Ex-official commits suicide
A former senior government official has committed suicide after being questioned over an alleged US$750,000 corruption case, his family said yesterday. Alexandre Ho Si-him (何思謙), 62, former head of the Macau Consumer Council, hanged himself in a hotel room in Zhuhai, China, on Sunday, a statement released by his sister said. Ho stepped down after being questioned by anti-corruption investigators in December. He was accused of corruption over the granting of government contracts over a four-year period to companies he owned.
Yettaw flies home
A US man jailed for swimming to Aung San Suu Kyi’s home flew home to the US from Bangkok yesterday, officials said, ending a bizarre saga that has left the Nobel laureate locked up for another 18 months. John Yettaw, 54, had three days of medical tests at a hospital in Bangkok following his deportation from Myanmar on Sunday. Sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a face mask, a frail and tired-looking Yettaw was pushed through the departures area of the airport on the way to his flight, local TV showed. He held the hand of a Thai nurse and was dressed in khaki trousers and a white shirt. Airline sources said Yettaw was ticketed through to Springfield, Missouri, in a business class seat, with stops in Tokyo and Chicago.
Fake general arrested
A con man posing as a two-star general in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s elite bodyguard unit has been charged with fraud, forgery and using illegal weapons, the Phnom Penh Post reported yesterday. Meng Sarith, 42, was arrested after police were told that one victim had paid him US$4,500 in exchange for the “general” using his supposed influence to free the payee’s brother from jail. He is now awaiting trial in Phnom Penh.
Teen beaten at boot camp
A 14-year-old boy was beaten up and seriously injured at an Internet boot camp within days of a boy dying after a similar attack, state media said yesterday. Pu Liang was sent to a training camp near Chengdu this month by his parents to treat Internet addiction, the China Daily said. After he was attacked, Pu was taken to hospital with water in the lungs and kidney failure, the paper said without explaining how he had arrived by his injuries. One of his trainers was detained by police suspected of causing injury, the report said. The camp says Pu was set upon by classmates. Deng Senshan, 15, was beaten to death on Aug. 2, just 10 hours after entering an Internet bootcamp in Guangxi. Police detained 13 people who were suspected of inflicting intentional injuries and of illegally operating the camp, Xinhua news agency said.
Soprano Behrens dies
German soprano Hildegard Behrens, one of the finest Wagnerian performers of her generation, died in Tokyo on Tuesday. She was 72. Jonathan Friend, artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, said in an e-mail to opera officials on Tuesday that Behrens felt unwell while traveling to a festival near Tokyo. She went to a Tokyo hospital, where she died of an apparent aneurysm. She made her professional stage debut in Freiburg as the countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in 1971 and made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Giorgetta in Puccini’s Il Tabarro in 1976. A funeral was planned in Vienna.
CPJ criticizes Moscow
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the unsolved murder since 2000 of 16 journalists in the country and warned that critical journalism risks “becoming extinct” in the country. CPJ executive director Joel Simon, in a letter obtained on Tuesday to accompany a report by the media rights group, said the Russian government has shown “consistent inability to bring justice in these cases.” The report is to be released in Moscow next month. “This situation has led to vast self-censorship in the Russian press, leaving vital issues underreported or entirely uncovered,” Simon said. “In-depth, critical journalism is in danger of becoming extinct in one of the world’s most important countries,” he said.
The Orthodox Church has cursed and excommunicated a journalist for “satanic lies” in accusing the abbess of a monastery of intimidating locals into selling their homes for “peanuts.” The Orthodox Church used excommunication and the anathema ecclesiastical curse as powerful weapons against its enemies under the tsars, but rarely imposes the sanctions today. The Pskov diocese in the west excommunicated the local journalist after a court found him guilty of libel for an article headlined “A wasp’s nest under golden domes,” which also accused lay sisters at the monastery of smoking and drinking in their robes. The journalist, Oleg Dementyev, said he stood by his claims and would appeal the court decision but not the excommunication.
Chinese hornets invading
The country is facing an invasion of bee-eating Chinese hornets that could hasten the mysterious decline in the honey-bee population and threaten beekeepers’ livelihoods, researchers said on Tuesday. Colonies of Asian hornets, or Vespa velutina, have spread rapidly in southwestern France, a region popular with tourists, and are likely to reach other European countries soon. “More and more of them are coming and they’re colonizing France,” said Quentin Rome, a researcher at the National History Museum in Paris. The 3cm-long insects probably arrived on a boat carrying ceramic goods from China, researchers said.
Record jackpot still not won
A record European jackpot of nearly 140 million euros (US$197.4 million) was still up for grabs on Tuesday, despite frenzied sales of lottery tickets since the start of the year. The SuperEnalotto draw on Tuesday saw no claimant for the winning six numbers worth 139.9 million euros, media reported. The chances of correctly guessing the right six numbers, from one to 90, are about 622 million to one, but that has not stopped millions of players from trying their luck, including many from France and Germany.
Three ETA suspects held
French police have arrested three suspected members of Basque separatist guerrilla group ETA in the skiing resort of Le Corbier after a wave of bombings in Spain, which killed two people, media said yesterday. The three detained in the southern France town were among the government’s most-wanted criminals, reports said. The Web site of newspaper El Pais said one suspect, Alberto Machain Beraza, was thought to have been involved in two attacks last month, one that injured 46 people at a Civil Guards barracks in the north and another that killed two Civil Guards on Mallorca.
Voters reject green bag fee
Seattle voters have rejected a US$0.20 fee for every paper or plastic bag they get from supermarkets, drug stores and convenience stores. With about half the ballots counted in the all-mail vote, the bag fee was failing 58 percent to 42 percent in Tuesday’s primary. City leaders had passed an ordinance to charge the bag fee, which was to start in January, but the plastics industry bankrolled a referendum to put the question to voters in Tuesday’s election. Plastic bag makers had lobbied hard to defeat the fee, outspending opponents about 15 to one. Also in Seattle, unpopular Mayor Greg Nickels was narrowly trailing two challengers in his bid for a third term. Sierra Club activist Mike McGinn had a slim lead with 27 percent of the vote, mobile phone executive Joe Mallahan had 26 percent, while Nickels had 25 percent.
Fire started by traffickers
The fires that hit a protected forest area in mountains close to the northwestern California city of Santa Barbara could have been started by Mexican drug traffickers, officials said on Tuesday. “The reality is that we could have an army out there and not be able to cover all of that ground,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters, saying he based his claim on the size of a marijuana farm and equipment found where the fire began. A special team of the US Forest Service, a counternarcotics police unit and investigators from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department uncovered stacks of propane tanks, irrigation tubing, empty fertilizer canisters, a cooking stove and a semi-automatic rifle.
Novak dies, aged 78
Political columnist Robert Novak, a feisty conservative advocate who was known as the “Prince of Darkness” for his pessimistic outlook, died on Tuesday after a battle with brain cancer that was diagnosed 13 months ago. He was 78. Novak’s wife of 47 years, Geraldine Novak,said he died at his home in Washington early on Tuesday. A household face in the US as co-host of CNN’s popular former program Crossfire, Novak had been a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for decades. “He was a Washington institution, who could turn an idea into the most discussed story around kitchen tables, congressional offices, the White House and everywhere in between,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said.
Boys unfit to stand trial
Two 10-year-old boys charged in the alleged gang-rape of an eight-year-old Liberian girl must be released from juvenile detention and placed in therapeutic foster-care homes rather than with their own families, judges ruled on Tuesday. Judge Aimee Anderson ruled that one of the boys is incompetent to stand trial and ordered him enrolled in a program that could render him fit for trial within six months. Two mental health experts found the other 10-year-old incapable of becoming competent to stand trial within six months.
Family surprised by python
A Southern California family got a slithery surprise when a 3.4m python turned up in their front yard. Francisco Delgadillo, who lives near Lake Elsinore, said he was chatting with his sister on their porch on Sunday night when he saw an enormous snake moving across the fenced yard, KTLA-TV reported. The first animal control officer had to call for backup. Two officers then wrangled the 23kg snake into a truck and took it to a shelter.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
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