Aboriginal musician dies
A pioneer of Aboriginal rock music, who inspired the unofficial national anthem My Island Home that closed the Sydney 2000 Olympics, will be buried this week on his own island home off Australia's northern wilderness. George Burarrawanga, 50, the lead singer of the seminal indigenous Warumpi Band, died of cancer in his family home surrounded by his Gumatj clan on June 10. His humor and ego remained healthy to the end, according to the media statement he left for his managers to release. "The King of Rock `n' Roll is gone, the leader of the Warumpi Band has died today," it said.
Russian beaten to death
A Russian man was beaten to death and his companion injured when four Chinese youths allegedly attacked them outside a Beijing bar, state press reported yesterday. The killing took place early on Saturday morning outside the city's trendy Banana Club, the Beijing News said. Witnesses said the two Russian men ran out of the club chased by the four youths, the paper said. The Russian embassy has identified the man, but did not release his name. Police are currently investigating the incident.
Two arrested over cables
Two more people have been arrested after fishermen dragged up seafloor fiber-optic cables, threatening to sever the country's global telecommunication links, a news report said yesterday. Police on Saturday arrested Nguyen Thi Bich Phuong, the owner of a small fishing fleet, and a second suspect, for "destroying important equipment and means of national security," the Communist Party's newspaper Nhan Dan reported. Ten people are now being held for dragging the cables, in the mistaken belief they were old copper lines that could be sold for scrap, the report said. It will cost at least US$5.8 million to repair the active sections of high-tech cable that have been destroyed.
Slave labor investigated
Six officials and police officers in Shanxi Province are being investigated for allegedly shirking their duties in connection with a growing slave labor scandal that has shocked the country, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The six in Hongtong Country include policemen, officials from the local land and resources office and the local industry and commerce office, Xinhua said. Hundreds of children and adults were forced to work long hours in grueling conditions without pay in 15 separate cases of slavery at brick kilns.
Police arrest Mafia bosses
Police on Saturday arrested nine suspected Mafia bosses, who authorities feared were plotting to kill small-time thieves poaching on their territory in Sicily, local media reported. Among those captured in the morning raids by paramilitary Carabinieri police was Tommaso Cannella, the reputed clan boss in the town of Prizzi, near Corleone, ANSA and state TV reported from Palermo. Intercepted phone conversations indicated the suspects were angered that criminals outside the Mafia were carrying out thefts on local businesses, TV news reports said, citing investigators.
■ Gaza Strip
Kidnappers fear Hamas
The kidnappers of British reporter Alan Johnston fear they will be harmed if they release him now that Hamas is in control of Gaza, despite assurances otherwise, a senior Hamas official said. Mahmoud Zahar, a hardline Hamas leader, has been overseeing negotiations with the Army of Islam, which claims to hold the BBC correspondent. Johnston was snatched from a Gaza City street on March 12. "The kidnappers are afraid, afraid," Zahar said in a lecture at a Gaza mosque on Saturday.
■ IVORY COAST
Waste victims reject offer
Victims of deadly toxic waste dumped around Abidjan last year, killing 16 and making thousands ill, rejected on Saturday a compensation offer from President Laurent Gbagbo and demanded to meet him. Millions of US dollars are due to be paid next week to victims who suffered breathing problems, vomiting and diarrhea after slops were unloaded from a ship chartered by Dutch-based oil trader Trafigura and dumped in open-air sites last August. But Denis Papira Yao, head of the Fenavidet-CI umbrella organization of waste victims' associations, said they found the offer of US$408 per non-hospitalized victim "an insult."
Dead birds found with H5N1
Authorities posted caution signs around two Bavarian lakes on Saturday after seven dead birds tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus, the first cases reported in the country this year. Authorities in Nuremberg warned people to keep their dogs leashed and stay away from waterfowl after five swans, one duck and one goose all tested positive for H5N1. The Consumer Affairs Ministry said the results of further tests were expected within a few days. The additional tests were being done by the Friedrich-Loeffler Institut, which has dealt with most of the country's previous H5N1 cases.
Rushdie `fatwa' stands
The foreign ministry said yesterday that a fatwa ordering the death of British writer Salman Rushdie issued by its revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini still stands after his knighthood by the queen. "The stance of the Islamic Republic of Iran with regard to this issue has not changed from what was put forward by the Imam Khomeini," ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters. The Indian-born Rushdie, 59, was forced to go into hiding for a decade after Khomeini issued the 1989 death sentence over his book The Satanic Verses, saying it insulted Islam. Khomeini's successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in January 2005 he still believed the novelist's killing would be authorized by Islam.
Oil strike called off
Unions called off a crippling strike in Africa's top oil producer on Saturday after the government agreed to freeze fuel prices for a year, both sides said in a statement. The four-day-old general strike had halted most economic activity in Africa's most populous nation, but vital exports of crude oil were not affected. "The general strike is suspended with effect from midnight," said a joint statement issued by unions and the government. Earlier on Saturday, the government sweetened its offer of reducing gasoline prices by five naira to 70 naira (US$0.55) per liter by agreeing to freeze it at that level for a year.
School naming debated
Students could soon be graduating from "Taco Bell High" or "Wal-Mart Public School" if trustees go ahead with a scheme to sell school naming rights to corporations to raise extra funds. The proposal has pitted members of the cash-strapped Ottawa-Carleton District School Board with public education advocacy groups who fear it would jeopardize universal education. "No one wants to go to Taco Bell High," Ellen Dickson, chair of the Ottawa Carleton Assembly of School Councils, told the daily Ottawa Citizen. But proponents say it would help eliminate growing budget deficits at many school boards, hit by rising enrollment and cuts in provincial funding.
Army and militants clash
Ten people were killed in overnight clashes between the army and Fatah al-Islam militants in the port city of Tripoli, including six Islamists, an army spokesman said yesterday. Apart from the Islamist fighters, two civilians, one soldier and a policeman died in a firefight which erupted after the army raided the apartment of a militant late on Saturday, he said. "The army has found the bodies of six Islamists inside an apartment building in Abu Samra," the spokesman said. "They were killed in clashes with our soldiers in which small arms and medium-sized weapons were used." The fighting began when militants opened up with automatic weapons on an army jeep in Abu Samra, killing one soldier.
■ UNITED STATES
Baby girl born outside tunnel
A baby girl was delivered yesterday morning outside the Queens Midtown Tunnel in New York City, with four MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers assisting in the birth, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said. The infant's father, calling for help, had pulled up minutes earlier at a checkpoint for truck inspection on the Queens side of the tunnel, said MTA spokeswoman Catherine Sweeney. MTA Bridge & Tunnel Officer Thomas Goettelmann, a former emergency medical technician and volunteer fireman, assisted the mother in delivering the baby along with three other officers.
Wanted Rwandan arrested
A former Rwandan government official wanted for his role in the nation's 1994 genocide was taken into custody at a Paris airport after Interpol helped coordinate his arrest, the international police agency said Saturday. US immigration officials realized Isaac Kamali was wanted in Rwanda for genocide and crimes against humanity after he arrived in the US carrying a valid French passport, the Lyon, France-based Interpol said. Kamali's name had popped up during a check of Interpol's database of internationally wanted suspects.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
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”