■ SOUTH KOREA
Cabinet approves Lee probe
The Cabinet yesterday approved a special counsel to look into securities fraud allegations against president-elect Lee Myung-bak, the presidential Blue House said in a statement. Conservative Lee will become the country's first president-elect to face a criminal investigation and the probe is likely to undermine his leadership when he takes office in late February. Members of Lee's Grand National Party have asked outgoing South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and his government to veto the special counsel bill for the sake of national unity. Any investigation is unlikely to be completed before Lee's inauguration on Feb. 25, when he will become immune from prosecution. But questions about his character would be used by liberals in an April parliamentary election, where they are battling to keep their majority, analysts said.
A man who caused a stir by tossing girls' underwear around his neighborhood in Osaka was arrested on Tuesday for alleged involvement in a murder-robbery 14 years ago, police said. Kazuo Oshitani, 48, was arrested earlier this month for scattering girls' underwear and nylons around his block, but a DNA test of bodily fluid found in the underwear matched a sample taken from the scene of a robbery-murder at a hotel, a police spokesman said. Oshitani, an office clerk and father of three, denied the charges, he said. He drew police attention after decorating his neighbors' bicycles, cars and even their front doors with girls' underpants. Police, who had received about 170 complaints from local residents, raided his house and confiscated more than 200 pairs of underwear and a few sex toys. Until the murder case arose, he was arrested only on charges of littering.
Land grabs affect food safety
Illegal land grabs are threatening food supplies in China as scarce farming land is destroyed to make way for industrial and urban development, a minister was quoted as saying yesterday. "The illegal acquisition of arable land [for purposes other than agriculture] has endangered food safety and social stability," Land and Resources Minister Xu Shaoshi (徐紹史) said, according to the China Daily. "[But] given the growing population and fast industrialization and urbanization, illegal land acquisition will probably continue." Land grabs have been a well-known and much-hated phenomenon in China for many years, with corrupt local government officials and businessmen forcing farmers off their land for little or no compensation.
Government to control blogs
Blogs need to be controlled to prevent the spread of subversive and sexually explicit content, communist government officials said according to a state media report yesterday. The ministry responsible for culture and information, which controls traditional media, in July said it was drafting regulations that would fine bloggers who post subversive and sexually explicit content online. Deputy Information and Communications Minister Do Quy Doan told a conference on press law that "controlling Weblogs is about developing them in accordance with the law, not forbidding them. We should provide guidelines that help people know what type of information they can upload online," Doan said according to a report in the English-language Than Nien (Youth Daily) newspaper. Bloggers would also be held responsible for information they access, he said.
A British charity has teamed up with scientists to see whether dogs could help detect COVID-19 through their keen sense of smell, it said yesterday. Medical Detection Dogs is to work with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University in northeast England to determine whether canines could help with diagnoses. It follows previous research into dogs’ ability to sniff out malaria and is based on a belief that each disease triggers a distinct odor. The organizations said that they had begun preparations to train dogs in six weeks “to help provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis towards the tail end
Under partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spaniards are allowed to leave home only for essential outings, walking a dog being one of them, but not a rented dog, the Civil Guard said on Wednesday as it sanctioned a man who had repeatedly tried to rent his dogs out via Facebook so that people could walk them. “The man was advertising activities which implied people leaving their homes to rent dogs, or walk rented dogs,” said a Civil Guard spokeswoman in the northeastern Galicia region. “That would be infringing the decree that only permits going outdoors for work, groceries, walking
Britain’s Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, is showing mild symptoms of COVID-19, but “otherwise remains in good health,” his office said yesterday. The 71-year-old and his wife, Camilla, who does not have coronavirus, are currently self-isolating in Scotland, Clarence House said. “The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus,” it said in a statement, using his official title. “He has been displaying mild symptoms, but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.” “The Duchess of Cornwall [Camilla] has also been tested, but does not have
The water service in Odessa, a port city in southern Ukraine, was suddenly overrun this week with calls from worried residents with a peculiar concern. Were officials really planning to run an antiseptic solution through the city’s taps instead of water? The calls were sparked by a message on social media claiming that: “Today, from 11pm until the morning, antiseptic will be distributed” in the water system. The antiseptic supposedly included several different whiskies — a brand for each district. However outlandish the claim, Odessa’s water agency, Infoxvodokanal, still issued a clarification. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, false news stories have spiked in