Rest home fire kills 38
A fire swept through a rest home in Henan Province, killing 38 people and injuring six, authorities said yesterday. The fire broke out on Monday night in an apartment building being used as a privately run rest home in the city of Pingdingshan, the province’s work safety administration said in a statement. Xinhua news agency said the building housed 51 elderly people and quoted one survivor, 82-year-old Zhao Yulan, as saying only two of the 11 people living in her room made it out alive. Some of the remains were burned beyond recognition, Xinhua said.
License plates led to trial
A former head of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau has gone on trial for handing out coveted license plates to businesspeople in return for nearly US$4 million in bribes, a court said. Song Jianguo (宋建國) allegedly accepted more than 23.9 million yuan (US$3.9 million) in bribes over the decade from 2004 to last year, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement. He was accused of illegally handing out highly prized “Jing-A” plates, which start with the Chinese character for “capital,” which are mostly used for government vehicles and are regarded as a status symbol.
Graftbuster to lead spies
President Xi Jinping (習近平) named one of his top graftbusters to lead the nation’s spy agency after a corruption scandal toppled the heir-apparent for the post, according to people with knowledge of the appointment. Chen Wenqing (陳文清), 55, who until last month helped direct Xi’s nationwide anti-graft campaign, was appointed Chinese Communist Party secretary for the Ministry of State Security, said the people, who asked not to identified because the change has not been publicly announced. The appointment comes after corruption allegations in January led to the removal of Ma Jian (馬建), the agency’s deputy minister and a likely candidate for the post. Chen succeeds Geng Huichang (耿惠昌), who reached retirement age.
Ex-teachers win in court
The Tokyo District Court has awarded millions of dollars in compensation to a group of high-school teachers who were punished for refusing to sing the national anthem, the group said yesterday. The Tokyo District Court on Monday ruled that the Tokyo government must pay a total of ￥537 million (US$4.5 million) to 22 former teachers. The group said the city refused to re-hire them under a scheme that extends employment past the retirement age because they disobeyed orders to stand and sing the anthem at graduation ceremonies. District judge Toru Yoshida said Tokyo’s refusal to re-hire the group was disproportionate to the offence.
Rhino survives attack
The rhino’s rescuers gave her a name: Hope. Poachers had darted the rhino with a tranquilizer and hacked off her horns while she was sedated, leaving the animal with a horrific wound covering much of her face. A couple of days later, staff on the Lombardini reserve found the grievously injured rhino — alive. Last week, veterinarians operated on the four-year-old female. They removed maggots and dead tissue, applied dressing and fastened a fiberglass cast with steel screws. The wound measures 50cm by 28cm, the biggest of 10 similar cases that the team has treated in the last three years. It could take at least a year for Hope’s wound to heal after multiple treatments, officials said.
Iranian missile deal set
Moscow and Tehran concluded talks on the delivery of Russian S-300 missiles to Iran, which should take place “quite” soon, Deputy Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Monday. “It will be done at the soonest opportunity possible,” he said after meeting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. The sale was blocked in 2010 by then-Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, but incumbent President Vladimir Putin last month gave the go-ahead.
Gunfight not revenge: police
Authorities on Monday rejected suggestions that police executed victims in a gunfight that killed 42 suspects and one officer after the one-sided death toll raised doubts among security experts. Officials said the suspects refused to surrender during Friday’s three-hour battle on a ranch in Michoacan State. “There was not one single execution,” federal police chief Enrique Galindo told Radio Formula, rejecting claims that officers wanted to avenge the killings of several colleagues attributed to the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel.
Pipeline probe continues
Officials from Plains All American Pipeline say they hope the broken section of a pipeline that spilled oil along the California coast could be removed for investigation by yesterday. The company on Monday downgraded the amount of oil that might have spilled to a new worst-case estimate of 382,300 liters, about 15,900 liters less than thought. Oil blackened beaches and created a 26km2 ocean slick after the onshore pipeline ruptured on Tuesday last week. Officials say one sea lion, nine pelicans and untold numbers of fish have been killed.
Fan, 82, rides coaster, 95
An 82-year-old fan of a historic Pennsylvania roller coaster celebrated his 5,000th ride on it on Sunday — sitting for more than eight hours straight and logging 95 spins on the ride in a single day. Vic Kleman, 82, marked the milestone on the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin. His number of rides honored the coaster’s 95th birthday this season. “I feel great,” said Kleman, a retired general manager of a wholesale grocery firm and a local actor. “I made sure to move my legs throughout the day to keep from getting stiff after sitting so long.” The wooden coaster dates back to 1920 and has a 25.9m double-dip drop.
Volcano threatens iguanas
A Galapagos Islands volcano has erupted for the first time in 33 years, threatening a fragile ecosystem. The Galapagos National Park administration said the 1,700m Wolf volcano began spewing fire and lava before dawn on Monday. The volcano lies on the northern tip of Isabela Island, the archipelago’s largest. Officials said lava flowing to the southwest poses no risk for now to the world’s only population of pink iguanas.
FARC talks resume
The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels resumed peace talks on Monday in Havana amid heightened tensions after airstrikes that killed dozens of rebels. Rebel negotiator Pablo Catatumbo condemned the government offensive as he arrived for the talks, which opened in November 2012. “Without a doubt, the tragic events are a step backward in what we have achieved up to now at the negotiating table,” he said.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete