Five BBC staff arrested
State TV is reporting that authorities have arrested five people for working for the BBC’s Farsi-language service. Yesterday’s report on the channel’s Web site says the group provided the BBC with video and negative news reports. The report did not identify them by their full names. The country has blocked the channel and accused it, alongside the British government, of fomenting the mass protests that broke out after its disputed presidential election in 2009. Both deny the accusation.
Blair ‘secretly’ visited Libya
Former prime minister Tony Blair made two private trips to see then-Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in the run-up to the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Blair, who left office in June 2007, used a Libyan regime jet to visit Qaddafi in June 2008 and April 2009, the broadsheet said, citing documents discovered in Tripoli since Qaddafi was ousted from power. Blair played a major role in trying to bring Qaddafi in from the cold and first visited him in March 2004 in what was dubbed the “deal in the desert.” A spokesman for Blair acknowledged that the visits took place and that the Libyans had raised the issue of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, but Blair told them that it was a matter for the Scottish authorities. Megrahi is the only man convicted over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people, mostly Americans, when it exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
Pub raiders kill 36
Gunmen stormed a pub in the town of Gatumba, 16km west of the capital, Bujumburaon, on Sunday night, killing at least 36 people. Witnesses said the gunmen, some disguised as policemen, burst into the bar, forced its patrons to the ground and raked the interior with bullets. Attacks against civilians and soldiers have intensified since elections last year were widely boycotted by the opposition. “The attackers were carrying guns and knives, some of them were dressed in police uniform,” said one survivor who was too scared to give his name. “They ordered everyone to lay down on the soil and started shooting the victims one by one.” No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. President Pierre Nkurunziza declared three days of mourning.
Conjoined twins separated
Surgeons have separated conjoined twin baby girls in a complex and extremely rare operation, the charity that funded the surgery said on Sunday. Sudan-born Rital and Ritag Gaboura are craniopagus twins, meaning they were born joined at the head. Conjoined twins are very rare and only about 5 percent of them are craniopagus. Experts say around 40 percent of those are stillborn or die during labor, and another third die within 24 hours. For craniopagus twins to survive beyond early infancy is a one in 10 million occurrence.
Kara Kennedy dies
Kara Kennedy, the 51-year-old daughter of the late senator Ted Kennedy, died of an apparent heart attack, her family said on Saturday. Kara Kennedy “suffered an apparent heart attack following her daily work out,” the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate said in a statement. Kara Kennedy, who had battled lung cancer, died suddenly late on Friday at a Washington-area health club after her daily workout.
Police smash cocaine ring
Authorities seized 567kg of cocaine worth HK$600 million (US$77 million), the territory’s largest-ever cocaine haul, police said in a statement on Sunday, adding that they had smashed a multinational drug syndicate with the arrest of eight people. “We believe we have successfully neutralized the multinational syndicate,” John Paul Ribeiro, chief superintendent of the narcotics bureau, was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post. Five Mexicans, a Colombian and an American were among those arrested, the report said. The drugs are believed to have been delivered by sea from South American countries —including Colombia, Peru and Bolivia — and may have been bound for larger markets such as China.
Trio charged in pilot stunt
Three TV comedy stars were charged in court yesterday after a prank in which one wearing a pilot’s uniform tried to enter a restricted area of Auckland Airport. Prime Minister John Key described the men as “a bunch of clowns” whose antics come as an estimated 95,000 overseas visitors enter the country for the Rugby World Cup. The trio, from the TV3 show Wannaben, planned the prank together and one went to the airport to carry it out. The three were arrested yesterday after police launched a nationwide appeal to find the fake pilot, who was turned away from the airport’s restricted area on Saturday because he had no identification. The show’s star, Ben Boyce, issued an apology after appearing in court charged with breaching civil aviation laws. However, an obviously irritated Key told reporters: “If it’s a stunt, then I think it’s irresponsible from a bunch of clowns who should know better.” The three are due back in court on Oct. 18.
Lee backs stem cell study
President Lee Myung-bak yesterday promised to spend about US$89 million to restore the nation’s reputation as a leader in stem cell research, five years after a scandal tarnished its reputation. Lee said the nation, along with the US, was world leader in the field a decade ago. “Unfortunately, there was a disappointing incident which caused inevitable damage to the entire stem cell research community in Korea,” he said, referring to cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk, who was found in 2006 to have faked part of his work. As Seoul’s efforts faltered, other nations streamlined regulations and aggressively expanded investment in research, Lee said. “We must restore our national fame as a stem cell powerhouse,” he said, adding the government would ease regulations and set up a state stem cell bank.
Chinese buys rare whisky
A Chinese businessman has put down a deposit for a rare bottle of whisky costing S$250,000 (US$199,400) at a duty-free shop in Changi airport, an airport spokesman said yesterday. The 62-year-old bottle of Dalmore single malt is reportedly one of the most expensive ever sold. The buyer spotted the bottle on display and quickly made a deposit of S$100,000 by bank transfer, Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan said. “It’s one of only 12 bottles in the world.” He described the buyer as a “frequent visitor to Singapore,” but declined to give more details. The bottle was part of a special promotion called “Master of Spirits” aimed at connoisseurs, and it remained on display in a glass case at the shop yesterday pending full payment by the buyer.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies