US embassy rammed by car
Three men in a car rammed a gate at the US embassy in Beijing late last month, but little damage was caused and the incident is being investigated, an embassy spokesman said yesterday. Chinese police have released few details about the ramming, Richard Buangan said. The embassy did not report the incident at the time. The three men were immediately taken into police custody and the embassy’s security officers were seeking more information, Buangan said. Their identities are unknown to the embassy, he said. Beijing police and China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to questions about the incident that they asked to be faxed to them. The incident occurred at around 3pm on Jan. 28, during China’s week-long Lunar New Year holidays.
Gold abandoned on plane
Vietnamese customs agents discovered 6.4kg of gold jewelry abandoned on board a Vietnam Airlines flight after it landed in Hanoi, an airline official said yesterday. Local press said the airport authorities believe the gold, estimated to be worth US$185,000, was left behind by someone who decided they could not smuggle it past customs. Vietnam Airlines spokesman Trinh Ngoc Thanh said the jewelry had been found in four packages sitting on the co-pilot’s seat after a flight from Hong Kong landed in Hanoi on Wednesday. The flight crew, including the Polish pilot, two Vietnamese co-pilots and eight Vietnamese flight attendants, denied ownership of the jewelry. “We will take strict action against anyone the police find guilty,” Thanh said.
Probe into emissions plan
The government has convened a parliamentary inquiry into its plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, but denied yesterday it was backing away from the scheme that is scheduled to launch next year. The government said in a brief statement on Thursday that it had asked the lower house’s economics committee to make inquiries and report back to parliament on its proposed emissions trading scheme, part of a climate change policy unveiled in December. The move prompted Greens Party Senator Christine Milne to question whether the government was looking to delay its own scheme, which has come under fire from local industry for imposing additional costs at a time of global economic downturn.
Beach reopens after attack
The nation’s most famous beach reopened yesterday, hours after a surfer’s arm was shredded by a shark — the second shark attack in Sydney in as many days. The 33-year-old man, whose name was not released, was bitten on Thursday around dusk at Sydney’s popular Bondi Beach and suffered severe arm injuries, police said. Other surfers helped him to shore, where volunteers helped to stop his bleeding. The man underwent 10-hour surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital and was in serious but stable condition, spokesman David Faktor said.
Mellow yellow refresher
A hard-line Hindu organization, known for its opposition to “corrupting” Western food imports, is planning to launch a new soft drink made from cow’s urine, often seen as sacred in parts of India. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Volunteer Corps, said the bovine beverage is undergoing laboratory tests for the next two to three months, but did not give a specific date for its commercial release.
Educating Prince Harry
Prince Harry is to be sent on an army equality and diversity course after he was reprimanded for calling an Asian army colleague a “Paki,” the Daily Mirror reported on Thursday. The 24-year-old prince issued an apology after his remarks, captured on a video made in 2006, were published on a newspaper Web site. He said the comments were made without any racist malice intended. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was among those who condemned Harry for using the term. It will be the second such course Harry has attended, but this one will be more intensive than the standard class he took as a new army recruit, the paper said.
Wilders detained at airport
Dutch right-wing parliamentarian Geert Wilders said he had been barred by British immigration officers from entering the country on Thursday after he landed in defiance of a government ban. Wilders wanted to show his film Fitna, which argues that the Koran incites violence, in the British parliament. But he was told by British authorities on Tuesday that he was being excluded. Despite that, he took a flight to London. “I am in a detention center at Heathrow ... I am detained. They took my passport. I will not be allowed to enter the country. They will send me back within a few hours,” Wilders, who is being prosecuted in the Netherlands because of his anti-Islam remarks, said from the airport.
Rokita under investigation
A legal inqiry was launched on Thursday after Polish politician Jan Maria Rokita had an argument with a stewardess on board a Lufthansa plane waiting to take off from Munich airport. The incident occurred on Tuesday, when the former parliamentarian allegedly pushed aside a stewardess who had repeatedly asked him to fasten his seat belt. After his vehement refusal to comply with the demands of the stewardess, the pilot reportedly expelled the 49-year-old. Police escorted Rokita off the Lufthansa plane in handcuffs. The politician is being investigated on charges of assault, breach of peace as well as non-compliance with aviation laws, police said on Thursday.
Thieves steal tanks
Police say thieves stole four Soviet-era tanks that were being used for target practice at an army test range. Each weighs more than 20 tonnes and police suspect they were stolen for scrap metal. The T-34 and T-55 tanks were taken on Tuesday night from the range at Jagodne in eastern Poland. Police spokeswoman Anna Smarzak said on Thursday that three of the World War II-era tanks were found at a private car park in Lublin. The other was found aboard a trailer en route to a steel mill. The tanks had been stripped of their engines long ago. Smarzak says that two suspects from the nearby city of Lublin were being detained and questioned.
A different kind of fish
Marine biologists have in recent years rung alarm bells over the invasion in the Baltic Sea of what they believed was a devastating jellyfish, Mnemiopsis, but experts said on Thursday they were wrong about the species. Stockholm University researchers studying the spread of the American pseudo-jellyfish “have found that their tests showed it was a completely different species [Mertensia] never before seen in the waters of the Baltic.”
Panetta named CIA chief
Democratic politician Leon Panetta was confirmed late on Thursday as the new director of the CIA by the Senate. Panetta, a White House chief of staff under former president Bill Clinton, had been widely expected to secure Senate support despite criticism in some quarters over his lack of direct experience in the intelligence world. The Senate approved President Barack Obama’s pick in a voice vote. Panetta, 70, takes up the reigns from Michael Hayden as the agency’s credibility is under question for failures linked to the Iraq War and controversial interrogation tactics in the “war on terror.” Panetta has said he would end the use of waterboarding and transferring detainees to countries where they may face torture.
Fingernails break in crash
A Utah woman listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for her long fingernails has lost them in a car crash. Lee Redmond of Salt Lake City sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries in the accident on Tuesday, the Deseret News reported. Redmond’s nails, which hadn’t been cut since 1979, were broken in the crash. The Guinness Web site said her longest nail on her right thumb was 89cm. Redmond has been featured on TV in episodes of Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Lincoln penny gets face-lift
The humble one-cent coin got a face-lift on Thursday as the Mint unveiled the first redesign of the penny bearing president Abraham Lincoln in 50 years. The Mint released the new design on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The obverse of the penny will continue to bear sculptor Victor David Brenner’s likeness of Lincoln, introduced in 1909. The reverse will feature four different designs: one with a log cabin that represents Lincoln’s humble beginnings; another showing a youthful Lincoln working as a rail splitter in Indiana; a third with Lincoln in front of the Illinois state capitol building; and a fourth with the half-finished US Capitol dome when he took office as president.
Madonna photo auctioned
A nude photo of a 20-year-old Madonna that appeared in Playboy has been sold at auction for US$37,500. Christie’s said Lee Friedlander’s full-frontal black and white image of the singer is probably a record auction price for a photograph of her. An unnamed European buyer bought the 1979 photograph on Thursday. It had been estimated to sell for up to US$15,000. Madonna may have earned as little as US$25 for the 1979 modeling session. Christie’s said she was a 20-year-old dancer trying to make ends meet when she answered a newspaper ad seeking a nude model. The photograph appeared in Playboy in 1985.
Fidel doing well: Bachelet
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said former Cuban president Fidel Castro was in “very good condition” following a 90 minute meeting with him in Havana on Thursday. “I have met with Fidel Castro, he is in very good condition, we had a long conversation for an hour and a half,” Bachelet told reporters. Her three-day visit to the country is the first by a Chilean leader in more than three decades. Bachelet — a doctor by training — said that Castro was “very active” and was lucid. “He knew all the most important details” about a range of topics she said.
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
‘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
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of