Taxi drivers go on strike
Thousands of taxi drivers were on strike yesterday in a large northwestern city over fears that new rules would hit earnings, state media said. More than 5,500 cab drivers refused to work in Xining, forcing people to walk or use public transport, Xinhua news agency reported. The strike was triggered on Saturday by a report in a newspaper saying taxi drivers’ licenses would be valid for only eight years, down from 12. This led some drivers to fear they would have to pay large amounts of money to their companies to get their licences back, Xinhua said. The agency cited local officials as saying the drivers had misunderstood the new regulations, although the nature of the confusion was not made clear.
UK media target job winner
Tourism officials yesterday defended the winner of a “Best Job in the World” competition after he was branded a “whingeing Pom” by British media. Tourism Queensland said it had every confidence in Ben Southall after he said he would miss England’s long summer days and traditional roast dinners during his caretaker stint on idyllic Hamilton Island. “Ben was asked by a British journalist what he would miss ... only to find himself tagged by the British tabloid media as a ‘whinger,’” ABC news quoted a spokeswoman as saying. “Tourism Queensland has every confidence that Ben is the best person for the best job — he’s adventurous, outgoing and a genuine person who is able to communicate well.” Southall beat thousands of applicants to the six-month post, which will earn him US$105,000 for swimming, snorkeling and sailing around the northeastern tourist paradise and blogging about his experiences.
Official blames maids for flu
Filipino maids may be spreading the swine flu virus by gathering together in large numbers on their day off, a senior official warned yesterday. Under-Secretary for Health Gabriel Leung (梁卓偉) said employers should consider switching their maids’ days off to reduce the risk of the (A)H1N1 virus spreading. Leung’s remarks, carried in newspapers yesterday, came after a 28-year-old Filipino maid was admitted to hospital with swine flu and three other cases were detected in people visiting from the Philippines. Filipino maids traditionally gather by the thousands in public spaces in Central district on Sundays, their usual day off.
Man arrested over wife
Police arrested a construction worker on charges of kidnapping his wife, now the mother of his two children, when she was still a minor 14 years ago, media reports said yesterday. Police, acting on an arrest warrant issued in 1995 based on kidnapping charges by the girl’s parents, arrested Noppadon Nontanok, 32, on Thursday. “I was shocked when police arrested me,” Noppadon told the Bangkok Post newspaper. “Those events took place a long time ago. If I am sent to jail, who will earn money to support the family?” Noppadon said he helped his wife, Rosukhon, who was 14 at the time, move to Bangkok in 1995 from her native Phayao Province, 450km north of the Thai capital. Rosukhon’s parents at the time lodged a complaint against Noppadon for kidnapping their daughter, but later dropped the matter when the couple got married and had two children together. The case was revived when police started clearing a backlog of old files, the Bangkok Post reported.
Curry causes air scare
A passenger plane heading for Frankfurt was forced to return to Mumbai after a bag of curry powder triggered smoke and fire alarms, a newspaper report said Saturday. The pilot of the Air India plane activated fire extinguishers after receiving a warning of a fire in the cargo hold, an hour after the flight took off on Friday, the Mumbai Mirror reported. When the Boeing 747-400 plane returned to India’s financial hub, technicians said the alarm was sparked by the escape of particles from a bag containing up to 3kg of curry powder.
Lightning kills couple
Lightning struck and killed a recently married couple as they climbed an undeveloped section of the Great Wall in Beijing, a state-controlled newspaper said yesterday. The force of the lightning strike caused the pair to fall from the 50m-high wall in Huairou, a Beijing suburb, the Beijing Times newspaper reported. Rescuers arrived about two hours later but the couple, who married late last year, had already stopped breathing, the report said. They were both 27 years old.
Scientist’s body found
The body of a senior atomic scientist was recovered from a river near a nuclear plant in Karnataka state after six days of search operations following his disappearance, news reports said yesterday. Divers found the body of Loknath Mahalingam, 47, in the Kali river on Saturday night, after he went missing from the Kaiga Atomic Power Station, about 500km north of state capital Bangalore, the NDTV network reported. Mahalingam’s family identified the victim, the report said.
Palace growing its veggies
Queen Elizabeth II has given the royal seal of approval to a new vegetable patch at Buckingham Palace, officials said yesterday. Royal gardeners have been growing tomatoes, runner beans, onions, leeks and carrots on the allotment for the last six weeks and some produce has already been sent to the London palace’s kitchens. The last time vegetables were grown at Buckingham Palace was during World War II as the royal family tried to encourage Britons to grow their own healthy produce at a time of rationing. But this time, the idea of the 10m by 4m plot, being cultivated without chemicals, is to help the survival of threatened types of seeds.
Prison escape bid foiled
Police have foiled a plan by two ETA Basque separatists to escape from a prison, including one who had been convicted of planning to kill King Juan Carlos, the government said on Saturday. Police also arrested four alleged outside collaborators who were to assist the escape from Huelva prison, the Interior Ministry said. Some of the arrests took place on Saturday. The ministry identified the three ETA inmates as Jorge Garcia, Igor Solana and Arkaitz Goicochea. Garcia was imprisoned in 1995 for planning to kill the king on Mallorca. Solana was jailed in 2000 for the murder of three people and tried to escape in January 2001 by sawing through his cell bars, the ministry said. Goicochea was imprisoned for the murder of Juan Manuel Pinuel Villalon, an officer who was killed by a ETA car bomb in May last year.
Police arrest cat killers
Florida officials say police have made arrests in a recent string of gruesome cat deaths near Miami. A spokesman for the village of Palmetto Bay said in a statement that the Miami-Dade Police Department began making arrests on Saturday night. Horrified owners have been finding their cats killed and mutilated for the past month in Palmetto Bay and another nearby community. Police say some of the dead cats were missing fur and appeared to have been cut with a sharp, straight instrument. Police have been looking into about two dozen deaths.
Moscow meeting boycotted
The government said it was boycotting yesterday’s summit of the seven-nation Organization of the Collective Security Treaty to protest a Russian ban on Belarusian dairy products. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said President Alexander Lukashenko and the Belarusian delegation would not travel to Moscow. The boycott raises the stakes in the politically charged dispute between Russia and one of its closest allies. Lukashenko has depended heavily on Russia for economic and political support.
Ingushetia politician killed
A former deputy prime minister of Ingushetia was killed in the capital Nazran on Saturday, news agencies reported, the third high-profile killing in the restive Caucasus this month. Police officials said Bashir Aushev, who had also served as the republic’s interior minister in the 1990s, was shot by unidentified gunmen outside his house and died later of his wounds in a local hospital. Ingushetia and the Caucasus republic of Dagestan have seen a spike in violence in the past weeks. The victims were assassinated in separate attacks. President Dmitry Medvedev visited Dagestan last week seeking to rally officials there in their fight against Islamist insurgents.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
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
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
BEIJING REACTS: China announced that Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain would be suspended after those nations acted earlier New Zealand yesterday announced that it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. The move came after China passed sweeping new security legislation for the territory. New Zealand is the final member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance to take such action after the Australia, Britain, Canada and the US previously announced similar measures. New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters said that the new legislation goes against commitments China made to the international community. “New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China,” Peters said. Moreover, Wellington would treat military and technology exports to