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.
■ SOUTH AFRICA
Patient told to walk off pain
A man who was shot three weeks ago was told to "walk the pain off" and is still trying to persuade hospitals to remove the bullet lodged in his side, the Star newspaper said on Thursday. Three Johannesburg hospitals refused to remove the bullet for security guard Phillip Mashiane, 38, who was shot during a burglary at the property of South Africa's ambassador to the UN. He said he was turned away by one hospital because he could not afford the bills while a public hospital patched him up and sent him home with painkillers. When he returned a doctor told him to "walk the pain off." Doctors at a third hospital said it could not remove the bullet because Mashiane had started treatment elsewhere.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Officer keeps one ear open
A British police officer who had sexual relations while on duty was acquitted in court because he had been in constant radio contact through a police earpiece during the sex romp. Police transport inspector Massoud Khan, 41, had conducted his illicit encounter in a room at the police station at Gatwick Airport, near London, it was revealed during the trial on Wednesday. "If there was a call for me, I would have answered it and I would have dealt with it," he told the court, the Times newspaper reported.
Bodyguard shoots at chef
An ex-president's bodyguard allegedly shot at a chef who refused to serve him an early morning meal during a drunken night out. The VIP protection department said it had opened a probe into an incident involving Major Jonas Paulikas, who watches over the 1990s head of state Algirdas Brazauskas. Lithuanian media reported Paulikas, 39, got into an argument with a chef who declined to serve him at a restaurant in Vilnius which was about to close at 5am on Thursday. Paulikas allegedly fired seven shots at the chef with his SIG-Sauer service pistol. The chef was unhurt. Paulikas has previously received an award for his SIG-Sauer handling skills.
■ UNITED STATES
Man hurt hugging robber
A man visiting a convenience store in Michigan was struck in the head with a gun when he mistook a robber for a friend playing a practical joke, police said. The masked man entered Sandler's Party Store in Fort Gratiot Township about 10:30pm on Wednesday, brandished a handgun and demanded money. Police said Patrick O'Bryan, 21, walked up to the man, thinking he was a friend, and grabbed him in a playful way. The gunman hit O'Bryan in the head with the gun, and the clerk opened two cash registers. The gunman took an undisclosed amount of cash and took off. O'Bryan was not seriously injured, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported.
■ UNITED STATES
Thief apologizes to nun
A would-be thief who came up empty-handed after trying to rob a Catholic nun wonders if he will be forgiven, police in Madison, Wisconsin, said. The man broke into the 61-year-old nun's home on Tuesday morning, police said. He forced her to drive him around in her car for almost an hour in search of money after she told him she did not have any since she had taken a vow of poverty. As they drove, the robber apologized "to the victim and wonders if he's going to be forgiven by her and the Catholic Church," a police spokesman said. Eventually, the man gave up and had the nun drop him off. She then drove to the Catholic school where she works and called police who arrested a 41-year-old man later on a probation violation and tentative charges of kidnapping, burglary, battery and possession of drug paraphernalia.
■ UNITED STATES
A former private investigator who admitted forging documents to try to save the lives of four California death row inmates was sentenced on Thursday in Sacramento to five years in state prison. Kathleen Culhane, 40, admitted that she made up statements from real witnesses and jurors and forged their signatures to try to stop the executions. The fake statements were turned over to attorneys and filed with the courts and governor's office as they considered whether to commute the men's death sentences. Culhane said she acted out of her moral opposition to the death penalty. "I was very conscious that a life held in the balance," she told the judge. "My crimes are crimes of conscience." But prosecutors said her actions threatened the same legal system she was sworn to support.
■ UNITED STATES
Small plane crash kills five
Five people were killed when a small airplane crashed on Thursday night north of Ketchikan, Alaska, authorities said. There were four survivors, including a two-year-old girl, an Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman said. Three of the four were to be transported to hospitals in the US mainland for burn treatment, Ketchikan Public Safety Director Rich Leipfert told the Ketchikan Daily News. Information about the fourth survivor was not immediately available.
■ UNITED STATES
Woman charged in patricide
A New York City woman who reportedly claimed she suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father has been charged in his death and mutilation, prosecutors said. Brigitte Harris, 26, was arrested on Thursday and removed from a psychiatric facility where she had been since the July 28 slaying of Eric Goodridge, they said. Harris pleaded not guilty. She faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors said Goodridge's attacker had handcuffed him, gagged him with a towel and then wrapped the towel around his head with duct tape. After he died, his penis was sliced off, prosecutors said.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500