Shiite Muslims face charges
An official says more than 200 Shiites — including Iranians, Indonesians and Pakistanis — detained in Kuala Lumpur last week may be charged with breaching Islamic laws. Nurhamizah Othman of the Selangor Islamic Religious Department says Islamic officials arrested the group, who were allegedly followers of the outlawed Shiite denomination, in central Selangor state. Officials have said the Shiite doctrine is a threat to national security because it permits the killing of Muslims from other sects who are regarded as infidels.
Coast guard in video trouble
Tokyo is considering punishing more than 50 coast guard officials over the leak of a video showing a collision between Japanese and Chinese vessels that sparked a major row, reports said yesterday. The officials include a 43-year-old officer who has admitted to leaking the video, the Sankei Shimbun and Kyodo News reported, quoting unnamed sources. More than 50 others might also be punished for failing to properly supervise the officer and prevent the leak of the video, they said.
Tourists die in bus crash
At least 22 people were killed when a bus carrying Thai tourists overturned on a highway after a trip to the Cameron Highlands, police and reports said yesterday. “The bus was filled with Thai tourists,” said Zakaria Yusof, acting police chief in Perak state, but he was not able to confirm whether all the dead were Thai nationals. The Star daily said the bus hit a divider and overturned as it traveled away from the Cameron Highlands.
Thai dancer caught with pills
A Thai woman swallowed more than 1,200 ecstasy pills wrapped in plastic and tried to smuggle them into Bali, officials said yesterday. Customs officials said the 24-year-old woman appeared nervous and was found to have a hard stomach during a body search at Bali’s international airport as she arrived on Thursday on a flight from Bangkok. She was taken to hospital and 1,280 ecstasy pills were found in her stomach, Bali customs chief I Made Wijaya told a press conference. They weighed 402g and were worth about 448 million rupiah (US$50,000), he said. The woman, who claimed to be a dancer in Bangkok, told investigators that an Israeli man had offered to pay her US$656 to deliver the pills to Bali, Wijaya said. If convicted she faces life imprisonment or death under tough anti-drug laws.
Hotel blaze toll rises
The death toll in a fire that swept through a budget hotel early on Sunday has risen to 16 after one of the survivors died in a hospital. The fire razed the Bed and Breakfast Pension House in Cagayan province’s capital, Tuguegarao city, burning to death 15 people. Nine of the victims were nursing students in town to take a licensing exam.
Opposition leader arrested
Police arrested a top opposition leader in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh state, and forcibly took him to a hospital yesterday as his condition deteriorated on the fourth day of an indefinite fast to demand compensation for farmers. Telugu Desam regional party leader Chandrababu Naidu wants the state government to pay a higher rate of compensation to thousands of farmers whose crops have been devastated by recent heavy monsoon rains and subsequent flooding.
UK ties might be cut
A parliamentary committee in Tehran has approved a draft motion to sever diplomatic ties with Britain. Lawmaker Mohammad Karamirad, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said the lawmakers made the decision in a vote on Sunday. The motion requires the approval of the full parliament and a constitutional watchdog to take effect. If approved, Karamirad said diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with London would drop to “zero,” which will teach Britain a lesson about “how to deal with the great Iranian people.”
Miners forming corporation
The 33 miners whose dramatic rescue from the depths of a collapsed mine captured the world’s attention, plan to form a corporation to exploit their near-death experience, local media said on Sunday. The miners were the subject of a media bidding storm after their rescue in mid-October, following a record 69 days underground at a remote San Jose mine. The group has hired a law firm and appointed their peers Omar Reygadas, Raul Bustos and Juan Illanes as representatives in the marketing efforts. Once the last miner signs the document formalizing the agreement, the 33 miners will be equal partners in the corporation — unnamed for now — and will hold 80 percent of the revenue generated from their ownership of the rights.
New York sees more birds
Birdwatchers counted 6,220 birds and 59 bird species in New York City’s Central Park on Sunday. The 111th annual Christmas Bird Count found some birds that are rarely spotted in New York this time of year, such as the red-headed woodpecker. The count was undertaken by teams of birdwatchers guided by park rangers. They spent the morning canvassing the Manhattan park’s 341 hectares. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe says the total number of birds was boosted by good weather.
Lula might run again
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who hands power to his ally, Dilma Rousseff, on Jan. 1, could run for president again in 2014, his chief of staff said on Sunday. “I think that [Lula] will look at the political situation. If Dilma’s government goes well, of course she will seek re-election. If there are difficulties and Lula is the answer for [the Workers’ Party] to win, he could be a candidate,” chief of staff Gilberto Carvalho said in an interview published in the O Globo newspaper. Lula has a staggering 87 percent approval rating after his eight years in office. Asked if he would risk his favorable legacy, Carvalho said “that would be a risk ... but Lula would come back in a favorable position. Or a very necessary one.”
Matt Cardle tops charts
X-Factor winner Matt Cardle has taken the coveted Christmas No. 1 slot in the British singles charts in London. He sold 439,000 copies in the six days following his win in the television talent show, propelling him straight to the top of the charts with his single When We Collide, the Official Charts Co said on Sunday. It was the biggest weekly number of sales for a non-charity release this year, outsold only by the song for Haiti earthquake victims. The original version of the track, called Many of Horror by Biffy Clyro, was a new entrant at No. 8.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed