Two monks self-immolate
Two Tibetan monks in their early 20s set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule near dozens of pilgrims who had gathered for prayers to mark the end of the Tibetan New Year festival, a Tibet rights group said. Both died. One of the monks, Tsesung Kyab, self-immolated on Monday outside a temple in Luqu County in Gansu Province, while the other, Phagmo Dundrup, set himself ablaze on Sunday at a monastery in neighboring Qinghai Province, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet reported. The group said large numbers of religious pilgrims had gathered at both monasteries for prayer ceremonies to commemorate the end of the Tibetan New Year festival, Losar. The group says it received images of the self-immolation in Luqu, in which pilgrims watched as Tsesung Kyab was ablaze. The latest self-immolations bring the total since 2009 to 106.
US sailors admit to rape
Two US sailors yesterday admitted to raping a woman in Okinawa in October last year, news reports said, in a case that generated huge anti-US anger on the strategically vital island. Skyler Dozierwalker, 23, and Christopher Browning, 24, attacked the woman in central Okinawa during a brief trip to the island. Dozierwalker told Naha District Court he committed the crime, while Browning also admitted the charges, but denied having conspired with the petty officer in advance, Jiji Press and Kyodo News said. Okinawa is the reluctant host of more than half of the 47,000 US military personnel in Japan.
Balloon accident kills 19
A security official said at least 19 foreign tourists were killed when a hot air balloon crashed near the famed ancient city of Luxor. The casualties were nine Hong Kongers, four Japanese, three Britons, two French nationals and a Hungarian. The official said there was a fire and an explosion, and the balloon then plunged from the sky and crashed into sugar cane fields west of Luxor yesterday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the media. A reporter at the crash site said he counted eight bodies.
Vulcan wins Web moon poll
Star Trek fans, rejoice. An online vote to name Pluto’s two newest moons is over and No. 1 is Vulcan, a name suggested by actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series. Vulcan snared nearly 200,000 votes among the more than 450,000 cast during the two-week contest, which ended on Monday. In second place with nearly 100,000 votes was Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld. Vulcan was the Roman god of lava and smoke. Vulcan was also the home planet of Mr Spock. “174,062 votes and Vulcan came out on top of the voting for the naming of Pluto’s moons. Thank you to all who voted,” Shatner said in a tweet. Do not assume Vulcan and Cerberus are shoo-ins, though. The 10 astronomers who made the discoveries will take the voting results into account when they come up with what they consider to be the two best names. The leader of the team, Mark Showalter, said on Monday he is leaning toward the popular vote, but he also pointed out that asteroids thought to orbit close to the sun are called vulcanoids and there could be some confusion if a moon of Pluto were to be named Vulcan.