Tycoon offers cars
Chinese philanthropist and tycoon Chen Guangbiao (陳光標) has pledged to give domestically made cars to more than 40 people whose vehicles were damaged in widespread anti-Japan protests last month. Chen, dressed in a lime-green suit and matching tie, on Wednesday showed off the dozens of Chinese-made Geely-brand replacement cars which he bought for a total of more than 50 million yuan (US$794,000), state media said yesterday. About 43 people whose cars were damaged can swap their Japanese brands for the Geely vehicles to show their patriotism. “I launched this event to remind people that patriotic behavior should be conducted with rationality, wisdom and discipline,” Chen said on his microblog late on Wednesday.
Donkey bomb kills four
A bomb strapped to a donkey killed at least four people and wounded more than 10 others in the tribal belt on the Afghan border yesterday, officials said. The attack took place in Mishti Mela village in Orakzai, one of the seven districts in the semi-autonomous tribal belt. “A remote-controlled bomb strapped to a donkey blew up as the animal entered a small village bazaar, killing at least four people and injuring more than 10 others,” senior local administration official Fazal Qadir said.
Court rejects transsexuals
A court has dismissed an attempt by a group of transsexuals to challenge a law that bars Muslim men from wearing women’s clothes. Lawyers say it is the first known effort to overturn an Islamic Shariah law that prescribes jail terms of varying lengths or fines for convicted cross-dressers. The High Court in Seremban town yesterday rejected a bid by four Muslim transsexuals who were born male to declare the Shariah law unconstitutional. The transsexuals had argued that the constitution is supposed to uphold freedom of expression and forbid discrimination based on gender. All four have previously been arrested and in some cases fined for wearing women’s clothes.
Beauty treatment kills
Authorities say one woman has died and three are fighting for their lives after undergoing a beauty treatment involving blood transfusions. The Hospital Authority says the 46-year-old woman died of septic shock after receiving the treatment at a beauty clinic. The treatment is being tested as a method to fight cancer, but in this case it was used for cosmetic purposes. The health secretary promised yesterday to review regulations governing the clinics and other private medical facilities.
Kim Dotcom launching site
Indicted Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is planning to launch a replacement of his shuttered Web site and a new online music service by year’s end. The file-sharing site was one of the most popular online sites before US prosecutors shut it down and filed racketeering charges against Dotcom and six other Megaupload principals in January. US authorities are now trying to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand. Dotcom confirms he has almost completed work on “new Mega” and “Megabox,” but would not divulge details.
Russia ends US program
Authorities say that they have no intention to extend a 20-year-old deal with the US that has helped secure Soviet nuclear stockpiles. Under the 1992 program initiated by Sens. Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, the US has provided billions of dollars in equipment and know-how to help Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbors deal with the Soviet nuclear legacy. The program provided reinforced rail cars to carry nuclear warheads, high-tech security systems for storage sites and helped pay for the dismantling of mothballed nuclear submarines and other weapons.
Officer pleads guilty
A naval intelligence officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to handing over secrets to Russia in a four-year espionage operation that involved access to a computer network shared with the US and other allies, according to media reports. The Canadian government, noting that proceedings were still subject to a publication ban, gave no details of the evidence against sub-lieutenant Jeffrey Paul Delisle. It confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to espionage. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp said Delisle walked into the Russian Embassy in Ottawa in 2007, asked to meet someone from the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence organization, and offered to sell it secrets.
Import of shark fins banned
Costa Rica has banned the import of shark fins, closing a legal loophole and targeting a link in a global production chain stretching to Asian markets, where shark fin soup is seen as a delicacy. Environmental groups have long campaigned against shark finning, in which the fins are chopped off living sharks that are then dumped back into the water and left to die. Shark finning “is a practice that Costa Rica does not accept and we want to send a clear signal about our opposition to these types of activities,” President Laura Chinchilla said on Wednesday at a coastal national park. Costa Rica has long banned the practice, but the latest move closes a loophole that had allowed for the import of shark fins.
Bond souvenirs auctioned
A London sale of James Bond souvenirs to mark the secret agent’s 50th silver-screen anniversary has raised over US$2.6 million, Christie’s auction house said on Wednesday. Buyers from 42 countries took part in the auction with all proceeds going to charity. Many of the objects on offer were supplied by Eon Productions, the British company that has produced the Bond films. The highlight of the collection was the Aston Martin DBS driven by Daniel Craig, the current Bond, in the opening scene of Quantum of Solace (2008), during an Italian car chase. In total, US$2,615,000 was raised during both sales for various charities including UNICEF.
Cuba has released Jorge Vazquez Chaviano, a dissident whose case sparked a hunger strike by 30 protesters last month, though he remains under “many restrictions,” he said. The 42-year-old was supposed to have been released on Sept. 9 after serving a year and a half sentence for “illegal economic activity.” However, local authorities said last month that his release had been postponed to April next year, leading to the declaration of a hunger strike on Sept. 10 that eventually included 30 activists.