War crimes suspect tried
A special war crimes court in Dhaka yesterday charged its first suspect with atrocities, including genocide, arson, rape and religious persecution, during the country’s 1971 war of independence. Delawar Hossain Sayedee, a leader of the country’s largest Islamic party, will be tried at the tribunal set up last year to investigate those accused of crimes committed during the nine-month war against Pakistan. “Sayedee has been charged with 20 counts, including crimes against humanity, murder, genocide, rape, arson, looting and forcibly converting Hindus to Islam,” prosecutor Abdur Rahman Howlader said. If found guilty, Sayedee could face death by hanging. The country, which was called East Pakistan until 1971, has struggled to come to terms with its violent birth. The current government says up to 3 million people were killed in the war — many murdered by Bangladeshis collaborating with Pakistani forces.
Nation running out of water
The tiny Pacific island nation has declared a state of emergency because of a severe shortage of fresh water, with officials saying yesterday that some parts of the country may only have a two-day supply. New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully said his country was working with the Red Cross to deliver aid workers and supplies as quickly as possible. He said the Pacific island nation first declared the emergency last week and the situation had deteriorated since then. Water was scarce in the capital, Funafuti, and a number of outlying islands, McCully said, adding that he had received reports saying some places would run out of fresh water within days. A New Zealand defense service C-130 plane arrived yesterday carrying two desalination units and a number of water containers, McCully said.
‘Overeager’ worker sacked
The government has suspended an employee who posted a fake image on Facebook of three senior officials inspecting typhoon-ravaged Manila Bay. The photoshopped image was discovered last week by a blogger and has become a sensation. Other bloggers mocked the Department of Public Works and Highways by making more fake images of the three officials standing in the Last Supper and some other iconic paintings and movie posters. Department secretary Rogelio Singson apologized. He said the officials did in fact inspect the damage in Manila Bay and had no knowledge of the image on the department’s Facebook page. Presidential spokesman Ricky Carandang said yesterday the “overeager employee” who took it upon himself to put it out was suspended.
Tropical storm bears down
Thousands of fishing boats have been called back to port in the south as authorities brace for the arrival of Tropical Storm Nalgae, which has already wreaked havoc in the Philippines. Some parts of the south are still reeling from the damage caused by Tropical Storm Nesat, which killed at least four people, forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents, triggered floods and toppled houses. Authorities on Hainan Island said yesterday they had ordered more than 27,000 boats back to harbor, Xinhua news agency said. A statement on the provincial government’s Web site said Nalgae, which has weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm, was currently at sea and moving toward the island, packing winds of up to 108kph.
PM condemns mosque attack
Vandals torched a mosque on Sunday night in a suspected revenge attack by right-wing extremists, sparking a “furious” response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. The mosque, located in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria in the northern Galilee region, sustained heavy damage in the attack, in which the arsonists scrawled the words “tag” and “revenge” on the walls. The attackers also graffitied the word “Palmer” in an apparent reference to Asher Palmer, an Israeli settler who died with his infant son in the southern West Bank on Sept. 23 after his car was hit by stones thrown by Palestinians, causing it to crash. “The images are shocking and do not belong in the state of Israel,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying.
Wafer ‘miracle’ celebrated
Roman Catholics gathered on Sunday for a special Mass celebrating what they see as a miracle: the appearance on a communion wafer of a dark spot that they are convinced is part of the heart of Jesus. The communion wafer in question developed a brown spot in 2008 after falling on the floor during a Mass in the eastern town of Sokolka. Two doctors determined that the spot was heart muscle tissue, church officials have said. Bialystok Archbishop Edward Ozorowski said during the Mass that in history the “substance of Christ’s body or blood has become available to the human senses, and this also happened in Sokolka ... For God, nothing is impossible.” The dark-spotted wafer was carried aloft in a reliquary by a golden-robed priest in a procession and was put on display in the town’s church of St Anthony as about 1,000 faithful looked on, according to a report and footage carried by the TV station TVN.
Rocket-fuel bug studied
Scientists on Sunday said they had gained insights into a remarkable bacterium that lives without oxygen and transforms ammonium, the ingredient of urine, into hydrazine, a rocket fuel. So-called anammox — for anaerobic ammonium oxidation — germs caused a sensation when they were first identified in the 1990s, but uncovering their secrets is taking time. In a letter published by the British science journal Nature, researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen reported they had identified the molecular mechanism by which the bugs do their fuel-trick. The team’s work initially piqued NASA’s interest, but this faded when the US space agency learned that only small quantities of precious hydrazine are produced, “nothing like enough to get a rocket to Mars,” said Mike Jetten, a professor of microbiology at the university.
Parties retract boycott threat
Political parties accepted on Sunday concessions on election rules offered by the military, pulling back from threats to boycott the country’s first multicandidate vote since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted. The parties, seeking to keep former allies of Mubarak out of parliament, had threatened to boycott the polls unless the army changed an election law to allow them to field candidates both on party lists and for seats allocated to individuals. The ruling army council said on Saturday it would amend that law, set a clearer timetable for a move to civilian rule and would consider ending military trials for civilians and lifting of emergency laws. Parties meeting on Sunday said although they dropped the boycott threat, they would continue to press for the other demands to be met.
Terror funding case starts
One of two Minnesota women accused of funneling money to a terrorist group in Somalia allegedly told potential donors to ignore charities and focus on “the jihad” and helped finance local Somali men’s travel to their war-torn homeland to fight, prosecutors alleged in court filings. The details hint at evidence the government claims it has against Amina Farah Ali, who was scheduled to stand trial yesterday on multiple terror charges. Prosecutors said Ali, 35, and her co-defendant, 64-year-old Hawo Mohamed Hassan, were part of a “deadly pipeline” that routed money and fighters to Somalia. The women, both citizens of Somali descent, were among 20 people charged in Minnesota’s long-running federal investigations into recruiting and financing for al-Shabaab, which the Washington considers a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda.
Child support singer nabbed
Police say a singer known for his 1990 chart-topping love song was hauled off a Massachusetts stage and arrested on charges of owing US$420,000 in unpaid child support. Steven Bernard Hill of Las Vegas was arrested on Friday night at the MassMutual Center, where he was performing on tour. Hill performs as Stevie B and is best known for the song Because I Love You (The Postman Song), which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts in late 1990. Springfield police Sergeant John Delaney told the Springfield Republican that Hill was surprised by the arrest and concerned that he might miss a weekend show in Providence, Rhode Island.
Elementary school probed
The Human Rights Commission is investigating an elementary school for allegedly forcing sixth-graders to strip after US$13 disappeared. The commission is launching its probe following parents’ complaints and a report by a human rights commission in Michoacan State. The commission said in a statement on Sunday that the principal and teachers of a public school in the city of La Piedad ordered the children to take off their clothes on Sept. 23 when they were searching for money that had gone missing in the classroom. The commission sent staff to interview the students and the local authorities. Telephone calls to the school seeking comment on Sunday went unanswered.
Hinckley release mulled
A government mental hospital is hoping to eventually set free John Hinckley Jr, the man who tried to assassinate former president Ronald Reagan in 1981, CNN reported on its Web site. Hinckley, now 56, was committed to St Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington in 1982 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of Reagan and three others, including Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady. Prosecutors asked a closed court on Friday not to release him, CNN said. In their filing, they called Hinckley “a man capable of great violence” and said his mental condition left some concerns “that this violence may be repeated,” the report said. The hospital wants Hinckley to be able to live near his 85-year-old mother in Virginia. Hospital lawyers and doctors filed a motion under seal at the end of July asking that Hinckley eventually be placed on “convalescent leave.” US District Judge Paul Friedman has scheduled up to a week of court hearings on the issue to start on Nov. 28.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
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
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic