Ministry protests US ban
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has lodged a formal complaint with Washington over US sanctions against a leading state arms maker and other firms over alleged arms deals with North Korea, Syria and Iran. The US State Department said Poly Technologies is among companies barred from dealing with the US government or purchasing US military hardware for two years. The ministry yesterday said the US’ actions seriously violate the norms of international relations and undermine national interests.
US believes radar lock
Washington said it believed Japanese allegations that China activated its weapons-guiding radar last month in an escalation of tensions between the two Asian powers in the East China Sea. China denies Japanese claims that Chinese naval vessels locked their radar onto a Japanese destroyer and helicopter. However, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday said that the US was briefed by Japan, and “we have satisfied ourselves that it does appear to have happened.” Washington said it takes no stance in the sovereignty dispute, but opposes “unilateral actions” undermining Japan’s administration of the islands.
Guard awaits jail term
The government is recommending a 17-and-a-half-year prison term for a US security guard who has admitted he tried to sell secret photos and other secret information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security after he lost US$159,000 in the stock market. The Justice Department said Bryan Underwood took photographs of restricted areas at the new US consulate in Guangzhou and planned to use them to help China eavesdrop on US officials. Underwood drafted a letter expressing his desire to work for the Chinese ministry, but was turned away when he attempted to deliver it.
Fine dining at McDonald’s
In a world first, a local McDonald’s franchise is offering full table service for its dine-in customers, complete with china plates, glassware and metal utensils in place of usual paper boxes and plastic. Meals are also brought to the table by servers, and diners can daintily dab their lips with cloth napkins after eating. “It’s very popular,” store manager Michelle Steain said of the five-week trial service. “Everyone seems to be loving it.”
Taliban bans Viagra
The head of a trade association for a large market in Peshawar says the Taliban have warned shopkeepers not to sell sex-related drugs like Viagra or obscene films because they are against Islam. Shamsher Khan Afridi said he received a text message from the Taliban on Saturday with the warning. Afridi said on Monday that he distributed a pamphlet to thousands of shopkeepers in the Karkhano market asking them to comply with the order.
‘Zombie attack’ in Montana
A Montana TV station’s regular programming was interrupted by news of a zombie apocalypse. The Montana Television Network says hackers broke into the Emergency Alert System of Great Falls affiliate KRTV and its CW station on Monday. KRTV said on its Web site the hackers broadcast that “dead bodies are rising from their graves” in several Montana counties. The alert claimed the bodies were “attacking the living” and warned people that they were extremely dangerous.” The network says engineers are investigating.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and