Hanoi fines San Miguel
Authorities have fined a Philippines food processing company US$6,000 after a dyke break at a factory reservoir discharged untreated wastewater into a river, an official said yesterday. San Miguel Pure Foods Vietnam was fined for violating four environmental laws, said Pham Danh, director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in the province of Binh Duong, where the dyke broke on July 25 and discharged more than 230,000m³ of untreated wastewater into the Thi Tinh River. It was also ordered to pay US$67,000 in overdue environmental protection fees.
Senator to visit Myanmar
Senator Jim Webb will visit Myanmar this month, the first member of Congress to travel to the Southeast Asian country in more than a decade, his office said on Thursday. Webb, the chairman of a Senate subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific affairs, leaves tomorrow for a five-nation, two-week trip “to explore opportunities to advance US interests in Burma [Myanmar] and the region,” a statement from his office said. A Vietnam War veteran and former US Navy secretary who speaks Vietnamese, Webb will also meet government representatives and industry leaders in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, his office said. US lawmakers are pushing for the release of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, but Webb was not expected to see her, an aide said.
Warrant out for Sakai
Police issued an arrest warrant yesterday for pop star Noriko Sakai, who disappeared after her surfer husband was arrested for possessing illegal stimulants earlier this week, public broadcaster NHK reported. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department plans to arrest Sakai on the same charge when they locate the 38-year-old singer known for her girl-next-door image, NHK said, quoting police sources. Media reports said her Tokyo home was raided after the arrest of her husband Yuichi Takaso, 41, and that police found a small amount of illegal drugs there. Sakai, who is also popular in Taiwan and China, has vanished from public view and not answered phone calls or e-mails since Monday when police asked her to come in to answer questions.
Dalai Lama urges change
China’s policies on ethnic minority populations have failed to foster trust and need to be reviewed, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Thursday. “After 60 years, their policies basically failed to ... bring trust,” the Dalai Lama told journalists in Geneva, adding that the time had come to carry out a “scientific review of the policies.” He also called on the Chinese government to adopt a more holistic approach in its bid to win trust. “Only money will not bring [about the] good image of China and trust. Trust is based on transparency and honesty,” he said.
Sun memorabilia missing
More than a dozen relics related to revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) have gone missing, officials said yesterday. The missing 21 articles of memorabilia were part of a donation back in 2001 consisting of about 3,000 items linked to Sun, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said in a statement. A department spokeswoman could not immediately say what the missing relics included. The department did not identify the owner of the relics, but the South China Morning Post reported yesterday they were offered by Sun’s family in the US in 2001 so the government could set up a museum in his honor.
Abandoned ship safe
Two Australian academics who accepted a lift to China on a cargo vessel after abandoning their crippled catamaran learned yesterday that they might have given up hope too soon. The yachtsmen deserted the Mai Tai last week while 800km north of Darwin on the return leg of a trip to Indonesia. They hitched a ride on a passing China-bound cargo vessel, never expecting to see the Mai Tai again. David Woodhouse, a fellow competitor in the Darwin-to-Ambon race, reported that their vessel fared rather well without them. It washed up on a beach on an island west of Ambon and was being looked after by fishermen. The pair, who were expected to return home from China next week, might now head instead to Ambon, one of Indonesia’s Maluku Islands, to inspect the craft they gave up for dead.
Pesticides raise suicide risk
People living in rural areas with pesticides stored at home are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, a study published by the WHO found. The suicide rate in rural China, home to almost 60 percent of the nation’s 1.3 billion population, is two to five times that in urban areas, the study showed. Greater ease of access to pesticides increased the reported rates of suicidal thoughts, according to the study led by Zhang Jianmin from the Zhejiang Provincial Tongde Hospital in Hangzhou City. China accounts for 44 percent of suicides worldwide, the study said. Suicide is the leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 34 years in China.
Parrot outwits investors
A five-year-old female parrot named Strawberry has proved smarter than human investors in a stock investment contest, organizers said yesterday. The parrot from Papua New Guinea finished third, with an investment return of 13.7 percent, in the six-week contest which ended on Wednesday, said Paxnet, an online stock market information provider. Human investors picked any stocks they wanted. The parrot, using its beak, made random choices from balls representing 30 blue chips. Human investors averaged a 4.6 percent loss, Paxnet said.
Villagers appeal to pope
After centuries of praying for a local glacier to stop growing, villagers are now seeking an audience with Pope Benedict to get his blessing for prayers against the global warming that is causing it to recede. In 1678, the inhabitants of the Alpine villages of Fieschertal and Fiesch made a vow to live virtuously and to pray against the growth of the Aletsch glacier, Europe’s longest, which had caused a lake to flood their homes. But the villages now want to seek permission from Pope Benedict to change their vow as the glacier is melting quickly. “The residents of Fiesch and Fischertal hope that this will happen in September or October and are optimistic that the Holy Father will decide in their favor as he has repeatedly spoken out about climate change,” they said.
Sarkozy backs pants wearer
President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed on Thursday to continue to support a “courageous” Sudanese woman who faces 40 lashes for wearing pants. Sarkozy spoke of his “emotion” and “deep concern” for the fate of Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, whose trial on public indecency charges is “an intolerable attack on women’s rights” in a letter made public by his office. A judge in Khartoum has adjourned the trial to Sept. 7 to determine whether Hussein, a journalist who also works with the UN, has legal immunity. Hussein, who is in her 30s, was charged with public indecency after she was arrested last month along with 12 other women who were wearing pants at a Khartoum restaurant.
McCanns seek ‘Beckham’
Private detectives working for the family of a British girl who went missing in Portugal two years ago said on Thursday they wanted to trace a woman who is a “Victoria Beckham look-alike.” The investigators searching for Madeleine McCann issued a photofit of the woman, who had an Australian accent and was seen by two British men in Barcelona three days after the girl disappeared in Portugal. The woman had a conversation with one of the men that has convinced the McCann family’s detectives that she might have information about Madeleine, the family’s spokesman Clarence Mitchell said. Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.
Fire destroys 39 stores
A huge fire destroyed 39 stores in three markets in downtown Amman on Thursday before hundreds of firefighters and civil defense personnel managed to bring it under control nine hours after its eruption at dawn, officials and businessmen said. At least five firefighters suffered injuries as they struggled to extinguish the blaze, but no citizens were hurt. The blaze started at the four-story Souq Bukhariyah, one of the oldest marketplaces in downtown Amman, and extended to two neighboring shopping complexes.
MiG fuselages sell for US$5
Investigators are probing the illegal sale of four fuselages of MiG-31 interceptor fighter jets that were sold off for as little as US$5, although worth US$3.7 million each, RIA news agency said on Thursday. The sale came to light after an anti-corruption check was carried out to see whether regulations were followed during the sale of items from the Sokol Aircraft Construction plant in Nizhny Novgorod. “As a result, long-range supersonic interceptor aircraft that were not for sale were purchased by a dummy firm,” prosecutors were quoted as saying by RIA.
Edwards mistress in court
The former mistress of former senator John Edwards arrived at a federal courthouse in Raleigh where a grand jury was meeting on Thursday — an appearance that comes as federal investigators examine the two-time presidential candidate’s finances. Rielle Hunter walked into the building through a back entrance and holding a young child. Edwards has denied the child is his and a former aide has claimed to be the child’s father. Edwards has admitted to an affair with Hunter that he says ended in 2006. That year, Edwards’ political action committee paid Hunter’s video production firm US$100,000 for work. Then the committee paid another US$14,086 on April 1, 2007. Edwards, a US senator from 1998 until his vice presidential bid in 2004, acknowledged in May that federal investigators are looking into how he used campaign funds.
Octuplets need no guardian
A California appeals court has ruled that Nadya Suleman’s octuplets don’t have to have a court-appointed guardian to oversee their estate. The Fourth District Court of Appeal issued the temporary stay Thursday. It overturns last month’s order by a Superior Court probate judge appointing an independent lawyer to watch over the babies’ finances. The probate judge had said he wanted to ensure the babies weren’t exploited by tabloid photo spreads or other paid ventures.
No shoes, no service, baby
Like most restaurants, the Burger King in the St Louis suburb of Sunset Hills, Missouri, has a no shoes, no shirt, no service policy. And baby, do they enforce it. Too much so, the company admitted, after apologizing for restaurant workers who asked a mother to leave because her six-month-old wasn’t wearing shoes. Jennifer Frederich, her mother and Frederich’s infant daughter, Kaylin, stopped at the Burger King in Sunset Hills on Sunday. The baby was shoeless — Frederich figured tiny baby feet were immune from the rule. But workers told the family to leave because the shoeless baby was violating a health code. Burger King released a statement on Thursday indicating workers had taken the no shoes, no service policy too far. Frederich said the flap was a bit overblown, and she hoped no one would be fired. But she appreciated Burger King’s apology.
Lula affirms sovereignty
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told his Colombian counterpart on Thursday that Bogota’s decision to allow an increase in US troops in its country was a sovereign matter, Brazil’s foreign minister said. After a meeting between Lula and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters Brazil had requested more transparency on the plan and suggested Colombia discuss it at the regional Unasur defense council on Monday. Uribe’s plan to increase the number of US troops in Colombia has drawn opposition from moderate governments in the region as well as from left-wing populist leaders.
Judge pleads guilty to fraud
A former appeals court judge who resigned amid controversy over his financial and personal relationship with a stripper has pleaded guilty to bank fraud. Thomas Stringer appeared in Tampa federal court on Thursday morning. A stripper claimed he helped her hide from creditors by letting her put money into his bank accounts.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete