Actor Verne Troyer dies
The diminutive actor who starred in the Austin Powers movies as “Mini Me,” Verne Troyer, died on Saturday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 49. The cause of death was not announced, but the family wrote that “depression and suicide are very serious issues… You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. But be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help,” his family posted on his Instagram account. Troyer, who was 81cm tall, is best known for The Spy Who Shagged Me and Austin Power in Goldmember. He also had the role of the goblin Griphook in the Harry Potter movies. He had more than 25 other film credits to his name.
Social media firms warned
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt yesterday said that the government would introduce new laws targeting online social media companies if they do not do more to protect children. In a strongly worded letter to Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter and others, Hunt said their failure to prevent you” was “unacceptable and irresponsible.” He said he was particularly concerned about the lack of age verification measures, with thousands breaching minimum user age rules. He gave the companies a week to set out steps they are taking to cut underage use, prevent cyberbullying and promote screen time limits.
Ten people were arrested on Saturday when a rally attended by a handful of neo-Nazis was met with hundreds of counter-protesters in the Georgia town of Newman, local media reported. Hundreds of police officers were deployed ahead of the event organized by the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the country. However, only a few dozen far-right members showed up, among them the movement’s leader Jeff Schoep. The 10 arrested were counter-protesters.
March for prisoners held
Several thousand protesters marched on Saturday in Bilbao to demand that imprisoned members of the Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) be moved to prisons closer to their homes. Hundreds of members of ETA are kept in Spanish and French prisons, mostly outside the Basque region.
Nude gunman kills three
A nude gunman yesterday shot dead three people and injured at least four more at a restaurant on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, police said. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said in a statement that the shooting occurred at a Waffle House in Antioch at 3:25am. “A patron wrestled away the gunman’s rifle. He was nude & fled on foot. He is a white man with short hair,” the statement added.
Nature out to get man
It was third time unlucky for a Colorado man attacked by a shark in Hawaii — as he had already been mauled by a bear and bitten by a rattlesnake, all in less than four years. Dylan McWilliams, 20, was bodyboarding in the ocean off Kauai on Thursday, when what he believed to be a tiger shark about 2m long chomped him on the leg, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. McWilliams was able to swim about 30m back to shore. He received seven stitches, compared with the nine staples in his scalp following an altercation with a black bear in July last year.
Drones to be regulated
The Ministry of the Interior yesterday instructed drone enthusiasts to obtain permission to fly the devices until regulations were finalized, a day after security forces shot down a recreational drone near the king’s palace in Riyadh. Amateur online videos of heavy gunfire in the capital’s Khozama District on Saturday sparked fears of possible political unrest. A senior official told reporters there were no casualties when the drone was shot down and that King Salman was not in the palace at the time. A security screening point had noticed the flying of a small unauthorized recreational drone, leading security forces to deal with it “according to their orders and instructions,” state-run Saudi Press Agency said.
Dragon boat accident kills 17
Seventeen people were killed on Saturday after two dragon boats capsized in Guilin, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. Rowers on board the two boats were practicing for a race in the Taohua River when the accident occurred on Saturday afternoon, tipping 57 people into the water. About 200 rescuers were sent to help. About 40 people were pulled out of the water alive with rescue work ending around 10pm, Xinhua said. Authorities in Guilin said villagers had organized a practice session without notifying police, and that two organizers were detained.
‘Torturer of Tehran’ arrested
Police have arrested a former prosecutor known as the “torturer of Tehran,” who faces a two-year prison sentence over the death of prisoners following 2009 protests, media reported yesterday. The official Web site of the judiciary, Mizanonline.com, said former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi had been arrested, without elaborating. Mortazavi was in December last year sentenced to prison by an appeals court. The court found him guilty of “abetting and aiding” torture and the deaths of protesters arrested after the disputed re-election of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mass grave found in Raqa
Dozens of bodies, including those of extremists and civilians, have been found in a mass grave in the former Islamic State group stronghold of Raqa, a local official said on Saturday. Nearly 50 bodies had already been recovered from the mass grave, which could contain up to 200 bodies, Abdallah al-Eriane, a senior official with Raqa Civil Council now running the city, said. The mass grave was under a football pitch, close to a hospital where the extremists had dug in before being chased out of the city. “It was apparently the only place available for burials, which were done in haste. The jihadists were holed up in the hospital,” the official said, adding that some bodies were marked with the nom de guerre of the militants while civilians just had first names.
World’s oldest person dies
A woman born in the final year of the 19th century and believed to have been the world’s oldest person died on Saturday, Kyodo news agency said. She was 117. Nabi Tajima, born in 1900, died from old age at a hospital on her native southwestern island of Kikaijima, Kyodo said. Guinness World Records had been conducting research with a view to certifying Tajima as the oldest person alive after the previous record holder, Violet Brown of Jamaica, died last year at 117, Kyodo said.
‘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