Rights advocate released
The government has released women’s rights activist Aisha al-Manea, 70, following her arrest last week with several other activists, Amnesty International said yesterday. “We welcome her release, but we still do not know the conditions around it, and we call on authorities to release the other human rights defenders immediately,” Amnesty Middle East director of campaigns Samah Hadid said. “Unfortunately, the chilling smear campaign of these women and men has caused damage and tarnished not only these women, but any form of activism and dissent in the country.”
Train-truck crash kills two
Two people died and 20 were injured late on Wednesday, when a regional train crashed into a truck in the northern region of Piedmont, emergency services said yesterday. The five-carriage train smashed into the heavy goods vehicle, after the truck had broken through a level crossing and got stuck on the tracks, the state train company said. The drivers of both the train and a vehicle accompanying the heavy truck, which was carrying an exceptional load, were killed. Three carriages derailed. Local police said there were 40 to 50 people in the train. Media reports said four of the injured were in serious condition.
Buddhists arrested in raid
More than 100 police commandos yesterday raided four Buddhist temples in Bangkok and Nakhon Pathom Province, arresting several prominent monks and worshipers amid a crackdown on illegal financial dealings by temples. “This is the investigation stage ... It will all come down to facts and evidence,” Thai Central Investigation Bureau official Thitiraj Nhongharnpitak told reporters. Among those arrested was Phra Buddha Issara, 62, a monk who in 2014 launched a campaign to clean up Buddhism. He was held over an alleged 2014 robbery. Phra Phrom Dilok, 72, a member of the Sangha Supreme Council that governs the nation’s monks, was arrested over alleged embezzlement of temple funds.
Public funds given to 1MDB
The government of former prime minister Najib Razak used funds from deals with the central bank and the sovereign wealth fund to pay for some of the liabilities of beleaguered state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), sources with knowledge of the matter told reporters. The payments, which were kept secret by Najib’s administration, show the extent to which federal agencies and government money were used to bail out debt-ridden 1MDB, a fund subject to money laundering investigations in at least six nations. About US$500 million raised from a land sale agreement with the central bank and about US$300 million from the sell-back of shares of sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad were used to fund the settlement owed to Abu Dhabi state fund IPIC, the sources said.
Gamers charged over killing
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday indicted two Call of Duty: WWII online gamers and a man accused of making hoax calls that led a police officer to fatally shoot an unarmed man in Kansas. The indictment charged Tyler Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles with conspiracy to make false reports, making false reports and hoaxes, cyberstalking. The gamers were identified as Casey Viner, 18, of Ohio, and Shane Gaskill, 19, of Kansas.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of