least 125, officials said. The search was being concentrated on two sites in the seaport city where residents said shanty houses were completely engulfed in mud. Officials said 114 bodies had been recovered from under the mud, while 10 people also died in lightning strikes during severe storms in four districts across the country, and one more person was electrocuted in floodwaters. Rains which had hampered the search for victims has now stopped and floodwater has receded from most parts of the city.
Thirteen jailed over Jilin fire
Thirteen people have been jailed for their part in a fire at a Jilin Province hospital that killed 37 patients and relatives, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Ninety-five people were also injured in the December 2005 blaze at the four-story City Central Hospital, which occurred after the building's electrical system caught fire. Among the convicted were five hospital officials, including the facility's president, who was sentenced to one year, as well as the workers who installed the substandard cables, one of whom was sentenced to seven years, Xinhua said. The offenders faced charges ranging from neglecting their duties to the production and sale of substandard products.
■ HONG KONG
Cockroaches can learn
Cockroaches have a memory and can be taught to salivate in response to neutral stimuli in the way that Pavlov's dogs would do when the famed Russian doctor rang his bell, Japanese researchers found. Such "conditioning" can only take place when there is memory and learning, and this salivating response had only previously been proven in humans and dogs. Writing in the latest edition of the online journal Public Library of Science, the researchers said they hoped to learn more about the human brain by exploring what goes on in the simpler brain of the cockroach.
Man attacked with swordfish
Two assailants broke into a man's trailer and attacked him with a swordfish snout in the eastern city of Bundaberg yesterday, leaving the victim with cuts to his arms, back and hands, Queensland state police said. The victim, who was not identified, claimed the two suspects assaulted him with the serrated, sword-like bill during a home invasion, police said. Paramedics treated the man for his injuries. It was not clear where the alleged attackers found the swordfish snout, or how big it was. Police said they were not investigating the incident because the man had withdrawn his complaint.
Strike blocks newspapers
Millions of readers were deprived of their morning newspaper yesterday as a printers' strike blocked the distribution of all national dailies. The strike was called by the printing and distribution branch of the Communist-backed CGT union following a dispute over annual pay negotiations for the sector. The press owners' group SPQN firmly condemned the decision to call a strike four days before the second round of parliamentary elections, saying it "deprives readers of particularly vital information in this electoral period." It accused the union of resorting to "tactics based on an archaic view of labor relations."
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Duchess to sit for sculptors
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will join the royal family at Madame Tussauds, more than two years after she married Prince Charles, the London waxworks museum said on Tuesday. Camilla, who married the heir to the throne on April 9, 2005, has agreed to sit for sculptors. The wax model should be ready later this year. She will join Charles and Princes William and Harry -- his sons by his first wife Diana, princess of Wales -- in the refurbished royal zone. "The Duchess of Cornwall is really pleased to be coming in to sit for us," said Madame Tussauds' Ben Lovett.
■ UNITED STATES
Pants case judge gets teary
A judge in Washington who is suing a South Korean immigrant dry cleaner for US$54 million over his lost trousers left the courtroom in tears on Tuesday after saying he was acting in the interest of all the city's residents against what he says are poor business practices. Administrative law judge Roy Pearson first sued Custom Cleaners over a pair of pants that went missing two years ago. The bulk of the original demand came from Pearson's strict interpretation of the city's consumer protection law, which imposes fines of US$1,500 per violation, per day. Pearson counted 12 violations over 1,200 days, then multiplied that by three defendants.
■ UNITED STATES
Released man still in jail
A man sentenced to prison for 10 years for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 will stay there for at least three more weeks despite a judge's ruling on Monday that he should be released, his lawyer said on Tuesday. Genarlow Wilson's attorney had been seeking a quick hearing in a court in Douglas County, Georgia, even though the district attorney there has said he opposes such a move. But Judge David Emerson ruled on Tuesday that the hearing would be held on July 5. "It's a long ways away, especially when we just had a judge say he could be released," Bernstein said.
■ UNITED STATES
Drug seller goofs up
A 14-year-old boy in Gulfport, Florida, who apparently dialed a really, really wrong number has been arrested on drug charges. Authorities said the boy offered to sell drugs to the person he dialed, who happened to be a police detective. Detective Matt Parks arranged to meet the teen in a school parking lot to buy 28.3g of marijuana and some crack cocaine, a police report said. When the boy showed up on Sunday, he was charged with possession of 18g of marijuana with intent to distribute within 305m of a school. Detectives said the boy, whose name was not released, likely dialed a random number looking for a customer.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a