Forty arrested for trafficking
Police have arrested a gang of 40 people suspected of buying at least 22 children in the nation’s southwest and trafficking them to a wealthier region, state press said yesterday. The suspected trafficking ring allegedly bought young children — 22 of them have so far been recovered — in impoverished areas of Yunnan Province and sold them in coastal Fujian Province in the southeast, the Beijing Times said. More than 200 police were involved in the Wednesday arrests that took place in the two provinces, it said. The arrests come after an investigation was launched this week in Hunan Province into the suspected involvement of family planning officials in the abduction and sale of babies into overseas adoption.
Eight new reef fish found
Scientists from Conservation International have discovered eight new fish and one new coral species off Bali island. The new species include eels and damsels, the colorful little fish that dart among coral branches and help give reefs their dazzling appearance while playing a key role in reef ecology. “We have carried out a marine survey in 33 sites around Bali island. We have identified 952 reef fish, and among them we discovered eight new species,” team senior adviser Mark van Nydeck Erdmann said.
Jumper dies at Burj Khalifa
An unidentified Asian man jumped to his death on Tuesday from the 147th floor of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, slamming into a terrace 39 floors below on the 108th, police said. The man was employed at a company located in the imposing 828m building. The National newspaper said on its Web site that he had asked for a holiday and was denied.
Site wasn’t hacked: Google
Google said yesterday it had found no evidence that the Web site of a group that has called for pro-democracy protests was hacked like the group claimed. Molihuaxingdong — or “jasmine movement” in Chinese — runs one of several Web sites that have put out weekly appeals for peaceful protests in various cities . The group said by e-mail that all of the content on its Google-hosted site had been removed on Thursday afternoon, replaced by an empty page bearing only the words: “long live the jasmine flower.” Hours later, the group posted a notice saying it believed its data and content could be recovered. A Google spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified by name, said in an e-mail: “We’ve determined that this was not a case of hacking, but rather an issue resulting from back-end maintenance on the blogger platform.”
Father paralyzes traffic
A lone protester paralyzed rush-hour traffic for hours yesterday by scaling the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and forcing the closure of the country’s busiest roadway. The man, who said he was “ex-military,” evaded extensive security precautions to climb the bridge at dawn and hang two banners in a protest apparently linked to a custody dispute over his children. The bridge was closed for two hours, causing massive back-ups. The protester, who identified himself only as Mick, spoke to a local radio station by phone from atop the bridge. “If I have to stuff 4 million people around for one morning and that gets my kids and other kids help one day sooner, I have achieved my goal,” he said before rappelling down onto the roadway to be arrested by waiting police.
UN resumes food aid
The World Food Programme (WFP) said it had resumed operations in two states in South Sudan halted after a wave of violence before secession in July. Southern authorities had given assurances that no food aid would be commandeered again, the UN agency said in a statement late on Thursday, after the southern Sudan army took a truck full of food destined for schools in Lakes state last month. A WFP employee was killed in Jonglei State last month, forcing the agency to suspend aid to seven of 11 counties in Jonglei, beset by violence between the army and rebels.
Princess’ hat on eBay
Whether you think it was wonderful or wacky, the flamboyant hat worn by Princess Beatrice at the royal wedding last month could now be yours after she put it up for sale on Thursday on eBay. The princess, the oldest daughter of Prince Andrew, has put the Philip Treacy creation on the online auction site with a starting price of ￡5,000 (US$8,000). Proceeds from the sale will be split between two charities: the UN Children’s Fund and the British charity Children in Crisis. The 22-year-old princess is trying to cash in on the notoriety of her hat, with observers comparing it to a toilet seat or a giant pretzel. It has inspired its own Facebook page, which has a following of 137,000 people. One hour after the auction began at 4pm GMT, someone had already put in a bid for the full ￡5,000, but buyers still have 10 days to put in an offer.
