Child killer sentenced
A court on yesterday sentenced a former doctor to death for fatally stabbing eight children outside their school last month, state media said. Zheng Mingsheng, 41, was given the death penalty after a half-day trial in the southeastern city of Nanping, where the grisly killings took place, Xinhua news agency said. Zheng admitted to “intentionally killing” the children on March 23 at the gate of the Nanping Experimental Elementary School after he was jilted by a woman, it said. During the trial, prosecutors played video clips showing the defendant stabbing the children with the knife as they arrived at the school. Zheng had no history of mental illness, Xinhua said, citing police.
One in five believe in aliens
Aliens exist and they live in our midst disguised as humans — at least, that’s what 20 percent of people polled in a global survey believe. The Reuters Ipsos poll of 23,000 adults in 22 countries showed that more than 40 percent of people from India and China believe that aliens walk among us disguised as humans, while those least likely to believe in this are from Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands (8 percent each). “It would appear that that there’s a modest correlation between the most populated countries and those more likely to indicate there may be aliens disguised amongst them compared with those countries with the smaller populations,” said John Wright, senior vice president of market research firm Ipsos.
Oil to be moved off ship
Oil that leaked from a coal-carrying ship stranded on the Great Barrier Reef has dispersed into the ocean, and crews prepared yesterday to transfer the ship’s remaining oil to eliminate any further environmental risk to the world’s largest coral reef. The water surface no longer has an oil sheen around the Shen Neng 1 and the leak from the hull had stopped, said Patrick Quirk, general manager of Maritime Safety Queensland. Officials aim to refloat the ship and escort it from coastal waters, but first they must transfer nearly 950 tonnes of heavy fuel oil off the boat to prevent more spills.
Three girls’ schools bombed
Militants bombed three girls’ schools on the outskirts of Peshawar, the latest in a wave of Islamist attacks on educational institutions, a provincial minister said yesterday. Nobody was hurt in the pre-dawn attacks in the northwestern capital, the gateway to the troubled tribal regions, where the military is battling Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants. The attacks were blamed the attacks on the Taliban. Islamist militants oppose co-education and have destroyed hundreds of schools, mostly for girls, in the country’s northwest.
KFC stores mobbed
Angry customers mobbed Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets this week, turning over tables at a Beijing restaurant, in anger over a coupon promotion gone awry, state media reported yesterday. The trouble flared on Tuesday as the US restaurant chain launched a promotion in which coupons downloaded from the Internet could be exchanged for food at KFC outlets, the Global Times newspaper said. Customers became angry after staff refused to accept some coupons for the “Super Tuesday” promotion, saying they were fake.
Spies probed Sarkozy rumors
Spies tried to track down the source of rumors about the stability of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s marriage, the head of the domestic intelligence agency said on Wednesday. Asked about the rumors — which became headlines in the European press after surfacing on blogs — intelligence chief Bernard Squarcini confirmed that specialists had been asked to identify their source. Longstanding rumors about the stability of the presidential marriage went mainstream last month when a blogger working for a firm subcontracted to the the Sunday newspaper Journal du Dimanche published the rumors, since denied.
Dead gorilla may be father
A French gorilla who died in Britain after being sent across the Channel to woo London Zoo’s female apes may have fathered a child before passing away, the zoo said on Wednesday. Yeboah, a 12-year-old stud, arrived at the zoo around four months ago on a mission to find a mate among three female gorillas at the zoo, but he died on March 25 after suffering a diabetic episode, plunging the females — Zaire, Effie and Mjukuu — into mourning and depriving them of their second mate in less than two years. On Wednesday, however, zookeepers said they believed the 127kg gorilla may have left a little something behind before departing for the afterlife. The zoo believes Mjukuu, the youngest of the three, may be expecting, she said.
Gas linked to visions
People who have “near-death experiences,” such as flashing lights, feelings of peace and joy and divine encounters before they pull back from the brink may simply have raised levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, a study suggests. Near-death experiences are reported by between 11 and 23 percent of survivors of heart attacks, according to previous research. What causes the experiences, however, is strongly debated. Some pin the mechanisms on physical or psychological reasons, while others see a transcendental force. Researchers in Slovenia, reporting on Thursday in a peer-reviewed journal, Critical Care, investigated 52 consecutive cases of heart attacks in three large hospitals. They found that a common association was high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and, to a lesser degree, potassium.
Three ex-generals charged
A court on Wednesday charged three retired generals over an alleged 2003 plot to overthrow the Islamist-rooted government, jailing them pending trial, Anatolia news agency reported. The three had been rounded up on Monday in a police operation that was abruptly suspended when the two prosecutors who ordered the arrests were removed from the controversial probe. Nine others were released after questioning.
Trafficking suspects arrested
Six people were detained on suspicion of running an international organ trafficking ring and breaking promises to donors to pay for their removed kidneys, police said on Wednesday. Police also said they prevented several would-be donors from giving up their kidneys, intercepting some at the country’s international airport as they were preparing to travel abroad for surgery. The traffickers offered up to US$100,000 per kidney, but in at least two cases didn’t pay the donors after the organs were surgically removed, police said. The number of actual transplants was not known, police said.
Judge fired over DVD arrest
A longtime judge in Littleton, Colorado, has been fired after issuing an arrest warrant for a teenager over an overdue library DVD. Municipal Judge James Kimmel issued the warrant after 19-year-old Aaron Henson failed to show up in court on Jan. 14 over the overdue DVD, House of Flying Daggers. On Jan. 25, police stopped the teen for speeding and held him for nearly eight hours after discovering the warrant. Henson had moved and didn’t received the summons to court. The teen said he had packed the DVD in a box, and returned it about a week before Henson issued the warrant. The library notified the judge the DVD was back. The judge of nearly 30 years was fired on Tuesday night.
Inmate escapes to smoke
Authorities say an inmate who broke out of jail, then returned after stealing 14 packs of cigarettes, has been sentenced to 20 years. Prosecutors told the Florida Times-Union that inmate Harry Jackson, 26, escaped his cell at the Camden County Jail in Woodbine, Georgia, last year and went to the exercise yard to retrieve cigarettes he had expected would be tossed over a fence. They say that when the contraband wasn’t there, Jackson scaled the fence, broke a window at a convenience store and grabbed cigarette packs only to be arrested upon his return. Jackson pleaded guilty to burglary and escape charges on Monday.
Space station expanded
The International Space Station has a new walk-in closet. Space shuttle Discovery’s astronauts lifted the 13 tonne cargo carrier from the payload bay late on Wednesday and attached it to the space station early yesterday. About half of that mass represents science experiments and supplies, as well as a new bedroom and freezer. NASA says the sleeping compartment may be turned into a powder room, where space station residents can take sponge baths and clean up. The Italian-built cargo carrier — named Leonardo after Leonardo da Vinci — will return to Earth filled with trash and old equipment.
Official sorry over omission
Amid growing national criticism, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell apologized late on Wednesday for not acknowledging slavery in a proclamation he signed declaring April “Confederate History Month.” McDonnell recognized he had made a “major omission” in not citing slavery, a practice that sparked the 1861 to 1865 US Civil War between the Union of 20 free states and five border slave states and the 11 southern slave states that declared they were seceding to form a Confederacy. “The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,” McDonnell said in a statement.
End celibacy vows: Arias
President Oscar Arias said it was time for the Roman Catholic Church to stop demanding celibacy from its priests. Arias said on Wednesday that forbidding priests from sexual relations went against nature and the church should “correct that error.” He added that he supports a proposal being discussed by lawmakers to grant some civic rights to same-sex couples. He said that “sexual orientation is given by God or by nature” and urged the public to respect homosexuals. Arias leaves the presidency next month, when the country’s first woman elected president, Laura Chinchilla, replaces him.
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
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
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists