Party chief heads to N Korea
Communist Party chief Nong Duc Manh left Hanoi yesterday for a three-day visit to North Korea to boost ties, state media and officials said. "The visit highlights Vietnam's role in promoting reduction of tension, denuclearization and peaceful reunification of Koreas and expanding regional cooperation in accordance with the interests of the two nations," Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan said in a front page editorial. "Vietnam greatly appreciates [North] Korean people's efforts under the clear-sighted leadership of comrade Kim Jong-il in enhancing the cause of building a strong and prosperous nation," it said. Nong was accompanied by Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem and other senior party and government officials.
Kids mistake drugs for candy
Three schoolchildren aged 10 and 11 were rushed to hospital after mistaking suspected ecstasy tablets for candy, police said yesterday. New South Wales state police said emergency services were called in on Monday afternoon when two 10-year-old boys and one girl, 11, became giddy and disorientated after eating the tablets. Media reports said the girl was believed to have brought the tablets to her school in Wollongong, south of Sydney, then shared them with the boys at lunch break. Police inspector Bob Noble said there was no suggestion the children had deliberately taken ecstasy or drug dealers had targeted the pupils. The children were released from hospital on Monday night and were recovering with their parents.
Woman beds wrong man
A woman who mistakenly had sex with a houseguest, believing him to be her husband, has complained to police that she was raped, a newspaper said yesterday. With her husband away at work, the 40-year-old housewife in the northeastern state of Terengganu went to bed early on Friday morning, after hectic preparations for celebrations the next day to end the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. About an hour later, she felt a man next to her and proceeded to make love to him, although she did not see his face, the New Straits Times said. When the woman's 34-year-old husband walked into the room a short while afterwards, she was surprised to see him in his work clothes, and only realized her error when he questioned her about a man he had seen walking out of the room, the paper said. Police have arrested the couple's friend, a 29-year-old laborer who has been staying with them for the past couple of months, and are treating the case as a rape.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Terracotta warriors muzzled
A climate campaigner put masks on two terracotta warriors in an exhibition at the British Museum in London on Sunday to protest China's carbon dioxide emissions. Martin Wyness, the father of two young daughters, said his protest was to draw attention to the lack of international action on global warming and China's growing role in the climate crisis. "It is a protest against China's CO2 emissions. Nothing was damaged. It was all very respectful," he said, adding he had then been grabbed by security guards and bundled out of the "First Emperor" exhibit. A museum spokeswoman said: "We have examined the two objects very carefully and there doesn't appear to be any damage."
Cabinet meets on Turkey
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called an emergency Cabinet meeting yesterday to discuss Turkish threats to launch an incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels. The meeting of his government's crisis cell comes as Ankara seeks parliamentary approval for military action in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region against bases of rebels of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Maliki's office said he would "not accept military solutions as a way of dealing [with issues] between the two countries even though we realize and understand the worries of our Turkish friends." It said he had stressed the importance of implementing an agreement between Iraq and Turky signed last month to combat the PKK.
Coalition pact reached
Pro-Western parties who narrowly won last month's parliamentary elections have reached an agreement to form a coalition, a report said on Monday. Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of her eponymous party, and leaders of the Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense bloc struck the deal following a meeting with President Viktor Yuschenko, Interfax news agency reported. Tymoshenko is due to return as prime minister under the terms of the agreement, which was to signed at the first session of the new parliament at an unspecified date, the online publication Ukrainska Pravda said.
■ UNITED STATES
Pilots warned of ash cloud
The Federal Aviation Administration is warning pilots in Alaska to beware of ash from a Russian volcano. Bezymianny volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula put a 9,144m cloud of ash into the atmosphere on Sunday and Monday. The ash traveled along the Aleutian Islands and is expected to reach as far east as Cold Bay, Alaska, before winds take it into the North Pacific, said Tony Hall, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service's Alaska Aviation Unit in Anchorage.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Planes `kiss' at Heathrow
Two aircraft collided on the ground at Heathrow Airport in London on Monday evening, an airport official said. There were no reported injuries. A British Airways (BA) Boeing 747 bound for Singapore and a Sri Lankan airlines Airbus A340 collided while taxiing. A spokesman for BA described the incident as a "minor collision" and said an investigation had been launched.
ATM fraudsters arrested
Two women were arrested and charged with using fake credit cards to steal more than US$100,000 from bank cash machines, a police official said on Monday. A 26-year-old Nigerian woman, Ann-Mary Yusuf, and a 22-year-old Guyanese, Rosline Conway, were charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and identity theft, following a lengthy investigation by Royal Grenada Police, spokesman Troy Garvey said. Financial crime specialists in the Caribbean island nation believe the women may be part of an international money laundering ring, Garvey said.
■ UNITED STATES
Bison population rising
Yellowstone National Park's bison herd has bounced back to near-record levels following the slaughter of more than 1,000 animals two winters ago to guard against the spread of disease, park administrators said on Monday. An estimated 4,700 bison now roam the park, up from 3,600 last year. They make up the largest bison herd in the world. During the winter of 2005 to last year, after the population hit a record 4,900 animals, more than 1,000 bison migrated outside the park in search of food. They were captured and killed to prevent the spread of brucellosis.
■ UNITED STATES
GM plants do cleanup work
Scientists have figured out a way to trick plants into doing the dirty work of environmental cleanup, US and British researchers reported on Monday. Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically altered poplar trees to pull toxins out of contaminated ground water, offering a cost-effective way of cleaning up environmental pollutants. A group of British researchers, meanwhile, has developed genetically altered plants that can clean residues of military explosives from the environment. "Our work is in the beginning stages, but it holds great promise," said Sharon Doty, an assistant professor of forest resources at the University of Washington.
Prisoners escape jail
Ten prisoners shot their way out of a jail, killing an unarmed guard and carjacking at least two visitors in the parking lot, officials said on Monday. One of the escapees, a 24-year-old awaiting trial on homicide charges, was shot and killed in an abandoned lot near the prison, and another, a 26-year-old robbery suspect, was recaptured late on Sunday, said Hector Ivan Mejia, spokesman for the public safety department. Officials were still searching for the other eight escapees on Monday. The prisoners opened fire at the Yoro penitentiary on Sunday afternoon, killing 26-year-old guard Oscar Osorio. Three people were injured.
Sex Party goes to court
A tiny political party that promotes sexual freedom complained in Federal Court on Monday it was discriminated against by the country's postal service. The Sex Party is upset that Canada Post refused to distribute a flyer during the federal election last year that outlined the group's philosophy, after deeming some of its contents to be pornographic. "We are advocating for rights established for any citizen," said Sex Party leader John Ince, who told a judge in Vancouver that the pamphlet was intended to help recruit new party members and raise donations. The party advocates liberalization of Canada's prostitution laws, among other issues.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around