Rights lawyer detained
A human rights lawyer has been detained amid a clampdown on lawyers, journalists and academics ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Tang Jingling’s (唐荊陵) wife, Wang Yanfang (汪豔芳), said police took him away yesterday from their home in the southern city of Guangzhou and said he was suspected of picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Tang has represented clients complaining of corruption, land seizures and other grievances. A man who answered the phone at the district police office that issued the detention notice said he knew nothing about the case. He refused to give his name.
Ferry owner’s arrest sought
Prosecutors yesterday said they were seeking a warrant for the arrest of Yoo Byung-un, the head of the family that owns the operator of a ferry that capsized last month. Prosecutors accused Yoo of embezzling funds from ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, which they see as one of the factors that hampered its safety management, and led to the sinking that killed hundreds of schoolchildren. Prosecutors are hunting for Yoo and his children, visiting the home of his elder son and a religious compound where Yoo is believed to have holed up. They have already sought the arrest of Yoo’s second son and a daughter who stay overseas, but no one has been found yet.
Ships raise sanctions doubts
Satellite images have picked out two new North Korean warships — the largest it has constructed in 25 years and an important “wake-up call” on the effectiveness of sanctions, a US think tank said yesterday. Recent commercial satellite pictures showed two new helicopter-carrying frigates separately berthed at shipyards in Nampo in the west and Najin in the far northeast. While it might still take several years to fully integrate the frigates, launched between 2011 and 2012, into fleet operations, their introduction suggested an “evolutionary step” in the North’s naval strategy to include helicopter anti-submarine operations, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said in an analysis on its Web site 38 North. It added that the construction of the two warships and other new naval classes had been achieved during a period of prolonged international economic sanctions, and may be an important wakeup call about the overall effectiveness of sanctions.
President skips Chibok visit
President Goodluck Jonathan has canceled his first visit to the village from which more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted by rebels a month ago due to security fears, a senior government source said yesterday. Jonathan was to fly yesterday from Abuja to Paris for a regional summit to discuss the Boko Haram insurgency and wider insecurity, and will not now make a stop in the village of Chibok, the source said.
Satellite rocket fails
A Russian Proton rocket carrying a European-built satellite fell back to Earth yesterday shortly after liftoff, in the latest accident to hit the country’s space industry. Russian space officials said the rocket’s control engine failed 545 seconds after it took off from the Baikonur space center that Moscow leases in Kazakhstan. State television showed the rocket and its Express-AM4P communication satellite reported to be worth US$29 billion burning up in the upper layers of the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean. Channel One said the satellite — built for Russia by Airbus Group’s Astrium corporation — was meant to provide Internet access to far-flung Russian territories with poor access to communication.
Iran nuclear talks proceed
Nuclear discussions between Iran and six world powers are advancing in a good atmosphere, but progress is “slow and difficult,” a senior Iranian diplomat has said. The remarks from Abbas Araqchi, a leading member of Iran’s negotiating team at talks being held in Vienna, were carried yesterday by the ISNA news agency. The talks, aimed at securing a permanent deal on the extent of Iran’s nuclear activities, started on Wednesday. The parties want to get a deal by July 20, when a November interim deal under which Iran froze certain activities in return for some relief from crippling Western sanctions expires.
‘Drug trafficker’ arrested
A suspected drug trafficker with ties to the infamous Mexican cartel Los Zetas was arrested by police on Thursday evening after a shootout that left three dead, authorities said. Jairo Orellana, known as “El Pelon,” or the “bald one,” was arrested in his hometown of Dona Maria Gualan about 144km east of Guatemala City, Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz told reporters. Two of his security guards and one police officer were killed in the clash. Orellana faces extradition to the US.
Friends return found cash
For all the screaming and carrying on, their neighbors thought they had won the lottery, but it was a lumpy old sofa stuffed with US$40,000 in cash that had three young roommates raising a ruckus. And then they returned the money to the 91-year-old widow whose couch had been given away. “We just pulled out envelopes and envelopes,” said Cally Guasti, a social worker with Family of Woodstock, who shares an apartment with two friends in New Paltz, 120km north of New York. Guasti said on Thursday that she and her friends had bought the beat-up couch and a chair for US$55 at a Salvation Army thrift shop in March. After finding the cash, Guasti found a deposit slip with a woman’s name on it. Werkhoven called her the next morning. “She said: ‘I have a lot of money in that couch and I really need it,’” Guasti said. They drove to the home of the woman, who cried in gratitude when they gave her the cash.
Mom killed son, daughter
A 53-year-old former military mother was convicted on Thursday of first-degree murder, with jurors rejecting the argument that she was legally insane when she shot and killed her 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter more than three years ago. Julie Schenecker faces a mandatory life sentence. Defense attorneys said Schenecker is so affected by bipolar disorder and depression that she does not know right from wrong.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of