US naval exchange starts
The nation is hosting a week-long naval exchange with the US Navy this week. Three ships from the US 7th Fleet began their five-day visit to Danang yesterday. No live-fire drills are planned, but the two sides are expected to practice salvage and disaster training as they have done in recent years.
Victoria Beckham under fire
Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham flew into controversy yesterday after she posed for a picture in a crew-only seat on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong. “Cabin crew prepare for landing! Welcome to Beijing!! X vb,” she wrote on Twitter alongside a photograph of her sitting in the crew seats aboard the Beijing-bound flight on Friday. Wearing sunglasses and a peach-colored dress, she appears to be making an announcement on the public address system while a stewardess sitting next to her pulls a funny face. An airline spokeswoman said the stunt was harmless but “inappropriate.” The photograph was not taken at any critical stage of the flight, such as take-off or landing, she added. The Hong Kong Standard newspaper reported that Beckham had been criticized on Internet forums for putting the flight’s safety at risk.
Rights groups protest plan
Leading rights groups yesterday urged the government to drop plans for a blanket amnesty over thousands of killings and other atrocities committed during the country’s 10-year civil war. More than 16,000 people died in the conflict between Maoist rebels and the state, which ended in 2006, and more than 1,000 are still missing. The parliament is setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate wartime killings, torture and forced disappearances and is debating proposals to grant an amnesty for abuses by government and rebel forces. Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) released a joint statement calling on political leaders to fulfill a commitment made in the post-war peace agreement to prosecute violations of international law. “Amnesty for gross human rights abuses — such as torture, including rape and enforced disappearance — would violate international law,” said Frederick Rawski, of the Geneva-based ICJ. “Amnesty for these crimes would also contradict well-established Nepal Supreme Court jurisprudence and the government’s own public commitments at the UN Human Rights Council.”
Crash kills two pedestrians
A seven-year-old girl and a pregnant woman were killed yesterday when a car hit a group of elementary-school children near Kyoto. Five children were seriously hurt when the car, driven by an 18-year-old without a license, crashed into the nine youngsters and one adult. Yukihi Matsumura, 26, who was seven months pregnant, and seven-year-old Mao Odani, were declared dead several hours after the crash, which happened at around 8am as the youngsters were being taken to school. Matsumura’s fetus also died in the accident in Kameoka City near Kyoto, a police spokesman said. Officers arrested the teenage driver, who had been up all night with two friends, police said, with local media reporting he might have fallen asleep behind the wheel. “He has said he was playing around all night,” a police spokesman said, while declining to spell out whether alcohol or drugs were a factor.
Zimmerman out on bail