Freeport employees killed
Two employees of US mining giant Freeport have been killed after a company car caught fire in restive Papua Province. Company spokesman Ramdani Sirait says that police suggested to them that unidentified gunmen fired at the car. However, deputy chief of police Major Mada Indra Laksanta said yesterday it was too early to conclude that the car was shot at. Thursday’s incident came just one day after gunmen ambushed a Freeport van, injuring two employees. The mine has been a target of violence by separatists since production began in the 1970s.
Man cleared of espionage
An appeals court yesterday cleared an ethnic Korean living in Japan of espionage charges, saying his confession more than 26 years ago was made under torture by military investigators. Yoon Jeong-hun, 58, was arrested in 1984 on charges of collecting military secrets for North Korea while studying at a medical college in Seoul. Yoon, who was born to Korean parents in Osaka, Japan, was sentenced to seven years in jail in the same year. He was paroled in 1988.
Fees scrapped after suicides
The country’s top science and technology university has scrapped a controversial incentives system linking fees to academic achievement after a spate of student suicides. Four students have killed themselves since January, including two this week, sparking angry criticism of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The latest victim was a 19-year-old who apparently jumped to his death at his apartment in Incheon on Thursday, a day after he sent in a notice of absence from class to his faculty. “How could you expect someone to be creative under these circumstances? KAIST should be full of joy of learning and studying rather than extreme stress,” a student was quoted as saying this week by the Korea Herald. KAIST president Suh Nam-pyo decided in 2007 to link fees to academic performance in order to motivate students to work harder. Students with grade point averages under 3.0 out of 4.3 pay partial fees while those with less than 2.0 have to pay the full amount — 7.5 million won (US$6,800) per six-month semester.
Hunger-striker rejects talks
A veteran social activist whose hunger strike against corruption is drawing growing support yesterday rejected an offer of talks saying the government was ignoring the wishes of the people. Thousands of people held demonstrations across the country for another day yesterday in support of Anna Hazare, who is demanding a tough anti-corruption law. Cabinet minister Kapil Sibal offered to meet protest leaders, but wanted them to withdraw a demand for their nominee to head a team to draft a new anti-graft law. Hazare rejected the offer.
Two arrested with heroin
Police have arrested two Pakistani men suspected of smuggling heroin worth 110 million ringgit (US$36 million) into the country. A federal police statement said authorities caught the men with 158kg of heroin packed together with clothes in boxes at a shop in Selangor state on Wednesday. The suspects face a mandatory penalty of death by hanging if convicted of drug trafficking. Yesterday’s police statement said the drugs were smuggled into the country by sea from Pakistan and could have been intended for sale in neighboring countries. Authorities raided the shop because of a tip from the public.
‘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