Storm kills seven
Big waves sank a boat off Palawan Island, killing at least five people yesterday, while 54 more fishermen were rescued, after monsoon rains inundated southern villages. The MV Jociel 2 sank shortly before midnight on Tuesday before reaching Palawan, coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo said. An unknown number were still missing. Two more people were killed when heavy rains lashed the island of Mindanao.
China boycotts conference
Chinese delegates taking part in a World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) conference abruptly flew home yesterday in an apparent protest against Tibetan participation, organizers said. The 17 Chinese monks and officials returned home a day after lodging a complaint about Tibet’s presence, a spokeswoman for the organizing committee said. On Tuesday three Tibetan delegates were forced to leave a delegates’ assembly meeting after Chinese officials threatened to boycott the meeting, she said. “The WFB secretary-general accepted the Chinese demand that the Tibetans leave so the meeting could go smoothly,” she said, calling the decision by the WFB chief “embarrassing.” The three Tibetans are still taking part in other events at the five-day conference, she said.
US student pleads guilty
A US college student who crashed a minivan, killing three of his Boston University classmates and injuring four more, pleaded guilty to careless driving yesterday and was disqualified from driving. Stephen Houseman, 20, had crashed on May 12 while driving to a central North Island hike. Police said the crash appeared to happen when the minivan drifted to the side of the road and Houseman tried to correct his course, but ended up rolling the van several times. At Auckland District Court, Houseman pleaded guilty to seven counts of careless driving causing injury or death. Each charge had carried a maximum jail term of three months.
Cat hurled from bridge
A man was recovering yesterday after a cat which was hurled from a bridge smashed into the windscreen of his car, in an incident police described as “sick.” The 60-year-old driver was lucky to escape injury when the fully grown cat struck his car on Tuesday evening as he was driving along the busy Hume Highway, cracking the windscreen and causing extensive damage to the roof. “Police were called to the scene and found the body of a fully grown cat lying on the road approximately 100 metres behind the car,” police said in a statement. “Investigators suspect the animal was thrown from the overpass, as it is partially enclosed making climbing difficult.”
China outranks US
For the first time, people responding to a global survey are more likely to view China and not the US as the world’s leading economic power. The Pew Research Center yesterday said that 41 percent of people interviewed in 21 countries ranked China as the No. 1 economy, while 40 percent put the US in first place. The trend was especially strong in Europe. About 58 percent of people in Britain saw China as the leading economy, versus just 28 percent for the US. The survey also found China’s image has grown more negative over the past year in the US, Japan and parts of Europe.
Dissident gets 13 years
A prominent human rights lawyer has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court, his daughter said. Maede Soltani, who lives in Germany, said her family was officially notified on Monday of last week’s ruling, which came during the appeals process. Her father, Abdolfattah Soltani, co-founded a human rights group with Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. He was arrested last year. A court in March initially sentenced the 58-year-old to 18 years in prison on various charges, including co-founding the Center for Human Rights Defenders, spreading anti-government propaganda and endangering national security.