Raid kills lawmaker’s kin
Hundreds of people protested in the streets near Jalalabad yesterday after an overnight military raid resulted in the death of Member of Parliamen Safiya Sidiqi’s brother-in-law. Sidiqi said family members told her that about 100 NATO soldiers stormed her home about 11:30pm on Wednesday. NATO said yesterday that a joint operation with Afghan forces killed “one armed individual while pursuing a Taliban facilitator.” The person ignored demands in English and through an Afghan interpreter to lower his weapon, NATO said, without giving details. Sidiqi said the soldiers broke the windows of her home, entered and pulled out 15 members of her family who were then photographed and fingerprinted. Eventually, she said, they opened fire on her brother-in-law. She called the raid “barbaric,” but did not respond to questions about whether her brother-in-law was armed.
One arrested for ‘terrorism’
Pham Thi Phuong, 64, has been arrested for alleged links to a “terrorist plot,” reports said yesterday. Pham Thi Phuong, 64, was arrested with her husband Pham Ba Huy on April 19 while attempting to return from Thailand, the Vietnam News Agency said, citing the Ministry of Public Security. It said she fled to Thailand in 2002 and became acquainted with people linked to the Government of Free Vietnam, a US-based exile group that Hanoi labels a terrorist group. “They trained her in how to make contact through the Internet and in the use of explosives and weapons for terrorist activities to sabotage Vietnam,” the news agency said. The report said she told investigators she was given US$5,000 on April 18 and ordered to return to Vietnam and “implement the terrorist plot” in Ho Chi Minh City, the report said.
Man jailed for killing student
A man who pleaded guilty to strangling and then beheading a South Korean student was sent to prison yesterday for 16 years for a murder that the judge said was motivated by neo-Nazi beliefs. Prosecutors alleged Kim Jae-hyeon, 25, was murdered after three men picked him up as he was hitchhiking in 2003. Shannon Brent Flewellen, 30, initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but changed his plea last month. Flewellen was sentenced in the High Court at Christchurch to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 16 years and three months.
Letter warns diplomats
Authorities warned foreign diplomats not to criticize the government in a letter sent to embassies that said the country is not a “banana republic.” The Foreign Ministry’s letter said there have been many occasions in which diplomats have “indulged themselves to criticize or give lessons” to the Cambodian government. Such behavior is “not acceptable for Cambodia as a sovereign country and a member of the United Nations. Cambodia is not a banana republic,” said the letter, which was dated Monday.
Chubby cops to shape up
Podgy police must lose weight or give up any hope of being promoted under a new drive against obesity among officers, the force has announced. Nepalese Police Headquarters vowed this week to tackle the problem after complaints from the public that well-padded officers were unable to perform their duties. “When you are fat, you look lousy and it’s obvious that perception of people towards you is not positive,” police spokesman Bigyan Raj Sharma said, adding annual tests would be introduced to monitor progress. “Officers who fail will be barred from promotion and transferred to less well-paying posts,” Sharma said. Each of the force’s officers will be given an individual regime to help them keep fit, and issued with a target Body Mass Index. Fitness and yoga sessions will be scheduled, following a successful yoga camp with the renowned guru Swami Ramdev organized for police last month.
Herman recites haiku
EU President Herman Van Rompuy parried questions about the Greek debt crisis, but ended a Tokyo news conference on a poetic note — with a haiku. “The sun is rising / sleeping yet in Europe / but still the same sun,” he said at the end of the news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Van Rompuy — known as Haiku Herman — is an avid writer of haiku, a Japanese form of poetry.
Prosecutors probe fighting
Prosecutors have opened a criminal probe into the fighting that broke out in parliament this week during a debate over a Russian naval base, a spokesman for Kiev prosecutors said yesterday. “The Kiev prosecutors have opened a criminal enquiry into the hooliganism carried out by a group of deputies in the Verkhovna Rada,” a spokesman for prosecutors said. In a chaotic parliamentary session on Tuesday, pro-Western opposition lawmakers hurled eggs and smoke bombs while fistfights broke out in the benches.
Police boost presence
Northern Ireland police are beefing up their street presence because of increased paramilitary attacks and may have to keep a reserve force that was to be disbanded under a peace deal, officers said on Wednesday. Northern Ireland’s regional assembly voted last month to take over police and justice powers, cementing the latest hard-won agreement between the province’s divided communities, and appointed its first justice minister. The region’s police chief said, however, that he wanted more officers on the ground to tackle mounting attacks by Republican splinter groups opposed to the peace process. Police this week stepped up security measures, including the reintroduction of checkpoints for motorists in areas where they have not been seen for years.
Ice found on asteroid
Astronomers have detected a coating of ice and organic chemicals on one of the largest asteroids in the solar system. The space rock, called 24 Themis, orbits the sun in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, more than 298 million kilometers from Earth. The discovery supports the idea that asteroids may have brought water and organic material to Earth and so set the stage for the emergence of life. Two independent groups confirmed the composition of the asteroid’s surface. The discovery of frozen water on the asteroid has surprised some scientists because the sun warms the surface enough for ice to melt. One possible explanation is that ice in the core of the asteroid is heated into water vapor, which seeps through pores in the rock and freezes temporarily when it reaches the surface. The discovery is intriguing because it may explain how two-thirds of the Earth came to be submerged in water, turning a parched rock into a haven for life.
Study casts doubt on fish oil
Numerous studies have shown that people who eat more fish have better mental function, and are less likely to develop dementia. However, after studying 748 men and women aged in their 70s, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine cast some doubt on this link. The participants -- none of whom had any dementia or other impairment of mental function — took 200mg of the two main omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil every day for two years or a placebo capsule containing olive oil. Neither group showed any change in cognitive function.
Priest faces abuse charges
A Roman Catholic priest is facing charges he abused eight boys in cases dating back to 1995, prosecutors said on Wednesday, adding to a growing list of allegations against clergy in Latin America. Father Jose Afonso, 74, is accused of abusing altar boys between the ages of 12 and 16, Sao Paulo state prosecutors said in an e-mailed statement.
Veteran charged over hoax
A decorated US veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was charged on Wednesday with making a false bomb threat causing the emergency diversion of a Delta flight from Atlanta to Paris. Derek Stansberry, 27, faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of interfering with Tuesday’s flight and five years for pretending that he had a bomb, the Department of Justice said. The mid-flight drama involving Stansberry and several undercover air marshals ended when the Delta plane diverted to a Maine airport to deal with what officials initially referred to as a “disruptive” passenger. Stansberry, who may have been under the influence of the tranquilizer Ambien, did not have a bomb.
Apology for internment
Parliament formally apologized to Italian-Canadians labeled “enemy aliens” during World War II on Wednesday. Lawmakers voted 147 to 134 in favor of a motion “to recognize the injustice that was done to persons of Italian origin through their ‘enemy alien’ designation and internment during the Second World War.” The bill also calls for restitution and promotion of Italian-Canadian history so “this type of incident won’t be forgotten.” On June 10, 1940, then prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King declared war on Benito Mussolini’s Fascist government. Days later, his justice minister signed an order declaring thousands of Canadians of Italian origin “enemy aliens.” More than 500 were interned in camps.
Galloway seeks end to ban
The lawyer for outspoken British Member of Parliament George Galloway said on Wednesday that Ottawa falsely labeled him a terrorist because they did not like his views on the war in Afghanistan. Galloway was refused entry last year on national security grounds for providing money to the Palestinian group Hamas, which Ottawa considers a terrorist organization. Lawyer Barbara Jackman, who was in court in a bid to lift Ottawa’s entry ban on her client, told an Ontario federal court judge that Galloway merely provided humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza — something Canada has been involved in. Galloway has become famous for his ardent opposition to the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Sixteen killed in shootings
Gunmen stormed into a bar, dragged out eight people and killed them in the parking lot, the first of several shootings in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Wednesday that left 16 dead, including a man in a wheelchair. Hours later, a car chase and shootout killed three people in front of an elementary school, creating a panic among students, teachers and parents. A woman and two men were found dead inside a car. The teacher said a pregnant teacher and three students suffered panic attacks.
Porn accusation denied
Wikipedia on Wednesday strongly rejected cofounder Larry Sanger’s accusation that the Web site served up child pornography. “Our community abhors issues around pornography and pedophilia and they don’t want to provide opportunities for these things to take place,” Wikipedia spokesman Jay Walsh said. Sanger said in an online post that he was probably mistaken to use the term “child pornography” when describing his complaint about drawings or cartoons accompanying some pedophilia-related entries. Sanger detailed his concerns in a letter to the FBI earlier this month.
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500