Afghan cooperation sought
The country said yesterday that it will work with Afghanistan to fight terrorism, after it blamed a deadly train station attack on extremists from its western Xinjiang region, which shares a short border with the war-torn nation. Beijing has become increasingly concerned about security in restive Xinjiang, where it says Muslim extremists receive help from militants in neighboring countries. Authorities said separatists from the region, home to a large Muslim Uighur minority, launched a terrorist attack in the southwestern city of Kunming last week, killing at least 29 people and injuring about 140. The government will work with the international community for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and support reconstruction, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) said at a press briefing during an annual session of China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament.
District chief killed by bomb
Police say a bomb has ripped through the vehicle of a district chief in the east of the country, killing him. Nangarhar provincial police chief spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal said the early yesterday morning blast in the district capital, Jalalabad, killed Noor Agha Kamran, head of Nazian District. Mashreqiwal says two of Kamran’s bodyguards are in hospital with serious wounds. Another four people in the area were treated for minor injuries and released from hospital, he said. No one has taken immediate responsibility for the bombing, but Nazian district has a heavy presence of Taliban insurgents.
Checkpoints get makeover
Military checkpoints set up in the capital to keep security during the country’s political unrest are getting a makeover in a bid to project a kinder, gentler image, the army said on Friday. Major General Wara Boonyasit, a division commander, said soldiers have decorated some bunkers with colorful flowers and potted plants after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra suggested that the 176 checkpoints around Bangkok may be unnerving residents and scaring foreign tourists. Soldiers were deployed in force around the capital last week after a spate of armed attacks on anti-government demonstrators who are demanding Yingluck’s resignation. While the violence has eased, two people were slightly wounded on Friday by gunshots fired from a park in the heart of Bangkok that is occupied by the protesters, police said. Wara said checkpoints — some of which have been decorated with flowerpots — would also be relocated to less prominent locations to become less obtrusive.
Crowd forms ‘woman’ sign
More than 10,000 people gathered in the capital yesterday in a bid to set a world record for the largest formation of the gender symbol for “woman,” as part of International Women’s Day. The event, sponsored by the government’s commission on women and the local bottler of Coca-Cola, brought together 10,168 men and women who formed the giant symbol in Manila’s main public park, organizers said. “The women’s symbol puts a spotlight on how women are poised to become the social and economic powerhouses of the future,” Coca-Cola Philippines vice-president Adel Tamano said. Organizers of the event said that it would still take a week before the record is officially validated by Guinness World Records.
Anti-terror officer removed
London’s top counterterrorism police officer was removed from his post on Friday after he was implicated in a report that concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service spied on the family of a teenager murdered in a notorious killing whose aftermath exposed police racism and incompetence. Police said Met Commander Richard Walton was transferred to a backroom job following the report on the stabbing of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. No one was convicted of the murder for almost 20 years and the botched case is seen as one of the biggest failures in the history of the nation’s policing. The report by senior lawyer Mark Ellison found that an undercover policeman spied on Lawrence’s relatives during a public inquiry into the force’s handing of the case in the late 1990s that concluded that the force was “institutionally racist.” Walton was one of the officers assigned to make submissions to the inquiry and Ellison’s report found he had a “completely improper” meeting with the undercover officer while it was underway. Ellison also found evidence that the original investigation was tainted by corruption sicne one of the investigating officers, John Davidson, was suspected of having links to Clifford Norris, a gangster whose son was one of the suspects.
Aryan leader pleads guilty
The head of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas on Friday pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy that included murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking. Larry Max Bryan pleaded guilty before US District Judge Sim Lake and under federal law, could receive a maximum sentence of life in prison. The plea agreement calls for prosecutors to recommend that the 52-year-old be jailed for no more than 25 years when sentenced on Oct. 7. Bryan was among nearly three dozen people allegedly affiliated with the white supremacist gang who were charged in a sweeping indictment unsealed in 2012. Dozens have been convicted in an ongoing federal probe into the military-style Brotherhood, which was founded in Texas prisons in the 1980s to offer protection to white inmates.
Family eats LSD-laced meat
Authorities say a Florida woman who was nine months pregnant and her family became ill after eating meat tainted with LSD on Monday. Tampa police say doctors induced labor and the woman had a healthy baby boy. The family of four has since been released from the hospital and are in good condition. The Tampa Medical Examiner’s Office reported on Friday that the meat had been contaminated with the hallucinogenic drug and police say the bottom round steak was purchased from a Wal-Mart in Tampa. The store has turned over all its meat to police for testing.
Condom sabotage is assault
Deliberately piercing a condom to cause a partner’s pregnancy against her will constitutes sexual assault, even if the couple is in a consensual relationship, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday. The unanimous ruling by the panel’s seven justices upheld a lower court’s decision in a 2006 case that found Jaret Hutchinson had committed aggravated sexual assault by having sex with his girlfriend without telling her he had sabotaged the condom. Hutchinson later admitted to his girlfriend that he poked holes in the condom because he wanted to consolidate their relationship by getting her pregnant. After becoming pregnant, she decided to have an abortion and took Hutchinson to court.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big