Crime ring trials begin
Two courts in Chongqing opened the first trials of hundreds of people accused of involvement in some of the country’s largest organized crime rings on Monday, including several top officials. An official at Chongqing’s No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court told reporters that the first trials were “still under way” on Monday afternoon, adding that the duration and the number of defendants were “secret.” State media said the first trials included 31 members of two mafia groups led by Yang Tianqing (楊天慶) and Liu Zhongyong (劉鐘永). Chongqing police questioned more than 2,000 suspects in a six-month crackdown on organized crime, including 67 alleged gang leaders and 50 government officials.
Indian PM angers Beijing
Beijing expressed strong dissatisfaction yesterday over the Indian prime minister’s weekend visit to a disputed region along their mutual border. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Arunachal Pradesh came despite Beijing’s serious concerns, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu (馬朝旭) said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site. “We demand the Indian side address China’s serious concerns and not trigger disturbances in the disputed region so as to facilitate the healthy development of China-India relations,” the statement said.
Kadeer decries sentences
Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer said yesterday a decision to sentence six Uighurs to death over July unrest would serve only to “further enrage” her people. Kadeer, the US-based leader of the World Uighur Congress, added that she believed the Uighurs were not tried according to Chinese or international law. “This is not going to create peace and stability in the region, this will further enrage the Uighur people ... For the Uighur people around the world this is a very sad day, a day of mourning,” Kadeer told Auckland, New Zealand student radio station 95bFM through an interpreter. The six were convicted of murder and other crimes on Monday by a court in Urumqi in the first trials over unrest in July. “Not only the six Uighurs, we believe a lot of Uighurs have been killed through torture in the prisons after July 5. This is an injustice,” Kadeer said.
Free second honeymoons
Terengganu state has offered to pay for a second honeymoon holiday for any married couple on the brink of a divorce, a news report said on Monday. Several holiday packages, which also include marriage counseling sessions, would be introduced by the end of the year with the aim of reducing the increasing number of divorces, the Star online news portal said. The all-expense-paid trips would only be offered to couples who are going to file for divorce or separation, said Ashaari Idris, the state’s community development committee chairman.
TV hurts babies: report
Children should not watch TV until they turn two because it can hurt their language development and ability to concentrate, said government recommendations expected to be released next week. They also say children aged two to five should watch no more than an hour of TV a day, the Australian newspaper reported on Monday. “Based on recent research, it is recommended that children younger than two years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media [DVDs, computer and other electronic games],” they say.
Poll supports minister
Two-thirds of of the respondents in a poll do not want Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand to resign for having written about paying young male prostitutes for sex in Thailand, an opinion poll showed on Monday. Mitterrand has rejected calls for his resignation, sparked by revelations in his 2005 autobiography, The Bad Life, and said the male prostitutes were consenting adults. The government has also come out in support of Mitterrand, who has threatened legal action to protect his reputation. “I got into the habit of paying for boys,” Mitterrand wrote. “All these rituals of the market for youths, the slave market excited me enormously.”
Leaders target fake drugs
Six African leaders have joined former French president Jacques Chirac in campaigning against the trade in fake medicines that are used widely on the world’s poorest continent but threaten patients and state revenues. Thousands of pharmacies, market stalls or street peddlers sell the cheap, counterfeit drugs. But the WHO says fake or altered anti-malarials alone kill about 100,000 Africans annually, while the black market trade means a loss of 2.5 percent to 5 percent in government revenues.
Mooner dragged by train
A man mooning railway staff in a departing train got his trousers caught in a carriage door and ended up being dragged half naked along the platform, out of the station and onto the tracks. The 22-year-old journalism student shoved his backside against the window of a low-slung double-decker train when staff forced him off in Lauenbrueck for traveling without a ticket, a spokesman for police in the northern city of Bremen said. “It’s a miracle he wasn’t badly hurt,” the spokesman said on Monday. “This sort of thing can end up killing you.” Instead, dangling by his trousers, the man got pulled along for about 200m, all the while managing to keep his legs away from the wheels of the train. The ordeal ended when a passenger pulled the emergency brake.
Passengers rescued at sea
Authorities rescued six people who survived in the Mediterranean Sea for more than five hours on Monday after their small plane crashed off the coast of Corsica, officials said. The first two survivors were found thanks to a distress beacon and were plucked from the choppy sea by a helicopter. They were treated for hypothermia at a beach before being taken to hospital, a medical source said. A third person was rescued later by an army helicopter. The last three survivors were found at 10pm near a lifeboat that was dropped by a reconnaissance aircraft, the rescue operations center in the Corsican city of Ajaccio said.
Nun’s relics attract crowds
Up to 100,000 pilgrims are expected to flock to the mother church of Roman Catholics in England for the culmination of a tour of the relics of a 19th century French nun that arrived in London on Monday. The heavy jacaranda wood casket containing the relics of St Therese of Lisieux was to be on show in Westminster Cathedral until Thursday, the high point of a month-long tour of England and Wales. The relics, made up of portions of her thigh and foot bones, have attracted crowds in Catholic cathedrals, convents and even Wormwood Scrubs prison in London.
Presley hair rocks house
The King may be dead, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to run your fingers through his hair. A clump of hair evidently shaved off entertainer Elvis Presley when he went into the service back in 1958 is creating a buzz as it goes on the auction block this Sunday at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago. The hair is part of a collection of more than 200 Presley items that belonged to Gary Pepper, former president of a Presley fan club and a close friend of Presley. Pepper died in 1980 and left his collection to his nurse, who is putting the items up for auction, the auction house said. Although there has not been a DNA test of the hair, “somewhat of a hair authenticator” John Reznikoff compared the sample to his own sample of Presley’s hair and concluded the sample is authentic. “I’m very careful with the hair I authenticate,” Reznikoff said. Reznikoff also has samples of hair that once sat atop some of the most famous heads in history, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. The auction house estimates the hair is worth between US$8,000 to US$12,000, but a few years back some of Presley’s hair sold for US$115,000.
Beating may be hate crime
New York City police say a 49-year-old gay man leaving a corner deli near his home was beaten by two men in an apparent hate crime. Jack Price remains in a medically induced coma. He is in serious but stable condition. Police say the two suspects taunted Price and yelled anti-gay slurs while he was in the store early on Friday. They attacked him outside, not far from his home in the middle-class Queens neighborhood of College Point. Daniel Aleman, 26, was arrested on Sunday and a second suspect is being sought.
Airport named for Carter
An airport about 32km from former US president Jimmy Carter’s hometown of Plains, Georgia, has been named after the 39th president despite some people opposing the change. Souther Field Airport in Americus was renamed Jimmy Carter Regional Airport on Sunday. The Americus City Council and Sumter County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously for the change last month, and the Americus and Sumter County Airport Authority approved it. Opponents say they have no issue with Carter himself, but just want to preserve local history, including where Charles Lindbergh flew solo for the first time.
A demonstrator was killed and two wounded on Monday when Maya Indians blocked roads entering the capital in protest on the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ 1492 discovery of the Americas. Roadblocks went up at dawn as protesters demanded a halt in operations at a controversial open-pit gold mine at Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan and the construction of a hydroelectric dam at San Juan Sacatepequez, arguing the “megaprojects” cause excessive environmental damage. Imer Boror, 19, was shot several times after arguing with a driver at a roadblock, National Police spokesman Donald Gonzalez said. Columbus Day is celebrated locally as the Day of Hispanic Heritage, but protesters were instead marching on what they said is the Day of Dignity and Resistance of the Indian People, protest leader Juana Mulul said. “Our movement is purely in defense of Mother Earth and our territory,” Mulul said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
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
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic