Haze-hit state sent masks
The government has sent half-a-million masks to the eastern state of Sarawak, where air pollution levels have spiked amid worsening forest fires in Indonesia, the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) said yesterday. The smoldering fires that Indonesian farmers often use to clear land produce a choking haze that drifts over the region. “NADMA has acquired 500,000 face masks and sent them to the agency’s branch in Sarawak,” it said in a statement. The air pollution index in Sarawak reached unhealthy levels yesterday, with one district recording a reading of 201, a “very unhealthy” level.
War damaged 120 churches
More than 120 Christian places of worship have been damaged or destroyed by all sides in the country’s eight-year conflict, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said on Monday. Some of the attacks were deliberate, such as the Islamic State group using bulldozers to destroy the ancient Saint Elian Monastery in Homs Province in 2015, but most were caused by frontline combat, shelling or rockets, the monitoring group said. “Targeting Christian places of worship is a form of intimidation against and displacement of the Christian minority,” group chairman Fadel Abdul Ghany said.
Family drama kills three
At least three people were killed in an apparent family shooting at a home in the southern city of Dordrecht on Monday, police and news reports said. “The shooter is believed to have been a police officer who also shot himself,” the tabloid newspaper De Telegraaf said, adding that a fourth family member was seriously wounded and taken to the hospital. “Three people have been killed and another was seriously wounded,” Rotterdam police tweeted, without further details. Dordrecht Mayor Wouter Kolff tweeted that he was “very touched and sympathized with everyone involved.”
Terrorists thwarted 22 times
Authorities have foiled 22 attacks since March 2017, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told a conference on international terrorism in Herzliya, Israel, on Monday. Seven related to “suspected right-wing terrorism,” Basu said, according to the text distributed by Scotland Yard. Attacks are becoming easier to carry out and harder to detect, he added. He promoted the merits of “Prevent,” a counter-terrorism program that is designed to spot and deter people who might be vulnerable to recruitment by violent radicals. “Prevent is designed to break the cycle of extremist violence by empowering communities and individuals,” Basu said.
NRA sues city over label
The National Rifle Association (NRA) on Monday sued San Francisco after the city’s Board of Supervisors made a declaration stating that the NRA is a terrorist organization, the San Francisco Chronicle and other media reported. The NRA, a gun club and gun rights lobbying group with deep political influence, alleged in the suit that the city was violating its free speech rights for political reasons, the reports said. However, San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who introduced the measure, said that she believed their action would stand up in court, according to the New York Times. “It’s a resolution. It’s not an ordinance. It’s non-binding,” she told the newspaper.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
‘SHOW RESTRAINT’: Kismayo elder Adan Jama said that dead bodies were strewn in the battle zone and civilians were fleeing as the fighting had affected several villages At least 20 people have been killed in southern Somalia in clashes between militia from rival clans fighting over land, officials and witnesses said on Thursday. Tensions between fighters from the Owrmale and Majerten clans, which live about 30km outside the southern city of Kismayo, have been rising in recent weeks. “The fighting intensified today, and 20 people from the two sides were killed and dozen others including civilians wounded. This is a horrible situation that needs to be stopped,” local government official Abdikarin Mohamed said. “The dead bodies are strewn in the battle zone and civilians are fleeing as the fighting has