Land rights activists jailed
A court has sentenced three land rights activists from the same family to up to seven years in jail for spreading anti-government propaganda, state media said yesterday. Nguyen Ngoc Cuong, 55, received a seven-year prison term, while his 25-year-old son got two years and his daughter-in-law received a suspended sentence, according to the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan. The three were known to campaign on behalf of farmers embroiled in land disputes with local authorities, an increasingly contentious issue. They were arrested in April for distributing anti-government leaflets, giving money to protesters and for publishing interviews containing “anti-regime content” online, the report said. They were also accused of founding an Internet forum called “Vietnam and Today’s Issues” that they used to urge fellow citizens “to distort the policies of the state and the party,” the paper said.
Mining deaths down: official
The country says its coal mines have had fewer fatalities and accidents this year compared with the same period last year, though its mines are still the world’s most dangerous. Xinhua news agency yesterday quoted the top official in charge of coal mine safety as saying that 1,419 miners were killed in the first nine months of the year, 27.6 percent fewer than the same period last year. Zhao Tiechui told Xinhua that the number of deadly accidents fell 18.7 percent to 892 during the same period. The report did not credit any specific measures for the improvements, though China has cracked down on the smaller, illegal mines blamed for many deaths. Fatalities in China’s coal mines last year were about one-third of the high of nearly 7,000 in 2002.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘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
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent