Import of NZ apples allowed
The government agreed yesterday to allow the import of New Zealand apples for the first time in almost 90 years, but said it would first review quarantine to make sure they were free of pests. The government lost its appeal overnight against a WTO ruling that it should accept the New Zealand fruit, forcing the export-dependent nation to give up the long-running fight. Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the government would now conduct a review of the import risks posed by New Zealand apples, a process which could take the best part of a year. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said his country had scored a “resounding victory” and he hoped Australia would not “play games” with unfair quarantine measures designed to bypass the decision.
Police station bombed
A suicide bomber blew himself up near a police station in the northwest of the country yesterday, killing a child and three other people, officials said. The attack occurred in the town of Bannu, which lies close to Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border, an area which Washington has branded al-Qaeda’s global headquarters and the most dangerous region on Earth. “It was a suicide attack. The bomber came on foot and detonated himself near a police van close to a police station,” Bannu police chief Iftikhar Khan said.
Activist detained for picture
The wife of a Chinese activist says he has been detained on a subversion charge after posting a photo from the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations online. Yang Dan (楊丹) says her husband, Bai Dongping (白東平), was taken away on Saturday and Beijing police called her on Sunday to tell her why. She said yesterday he has never been detained before and she doesn’t know why her husband put the photo on the Internet. Bai’s detention comes shortly after a Chinese woman was sentenced to a year in a labor camp for posting a satirical Twitter message about smashing the Japan pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.
Duo eyed for sedition
Police were investigating yesterday whether a Booker Prize-winning author and a hard-line Kashmiri separatist leader can be tried for sedition for questioning India’s claim to disputed Kashmir. Author Arundhati Roy and separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani are accused of saying that Kashmir was not an integral part of India during speeches at a seminar in New Delhi last month. A court in the capital ordered police to look into the case after a complaint was filed by a private citizen. Sedition carries a possible life sentence.
Twitter-like site back up
An early Chinese clone of micro-blog site Twitter that was shut down by authorities last year amid fears it was fanning unrest in the country’s restive west has re-emerged. Fanfou, which is widely believed to have been the first Chinese provider of such micro-blogging services, was restored last on Thursday, the Beijing Evening Post reported. Fanfou had more than 1 million users before it was forced to go offline in July last year during a government crackdown on social networking after deadly riots in Urumqi, capital of the northwestern Xinjiang region. Bill Bishop, who blogs on China’s Internet, said it was unclear why Fanfou would be allowed to restart now.
Bad sex prize awarded
Author Rowan Somerville won literature’s little-coveted Bad Sex in Fiction Prize on Monday for the use of unsettling insect imagery in his novel The Shape of Her. Judges of the annual literary award said they were especially impressed by a passage comparing lovemaking to “a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect.” The prize, founded in 1993 by Literary Review magazine, aims to draw attention to “the crude, tasteless and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in contemporary novels.” Somerville took his victory in good humor, noting that “there is nothing more English than bad sex.”