Ex-officers seek benefits
About 60 demobilized army officers made a rare public appeal to the top military body on Tuesday for pensions, medical insurance and other benefits they said were withdrawn during the country’s campaign to downsize the army. Demobilized officers are supposed to receive benefits including cash subsidies, food, housing and cold-weather clothing under a 2001 government policy. But about 20,000 military officers around the country who retired in the 1990s are ineligible, and they are struggling to get by, said Hao Zhongmin, one of the former officers.
Train hits school bus
A passenger train hit a school bus at an ungated railroad crossing in the east amid dense fog yesterday, killing at least eight children and the bus driver, police said. Twelve children also were injured in the collision near the Punjab Province town of Mian Channu, and some were in serious condition, police official Mohammed Farooq said. There were no known casualties on the passenger train. Parts of the country are under the grip of heavy fog which has caused several road accidents. Low visibility also has forced authorities to occasionally suspend traffic on the country’s main highway linking the capital, Islamabad, with the eastern city of Lahore and other towns.
Pyongyang warns Seoul
Pyongyang said yesterday that South Korea would face unspecified retaliation if it did not stop activists from launching propaganda leaflets across their divided border. The two Koreas agreed in 2004 to end decades of propaganda warfare across the Demilitarized Zone dividing the neighbors. However, the South Korean government said it cannot stop activists from sending the leaflets, citing freedom of speech, though it has urged to stop so that they don’t damage ties between the two Koreas. The North’s military said it “will never tolerate even the slightest acts’” of undermining “our leadership’s absolute authority.”
US visitors welcome
Pyongyang appears ready to welcome visitors from the US year-round, increasing the trickle of tourists from its sworn enemy who provide the reclusive state with hard cash. The country, which had restricted US tourists to visits that coincided with its mass games that usually run from August to October, will institute the change this year, Koryo Tours, a major group based in China that organizes visits to the isolated country said yesterday. The country has lost out on tens of millions of dollars a year it used to earn through tourism with South Korea because of political wrangling with its rival over Pyongyang’s military threats to the region and nuclear weapons program.
Man kills three, self
A middle-aged man killed himself after fatally shooting his mother-in-law and two other people with a shotgun on Tuesday in a bar in the western part of the country, police and reports said. The shooting occurred at about 8pm in Hibikino City, outside Osaka, an Osaka prefectural police spokesman said. “The suspect fired the shotgun inside the bar and then shot himself on a street outside,” the official said by telephone. The gunman was later identified as an Osaka city government employee, Yasuhisa Sugiura, 49, Kyodo news agency reported. The three victims included his mother-in-law and a bar employee. The bar owner was critically wounded in the attack and died later, Kyodo said.
Minister’s niece convicted
A British government minister’s niece was convicted of murder on Tuesday and sentenced to 15 years in jail for drunkenly stabbing a Frenchman she picked up in a bar. The court convicted Jessica Davies, 30, of killing 24-year-old Olivier Mugnier in November 2007 in her apartment in the chic Paris suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The niece of the multi-millionaire Junior Defense Minister Quentin Davies admitted killing her victim, but said she had a blackout and only remembered coming round to find him bleeding to death on her bed. She was sentenced to 15 years in jail and 10 years of probation and psychological monitoring. The judge and jury in the Versailles court heard Davies had suffered from psychological problems since her English father and French mother divorced acrimoniously when she was 14.
McCanns face accuser
The parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann faced a former Portuguese police officer in a libel court on Tuesday over his claims that she is dead and that they were involved in her disappearance. Goncalo Amaral, who led the initial stages of the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance in Portugal in May 2007, made the allegations in his July 2008 book Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie. Arriving at the court in Lisbon, Kate and Gerry McCann, who are claiming 1.2 million euros (US$1.7 million) for defamation, said they were “confident,” while Amaral said he hoped “justice would be done.”
Prostitute fined by tax office
The tax office has levied a fine of 2.3 million zlotys (US$820,000) on an unemployed woman for failing to pay tax on income worth at least 13.7 million zlotys she said she had earned as a prostitute. The woman told the tax office in the southern city of Katowice that she had very “generous” customers, the Web site gazeta.pl, which is linked to leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, reported on Tuesday. One of her clients paid the woman 5 million zlotys during the 1997 to 2002 period, she was quoted as saying.
Web campaign wants No. 1
The extramarital affair conducted by Iris Robinson, the wife of Northern Ireland’s First Minister, has inspired an Internet campaign to push Mrs Robinson, the song from the film The Graduate, to the top of the British pop charts. The drive began after Robinson, 60, said last week she tried to kill herself last year following an affair with a then 19-year-old man, a tale that resembles the plot of Mike Nichols’ Oscar-winning film. Peter Robinson temporarily stood down as first minister on Monday to face an inquiry over whether he should have told authorities of the £50,000 (US$80,000) his wife raised to help the 19-year-old man open a cafe in Belfast.
No sunbeds for under-18s
The health secretary for England and Wales, Andy Burnham, pledged his government’s support yesterday for a private member’s bill banning sunbeds for the under-18s, following evidence they can lead to skin cancer in later life. Campaigners, however, are dismayed the bill will not follow Scotland’s example with an outright ban on unstaffed, coin-operated tanning booths. Without staff there will be no one to police the ban and prevent under-18s from exposing themselves to doses of ultraviolet radiation that are sometimes greater than the midday sun in the Mediterranean.
RE-EDUCATION: The ambassador to Australia told reporters that he understood there ‘might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China’ China’s ambassador to Australia yesterday said that Beijing is prepared to use “all necessary means” to prevent Taiwan from being independent, saying there can be “no compromise” on its “one China” principle. Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) repeatedly told the National Press Club in Canberra that the US was to blame for the recent escalation in tensions, adding that China’s decision to launch ballistic missiles in live-fire exercises in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “legitimate and justified.” Xiao said that after a “good start” with the new government of Australian Prime Minister
According to Forrest Gump, life is like a box of chocolates because “you never know what you’re going to get.” Now, an Indian remake of the movie has been hit by boycott calls over years-old comments by its Muslim star, Aamir Khan. It is the latest example of how Bollywood actors, particularly minority Muslims such as Khan, are feeling increased pressure under Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister Modi. Laal Singh Chaddha, an Indian spin on the 1994 Hollywood hit with Tom Hanks, is expected to be one of India’s biggest films of the year. This is due in large part to its
Screams from soldiers being tortured, overflowing cells, inhuman conditions, a regime of intimidation and murder. Inedible gruel, no communication with the outside world and days marked off with a home-made calendar written on a box of tea. This is what conditions are like inside Olenivka, a notorious detention center where dozens of Ukrainian soldiers burned to death late last month, said a former prisoner of the camp outside Donetsk in the Russian-occupied east of Ukraine. Anna Vorosheva — a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur — gave a harrowing account to the Observer of her time inside the jail. She spent 100 days in Olenivka
A landmark sexual harassment case in China yesterday returned to court after an earlier ruling dealt a blow to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement. Zhou Xiaoxuan (周曉璇) stepped forward in 2018 to accuse state TV host Zhu Jun (朱軍) of forcibly kissing and groping her during her 2014 internship at the broadcaster. While the case of Zhou, now 29, inspired many others to share their experiences of sexual assault publicly and sparked a social media storm, a court ruled last year there was insufficient evidence to back her allegation. Zhou appealed, and returned to court for another hearing yesterday in Beijing. “I still feel