Police crash into PM’s house
A car with five off-duty policemen on board crashed into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s official residence, reports and an official said yesterday. The five sustained mostly minor injuries in the pre-dawn crash on Saturday at Razak’s residence in the sprawling administrative capital of Putrajaya, the New Straits Times daily and Bernama news agency reported. Traffic police were investigating the incident, they said. The group were traveling in a Proton belonging to one of the five, the Times added. “Initial investigations reveal that the victims, all in their early 20s, were off-duty and had gone sightseeing,” the paper quoted Kuala Lumpur city chief Mohmad Salleh as saying. A police official confirmed the incident, but could not give further details. Najib was not at the premises because he was on an official visit to the US.
Miner rescued after 17 days
A coal miner has been rescued after being trapped underground for 17 days by an underground flood that killed at least 10 others. State TV and Xinhua news agency said rescuers brought 39-year-old Si Li (司利) out of the Junyuan No. 2 Coal Mine in Hegang on Saturday. The reports yesterday said he was hospitalized in stable condition. Xinhua said 28 miners were in the mine when it flooded on May 2. Ten died, three are still missing and the rest escaped as the water rose or were rescued shortly after the disaster. China Central Television said Si survived in part by eating straw bags used in the mine.
Blast kills 20 road workers
A blast in a tunnel has killed 20 workers at a highway construction site in Hunan Province. The explosion on Saturday also injured one person, two officials from the provincial work safety bureau said. They would only give their surnames, Li and Yang. The blast occurred when a vehicle was unloading explosives in the tunnel on a highway under construction between Yanling and Rucheng in Hunan, Xinhua news agency said. Twenty workers died in the blast and one body has been recovered, Xinhua said. Four other workers escaped with injuries, and one was hospitalized in critical condition.
Gunmen kill prison official
Gunmen on a motorcycle have shot dead a senior prison official in Quetta, police said yesterday. Imtiaz Ahmad, chief warden of the district prison, was targeted late on Saturday when two people riding a motorcycle sprayed him with bullets near his office, police said. “Two armed persons riding a motorcycle opened fire on Imtiaz Ahmad and fled. He received critical wounds and died instantly,” senior police official Qazi Abdul Wahid said. Police and security forces are frequently attacked in the insurgency-plagued Baluchistan Province, of which Quetta is the capital. Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) claimed responsibility for Saturday’s killing, telling media: “The slain warden was a cruel person and used to subject our imprisoned leaders and workers to torture.” LJ has orchestrated violent attacks on Muslim minority Shiites, and other police officials in Baluchistan say they have been threatened by the group. Earlier this month, a senior police official was assassinated in Quetta in another drive-by shooting claimed by LJ. On April 29, British aid worker Khalil Dale was found beheaded in Quetta, nearly four months after he was kidnapped in the city. There has been no claim of responsibility for his murder.
Officer accused of conspiracy
An army colonel was arrested on Saturday in connection with a suspected conspiracy to destabilize the government by staging attacks against ethnic minorities, Sabah newspaper said on its Web site. The arrest was the latest in a long-running investigation of what prosecutors say was a plot hatched by members of the military to attack and kill Christians and other minorities and blame Islamists to discredit the government. Colonel Levent Gulmen was arrested in the seaside town of Foca, while attending ceremonies marking a national holiday, the newspaper said. He had been detained once before and released, in 2010, Sabah quoted his lawyer as saying. Lawyer Murat Ergun called Saturday’s detention a “bureaucratic mistake.” Media reports about the so-called Cage Action Plan first surfaced in late 2009. The plot is linked to the wider Ergenekon probe, in which hundreds of retired and serving members of the military, academics, journalists and lawyers have been detained on suspicion of being part of several conspiracies to push Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan from power. Erdogan’s AK Party, which has Islamist roots, has been elected three times since 2002. The trials have reined in the influence of the military, which had appointed itself guardian of the nation’s secularism and ousted four governments since 1960.
IRA suspects arraigned
Seven Irish republicans, including three relatives of a senior reputed Real IRA member and four others allegedly operating a forest rifle range, were arraigned on Saturday on terror charges following a security sweep against militants plotting to sabotage Northern Ireland’s peace process. Three were charged with “directing terror,” a crime never before levied against a suspected Irish Republican Army (IRA) member in Northern Ireland. Use of the charge suggests that police and domestic spy agency MI5 believe they have caught senior members of the Real IRA faction and would present evidence from electronic surveillance and informers. Three relatives of Colin Duffy, a reputed senior Real IRA figure, appeared in a courtroom southwest of Belfast surrounded by police officers in full riot gear. None offered pleas and all were ordered held without bail until their next court appearance on June 8. Duffy’s brothers Paul, 47, and Damien, 42, and cousin Shane Duffy, 41, all were charged with four counts of preparing acts of terrorism, conspiring to murder and conspiring to cause explosions. Paul Duffy was also charged with directing terrorism.
Quake kills six in north
A magnitude 6.0 earthquake shook the north early yesterday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 50 people, emergency services and news reports said. The quake struck at 4:04am between Modena and Mantova, about 35km north-northwest of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of 10km, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. It was one of the strongest quakes to shake the region, seismologists said, and initial television footage indicated that older buildings had suffered damage: roofs collapsed, church towers showed cracks and the bricks of some stone walls tumbled into the street. As dawn broke over the region, residents milled about the streets inspecting the damage. The epicenter was between the towns of Finale Emilia, San Felice sul Panaro and Sermide, but was felt as far away as Tuscany and northern Alto Adige. The initial quake was followed about an hour later by a magnitude 5.1 temblor, USGS said.
Transgender beauty bid fails
The first-ever transgender contestant to compete in a Miss Universe pageant lost her bid to win the title. Jenna Talackova, 23, competed with 61 contestants on Saturday night. She was among the final 12 contestants. Talackova, who was born a man, underwent a sex change four years ago. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native was initially denied entry to the pageant because she was not born a woman. Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, subsequently overruled that decision. The 1.85m tall blond beauty strutted the runway and competed in the bikini and formal wear contests. The Canadian winner advances to the international Miss Universe competition in December.
Nude PM painting criticized
A painting depicting Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the nude on display at the Kingston, Ontario, library drew condemnation and snickers in the halls of power on Friday. The oil on canvass painting Emperor Haute Couture by artist Margaret Sutherland shows the prime minister reclining on a lounger, surrounded by headless people in suits, and a dog at his feet. “I don’t know if Canadians really needed to see that. I certainly didn’t,” Nathan Cullen, a member of parliament for the opposition New Democratic Party, told reporters. The painting is on display as part of an art competition that runs until the end of the month. Sutherland told QMI news agency that the painting is a “satire” inspired by Edouard Manet’s 1863 work Olympia. Harper did not pose for the portrait.
Top gay NY official marries
New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn, the city’s highest-ranking openly gay official and the leading candidate to be the city’s next mayor, married her longtime girlfriend on Saturday, walking down the aisle to Beyonce’s Ave Maria. The wedding came less than a year after New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, whose first same-sex nuptials were held on July 24 last year. Quinn’s wife, New York lawyer Kim Catullo, wore a cream silk evening suit designed by Ralph Lauren. Catullo, who like Quinn is 45, walked in to Bruce Springsteen’s If I Should Fall Behind. Cuomo, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly were among the 275 guests. Before the reception, several politicians expressed hopes that same-sex marriage would be legalized across the country. “It’s not a question of if, but when — everywhere,” New York Senator Charles Schumer said.
Preserved shipwreck found
An oil company exploration crew’s chance discovery of a 200-year-old shipwreck in a little-charted stretch of the Gulf of Mexico is yielding a trove of new information to scientists, who say it is one of the most well-preserved wrecks ever found in the Gulf. “When we saw it, we were all just astonished because it was beautifully preserved for a 200-year-old shipwreck,” said Jack Irion, maritime archaeologist with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in New Orleans. Although most of the ship’s wood dissolved long ago, the copper hull and its contents remain in place. The shipwreck was noticed during an oil and gas survey last year by Shell Oil Co, which reported it to officials, who teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to survey the site.