Firebomb suspects detained
Two Palestinians suspected of throwing a firebomb that wounded an 11-year-old girl and her father have been arrested in the West Bank, the Shin Bet security service said on Saturday. The two, including a 16-year-old, were detained overnight on Friday, hours after the incident at Azzoun village in the north of the occupied territory, a Shin Bet statement said. It said the two Palestinians hid in ambush above the road separating the Maale Shomron settlement from Azzoun before throwing the petrol bomb at a car carrying the Israelis. The vehicle caught fire and the girl was gravely injured. She was still being treated in hospital late on Saturday, Israeli media reported. Her father suffered light injuries in the attack. According to the military, in the first nine days of this month, Palestinians carried out 24 Molotov cocktail attacks, five of them targeting civilian cars.
Lawmakers to vote today
Lawmakers were to try for a third and final time today to elect a new president and avoid a snap general election that could undermine the country’s international bailout. The definitive round of voting to choose a successor to President Karolos Papoulias comes during last-ditch efforts by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to get the government’s candidate elected and avert early polls. “The Greek people don’t want early elections. The Greek people understand where this adventure could lead,” Samaras said late on Saturday in an interview on Nerit public television.
Shiite leader summoned
The leader of the nation’s largest Shiite opposition group says he has been summoned for questioning by the Ministry of the Interior. Sheik Ali Salman, head of the al-Wefaq group, says authorities did not tell him why he was being summoned by criminal investigators yesterday. He said heavily armed government forces arrived at his house on Saturday to deliver the order. On Friday al-Wefaq members re-elected Salman as their secretary-general. Also on Friday, al-Wefaq organized a protest to press for greater rights from the Sunni-led monarchy. Salman says al-Wefaq had a ministry permit to hold the rally. The Bahrain News Agency quoted police as saying violations occurred during the rally and that organizers were consequently summoned.
Baby born at sea
A baby born at sea on Christmas Day after his Nigerian mother was plucked from a floundering migrant boat by the navy has been baptized Testimony Salvatore in honor of the medics who delivered him. The two-day old infant, who weighed in at 2.7kg, and his 28-year-old mother were both recovering in hospital on Saturday after what was a smooth delivery in testing circumstances, according to the gynaecologist who oversaw it. The cheering Christmas tale came as it was confirmed that Italian authorities have identified a 32-year-old Egyptian man as a linchpin in the large-scale people smuggling that has been instrumental in sending asylum seekers and economic migrants across the Mediterranean in unprecedented numbers this year. Described as a trafficking “superboss” and named as Ahmed Mohamed Farrag Hanafi, the alleged trafficking overlord is now being pursued by the Egyptian authorities at Italy’s request, prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Catania confirmed. The suspect is thought to be based in the Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate in northern Egypt and had been identified as a result of intercepted mobile phone calls.
‘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