Islamic State issues threat
The Islamic State group on Sunday threatened Britain in an online video showing the killing of five “spies” it said worked with the international coalition fighting the extremist group in Iraq and Syria. The SITE Intelligence Group said the video shows five men from Raqa, capital of the self-declared Muslim “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq, confessing to carrying out acts of espionage. In the footage, an English-speaking extremist mocks Prime Minister David Cameron for challenging the Islamic State, and calls him an “imbecile.” The “confessions” of the five do not clearly identify which countries they worked with.
Aden leaders impose curfew
Authorities in Aden yesterday imposed a curfew after violence blamed on suspected extremists killed at least 17 people, pro-government media and security sources said. The curfew is to come into force at 8pm and last until 5am, the sabanews.net Web site said, citing a decision taken by the Aden Security Commission. The decision comes after fierce battles on Sunday in the port of Aden that killed 17 people, among them nine members of the security forces, including a colonel, the security sources said.
Government defends law
The government on Sunday defended its new media law as fair, voicing surprise at the EU’s negative reaction to the legislation. Last week, lawmakers approved legislation by the new ruling party that ends the terms of the current heads of state-run radio and TV, who were appointed by the previous establishment. The new law also gives the government the authority to make new appointments. President Andrzej Duda is expected to sign it into law soon, as the ruling conservative and EU-skeptic Law and Justice party is rushing to make major state and social reforms it promised in the presidential and parliamentary campaigns last year.
Rain brings guano deluge
Weekend rain washed away the dangerous pollution that has afflicted Rome in recent weeks, but left city authorities with a new headache: roads and sidewalks made treacherous by bird droppings. The downpours that cleaned up the air and brought levels of fine particles back down below a WHO-recommended threshold also cleansed the city’s trees of several weeks’ worth of guano deposited by millions of migratory starlings. The result, in combination with rotting leaves, was a slippery, slimy fungal mush that forced city authorities to close roads on the banks of the Tiber for most of Saturday while workers attempted to hose the streets back into a safe state.
Selfie lands robber in jail
Police in northern California say they have arrested a man accused of armed robbery thanks to a Snapchat selfie he took with one of the victims. KNTV reports that Pacific Grove police arrested 18-year-old Victor Almanza-Martinez, of Castroville, who is believed to have participated in an armed robbery. Police said that Almanza-Martinez and two others approached four victims on Wednesday last week at Lover Point Park and allegedly robbed them of their belongings, including a car. The suspects fled in the stolen car, which is still missing, but before leaving Almanza-Martinez and a female victim exchanged Snapchat information and posed for a selfie together. Police said the selfie helped them track down Almanza-Martinez.
Abe foresees challenges
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday told a nationally televised news conference that the coming year is likely to bring “challenges, challenges and still more challenges.” He said he expects to make progress on sweeping reforms he has promised, likening himself to the 18th-century “Abarenbo Shogun,” or “Rogue general” Tokugawa Yoshimune, a national leader renowned for his efforts to reduce waste, clean up corruption and instill samurai values of discipline and leadership. Abe also said that he hoped for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a dispute over northern islands that has blocked the two nations from signing a peace treaty since the end of World War II. Meanwhile, local political superstition holds that every nine years a setback in elections for the Diet’s upper house forces the prime minister to step down. “Observers will be watching closely to see whether he is able to break the jinx,” the Jiji news agency said in a commentary.
TNA hails land offer
The main opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday welcomed President Maithripala Sirisena’s promise of land for 100,000 people who were forced from their homes during the long civil war, most of them Tamils. It said Sirisena’s pledge to give displaced civilians new plots within six months was a “positive development,” but demanded that the military vacate the private land it occupied. “This is the first time he is giving a timeframe,” TNA spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran said, one day after Sirisena made the offer. More than 100,000 people are still living away from their homes more than six years after the end of the war, Sumanthiran said, while another 168,000 live as refugees in India.
Briton held over penis post
A Briton working at a Canadian-owned gold mine could face up to five years in jail for comparing a local delicacy to a horse penis, officials said on Sunday. Michael Mcfeat, an employee of Toronto-based Centerra Gold, was detained by police after posting a comment on Facebook that caused a temporary strike at the Kumtor mine, a Ministry of the Interior spokesman said. In the offending post, Mcfeat said his colleagues were lining up for their “special delicacy, the horse’s penis” during holiday celebrations in reference to a traditional horse sausage known as chuchuk. Mcfeat has deleted his remarks and posted an apology on Facebook, saying he had not meant to offend anyone.
Protest to Beijing likely
The government yesterday said that, like Vietnam, it opposes China’s recent test of a newly completed runway on one of seven islands Beijing has constructed in the South China Sea. Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the government was considering protesting China’s action, as Vietnam did, adding that the test at the Fiery Cross Reef (Yongshu Reef, 永暑礁) “adds to tension and uncertainties in the region.”
‘Feudal’ beliefs targeted
The Chinese Communist Party has tightened its ban on members believing in “feudal superstitions,” Xinhua news agency said on Sunday, as part of new regulations on discipline. The new rules, which took effect on Friday last week, threaten members who “organize” superstitious activities such as reliance on fortune telling and feng shui with expulsion, while those who merely participate in them face warnings.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘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