Clashes at gay rights rally
A gay rights rally in St Petersburg has ended in scuffles after several dozen protesters were confronted by about 200 conservative and religious activists. The police standing nearby waited until clashes broke out between the two groups before intervening. According to news agencies, the police detained 67 people from both sides. The scuffles started after anti-gay protesters tore a rainbow flag out of a woman’s hands. The St Petersburg city government had sanctioned the rally despite the government’s June passage of a contentious law outlawing gay “propaganda.” Russian gays have faced increasing pressure and threats of violence, protesters said. St Petersburg police could not immediately be reached for comment.
Belgium wins wine tasting
Belgium on Saturday won the first world blind wine-tasting competition for teams, with Denmark and England finishing second and third, organizers said. Philippe Ketelslegers, Filip Mesdom, Eric Derenne and Serge Condens took top honors at the competition held in the southwestern town of Leognan, near the nation’s winegrowing capital of Bordeaux. A total of 16 teams from around the world, including South Africa, China, Russia, Argentina and Quebec, took part. The competition aimed to “bring together... all these amateurs, tasters from the world over, who can sometimes feel isolated in their home countries,” said Philippe de Cantenac, a journalist for the French wine monthly that organized the event. The teams, blind-tasting 12 fine wines from around the world, had to identify their countries of origin, the grape varieties used in them, their appellations and their vintages. A second edition of the competition will be held next year in another city, Cantenac said. The magazine La Revue du Vin de France has already hosted European championships in the same town since 2008.
Gaza tunnels uncovered
The military said it has discovered an underground tunnel dug from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel. The military says it believes the Islamist group, which governs the Palestinian territory, dug the tunnel to carry out an attack or to kidnap Israelis. The army yesterday said it discovered the tunnel a week ago, after finding an opening near a kibbutz along the border with Gaza. The army statement added that the tunnel is 2.5km long and appears to have been recently dug and in use until its discovery. Hamas has dug tunnels into the country in the past. In 2006, Hamas militants sneaked into the country through one such tunnel, kidnapped a soldier and held him hostage in Gaza for five years.
MiG crash kills one
An army MiG-21 aircraft crashed yesterday near the southern city of Luxor, leaving one person dead and three others injured on the ground after the crew ejected, officials said. The Russian-built MiG was conducting a routine training flight when it caught fire shortly after takeoff from a military airport in Luxor.
Both pilots parachuted out of the plane before it crashed onto a small village in the al-Madamod area, killing one person, officials said. Three people were also injured in the accident and rushed to Luxor’s main hospital. Military and civil police forces cordoned off the area of the crash as authorities worked to determine the cause, officials said.
Bus falls into ravine, 52 die
A makeshift bus carrying 52 Quechua Indians home from a party plunged off a cliff into the Chaupimayo River on Friday night, killing everyone on board, including 13 children. The accident occurred as the red-and-yellow cargo truck made its way back from Santa Teresa, about 500km southeast of Lima. It went off the road and fell about 200m into a deep ravine, ending up in the river. Rescuers equipped with little more than flashlights spent the night searching without success for survivors amid the twisted steel and large boulders, pulling bodies from the water. Authorities said bodies were found as far as 100m away from the impact site, suggesting they were thrown from the vehicle. The cause of the accident has not been determined, firefighter Captain David Taboada said. Throughout the day, relatives of the victims arrived to identify their loved ones. Local farmers prepared meals for the mourning relatives to eat. Fedia Castro, mayor of the district where Santa Teresa is located, told Canal N television that rural residents must rely on informal forms of transport, such as the cargo truck, because no public buses exist in the area.
Falling plane door hits motel
A door that fell off a small plane has been found on a motel roof in Monterey, California. The Salinas Californian reported that the door fell from a Beechcraft King Air twin-turboprop plane that took off from Monterey Regional Airport on Thursday afternoon. The pilot heard a pop and turned around to land. He realized the door was missing when he was back on the ground, but the door was not discovered until Friday morning. The front desk manager at the El Castell Motel said no one heard the 34kg door crash into the tile roof because the room below was unoccupied. The National Transportation Safety Board will examine the door and the plane to determine why it came loose.
River boat sinks, killing 12
Twelve people were killed on Saturday when their boat sank in Amapa State during a traditional procession on a river in honor of the Virgin Mary, relief workers said. Six other people were still missing from the ship that was carrying 100 participants even though it had a capacity limit of 40, firefighters said. Firefighters had accompanied the procession, but the accident took place as the boats were returning to their ports, a spokesman said. “The boat was participating in the procession, which takes about two hours in the Amazonian state of Amapa, and must have capsized after hitting a sandbar upon its return,” firefighter Commander Miguel Rosario said. Officials said the rescue operation was to continue yesterday.
Facebook killers convicted
A court has sentenced two men to 200 years in prison each for murdering two teenagers they contacted via Facebook, a judicial source said on Saturday. Eduardo Chen and Saul Garcia Arriaza were convicted for the deaths of Heydi Montufar Lorenzana, 16, and Heiser Alexandra Mercado Santos, 18. The Public Prosecutor’s Office had initially requested 308 years behind bars. Prosecutors argued during the trial that the two men chatted over Facebook with the teenagers and set up a meeting with them. The investigation showed that the girls were killed on August 22, 2011, after being raped. Their bodies were found six days later in Amatitlan. The convictions were the first in the county where the victims and perpetrators contacted each other via Facebook.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications