US-Israel deal riles Tehran
A US$38 billion aid deal between the US and Israel makes Iran more determined to strengthen its military, Iranian Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said yesterday. In comments broadcast live on Iranian state TV, Bagheri said the deal “will make us more determined in strengthening the defense power of the country.” Last week, the US signed an unprecedented new security agreement with Israel that would give the Israeli military US$38 billion over 10 years. Iran does not recognize Israel and supports anti-Israeli militant groups such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Bagheri’s remarks were given during an annual military parade marking the anniversary of Iraq-Iran war in 1980.
Illegal sawmills closed
Environmental authorities said they have closed seven sawmills operating illegally in the forest reserve that serves as the wintering ground for monarch butterflies that migrate to the country from the US and Canada. No logging is permitted in the reserve’s core zone, but loggers have tried to cut trees there in the past. A larger buffer zone does permit some strictly regulated logging and farming. Authorities announced the closures on Tuesday as part of a stepped-up enforcement effort in which the federal police’s Gendarme division is participating. Illegal logging in the 13,551-hectare core zone dropped from almost 20 hectares last year to about 12 hectares this year. The butterflies are expected to begin arriving in Mexico late next month or in early November.
Saint’s relic on display
The heart of a celebrated Roman Catholic saint is being publicly displayed this week — the first time the religious relic has left Italy. Hundreds of the faithful were expected to line up yesterday at the Immaculate Conception Church in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a glimpse of the heart of St Padre Pio. Honoring the relics of saints is an ancient practice in the Roman Catholic faith. St Padre Pio was a Capuchin friar best known for possessing the stigmata, or wounds of Jesus Christ. He died in Foggia, Italy, in 1968 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. The heart will also be displayed in Boston later this week as part of the run-up to the saint’s feast day tomorrow.
Nutella puncher sentenced
A California man was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in jail for punching an elderly man at a store in a dispute over Nutella samples. Derrick Gharabighi, who had been detained since the altercation in September last year at a Costco warehouse store in Burbank, received the sentence, but was immediately released, having earned credit for time served. The 25-year-old was arrested and charged with elder abuse after punching in the face a 78-year-old man who had challenged him for taking too many samples of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. “He takes two, three of them, left one,” Sahak Sahakian told local media at the time. “I want to take that one, and he catch my hand. I say: ‘What are you doing? Let me eat this one.’” Police said Sahakian suffered “significant laceration above his left eye and swelling around the same area of his face.” Free samples are a huge attraction at Costco stores throughout the country. Hungry shoppers can often be seen crowding around a sample table to grab free food and drinks.
‘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
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
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures