Roof friend to plead guilty
A friend of the man accused of gunning down nine black parishioners during a Bible study in a South Carolina church is appearing before a judge to plead guilty to federal charges. Under a plea agreement signed by 21-year-old Joey Meek and federal prosecutors, Meek is to plead guilty to lying to authorities and failing to report a crime. He appears before US District Judge Richard Gergel on Friday in Charleston. Authorities allege Meek failed to tell investigators all he knew about Dylann Roof’s plans to shoot parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in June last year. The 22-year-old Roof is charged with hate crimes and other charges in federal court.
Rock formation defaced
Rangers at Utah’s Arches National Park were investigating large graffiti on Thursday that was carved so deeply into a famous red rock arch that it might be impossible to erase, officials said. The carvings discovered earlier this month measure about 1.2m across and 90cm high, park superintendent Kate Cannon said. The Arches rock formation, commonly known as Frame Arch, is off a popular hiking trail where visitors can look through it and view the park’s iconic, stand-alone Delicate Arch. Cannon said the graffiti was etched so deeply that it might have taken at least one hour for someone to carve. She said park workers can try to reduce the carving’s visibility by grinding down the rock around it, but that causes further damage to the surface. She said they could also try to fill in the etchings with some kind of material that blends in, but it is unclear if that would be a permanent or unnoticeable treatment.
Wandering sea lion dies
Washington state biologists are trying to determine what killed a sea lion that was captured and released after it was strangely found in the driveway of a cattle ranch about 80km from the ocean. The male California sea lion was released into Puget Sound on April 15 after it apparently swam and waddled its way to the ranch, the News Tribune reported. On Friday last week, the sea lion was found dead under a bridge in Olympia, ending its unusual journey from the ocean to a small creek and then to Puget Sound. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Dyanna Lambourn examined the sea lion on Sunday and found no immediate cause of death. Samples from the necropsy were sent out on Tuesday to test for possible causes. Rancher Ken Shively found his gate open and the 159kg animal in his driveway. He initially thought it was a deer or elk.
Beehive heist probed
Thieves in Quebec have staged an unusual heist of something that is becoming increasingly rare in North America these days: bees. Beekeeper Jean-Marc Labonte lost more than 180 beehives worth US$160,000 earlier this week in what he says is a first for his family business. “It’s very, very uncommon in Quebec,” he said. Labonte said he suspects the theft to be the work of another beekeeper who “lost many bees” last winter and is trying to get more free. The heist, which is being investigated by police, allegedly took place on Monday in a locked apiary in the city of Victoriaville, 160km northeast of Montreal. “It sickens me because bees are very rare and increasingly expensive as their numbers decline across North America,” he said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday