Trial of Bo’s wife opens
The murder trial of the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來) will start next Thursday in Hefei in east China. The date is a sign the case is advancing before China’s once-a-decade political transition.
Gu Kailai (谷開來)and a family aide, Zhang Xiaojun (張曉軍), are accused of poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood, an associate of the Bo family. The official Xinhua news agency said Gu had a falling out with Heywood over money and worried that her son’s safety was threatened. The murder case is at the center of a political scandal that has highlighted factions in the Chinese leadership ahead of the power handover to a younger generation of leaders later this year.
Birds’ heads torn off in zoo
Nine birds, including an endangered swift parrot, had their heads smashed in or ripped off and more than 60 animals were missing yesterday after vandals went on the rampage at an Australian zoo. Police said “a number of animals escaped their enclosures, with most being recaptured,” adding that two chainsaws were also stolen from the zoo complex.
Two rare swift parrots and a yellow-tailed black cockatoo, were among the animals still on the loose in what was described as a devastating blow for the zoo’s breeding program.
Mine waste spill contained
A waste spillage at the Philippines’ largest gold mine has been contained after the slime threatened to contaminate one of the country’s largest rivers, the government said yesterday. The Padcal mine, located near the major northern mountain resort of Baguio, would remain closed until the safety and integrity of its tailings pond was assured, civil defense office administrator Benito Ramos said. The accident came amid intense public debate about the mining industry in the Philippines, which is believed to have some of the biggest mineral reserves in the world.
Myanmar frees bomber
Myanmar’s president on Friday pardoned a cancer-stricken man sentenced to death for killing 10 people in a festival bombing two years ago, the latest of hundreds of prisoners to be freed under the country’s reformist government. Phyo Wai Aung, 33, who has liver cancer and is paralyzed from below the waist, was released four days after a visit to Yangon’s Insein Prison by UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana. President Thein Sein, a former junta general credited with pushing through speedy reforms in Myanmar, has declared several amnesties since May last year, including the release of at least 650 political prisoners, whose freedom had been demanded by Western governments in order for sanctions to be eased.
Delay in flight operations
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the US will delay flight operations by Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys in Okinawa until the Japanese government agrees that the hybrid aircraft is safe. Panetta told Pentagon reporters Friday that US officials are completing a safety report and will provide Japanese leaders with details on two recent Osprey crashes. His comments came after he met here with Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, who then left the Pentagon for a flight on an Osprey. The tilt-rotor Osprey can take off and land like a helicopter but also has wings and can fly like a plane.
Bull terrorizes village
A bull that bolted from a barn caused panic in a village near Lima, damaging a police car and slightly injuring a woman before its capture, police said on Friday. Weighing in at 500kg, “David” escaped on Thursday night after a fight with another bull in Villa El Salvador, a village near Lima, barn owner Jonas Pareja said. The animal headed to a nearby hill, but later roamed the streets of the village, causing an uproar among residents, who quickly fled their homes. Before being cornered by police on Friday morning, the bull slammed into a woman, who was slightly injured, and also badly damaged a police patrol car. “The bull is usually easygoing, but the escape stressed him out and caused some problems,” the owner said.