Galliano trial date set
British designer John Galliano will go on trial in Paris on June 22 over alleged racial and anti-semitic insults during a drunken rant in a Paris bar in February that cost him his job at the fashion house Dior. He could face up to six months in prison and a fine of 22,500 euros (US$32,000) if convicted of “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity.” Several French anti-racist associations have lodged civil complaints against the flamboyant star-couturier, as well as the people who claim he insulted them. Two cases will be judged at the same time and Galliano will appear in court.
Solar plane takes off
A solar-powered plane has taken off for its first international flight. The Solar Impulse team behind the project plans to fly the experimental aircraft to Belgium and France. The single-seater prototype took off from Payerne airfield at 8:40am yesterday and was expected to reach Brussels airport by nightfall. The plane with the wingspan of a Boeing 777 made its 2009 maiden flight in Switzerland and further tests have all taken place there. The flight across France, Luxembourg and Belgium poses a fresh challenge as it requires navigation across international air traffic networks.
Io has ‘ocean’ of magma
A moon of Jupiter is the only place other than Earth in the solar system where volcanoes occur, and scientists have found an ocean of magma beneath its surface that feed its potent eruptions. Io is the most volcanic object known in the solar system, producing 100 times more lava than Earth, and data from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft has shed new light on how that happens, said the study out yesterday in the journal Science. A vast ocean of molten rock, known as magma, lies about 30km to 50km under Io’s crust. “The blistering temperature of the magma ocean probably exceeds 1,200oC,” NASA said in a statement.
‘S’ Zuckerberg fed up
An Indiana lawyer who shares the same name as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has told a local TV station that Facebook temporarily banned him from the site because it thought his name was fake. “I’m suffering tremendous emotional distress because of all this ... I don’t want money, I want to get back on Facebook and have them leave me alone,” he told the station. Two years ago his Facebook account was blocked for four months. So he has created a Web site — Iammarkzuckerberg.com — to clear up any confusion about his identity. One way to tell the two men apart is their middle initials. The Indiana lawyer’s middle initial is “S,” while the Facebook founder’s is “E.”
Bin Laden’s wives ‘hostile’
US intelligence services have interrogated three of Osama bin Laden’s widows who were picked up in the US raid that saw the al-Qaeda leader killed, CNN said on Thursday, citing US and Pakistani sources. The women were reportedly interviewed as a group, despite US wishes to interview them separately, and were openly “hostile” to US officials interviewing them, CNN said, quoting a Pakistani government official and two US officials close to matter.
Unabomber auction set
The manifesto condemning the industrial and technological revolutions and other items belonging to the man known as the “Unabomber” will soon be available for purchase. The US Marshals Service says the manifesto written by Ted Kaczynski will be offered in an online government auction beginning on Wednesday, along with items such as birth certificates, photographss and handwritten notes. The 69-year-old Kaczynski is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in 1998 to setting 16 explosions that killed three people.
Bolivian boy goes astray
A 10-year-old Bolivian boy who hid on a truck in an effort to visit his mother who had just been released from prison ended up across the border after an unexpected 500km trek through the Andes mountains, officials said. The boy, identified as Franklin Vilca, stowed away on a truck in the Bolivian town of Oruro thinking it would take him to Cochabamba, where his mother had been incarcerated. He went without food or water on his three-day-long journey, before getting off in Alto Hospicio, on the outskirts of Iquique, on Saturday. He wandered the streets until a local woman took him home. “I just wanted to see my mother,” he told Chilean television TVN. A court in Iquique decided to allow him to stay with the Flores family until he can be returned to Bolivian authorities.
Bridgeport Police Department spokesman Tim Quinn has been suspended without pay for sending reporters an e-mail joking about creating cartoon mug shots for generic criminals with names such as Miguel the Murderer and Tyrone the Thief. Quinn joked in Thursday’s e-mail that reporters should hire a cartoonist to draw mug shots of fictional characters instead of waiting for police to release the real photos. He described Miguel as a “kind of skinny rat wearing a dirty tee shirt” and Tyrone as an “ugly mixed breed mongrel with sunglasses.” The president of the Connecticut chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says Quinn’s joke was offensive. Quinn has apologized.