Running of sheep criticized
An animal welfare group urged Rugby World Cup organizers yesterday to ditch plans to stage “the running of the sheep” in Auckland during the tournament. Under the plan, about 1,000 sheep are to be herded down Queen Street, accompanied by sheep dogs and bikini-clad models riding quad bikes. The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it had received “a barrage” of complaints about the event. SPCA chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said the society objected to the inhumane use of animals for an entertainment “side show” and organizers should abandon the idea.
Ten killed in mine blast
Ten people were killed by an explosion in a coal mine in Guizhou Province, a local official said yesterday, in the latest in a series of fatal accidents to plague the industry. The blast occurred on Sunday evening, a local official who refused to be named said. One person was also injured. Last year, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in the country, according to official statistics — a rate of more than six workers per day. However, labor rights groups say the actual death toll is much higher, partly due to under-reporting as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.
PM recalls wartime spirit
The nation will recover from the March 11 quake and tsunami just as it did after World War II, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said yesterday, the 66th anniversary of the country’s surrender. “Our country rose from the ruins after the war thanks to each citizen’s effort and has overcome many difficulties until today,” Kan said at a memorial service in Tokyo.The anniversary comes as the nation struggles to recover from the disasters that ravaged its northeast coast and sparked a crisis at its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Emperor Akihito attended the service at the Budokan indoor arena with Empress Michiko, and addressed the audience of more than 6,000 guests. “I remember the history and ardently pray that the tragedy of war will never be repeated,” the 77-year-old emperor said.
Coal boss given 20 years
A court sentenced a coal boss in Shanxi Province to 20 years in jail and millions of yuan in fines after he was convicted for illegally running a mine and using earnings to amass dozens of homes across the country, state media reported. Hao Pengjun, the head of the Pu County coal office, amassed 35 homes, most in Beijing and in the southern resort of Hainan Island, worth more than 170 million yuan (US$26.5 million). Hao and family members also had personal bank accounts worth a “shocking” 127 million yuan (US$20 million), state broadcaster China Central Television reported over the weekend.
Aircraft carrier returns
The nation’s first aircraft carrier has returned to port after completing a “smooth” set of sea trials designed to test its capabilities, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. The 300m ship docked in the northeastern port of Dalian on Sunday morning after five days of trials. The carrier tests came amid heightened tensions over a number of maritime territorial disputes, notably in the South China Sea. Dockworkers set off fireworks as the vessel, a refitted old Soviet carrier called the Varyag, returned to port, Xinhua said