Big quake hits remote area
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck off the island nation yesterday, sparking a tsunami warning that was later canceled. The quake hit at 4:14am at a depth of 36km, 214km northwest of Luganville, the US Geological Survey said. In the six hours after the initial tremor, five aftershocks measuring between magnitude 5 and 6.4 shook the area. A spokeswoman for the National Disaster Management Office said the office had not yet received any reports of major damage from remote northern Torba Province, which was closest to the quake’s center.
Leftover embryos not alive
The Constitutional Court has ruled that human embryos left over from fertility treatment are not life forms and can be used for research or destroyed, a court spokesman said yesterday. The court’s ruling upheld an existing law allowing the use of leftover embryos for research. The law also allows fertility clinics to dispose of frozen embryos five years after fertilization treatment is completed. “The ruling means that human embryos that are in their early stage and are not implanted into a mother’s womb cannot be seen as human life forms,” spokesman Noh Hui-beom said. The ruling came after a group of 13 people, including pro-life activists filed a petition with the court against the bioethics law.
GOME boss files appeal
GOME founder Huang Guangyu (黃光裕) has appealed his 14-year jail sentence for bribery and insider trading, the Legal Daily reported yesterday. Huang was found guilt earlier this month of bribery, insider trading and illegal business dealings. Huang was fined 600 million yuan US$87.86 million) and had 200 million yuan worth of property confiscated, while his two firms, GOME and Pengrun, were fined 5 million yuan and 1.2 million yuan respectively for paying bribes. The paper said Huang believed the sentence and fines were too heavy, and further disputed the finding that one of his companies, Pengrun, had paid bribes.
Suspect in US plot detained
Another man has been detained in connection with the main suspect in the Times Square attempted car bombing, an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to comment on the record. The latest suspect to be questioned is a named Humbal Akhtar. Akhtar’s wife, Rahila, confirmed yesterday in a brief telephone conversation that her husband disappeared a few days ago. She declined to give more details. Intelligence officials have said around 11 people have been detained in the case nationwide.
Ban on Cat Stevens urged
Conservative Victoria state Parliamentarian Peter Kavanagh yesterday called for the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens to be denied a visa because he once supported a fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie. Kavanagh said Yusuf Islam should not be issued a visa until he withdraws support for the 1989 edict issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini for Rushdie’s alleged blasphemy in his book The Satanic Verses. “Although Yusuf now denies supporting attempts to murder Salman Rushdie, he is on record at the time for stating that he wanted to see Mr. Rushdie himself burn, not just an effigy of him, and he would like to have reported Mr. Rushdie’s whereabouts to those who were trying to murder him,” Kavanagh said. The musician is on an international comeback tour that will take him to Melbourne next month.