Olympic site lightning prone
The Beijing area where some of next year's Olympic venues are located is prone to being struck by lightning. The findings were reported yesterday by the Xinhua news agency, summarizing a study by two Chinese meteorologists. The findings indicated the Haidian area in north Beijing had a high frequency of lightning strikes over a period from 1995 to 2005. The meteorologists said the location of the universities and research institutes, sophisticated electronic equipment and tall buildings might explain the frequency. The study showed Haidian was hit 4.7 times per year.
Villagers retaliate for attack
Villagers retaliated against a group of ethnic rights activists who attacked a teacher in the south, killing two and injuring two others, officials said yesterday. The 15 attackers shot and seriously wounded the teacher on Thursday in Biruwaguthi village, about 200km south of Kathmandu, said Raj Kumar Niroula, chief administrative officer in the Parsa District. Villagers who heard the shots retaliated against the attackers, killing two and injuring two others, Niroula said. The attackers belonged to the Tarai People's Liberation Front, a small armed group which claims to fight for the rights of the people in the southern area.
Bombers sentences reduced
Ten Islamic militants jailed for suicide bombings on Bali in 2002 and 2005 that killed more than 220 people -- many of them foreign tourists -- had their sentences cut yesterday to mark the country's Independence Day. It is a tradition to cut jail terms on holidays, but the decision was likely to anger countries that lost citizens in the attacks. Those who benefited from the sentence reductions were found guilty of everything from helping plan the bombings, to sheltering the main suspects, to setting up a Web site on how to kill foreigners. Six men involved in the 2002 terror strikes had their sentences cut by five months.
Parents name baby `@'
A couple seeking a modern and distinctive name for their new child chose the common Internet symbol "@" or "at," much to the consternation of officials. The unidentified couple was cited on Thursday by a government official as an example of bizarre names creeping into the Chinese language. The baby's father reportedly chose the name because the symbol "@" in Mandarin sounds like the phrase ``love him,'' State Language Commission Vice Director Li Yuming (李宇明), said at a news conference in Beijing. As of last year, only 129 surnames accounted for 87 percent of all surnames in the country, he said. Li did not say whether police, who are the arbiters of names because they issue identity cards, rejected baby '@'
Ex-inmate accused of theft
A former Guantanamo detainee has been arrested in Copenhagen on suspicion he withdrew 105,000 kroner (US$18,900) by using stolen debit cards and PIN codes, police said on Thursday. Slimane Hadj Abderrahmane, a Danish citizen, was released from the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center in 2004 after nearly two years in captivity. Abderrahmane, 34, was arrested on Wednesday and ordered held in jail for two weeks on preliminary fraud and theft charges, police said.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Muslim juror listens to MP3
A female Muslim juror who allegedly listened to an MP3 player under her headscarf during vital evidence at a murder trial will not be prosecuted, Britain's attorney-general said on Thursday. Baroness Patricia Scotland, the government's most senior law officer, said there was "insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of proving beyond reasonable doubt any alleged contempt of court." The woman, in her early 20s, had been part of a 12-member panel trying a pensioner accused of bludgeoning his wife to death after 50 years of marriage. He was later convicted. The judge had received a note from another juror suggesting that the woman may have been listening to music during the defendant's evidence.