Attacks in south kill four
At least four people were killed as gunmen detonated bombs and attacked civilians on a southern island yesterday, the military said. Three marines and a policeman were killed when the gunmen ambushed them as they rushed to Basilan island’s capital Isabela City after the first of two bombs exploded, regional army spokesman Lieutenant Steffani Cacho said. Cacho said the first bomb tore through a van parked near a sports grandstand and a government office. A second bomb damaged a Catholic church.
Insurgent attacks spread
Four policemen were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in the northwest, the Interior Ministry said yesterday. Two others were injured and their vehicle destroyed in the attack Monday in Faryab Province. Elsewhere, three women were killed and four injured after mortars fired by suspected insurgents fell on their homes in Kapisa Province just north of the capital, Kabul. The insurgents apparently had been targeting the local district government headquarters, the ministry said.
Crime boss sentenced
A crime boss was sentenced to life in jail in Chongqing, a city whose party secretary is using a crackdown on organized crime to boost his political fortunes. Chongqing’s chief, Bo Xilai (薄熙來) launched the crackdown last year, gaining a burst of popularity nationwide in what some analysts saw as a bid to join China’s top political body during the 2012 leadership transition. The life sentence for Wang Xiaojun (王小軍), accused of running brothels and online gambling, comes shortly before the expected sentencing of Chongqing’s former justice chief and deputy police director, Wen Qiang (文強). The court found that Wang had bribed four police officers, including Wen, who served under Bo’s predecessor and political rival, Wang Yang (汪洋), the party secretary of Guangdong Province. Although Bo’s crackdown has garnered support from a public tired of police corruption, it has also raised alarm from Beijing’s legal community who complain the crackdown was turning into a series of political show trials.
Plane skids off runway
A passenger plane skidded off the end of an airport runway while landing in heavy rain yesterday in the remote Papua Province, injuring about 20 people, officials said. The Boeing 737, operated by Merpati Nusantara Airlines, was landing at Manokwari airport when it slid into a small canal at the end of the runway, a police official said. He said the plane flew in from Sorong.
School to teach pole dance
A renowned debating society at Cambridge University said on Monday it would offer pole dancing tuition to members, in a building more used to the presence of international statesmen. The Cambridge Union Society said female students would be offered lessons in the sensuous dance more often associated with strip clubs than the historic chambers of a top university. Lessons would be given in the Blue Room at the union’s building, which is more commonly used for debates, the society said.
Carbs pose threat to women
Women who consume large amounts of certain high-carbohydrate foods increase their risk of heart disease, a study said on Monday. The study showed increased incidences of coronary disease in women — but not men — whose diet is rich in foods with a “high glycemic index,” such as white bread, sweets and some sugary breakfast cereals. The study noted that all high-carbohydrate diets increase the levels of blood glucose and harmful blood fats known as triglycerides while reducing levels of protective HDL or “good” cholesterol, thereby increasing heart disease risk. However, the researchers found not all carbohydrates have the same effect on blood glucose levels. They concluded that blood glucose and triglycerides were impacted more by foods with a high glycemic index, compared with other carbohydrates with a lower index, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Library opens in rural area
Children returning to classes in the southeast of the country on Monday have a new library, part of a campaign to improve education in impoverished rural areas of the country. Sakhisizwe Primary School in the Mount Ayliff area, 400km south of Johannesburg, doesn’t have running water. However, it now has a library with 956 new books in Xhosa, English and Afrikaans. Sakhisizwe’s library is shared by five schools. Some children travel 40km to use the library. The independent group Equal Education said only 8 percent of schools in the country have a functional library.
Road accident kills soldier
A security official says a road accident near the border with Israel has killed one Egyptian soldier and left 21 seriously injured. The official says a truck carrying soldiers driving back to base collided head-on with a merchant truck. The accident took place yesterday morning in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, about 30km from the Israeli border. He said some of the soldiers had serious head injuries and were receiving medical attention at the hospital in nearby city of El-Arish. About 6,000 people die every year in road accidents in the country.
Military strikes Gaza
A Palestinian gunman was killed and three wounded in Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip yesterday, Palestinian medics and the Israeli army said. A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad militant group said Israeli tanks fired shells and a helicopter launched a missile at its men east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokeswoman said: “An Israeli force identified a number of suspects planting explosives along the security fence [with Gaza]. It fired at the suspects, identifying direct hits.” A Palestinian hospital source said the three wounded men were in serious condition.
Rabbi jailed for sex abuse
A New York rabbi was sentenced on Monday to a maximum of 32 years in jail for the repeated sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy, prosecutors said. Baruch Lebovits, 59, was convicted last month on eight charges of abuse of the teenager between 2004 and 2005, and was given the maximum sentence on each count. The rabbi is also a prominent businessman in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, where the teenager also lived, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes said. Two separate cases of Lebovits’s alleged sexual assaults on minors are still pending.
Rancher guilty of murder
A rancher accused of ordering the murder of US nun and Amazon defender Dorothy Stang was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Jurors in the jungle city of Belem reached the decision late on Monday after 15 hours of deliberations, according to a statement on the Web site of a Para state court. In the last two decades, more than 1,200 people have been killed in land conflicts across the country, mostly in the Amazon region, said the Catholic Land Pastoral, a watchdog group that tracks rural violence in Latin America’s largest nation.
Underwear Bomber in court
The Nigerian man dubbed the “Underwear Bomber” after allegedly trying to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day in an al-Qaeda plot returned to court yesterday. The pretrial hearing will deal with scheduling issues, a spokeswoman for his court-appointed lawyer said. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, pleaded not guilty in January to six terrorism-related charges. He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted. The son of a prominent Nigerian banker, Abdulmutallab was arrested after the botched al-Qaeda plot, in which explosives allegedly stitched into his underwear failed to detonate aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
O.J.’s appeal scheduled
A Nevada Supreme Court panel is scheduling oral arguments for June 11 in Las Vegas on pending appeals by O.J. Simpson and a co-defendant convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges in a September 2007 hotel room heist. The two men were tried together and convicted in 2008 of robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in Las Vegas of items Simpson said were his. Both filed appeals in May last year. The 62-year-old Simpson is serving nine to 33 years in a Nevada prison. Stewart is serving seven-and-a-half to 27 years.
Terrorist met 9/11 associate
A court ruling reveals that a convicted terrorist met with a man later convicted of plotting to attack a French island who also had ties to some of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers. The ruling in the District Court, District of Columbia says Christopher Paul of Columbus, Ohio, may have visited with Karim Mehdi in Germany in 1993 and met him again for several weeks in 1997 or 1998. A State Department report says Mehdi was sentenced to nine years in prison in France in 2006 in connection with alleged plans to attack the Indian Ocean island of Reunion in 2003. The State Department alleges that Mehdi had ties to Ramzi Binalshibh and Ziad Jarrah. When Paul was indicted in 2007, prosecutors said a search warrant had found a postcard in Paul’s possessions addressed to him from “brother” Karim Mehdi.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big