Students burned by balloons
More than 60 students at a school in the northwest suffered burn injuries when hundreds of small hydrogen balloons exploded, state media reported yesterday. The students, from Lanzhou Electric Power School in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province, were taking part in a sports event when the accident happened on Sunday, the Xinhua news agency said. As more than 1,500 balloons meant to be used at the opening of the event caught fire, dozens of students suffered burns, some of them severe, to their faces, hands and backs, according to the agency.
Political crisis talks held
Political leaders held emergency talks yesterday with former rebel Maoists to try to persuade the ultra-leftists to remain in government and cancel protests planned for later this week. The Maoists have vowed to stage major demonstrations and quit the government if the country is not immediately declared a republic, a move that would deal a major blow to last year's landmark peace deal that ended a decade of civil war. Maoist leader Prachanda was "scheduled to meet the prime minister on Monday afternoon, and other leaders have been meeting leaders from the other parties," Maoist deputy commander Ananta said.
Church leader released
Beijing has released a leader of the nation's underground Protestant Church after being detained for three years for illegal possession of thousands of Bibles, a Christian activist group said yesterday. Cai Zhuohua (蔡卓華) from Beijing was freed on Sept, 10, according to a statement from the US-based China Aid Association, having lost more than 20kg but in otherwise good health. Cai, who was first taken into custody on Sept. 11, 2004, and formally sentenced to jail a year later, was forced to work 12 hours a day making soccer balls for the 2008 Beijing Olympics while in custody, the group said.
Navy pays for implants
The military on Sunday defended its decision to pay for some female sailors to have breast implants, saying the operations were not carried out for cosmetic reasons. Defense Force spokesman Brigadier Andrew Nikolic did not say how many women had had the taxpayer-funded operation. But he said the military would consider paying for plastic surgery for personnel where there were medical, dental or compelling psychological or psychiatric reasons. Any suggestion that breast operations were carried out to make the women "look sexy" were not only wrong, but insulting, Nikolic said. "Under defense policy we do consider the holistic needs of our people, both physical and psychological," he said.
Suspect thought to be in US
A man who abandoned a girl, thought to be his daughter, at a busy train station is believed to have fled to the US, police said yesterday. The well-dressed Asian child, who is aged about three, was found wandering the Melbourne city station on Saturday morning. Security footage showed her holding the hand of an Asian man wearing a suit and carrying a suitcase just 15 minutes before she was found at Southern Cross station. Police said they believed the man was the child's father and that the pair had come to Australia from Auckland days earlier.
Howard would lose seat: poll
Prime Minister John Howard would lose the election in his home district of Sydney if parliamentary polls were held now, a poll said yesterday. The results of the Morgan poll published in Melbourne's Age newspaper heighten the pressure on the country's second-longest serving prime minister to relinquish power before elections expected by early December. Howard reiterated on Sunday that he would lead his center-right coalition to the election despite opinion polls throughout the year showing his government trailing the center-left Labor Party, which has been in opposition since 1996.
■ UNITED STATES
Centenarian rides in sidecar
Evelyn Warburton rode to her 100th birthday party on Saturday in a motorcycle sidecar. She sported a black leather jacket, a helmet and a pair of sunglasses for the 10-minute ride from her home in Lightstreet, Pennsylvania, to her granddaughter's house in Berwick. "It was fun today," Warburton said. Her chauffeur on the green 2000 Harley-Davidson Ultra was George Crawford, a friend who had been offering to take her to church on his motorcycle for several years. Warburton finally accepted Crawford's offer of a ride to her party. She had actually turned 100 on Thursday.
■ UNITED STATES
Bathroom draws tourists
When tourists ask for the bathroom in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, airport lately, it is usually not because they have to go. It is because they want to see the stall made famous by US Senator Larry Craig's arrest in a sex sting. "It's become a tourist attraction," said Karen Evans, information specialist at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. "People are taking pictures." Craig was arrested June 11 by a Minneapolis airport police officer. The Idaho Republican pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Just 15 minutes into her shift on Friday, Evans said she had been asked directions to the new tourist attraction four times.
■ UNITED STATES
Student defender arrested
A student government president in Pennsylvania was charged with drunken driving just weeks after saying the media had unfairly portrayed students as irresponsible. Christopher Bevan, 21, was pulled over last weekend after a campus police officer said he saw the Bloomsburg University student driving more than 80kph in a 24kph zone. A breath test showed Bevan's blood-alcohol level was .147 percent, authorities said, well over the legal limit. Bevan recently wrote a letter to the Press Enterprise of Bloomsburg about media coverage of the college's annual Block Party, an event critics have described as rowdy and alcohol-fueled. The stories have "painted BU students with a broad and negative brush and are both inaccurate and extremely unfair," Bevan wrote.
Police on Sunday ordered a forensic probe into a bizarre report that a woman believed to have died and been buried 11 years ago has reappeared in the capital Lusaka. Police Chief Emphraim Mateyo said that he has ordered the exhumation of Grace following claims by her parents and relatives to the police that she had resurrected. "We want to establish the truth. We shall exhume the body ... and carry out tests," Mateyo said. The police boss said the story grew more complicated because two couples were also claiming to be Grace's parents.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete