Elephant kills teenager
An elephant enraged after it was hit by a speeding motorcycle as it crossed a road with its herd on Sumatra island trampled the two riders, leaving one dead, a report said yesterday. A 42-year-old man and his 14-year-old son were on their way home from a food stall in Riau Province on the motorcycle on Wednesday night when they collided with the herd, the state Antara news agency said. The elephant that they hit then turned on them, kicking their motorcycle, fatally crushing the son's head and badly injuring the father, it said.
Official honors dead mother
A village official canceled classes at a local school for several days to honor the anniversary of his mother's death with on-campus performances of traditional opera. Last week, the local primary school in Baodian, Shanxi Province, became a theater, with local residents watching traditional opera performed on a "towering" stage, Beijing News said yesterday. "Some of the school's classrooms were locked, while others had been converted into living quarters for a troupe of actors," the report said. The official was tight-lipped when tracked down by media: "This is my private family business. You have no right to interfere."
Star's daughter elopes
A famous actor's teenage daughter has accused her father of keeping her under house arrest for one year to prevent her from marrying her boyfriend, media said yesterday. Konedela Srija, 19, said she managed to escape. She married her 22-year-old boyfriend, Sirish Bhardwaj, 10 days ago and fled to New Delhi, where they sought court protection. Srija is the daughter of Chiranjeevi, a superstar of Telugu-language films who uses one name. "We never wanted to elope, but the circumstances were such that we had no choice," the Times of India daily quoted her as saying. A New Delhi High Court ordered police to protect the couple.
Uzbek journalist murdered
A prominent journalist known for his vocal opposition to Uzbekistan's authoritarian regime was gunned down late on Wednesday, police officials said yesterday. Alisher Saipov, editor of the Uzbek-language Politika paper, was shot dead in the town of Osh, the town's police chief Rustam Myrzamatov told reporters. "The journalist died at the site with two bullet wounds in the chest and one in the head." Saipov, a Kyrgyz citizen of Uzbek origin, regularly smuggled issues of Politika into Uzbekistan, which is notorious for human rights violations. Official newspapers there had dubbed Saipov a "traitor to the Uzbek people."
Miners learn about sex
Australian coal miners are being taught to understand their wives in order to have a healthy sex life. The "Toolbox Talks" at the Bulga coal mine north of Sydney have been such a success that the Xstrata mining company is considering running them at other mines. "The Toolbox Talks are a series of health briefings ... addressing issues such as fatigue, prostate cancer, nutrition, heart disease and this month we are addressing the issue of menopause," Xstrata spokesman James Rickards said. "Even though it is a predominately male working environment we have to look at the lifestyles of our employees, making sure they are fit and healthy at work, but also fit, healthy and happy at home," he said.
Return of head halted
When a small museum in Rouen arranged to hand back a mummified Maori head to New Zealand, the mayor called it a "symbolic act" of atonement for European colonialists' grotesque trade in human remains. But a row has erupted after the French government intervened to block the return, saying the Maori head was part of the nation's heritage. The minister of culture warned that the decision to return the head could set a precedent for collections of tribal artefacts and mummified remains from around the world. Rouen's Maori head was given to the city's natural history museum in 1875 and was on display until 1996, when the museum closed for renovations.
`Enemies' come under fire
Activists from pro-Kremlin youth groups mean to take a shot at all "enemies of Russia" ranging from Osama bin Laden to chess champion turned opposition leader Garry Kasparov -- and they mean literally. Some 25 "political shooting ranges" with portraits or effigies of politicians will allow youngsters "to vent their hatred of Russia's enemies" by shooting darts or paint at them, said a Nashi movement activist Makar Vikhlyantsev, the project's mastermind. The blacklist includes former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov.
Darfur lawyer wins prize
Sudanese lawyer Salih Mahmoud Osman received the EU's top human rights award -- the Sakharov Prize -- for his work in Darfur, the European Parliament said yesterday. The prize is named after former Soviet dissident and physicist Andrei Sakharov. It is awarded annually to a person or group judged to have made a particular achievement in the field of human-rights or promotion of democracy and the rule of law. Osman, a lawyer with the Sudan Organization Against Torture who works with victims of human- rights abuses, won the award ahead of slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the Chinese husband and wife team of Hu Jia (胡佳) and Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕).
Oligarch reported in UK
Missing billionaire oligarch Mikhail Gutseriyev has reportedly fled to the UK. Gutseriyev -- the former head of the private oil firm Russneft -- disappeared in August shortly before a Moscow court issued a warrant for his arrest. The Tvoy Den newspaper claimed yesterday that Gutseriyev applied for political asylum in the UK after entering the country earlier this month. However, both British and Russian officials said they had no information to suggest he was in the UK. Gutseriyev, 49, was one of the country's most successful Muslim businessmen, and according to Forbes magazine, the country's 31st richest man.
`Bittsa Maniac' found guilty
A former supermarket worker, nicknamed the "Bittsa Maniac" by the media after the wooded park where he lured victims into drinking sessions before killing them, was found guilty on Wednesday of killing 48 people in Moscow. Aleksandr Pichushkin, 33, testified during the trial that his initial murder was "like first love." He often killed his victims by bashing their heads with a blunt object or drowning them in a sewer. Saying he hoped to become Russia's most prolific serial killer, he confessed to killing 63 people, one shy of his goal of one murder for each square on a chessboard.
■ UNITED STATES
Couple surprised by pics
Karen and Mark Cline were teenagers when they got married in Mansfield, Ohio, and did not have US$150 to pay a photographer for their wedding photos. But now they have the pictures, just in time for their 27th anniversary yesterday. Their photographer located Karen Cline last week at the diner where she works and surprised her with a photo album. "I just stood there and cried and cried and hugged him," she said, tearing up again as she described their meeting. Photographer Jim Wagner, who is now 80, said Mark Cline had paid him a deposit of US$50 to shoot pictures at the wedding, but the couple never ordered any of the photos he took. "About a month ago, I was just cleaning out some of my old things and I found it," Wagner said.
■ UNITED STATES
Pearl's widow drops lawsuit
The widow of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl has withdrawn a lawsuit seeking damages against al-Qaeda, a dozen reputed terrorists and Pakistan's largest bank. In a letter on Tuesday to the federal judge presiding over the case, lawyers for Mariane Pearl noted that Habib Bank Limited and the other defendants in the case had not answered the lawsuit filed in July, but they otherwise did not explain their reason for dropping the action. The lawsuit had sought unspecified damages against people and organizations that Mariane Pearl alleged were involved in the kidnapping, torture and murder of her husband in 2002.
Journalists flee after threats
Two journalists have fled the country in the past week because of death threats, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said on Wednesday. The committee said in a statement that television presenter and documentarian Hollman Morris left on Sunday and radio host Geovanny Alvarez fled on Friday. Morris, who recently won an award from the Foundation for New Journalism, has been threatened before but decided to leave for the US with his family after receiving an e-mail last month from a group calling itself the Colombian Patriotic Front that called him "an anti-patriot, a member of the guerrillas, and a tattletale."
■ UNITED STATES
Truck driver charged
A truck driver who stole an art masterpiece by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya from an unattended transport truck in Newark, New Jersey, and then claimed he found it in his basement was charged with theft, authorities said. Steven Lee Olson, 49, was charged with stealing Children with a Cart, a 1778 painting by Goya, federal prosecutors said. The painting was insured at a value of about US$1 million. In an initial appearance in federal court in Newark on Wednesday, Olson through his lawyer decided not to immediately contest his detainment.
PM Harper survives vote
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government on Wednesday tightened its grip on power by surviving the last in a series of tricky no-confidence votes that could have led to early elections. MPs voted 126-79 in favor of the ruling Conservatives' upcoming legislative agenda, unveiled last week in a major policy speech. Both the separatist Bloc Quebecois and leftist New Democratic Party voted against Harper's program. But the main opposition Liberals abstained.
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
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘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
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable