U2 backs Aung San Suu Kyi
As U2 begins its world tour, the rock band is turning a spotlight on Myanmar’s jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On its Web site and on stage, U2 is asking fans to wear an Aung San Suu Kyi mask in support of the 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner. “Wear it to work or college. Wear it on the bus or the train. Wear it in the pub or at shops. And don’t forget. Bring it to a U2 show,” the band says on its official Web site. A mask of Aung San Suu Kyi’s smiling face can be downloaded and printed and appears inside the program for the band’s “360 degree” tour, which opened earlier this week in Barcelona.
Aso’s popularity plunges
Public support for Prime Minister Taro Aso has plunged below 20 percent as his party faces losing its grip on power in upcoming elections, a poll showed yesterday. The rating of 19.7 percent was down from 22.9 percent last month and is the third consecutive decline, the Yomiuri Shimbun said in its latest snapshot of voter sentiment. On Wednesday, Aso named two new Cabinet ministers as he explores ways to improve his sagging popularity ahead of elections that he must call by September. But the poll showed 56 percent of respondents did not support the move, which was backed by just 16 percent of those questioned.
First elephant born in Sydney
Locals yesterday welcomed the first elephant ever born in the country with the arrival of a 100kg male calf at a Sydney zoo, keepers said. The calf, yet to be named, was born at the harborside Taronga Zoo just after 3am to a 12-year-old Asian elephant named Thong Dee, the zoo’s director Guy Cooper said. Thong Dee, formerly a Bangkok street elephant, was surprised by the birth, and needed to be calmed before she could be introduced to her son, said Cooper, adding that the calf was conceived naturally with the bull Gung under the zoo’s breeding program. She greeted her baby by touching his trunk and he soon tried to suckle, which Cooper said was a good sign.
Chinese man arrested
A Chinese businessman said to be friendly with a number of members of parliament has been arrested and charged with immigration and passport offenses, a newspaper reported yesterday. Yong Ming Yan — also known as Bill Liu, Yang Liu and William Yan — was arrested on June 27 as he was about to board a plane to leave the country, the Weekend Herald reported. He subsequently appeared in court on 12 charges alleging he made false declarations on his immigration papers, had false passports and used deception to gain New Zealand citizenship.
Bangkok buys up elephants
In a bid to rid Bangkok of its elephant population, city authorities have offered to buy the wandering pachyderms from their owners and send them back to the jungle, a media report said yesterday. Under the new project, mahouts have been encouraged to sell their wards to the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation, a charity that releases domesticated pachyderms into forest reserves, the Bangkok Post said. The foundation currently has enough funds to buy about 18 elephants, if priced between 500,000 baht (US$14,492) to 1 million baht. Donations are being sought to raise its elephant purchase budget.
Chechen police killed
At least seven members of the Chechen police force were killed yesterday when their car came under fire in Ingushetia, news agencies reported. Interfax news agency quoted security sources as saying that seven police had been killed while the RIA-Novosti and ITAR-TASS agencies said that eight had lost their lives. The vehicle came under grenade and gun fire as it was traveling on a road in Ingushetia at about 5:30am and burst into flames, the news agencies said. The Chechen police were in Ingushetia to conduct a joint special operation against militants with their Ingush colleagues, the reports said.