Kidnapped victims rescued
Police have rescued two kidnapped Chinese mining prospectors and killed one of their abductors in a sting operation in the country’s south, a police spokeswoman said yesterday. Li Defeng, 43, and Yang Liguang, 48, were unharmed when police carried out the operation, which was disguised as a ransom payment drop, regional police deputy spokesperson Zena Panaligan said. The two Chinese were seized at a friend’s home in the remote town of San Francisco on Mindanao Island on Saturday by members of a kidnapping gang that demanded 1 million pesos (US$24,000) in ransom, she said. A Filipino friend of the Chinese men agreed to deliver the ransom money on Monday as part of the sting operation, but the suspects recognized one of the undercover officers and opened fire, Panaligan said. The shootout left one of the suspects dead, while the rest of the gang fled, leaving their two hostages and the ransom untouched, police said.
Authorities green-light probe
The government yesterday backed down in a long-running legal wrangle over corruption allegations against President Asif Ali Zardari that has already cost one prime minister his job. Ministers have spent more than two years resisting court orders to write to Swiss authorities to ask them to reopen graft investigations into Zardari, arguing that as head of state, he enjoys immunity from prosecution, but yesterday Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told the Supreme Court he had instructed the law minister to write to Switzerland to withdraw a letter sent in 2007 by the then-attorney general which asked them to halt probes into Zardari. The allegations against Zardari date back to the 1990s, when he and his late wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, are suspected of laundering US$12 million allegedly paid in bribes by companies seeking customs inspection contracts.
Joint currency a no-go
A monetary union between Australia and New Zealand is not a practical option given the political and economic differences between the two countries, a joint government study said yesterday. A draft report prepared by officials from the countries said the costs of a monetary union, with a common currency and monetary policies, outweighed the benefits. “They imply a loss of autonomy over monetary policy and exchange rate flexibility, which are important tools for macroeconomic stability,” the report said. “Tying New Zealand’s fortunes to Australia’s currency would result in monetary policy being driven by Australian conditions, with decisions made by the Reserve Bank of Australia.” Australia’s economy is around seven times larger than New Zealand and central banks in the two countries have pursued different monetary policies.
Security warning issued
The Federal Office for Information Security is warning of a security breach in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and recommending people use other browsers until the problem is fixed. The office said in a statement on Monday that the browser’s “weak point is already being used for targeted attacks.” It said the code to attack computers running on Windows XP or Windows 7 operating systems through the browser is freely available online and might therefore spread rapidly. Microsoft Corp’s German division was not immediately reachable for comment.