Dissident sent to Taiwan
A prominent US-based Chinese dissident was denied entry to Hong Kong on Friday and deported to Taiwan. Yang Jianli (楊建利) was refused entry into Hong Kong when he arrived on a flight from the US via Taiwan, public broadcaster RTHK reported late on Friday. Yang was scheduled to attend a two-day academic forum, according to RTHK. An immigration department spokesman declined to confirm Yang’s deportation, saying it would not comment on individual cases. US permanent resident Yang spent five years in jail in China on charges of spying and illegal entry in a case which sparked criticism from the US and the UN. He was released in 2007. The activist fled China following the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests.
US envoy texts apology
The US ambassador to the Philippines has apologized for his controversial remark that 40 percent of male tourists visit the country for sex, the foreign department said yesterday. Harry Thomas sent the apology through a cellphone text message to Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Friday, a spokesman said. In a statement, the US embassy confirmed that Thomas had expressed “deep regret” for his remark. Last month, Thomas sparked a furor when he said: “Forty percent of foreign men who come to the Philippines, including from the US, come for sex tourism.” Government officials quickly disputed the claim, complaining that the envoy’s remark had hurt the Philippines’ image. “I am sending you a response expressing regret for my comments. I should not have used the 40 percent statistic without the ability to back it up,” the spokesman quoted Thomas as saying in his text message.
Holiday crashes kill 56
Three major road accidents in China killed 56 people on the last day of a week-long holiday, including 35 people who died after a bus collided with a car on a northern expressway, state media reported yesterday. The Xinhua news agency said that the bus flipped over after crashing into a car in the port city of Tianjin on Friday afternoon, injuring 18 others. Xinhua cited a Tianjin traffic official as saying the bus was speeding and that many passengers were thrown out of the vehicle when it hit the car and rolled over. In eastern Anhui province, at least 10 people died and 19 were injured in a 24-vehicle pileup on an expressway as foggy weather reduced visibility, the Beijing News daily said. Eleven people in a van were killed after a truck crashed into the vehicle in central Henan Province, the newspaper said. Friday was the end of a week-long holiday to mark China’s National Day.
Fukushima rules relaxed
Washington has eased its advice for travelers to the environs of the nuclear plant that suffered meltdown after the March quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. The Department of State on Friday advised US citizens to avoid going within 20km of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant — in line with Japan’s own no-go zone. The previous US travel alert of July 19 recommended staying at least 80km away. The latest announcement said Americans staying for more than a year within that area should consult with local authorities on radiation levels. Tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate from around the plant following the quake. The nuclear crisis is the worst radiation leak since Chernobyl.
One of ‘Cuban Five’ freed
One of the so-called “Cuban Five,” convicted of spying in the US for the Cuban Castro government, walked out of federal prison on Friday, the first of the group to complete sentences imposed a decade ago. Rene Gonzalez, 55, served about 13 years of a 15-year sentence, with time off for good behavior and including time behind bars awaiting and during trial. His attorney, Phil Horowitz, said he picked up Gonzalez at the prison at about 5:30am. Gonzalez, a Chicago native who has dual US and Cuban citizenship, must now serve three years’ probation in the US, unless his attorney can persuade a Miami federal judge to let him return to Cuba. Gonzalez and the other four Cubans were convicted in 2001 of being part of a spy ring known as the “Wasp Network” that sought to infiltrate and report on South Florida US military installations, Cuban exile groups and politicians opposed to the government of then-Cuban president Fidel Castro.
Nobel hoax fools media
The Internet hoax about this year’s Nobel Literature Prize was slick, and down fell the victims: Serbian TV, radio and the state-run news agency. Just before the Swedish Academy announced this year’s winner — Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer — on Thursday, unknown hackers said on what looked like an official Nobel Prize Web site that it was Serbian writer Dobrica Cosic. The site included a photo of the 90-year-old Cosic, quotations from one of his books and a description heralding him as “the last dissident of the 20th century, witness of a declining era, as well as the prophet of an emerging one.” The false info quickly appeared on Serbian outlets, including Belgrade’s B-92 radio and TV and the state-run news agency. “Someone has really tried hard to carry out the elaborate hoax,” B-92 said after withdrawing the news from its programs. Cosic briefly served as the president of Yugoslavia, consisting of Serbia and Montenegro, in 1992 when he was hand-picked by late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
Trains get urine bags
The Dutch national railway has an unusual solution for passengers who need the bathroom on a train line designed without them: plastic bags. The rail operator underlined that the bags, introduced on Friday, are for use in emergencies only, when a train has stopped and passengers can’t be evacuated. The idea has been met with incredulity by politicians and the general public already unhappy with the short-haul “Sprinter” trains’ bathroomless design. The bags have a cup-shaped plastic top and contain a highly absorbent material that turns urine into a gel-like mixture. After use the bags can be sealed and thrown in the trash.
Arnie visits museum of self
Arnold Schwarzenegger, former body-builder, California governor and film star, visited the new museum of his life in the house where he was born in Thal, southern Austria, on Friday. “For me, the museum is a symbol of will, that anyone has an opportunity in life,” Schwarzenegger said at a brief ceremony. Arnie also inaugurated a giant bronze statue of himself at the height of his body-building career, before he made his way to Hollywood. The museum opened its doors on July 30 — Schwarzenegger’s birthday — and has since seen more than 5,000 visitors, according to creator Peter Urdal, a former classmate.
Amish attack beards, hair
A group of religious castoffs has been attacking fellow Amish, cutting off their hair and beards in an apparent feud over spiritual differences in the deeply traditional community in Steubenville, Ohio, a sheriff said on Thursday. Members of a group of families disavowed by mainstream Amish have cut the beards off men and the hair off a half-dozen or more men and women, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said. He said the cutting was apparently meant to be degrading. The attacks occurred over the past three weeks in the heart of Ohio’s Amish population, one of the largest in the US. A 57-year-old woman blamed her sons and a son-in-law for an attack on her husband and said they were involved in a cult. She pointed at her husband’s ragged, short beard, then took off a bandanna and showed bare patches on her scalp. “They did this to me,” she told deputies, according to a Sept. 6 report. It is common practice for married Amish to have beards, and “Likewise, women do not cut their hair based on biblical teaching,” said Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College and an expert on Amish life. He said Amish-on-Amish violence “is extremely rare.”
Undie Run sets record
A protest of Utah’s “uptight” laws that featured people running through the streets of Salt Lake City in their underwear has set a new world record. Guinness World Records says the Utah Undie Run broke the previous record for largest gathering of people wearing only underpants by 1,720 people. Records officials say 2,270 people stripped to their underwear during the Utah Undie Run on Sept. 24. The previous record of 550 people was set last year in Britain. Utah Undie Run organizers are planning another run in August. The event’s goal is to protest the state’s conservative politics. Organizers prohibit nudity. Participants donned bras, panties, nightgowns, swimwear or colorful boxer shorts.
Muslim drivers suspended
Hertz has suspended 34 Muslim shuttle drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for praying on company time. The company says the drivers are required to clock out, under terms of a settlement two years ago with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Drivers told the Seattle Times they were sent home last week for praying. Teamsters Local 117, which represents the workers, is trying to get them back on the job. The union represents about 79 drivers at Hertz who earn between US$9 and US$10 an hour. About 70 percent of them are Muslims. Observant Muslims pray five times a day.
Senior punched over singing
A 42-year-old man has been convicted of punching a 79-year-old man through a plate glass window after complaining about the older man’s karaoke singing at a western New York bar. The Ontario County District Attorney’s Office says a jury Thursday convicted Paul Collen of the town of Naples of second-degree assault. Prosecutors say Collen was at the bar at the Naples Hotel last March when he punched the 79-year-old man in the face, breaking his nose and facial bones. Authorities say the punch sent the man’s head through a plate glass window. The assault occurred during one of the bar’s weekly karaoke nights. Officials say Collen complained about the man’s singing, then began punching him before several patrons stepped in to stop the assault. He faces up to seven years in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 26.
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
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
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