Six arrested over drug haul
Police arrested six people allegedly linked to a US-based syndicate after what authorities on Friday said was the largest single seizure of methamphetamine in the US and the biggest drug haul bound for Australia. US Customs and Border Protection said 1,728kg of the drug were seized last month at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, along with smaller amounts of cocaine and heroin. The drugs were hidden in metal boxes labeled as loudspeakers. Authorities in Melbourne said the shipment was bound for Australia and would have provided about 17 million hits of the substance also known as ice.
New swine fever outbreak
Officials in Beijing have reported a new outbreak of African swine fever that is threatening the country’s vital pork industry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Friday reported that the disease had been detected on a farm in Yongzhou in Hunan Province, where 4,600 pigs were being raised. Although just 171 of the pigs had died and 270 were found sick, ministry regulations require all pigs on an affected farm must be culled and disposed of, and the area quarantined and decontaminated.
Google deletes banned links
News reports say that Google has agreed with authorities to delete links to Web sites banned in the nation. The daily Vedomosti on Thursday reported that Google has reached an agreement with state media oversight agency Roskomnadzor to regularly receive updated lists of banned sites and delete links to them upon review. The newspaper said that Google has already removed about 70 percent of the banned Web sites from its search results. The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Roskomnadzor as saying it has established a “constructive dialogue” with Google. In December last year, Roskomnadzor fined Google 500,000 rubles (US$7,643 at the current exchange rate) for failing to delete links to the banned sites. It threatened to cut access to Google if it failed to comply with the demand. “We’re committed to enabling access to information for the benefit of our users in Russia and around the world,’” Google spokesman Nu Wexler said.
Methanol in liquor kills 39
Police said 39 people have died and another 27 have fallen sick from drinking spurious liquor containing toxic methanol in several villages. Senior police officer Ashok Kumar said 26 died in two separate incidents in Uttar Pradesh State, while 13 others died in the neighboring state of Uttarakhand. Victims consumed liquor during a customary feast, Kumar said. Police have arrested eight suspected bootleggers, while the provincial governments have suspended 35 officials, including 12 police.
Hilter paintings up for sale
Five paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler were to be auctioned off yesterday in Nuremberg, sparking anger that the Nazi memorabilia market is alive and well. Nuremberg Mayor Ulrich Maly told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the sale was “in bad taste.” Among the items to go under the hammer were a mountain lake view with a starting price of 45,000 euro (US$51,010) and a wicker armchair with a swastika presumed to have belonged to Hitler.
Trains collide head-on
Two passenger trains on Friday evening rammed head-on into each other on a track near Barcelona, killing one person and injuring about 100 others, most of them slightly, authorities said. The commuter trains collided between the towns of Sant Vicenc de Castellet and Manresa, northwest of Barcelona, Catalan emergency services said in a tweet. Three of the injured passengers were in serious condition, but about 100 others escaped injury, officials said.
Tiger killed by new mate
For 10 days, the London Zoo kept its newly arrived male Sumatran tiger Asim in a separate enclosure from Melati, the female tiger who was supposed to become his mate. Zoologists gave them time to get used to each other’s presence and smells, and waited for what they felt would be the right time to let them get together. On Friday, they put the two tigers into the same enclosure, and Asim killed Melati as shocked handlers tried in vain to intervene. It was a tragic end to hopes that the two would eventually breed as part of a Europe-wide tiger conservation program for the endangered Sumatran subspecies. “Everyone here at ZSL London Zoo is devastated by the loss of Melati and we are heartbroken by this turn of events,’’ the zoo said in a statement. Contingency plans called for handlers to use loud noises, flares and alarms to try to distract the tigers, but that did not work. They did manage to put seven-year-old Asim back in a separate paddock, but by that time Melati, 10, was already dead.
Khashoggi deadline skipped
President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday signaled it was unlikely to meet a deadline to report to Congress on whether it intends to impose sanctions on those responsible for the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, prompting an angry backlash on Capitol Hill. Republican and Democratic lawmakers triggered a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act in October last year, giving the administration 120 days to report on who was responsible for the death of Khashoggi and whether the US would impose sanctions on that person or persons. Congressional aides said they still hoped to receive a report from the White House by early next week, but the administration said Trump did not feel the need to send one. “The president maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate,” a senior administration official said in an e-mailed statement.
Mosque attacker gets life
A 29-year-old who shot dead six worshipers at a Quebec mosque in the worst anti-Muslim attack in the West was given life in prison on Friday. Alexandre Bissonnette would have to wait 40 years — longer than usual — before he can apply for parole. Judge Francois Huot rejected a prosecution request for a 150-year sentence, which would have been the longest ever in the country, saying this would be a cruel and unusual punishment, but he also noted the killer’s “visceral hatred of Muslim immigrants” in his decision. Ahmed Cheddadi, who was wounded in the attack, said the sentence was appropriate in that he found it unlikely that Bissonnette would ever be released. On the evening of Jan. 29, 2017, Bissonnette burst into the mosque and unleashed a hail of bullets on the 40 men and four children who were there. Six men were killed and five were seriously injured.
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable