Executive held over cash
An executive at China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile operator, has been detained after going missing with hundreds of millions of yuan, a report said yesterday. Li Xiangdong went missing “many days ago,” the 21st Century Business Herald said, citing unnamed sources. It was unclear how Li siphoned the money away from the company.
Top painting given away
Australia’s most expensive painting, a Sidney Nolan “Ned Kelly” work, was given away on Wednesday only days after setting the nation’s art record. The painting, titled First-Class Marksman, of Australia’s iconic outlaw sold at auction last Thursday for A$5.4 million (US$4.96 million). Less than a week later the previously anonymous buyer, the Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation, stepped forward and donated the painting to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. Experts say the painting reached a staggering price because it was the only work in the Ned Kelly series that remained in private hands. The other 26 are at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra. Sidney Nolan is considered Australia’s most acclaimed artist.
Video shocks country
Airliner damages tires
Qantas Airways was yesterday investigating an incident in which an Airbus A380 damaged tires on landing in Sydney, showering sparks and scaring passengers. Witnesses reported seeing flames and hearing a loud bang as flight QF32 touched down late on Wednesday, while media said two tires burst. No passengers were hurt. An airport worker told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that he feared the worst when he saw the dramatic landing. “I thought there was a serious crash, there were sparks and flames shooting out everywhere,” he as said. “And the noise was deafening, like cannons going off. I really thought something catastrophic had happened.”
Car crashes into plane
A man crashed his car through security gates and into a parked commercial aircraft at an airport on Wednesday, federal aviation spokesman Akin Olukunle said. The man slammed his aging Audi sedan through two sets of gates guarded by the Nigerian Air Force at Margaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar, Olukunle said. The car then rammed into a Boeing 737 operated by Arik Air, the country’s leading commercial airline. The aircraft was empty at the time of the collision and no one was injured, Olukunle said, though local newspapers claimed passengers for the plane’s Abuja-bound flight were already boarding. Olukunle said the man was immediately arrested and was in Air Force custody.
Man readies for solar trip
A German adventurer is preparing to sail the world in what he says is the world’s largest solar-powered boat. The catamaran-style yacht sporting some 500m² of solar panels was put into the water on Wednesday in the northern city of Kiel. Skipper Raphael Domjan praised the “groundbreaking” step toward what he said would be the first ever world tour by a solar-powered boat, scheduled to start in April next year. The boat, built by the Knierim Yachtbau shipyard, is 31m long, 15m wide and 7.5m high.
Volcano forms new craters
A volcano blasting steam and ash into the atmosphere formed new craters spewing lava on Wednesday, Icelandic radio said. The volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier began erupting 10 days ago, forcing hundreds of people to leave the area and leading authorities to divert flights. A new fissure about 300m long opened up on Wednesday, state radio said. Geologists said this could mean activity was moving further north, toward the nature reserve of Thorsmork, a popular tourist site. Vidir Gardarsson of the Civil Defense in Reykjavik told the newspaper Morgonbladid the fissure was still expanding. “We want to move people away from the area while we figure out what is going on,” he said. “This is a security measure while this evolves.”
Former pope knew of abuse
A newly released letter to then-Pope Paul VI indicates the Vatican was aware of clergy abuse in the US nearly five decades ago. In the 1963 letter released on Wednesday, the head of a Roman Catholic order that oversaw treatment of pedophile priests recommended removing pedophile priests from active ministry. The letter is a summary of the Reverend Gerald M.C. Fitzgerald’s thoughts on problem priests that appears to have been requested by the pope after Fitzgerald’s 1963 visit to the Vatican. Fitzgerald headed the New Mexico-based Servants of the Holy Paracletes.
Pirates seize Indian boat
Somali pirates hijacked a small Indian trade boat, al-Barari, as it left Mogadishu port, but another boat that was also attacked managed to escape, traders and officials said on Wednesday. “Pirates attacked two boats that left Mogadishu seaport on Tuesday. One boat escaped and came back to the seaport,” said Hassan Ahmed, chief superintendent at Mogadishu port. A trader in the capital confirmed Wednesday’s hijacking. “It had unloaded food and medicine at the port. Two boats were sailing away from the seaport, one escaped the attack and returned to the port and the other was taken,” said Bashir Hassan, a Somali trader.
Tiger pulled from moat
“Tony” the Siberian tiger is back on display at the San Francisco Zoo after being shot with tranquilizers and hauled out of a moat where he’d spent four nights. Zoo officials say it’s not clear why Tony stayed in the moat. He’s in good health, although he’s 18 and a recent medical evaluation showed signs of senility. Zoo officials decided on Monday that Tony could no longer stay in the dry moat he climbed into on Thursday last week, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reported. The excrement was piling up and officials worried about a potential health hazard.
Pentagon denies launch
The Defense Department denied on Wednesday the test-firing a submarine-launched ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads during a joint military exercise with Saudi Arabia. A Western military official in Saudi Arabia, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a Trident missile was launched on Wednesday in the kingdom. Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Withington, a Defense Department spokesman, said there was no launch of Trident or any other missile during the exercise, which began last week.
‘Bouquet’ up for auction
A painting celebrating Impressionist artist Henri Matisse’s joy at France’s first Bastille Day after World War I will be offered at auction on May 5 in New York, Sotheby’s said on Wednesday. The painting, Bouquet for July 14, 1919, has an estimated value of between US$18 million and US$25 million, said Emmanuel Di Donna, who heads Impressionist sales office at Sotheby’s in New York. The 116cm by 89cm painting “heralds the fresh and colorful style that would define Matisse’s career from 1919 onward, and signals the artist’s renewed sense of optimism following one of the most troubling periods of his career,” a Sotheby’s statement read.
Wiretapping of charity illegal
A federal judge on Wednesday deemed “unlawful” the 2004 electronic surveillance of an Islamic foundation that the administration of former president George W. Bush suspected was supporting terrorism. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker for the northern district of California ruled the al-Haramain charity had provided “sufficient non-classified evidence” to support its claim that it was submitted to “unlawful electronic surveillance” by the government. The same judge last year rejected an argument by the administration of President Barack Obama that it was immune from prosecution in the case on national security grounds.
Linguist glad to be home
A a 60-year-old Iraqi-American kidnapped while working as a linguist for the Army in Iraq released a statement on Wednesday saying he was delighted to be home. Issa Salomi, kidnapped in January, returned late on Tuesday night and is undergoing medical tests and debriefings with Army officials at Fort Sam Houston, where a voluntary reintegration program for former hostages is housed. “I am safe, healthy and unharmed, and am delighted to be back,” he said in a statement released by the Army. “Few experiences have ever been as satisfying to me as the moment Tuesday when the wheels of my airplane touched down on American soil.” Army South spokeswoman Arwen Consaul said the San Diego-area man was eager to see his family.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of