Bombs wound seven
Seven people were wounded in two separate bomb explosions yesterday in Assam state in attacks linked to the upcoming independence day celebrations, police said. A police spokesman said the first blast happened near a bus terminus in the heart of Sivasagar, about 370km east of Assam's main city of Guwahati. The second explosion occurred outside a police station at Sonari, about 40km west of Sivasagar. "Six people, all civilians, were injured in Sonari and one person was wounded in the Sivasagar blast," Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, deputy inspector-general of police in the region, said.
■ NORTH KOREA
Official publicly executed
A trade official was publicly executed for chopping down and smuggling "slogan trees" on which founding leader Kim Il-sung reputedly carved messages, a report said yesterday. Senior timber trader Oh Mun-hyok was shot dead, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources. Government and trade officials were forced to watch the execution in Yonsa, it said.
■ SRI LANKA
Three die in clashes
Government troops clashed with separatist Tamil Tigers in the volatile north, killing three rebels, the military said yesterday. The clash took place late on Saturday in the northern district of Vavuniya, which borders rebel-controlled territory, an official at the Defense Ministry information center said on condition of anonymity in line with policy. He said army troops confirmed that three insurgents were killed in the fighting while the army suffered no casualties.
Fat corpses creating hazards
More than two-thirds of people living outside major cities are overweight or obese, and extremely obese corpses are creating a safety hazard at mortuaries, according to two studies released yesterday. Pathologists are calling for new "heavy-duty" autopsy facilities to cope with obese corpses that are difficult to move and dangerously heavy for standard-size trolleys and lifting hoists. The bodies presented "major logistical problems" and "significant occupational health and safety issues," according to a separate study, which found the number of obese and morbidly obese bodies had doubled in the past 20 years.
Food stalls near toilets axed
Food stalls attached to Beijing's public toilets will be removed in good time for next year's Olympics, state media said on Saturday. Complaints about toilets with poor sanitation and toilet operators turning them into commercial operations led to the ban, which comes into force in October. "It is not proper to sell soft drinks or snacks right at the toilets," the Beijing News said, citing sources within the Beijing Municipal Administration Commission. "The city authorities also plan to publish a toilet guide, provide toilet information over the telephone and the Internet and erect more road signs to help toilet users."
Workers trapped in tunnel
Fifty-two workers were trapped early yesterday when a torrent of mud and water engulfed a rail tunnel under construction in the central part of the country, state media reported. Rescue teams managed to free 35 of the workers building the tunnel in Hubei Province and the remaining 17 trapped about 200m below ground would soon be freed, the new agency added. Earlier reports said 38 workers were trapped in the accident Heavy rains have triggered severe flooding and mudslides across many areas of the central part of the country in recent weeks. According to Xinhua news agency, 78 people died and 18 are still missing after three days of downpours set off flash floods in Henan Province in the past week.
■ HONG KONG
BRUCELEE plate bought
A Bruce Lee fan has paid HK$40,000 (US$5,100) on a car license plate bearing the name of the legendary martial arts film star, local media reported yesterday. The "BRUCELEE" license plate was sold at an auction by the transport department, the Sunday Morning Post reported. The bidder said he would have paid up to HK$1 million for the plate, but would consult with Lee's widow before deciding what to do with it, according to the report. Lee was born in the US but his fame grew from Hong Kong where he made movies including Fist of Fury on his way to worldwide superstardom.
Thief forced to eat bananas
Police forced a thief to gobble down 40 bananas in a few hours, hoping they would force him to excrete a gold necklace he had snatched and swallowed. Sheikh Mohsin, 35, grabbed the 45,000-rupee (US$1,115) necklace from a woman in the eastern city of Kolkata on Friday and popped it into his mouth when police and local residents caught him. "He denied swallowing it at all, but an X-ray conducted in a hospital revealed the necklace was very much in his stomach," Ajay Kumar, a leading city detective, said. Mohsin visited the lavatory three times early on Saturday and was also forced to vomit but the necklace has failed to appear.
Road accident kills four
A tourist bus collided with a truck on Saturday, killing one Spanish woman and three Egyptians and wounding 37 Spanish tourists, a police official said. The bus was traveling from the southern city of Aswan to the ancient Abu Simbel temple near the Sudanese border when the truck slammed into it, the official said. The truck driver, his assistant and the bus tour guide were killed along with the Spanish tourist, according to the official. The wounded tourists were transferred to Aswan hospital for treatment, he added.
Gene flaws linked to cancer
Flaws in a key gene called LKB1 help lung cancers develop swiftly into dangerous, metastasizing tumors, a paper released yesterday by the British journal Nature says. LKB1 has previously been identified as helping the body to suppress cancer. Mutations that disabled this gene were found in patients with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, which boosts the risk of cancer, and in human lung cancers classified as squamous carcinomas. The telltale variants could help predict how cancer will develop in a patient and also open up pathways for new drugs, according to the study, led by Kwok-Kin Wong of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.
■ GAZA STRIP
One killed in air strike
A Palestinian militant from Islamic Jihad was killed on Saturday and two seriously wounded in an Israeli air strike targeting a car in the south of the Gaza Strip, medical sources said. Three air-to-ground missiles were fired at armed men in a vehicle at Rafah by the Egyptian border, witnesses said. Ten others, including people traveling in a nearby car and passersby, were also wounded. The dead militant was identified as 25-year-old Hisham Al Djamal. The Israeli army confirmed the attack and said the car was carrying explosives destined to be used in an "imminent" attack on Israel.
Explosives found in desert
Police have found 500kg of explosives buried near a central desert village in the Sinai Peninsula, a police officer said yesterday. Captain Mohammed Badr of the northern Sinai police force said a tip from local Bedouins regarding alleged drug smuggling led officials to discover explosives packed in 10 plastic sacks near Gifgafa, a village located about 80km south of El-Arish. Wide parts of the Sinai desert are used for drug and weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Last month, police found more than 1,200kg of TNT explosives buried in the northern desert.
New monitoring to come
President Robert Mugabe has approved a law that will give the government sweeping powers to monitor the Internet and mobile and fixed telephones in a country where the independent press has been gagged. The official Herald newspaper said on Saturday that the Interception of Communications Act would allow the government to "sift for information it deems subversive or used for organized crime." The law allows "certain communications to be intercepted or monitored in the course of their transmission through telecommunications or the postal service and sets up a monitoring and interception center," it said.
■ UNITED STATES
Obama rebuts critics
Senator Barack Obama hit back at critics who said he lacks foreign policy experience to be president and said on Saturday many of those critics voted for the war in Iraq. "It amuses me how some folks in Washington have been talking about: `Well, we're not sure that Obama's got enough experience in foreign policy,'" he said in a speech. "These same folks who are talking about a lack of experience are the same folks who joined up with [US President] George [W.] Bush and said this [the war in Iraq] was a good idea, that somehow we were going to be made safer, that we are going to be greeted as liberators, that are going to create a democracy in Iraq," he said.
■ UNITED STATES
Agent's wife may visit Iran
Iran's Foreign Ministry said yesterday it would consider allowing the wife of a US man who allegedly vanished in Iran earlier this year to visit the Islamic country to search for him. "The request has not officially been relayed to us yet. If it is conveyed, we will review it," ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters. On Thursday, Christine Levinson, the wife of missing former FBI agent Robert Levinson, said she was planning to travel to Iran in search of her husband even though she was advised by the US State Department not to travel there because of the risk. Christine Levinson has said she was in the process of obtaining visas and making flight reservations to travel to Iran with her oldest son.
Airports chief replaced
The country's airports chief has been replaced in the wake of the July 17 commercial jet crash at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport that killed 199 people, Agencia Brasil reported on Saturday. General Jose Carlos Pereira handed in his resignation as the head of the military-controlled airports administration Infraero after it was requested by new Brazilian Defense Minister Nelsom Jobim, whose duties include overseeing air safety, the state-run news agency said. Pereira was replaced by Sergio Gaudenzi, an engineer who formerly led the Brazilian space agency. On July 25, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sacked defense minister Waldir Pires.
Fuel spills in train collision
A train derailed and collided with another train on Saturday, causing fuel to leak into a nearby river and smoke to blacken the sky. No one was injured in the accident near Prince George, British Columbia. Canadian National Railway spokesman Jim Feeny said the trains collided in the railway's yard. He could not say how many cars were involved. He said environmental damage has not yet been assessed from the fuel that leaked into the Fraser River. He said crews were able to remove cars not directly involved in the resulting fire.
Activist won't be deported
A US environmental activist was freed and a deportation order against him revoked late on Saturday, hours after Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa ordered him expelled for his role in a police raid to seize shark fins that had apparently been taken illegally. "I thought I would have to leave the country and leave my Ecuadorean wife and daughter here," Sean O'Hearn said by phone after being freed from the immigration center in Quito where he was taken before dawn. "Now I am happy," O'Hearn said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists