Leader warns on water
President Asif Ali Zardari warned that any breach of a river water-sharing treaty by India would be detrimental to the peace process, media reports said on yesterday. The statement came two days after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the controversial 450-megawatt Baglihar hydroelectric project over the Chenab River that flows from Indian Kashmir into Pakistan. Zardari said Singh also assured him during their recent meeting in New York that India was “seriously committed” to the water-sharing treaty. He said Islamabad expected Singh to stand by his commitment. He warned that violation of the Indus Water Treaty, brokered by the World Bank in 1960, would strain bilateral ties the two countries had built over the years.
Experts map panda genome
Scientists have mapped the genome of the giant panda, which could yield a better understanding of why the endangered animals are so famously sex-shy, state media said on Monday. Experts say there are only about 1,600 wild pandas left, mainly in the southwest, with another 200 or so raised in captivity in breeding centers. The animals’ notoriously low libidos have frustrated efforts to boost their numbers. Breeders have resorted to tactics such as showing them “panda porn” videos of other pandas mating, and putting males through “sexercises” aimed at training up their pelvic and leg muscles for the rigors of copulation. The genome-mapping effort also involved scientists from Britain, the US, Denmark and Canada, the China Daily said.
Protesters rally in Shanghai
Protesters staged a rare demonstration outside a Shanghai court yesterday in support of a jobless man who is appealing against his conviction for murdering six policemen. Around a dozen people staged a brief protest at the beginning of the closed-door trial of Yang Jia, 28, who was sentenced to death last month for the murders. Yang stormed into a Shanghai police station on July 1 and went on a stabbing frenzy, reportedly in revenge for being wrongfully detained on suspicion of stealing a bicycle. Authorities yesterday gave out few details of the appeal and court officials refused to comment, continuing the secretive handling of a case that has generated controversy with Yang regarded by some as a victim. Yang had become an Internet cult hero because his case raised questions about police harassment.
Rust remover sickens 170
Some 170 wedding guests were taken to a hospital when powdered rust remover was added to a dish instead of salt after they all decided it needed spicing up a bit. The bride’s proud father invited friends and relatives to the banquet at a village in Hebei Province on Friday, the night before the wedding, the Beijing News said. “All food was stewed in a big pot but after dinner started, all of them felt the taste was too bland,” the newspaper said. Someone added what he or she thought was salt — several times. An hour later, the guests were being rushed to a hospital. “When I arrived at the hospital, the observation room was packed with people vomiting, with stomach pains and with diarrhea,” a doctor was quoted as saying. The symptoms were short-lived and all the victims were released by the next day.
Blair fought for tobacco
Former prime minister Tony Blair intervened as prime minister to get an exemption from a ban on tobacco advertising at sporting events for Formula One, the Sunday Telegraph reported on Sunday. Citing documents obtained through freedom of information requests, the paper reported that hours after meeting Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone, Blair sought the exemption. Blair, who served as prime minister for 10 years, has said the 1997 meeting with Ecclestone — a Labour Party donor — did not influence the government’s decision to seek the exemption.
Rushdie mocks Palin
Author Salman Rushdie branded US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as a “joke” on Sunday and said naming her as Republican Senator John McCain’s running mate was a “colossal misjudgement.” Rushdie, a vocal supporter of Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama, told Ireland’s TV3 channel that Palin was extreme and incompetent. “I think she’s a joke. I mean I always thought she’s a bad joke,” he said. “But I always thought it was a colossal misjudgement of McCain’s to appoint her as his running mate because she’s not even borderline competent and what we know about her, or increasingly what we are beginning to know about her, is how very, very, very far to the right she is.”
Haider was driving 142kph
Far-right leader Joerg Haider was driving at more than twice the speed limit after going to a nightclub when he crashed and died this weekend, court officials said on Sunday. Haider was doing 142kph in a 70kph zone when he crashed in the early hours of Saturday, the prosecutors’ office said. Prosecutor Gottfried Kranza did not say whether Haider had tested positive for alcohol. Haider’s vehicle, a Volkswagen Phaeton V6, was new and in perfect condition, Kranza told the APA news agency, refusing to make “any speculation” as to the cause of the accident. The 58-year-old leader of the Alliance for the Future of Austria party, veered off the road south of Klagenfurt, capital of the province of Carinthia, where he was governor.
BA flight has problem
A British Airways plane made an unscheduled landing on Sunday at Berlin’s Schoenefeld Airport after a cockpit instrument indicated a problem, federal police said. The 220 passengers and 16 crew walked off the Boeing 777 so technicians could check it. The pilot decided to land the plane, which was flying from London to New Delhi, because of the instrument warning, air traffic control officials confirmed. They denied a radio station claim there had been smoke in the plane. The jet had previously made a stopover in Hamburg, police said. Air traffic control said it was not an emergency landing, but “a stopover for technical reasons.”
Rescue operation launched
Security forces raided one of the many ships hijacked off the country’s coast as a deadline loomed in a standoff aboard another, arms-laden vessel, officials said. Troops in northern semiautonomous Puntland region tried unsuccessfully on Sunday to take back a ship that was hijacked by pirates on Thursday, said Ali Abdi Aware, Puntland’s foreign minister. He said two pirates were killed. The vessel, which carrying cement, is believed to have Syrian and Somali crew on board.
Chavez dislikes holiday
President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that rather than celebrate Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, the Oct. 12 holiday should be marked as the start of the “genocide of indigenous peoples.” “We should invite the governments of our continent, the Caribbean, Latin America to revise history and stop worshipping, honoring and paying tribute to the perpetrators of the biggest genocide ever,” Chavez said in a speech. In 2001, Chavez renamed “Discovery Day” on Oct. 12 as “Indigenous Resistance Day.” “Why should we continue speaking about the discovery of America? ... The genocide of indigenous peoples is what started on October 12, 1492,” Chavez said. “And we’re still waiting for Europe to acknowledge there was a genocide” in the Americas.
Eating champ downs pizza
Chowdown champ Joey Chestnut has done it again, this time proving he’s a pizza powerhouse. Chestnut downed 45 slices in 10 minutes on Sunday to win the first Famous Famiglia World Pizza Eating Championship in Times Square. He says he fasted for more than a day to prepare for the contest, and he folded and squeezed the slices to make them easier to swallow. The 24-year-old rocketed to competitive-eating celebrity when he won Coney Island’s July Fourth hot-dog eating contest last year. He took the title again this summer by gulping down 59 dogs in 10 minutes. Last month, he consumed 93 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes to win a contest in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Norbert kills three
Hurricane Norbert has killed three people and two others are missing, police said on Sunday. The victims drowned in a river near the town of Alamos in the northern state of Sonora after Norbert hit the agricultural region as a Category 1 hurricane late on Saturday with sustained winds as high as 140kph, police said in a statement. Civil protection workers had evacuated hundreds of people from mountainous areas prone to mudslides and near the banks of normally dry riverbeds at risk of flash floods. It was the Norbert’s second landfall after earlier pummeling the Baja California peninsula as a stronger Category 2 hurricane, blowing roofs off buildings and knocking down trees.
Frieze frame frozen
Part of a frieze commissioned for St Pancras station that shows a commuter falling in front of a train has been pulled. Artist Paul Day’s frieze surrounding his Meeting Place sculpture is intended to capture heroic and tragic scenes of railway life, from British soldiers leaving for war to engineers laying tracks. Part of the frieze went on display in clay on Friday before the final bronze version is completed, but having seen the commuter scene London & Continental Railways (L&CR) chief executive Rob Holden deemed it “completely unsuitable.” The train drivers’ union was also unhappy over the frieze. Day said he regretted any offence. The frieze is due to be completed by the middle of next year.
Ellis immigrant honored
The New York grave of an Irish woman who as a 17-year-old was the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island has been marked with a Celtic cross. Clergy members joined Annie Moore’s descendants and admirers Saturday in a Queens Cemetery. She died 80 years ago, but her unmarked grave was found only two years ago.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures