Keystone vote looms
The US Senate braced for yesterday’s cliffhanger vote on whether to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, with President Barack Obama signaling that he might veto the controversial bill. Congressional Republicans have long pushed the Obama administration to lift its hold on the US$5.3 billion project, which remains under extended review about six years after it was submitted. The pipeline, which would bring oil from tar sands in the Canadian province of Alberta to refineries on the US Gulf coast, easily passed the House of Representatives last week.
African birthrates lauded
Fewer babies could mean an “economic miracle” for sub-Saharan Africa, with gains of US$500 billion a year over three decades for the region, the UN Population Fund said yesterday. The State of World Population report said a total of 59 nations were poised for a “demographic dividend” when the working-age population outnumbers the rest due to declining fertility rates. The agency said these nations — almost all in Africa — could follow the example of East Asian economies like South Korea, whose rise since the 1970s was helped by demographics.
Family pleads for sisters
The family of the reigning Miss Honduras pleaded with police on Monday to find their teenage daughter, who was abducted just days before she was set to fly to London for the Miss World contest. Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofia Trinidad have not been heard from since they vanished on Thursday outside the northern city of Santa Barbara, and all signs are that the siblings have been kidnapped. “Days have gone by and we have not heard a thing. The police have to know something,” said a tearful Teresa Munoz, their mother. The sisters disappeared after attending a birthday party for Sofia’s boyfriend.
Second USC killer gets life
The second of two men convicted of murder in the 2012 shooting deaths of two University of Southern California (USC) graduate students from China was sentenced on Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Javier Bolden was found guilty last month of first-degree murder for the slayings of 23-year-old engineering students Qu Ming (瞿銘) and Wu Ying (吳穎), who were gunned down in a botched robbery attempt as they sat together in a car parked outside Wu’s rented home, a few blocks from campus. Bolden, 22, received two consecutive life terms without parole eligibility for the USC killings in April 2012, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said. Bolden’s accomplice, 21-year-old Byran Barnes, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in February after pleading guilty to murder and admitting he was the actual shooter. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty for the two men.
Hammer attacker sentenced
A judge on Monday handed out a life sentence with a minimum of 18 years in prison for a thief who brutally attacked three sisters from the United Arab Emirates in a London hotel room with a claw hammer. Drug addict Philip Spence, 33, attacked the tourists as they slept with their children at the four-star Cumberland Hotel on April 6, in an incident that raised concern about the safety of visitors from the Gulf.
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
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against