‘Driving threatens virgins’
A rights activist says a report given to a high-level advisory group claims that women in the kingdom would have options for premarital sex if allowed to drive. The ultra-conservative stance suggests increasing pressure on Saudi King Abdullah to retain the kingdom’s male-only driving rules. Rights activist Waleed Abu Alkhair said on Saturday that the document by a well-known academic was sent to the all-male Shura Council, which advises the monarchy. The report by Kamal Subhi says that allowing women to drive would threaten the country’s traditions of virgin brides, the activist said.
Drugs boy released
A 14-year-old Australian boy has been released after serving two months in a detention center for buying drugs while vacationing with his family in Bali. The teenager wore a mask to hide his face from photographers as he walked out of the immigration detention center yesterday with his parents. The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, has promised to enter a drug rehabilitation program after returning home to Morrisset Park, just north of Sydney.
Piranha sellers arrested
Police said they have arrested five people for selling carnivorous piranhas, raising fears over what could happen if the fish got into local waterways. At least 62 live piranha fingerlings were seized from the group after a sting operation where a fisheries officer posed as a buyer late on Thursday, senior superintendent Jude Santos said. “We immediately turned them over to the Bureau of Fisheries and their expert determined they were piranhas ... I think they have killed them by now,” Santos said. The fish, known for their sharp teeth, an appetite for meat and their ability to strip flesh from a carcass, were being sold to collectors of exotic fish to be placed in aquariums, the police chief said. However, if they got into local waterways, they could breed quickly and pose a threat to local fish — and even humans, Santos said.
Chinese fishermen detained
Naval authorities detained six Chinese fishermen for alleged poaching in the country’s territorial waters, police said yesterday. The fishermen’s vessel was intercepted on Thursday off the coastal town of Balabac in Palawan, a western island facing the South China Sea where both countries have overlapping territorial claims. “Recovered from their possession and control were 11 sea turtles, fish nets and other paraphernalia,” national police spokesman chief superintendent Agrimero Cruz said. He said the six have been detained and their boat confiscated while charges against them were being prepared.
12 charged with murder
Police have charged 12 people, including a fugitive reputed gangster, over the daytime murder of a Mumbai crime reporter almost six months ago. Jyotirmoy Dey had been working as investigations editor for MiD Day newspaper when he was gunned down on June 11 in a Mumbai suburb by motorcycle-riding assailants. Police believe that reputed gang leader and fugitive Chhota Rajan ordered the hit in retaliation for several negative stories and that he allegedly paid the attackers 500,000 rupees (US$9,700). The indictment filed on Saturday in a Maharashtra state court names Rajan along with 11 other people, including the alleged gunmen and those suspected of providing cash, cellphone SIM cards and the revolver used in the killing.
Assange aims for top court
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is to seek today to have his appeal against extradition to Sweden heard by the nation’s top court, playing his final card in a lengthy legal battle. Almost a year after his arrest over claims of rape and sexual assault, the 40-year-old Australian will ask two judges at London’s High Court to decide whether his appeal can proceed to the Supreme Court. For the appeal to be heard in the highest court, the judges must rule the case raises a question of general public importance. Today’s hearing comes a month after his first appeal against a ruling that he can be sent to Sweden was rejected. If the ruling goes against Assange, the British leg of his legal battle will end and he faces extradition to Sweden within 10 days.
Old bomb to be defused
Officials in the western city of Koblenz said about 45,000 residents had to be evacuated yesterday as officials tried to defuse a World War II era bomb discovered in the Rhine River. City officials said that the massive British 1.8 tonne bomb was to be defused yesterday, requiring all residents within a 1.8km radius of the bomb site to leave their homes for the day. Officials said seven nursing homes, two hospitals and a prison were evacuated in the biggest such operation in the city since the war. The bomb was found last week after the Rhine’s water level fell because of a lack of rain.
Portland protesters arrested
Authorities say riot police moved into a downtown Portland, Oregon, park area and arrested several anti-Wall Street protesters on Saturday night after they refused to leave. Occupy Portland demonstrators set up tents in the park earlier in the day and vowed to stay through the winter, defying city officials who said overnight camping will not be allowed. Police sergeant Pete Simpson said officers began detaining protesters at 8:30pm after the park was closed 30 minutes early. He said several arrests were made, but didn’t have an exact count.
Mammoth may be cloned
Scientists from Japan and Russia believe it may be possible to clone a mammoth after finding well-preserved bone marrow in a thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia, a report said on Saturday. Teams from the Sakha Republic’s mammoth museum and Kinki University will launch joint research next year aimed at recreating the giant mammal, Kyodo News reported from Yakutsk, Russia. By replacing the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those taken from the mammoth’s marrow cells, embryos with mammoth DNA can be produced, Kyodo said, citing the researchers. The scientists will then plant the embryos into elephant wombs for delivery, as the two species are close relatives, the report said.
UN hunts Libya weapons
The UN Security Council on Friday added the hunt for rogue surface-to-air missiles and other weapons in Libya to the duties of the UN mission in the country. The 15-member council unanimously passed a resolution provisionally extending the mandate of the mission until March 16, which has mainly been giving political support to Libya’s transitional government. Growing concern over the weapons caches — particularly thousands of shoulder-fired rocket launchers — left by former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi led to the extension of the mission’s duties.
‘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
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference