No March summit with PRC
Prime Minister Taro Aso will not visit China this month, Japanese government officials said yesterday, following earlier reports that Tokyo and Beijing were trying to schedule a summit this month. “We’ve been coordinating with China to hold the meeting as soon as possible, but we now recognize that realizing it within March is difficult,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told reporters. No firm dates had been announced by either government, but Japanese officials had told reporters both sides were trying to schedule Aso’s meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) for late this month.
Pilot averts crash
A plane with 80 passengers aboard was seconds away from a crash when a man teaching his girlfriend to drive sped across the runway as the aircraft landed, newspapers reported yesterday. The Cebu Pacific plane briefly touched down at Legazpi airport on Saturday but took off again as the van being driven by the couple crossed the runway, the Philippine Star said. The man is the son of a local aviation official, who has been ordered suspended from duty. “It could have been a disaster if not for the presence of mind of a veteran pilot,” Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal told the newspaper.
Drugs found in CPUs
Customs police foiled an attempt to smuggle in 4 million ringgit (US$1.1 million) worth of the psychotropic drug nimetazepam, better known as Eramin 5, at the cargo area of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, news reports said yesterday. Customs officers had become suspicious when a shipment of 10 computer central processing units, or CPUs, arrived from Taiwan weighing 148kg, when the weight of a single unit is normally less than 5kg, department director general Mohamed Khalid Yusof said. “The officers then opened the package and found about 260,000 Eramin-5 pills stashed inside the CPU shells, which had already been emptied of all electronics,” Mohamed Khalid was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times daily.
Blast kills 14: police
The death toll from a suicide bombing in the city of Rawalpindi has risen to 14, with another 18 people wounded, police said yesterday, regional police commander Nasir Durrani said, including the suicide bomber in the death toll. Officials said the bomber was probably deployed to attack a mass protest, which had been scheduled in Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday, but was called off after the government vowed to reinstate the country’s top judge.
Archbishop Jukka Parma of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on Monday called for “calm discussion” between supporters and opponents of same-sex unions and its consequences for the Church. Parma’s remarks were made after he accepted a 200-page report on the charged subject that has been drafted by a working group appointed by the bishops’ conference. In 2002 the country made same-sex unions legal. However, the Church has yet to decide on guidelines concerning requests for blessings of same-sex unions. At the end of 2007, some 1,080 couples had registered same-sex partnerships.
Satellite launch postponed
The European Space Agency (ESA) on Monday postponed the launch of its most sophisticated Earth observation satellites to date because of a technical glitch at a Russian cosmodrome, the ESA spokesman said. “The doors of the launch service tower did not open,” Franco Bonacina said by telephone. He said the cause of the fault had yet to be established. “The two big doors installed at the tower should have opened to allow the tower to retrieve and expose the launcher to free air to be launched,” Bonacina said.