Train crash fire kills 25
A train carrying gasoline derailed and burst into flames, killing 25 people and injuring 62, most of them villagers trying to collect fuel spilled in the accident, state television said. The fire started after three cars loaded with gasoline turned over near a village in Kanbalu township, near the Indian border. Residents of Chekgyi village were gathered around the accident site trying to collect spilled gasoline when they were trapped in the fire. About 70 percent of Myanmar’s 60 million people live on farms, where fuel is scarce. A Railway Department official said the death toll might rise as some villagers were seriously injured.
Marathon bars Japanese
Organizers of the Beijing marathon have barred Japanese runners from taking part due to safety concerns after a fresh flare-up in a territorial dispute between Japan and China, the Asahi Shimbun’s online edition said yesterday. “If they choose other nationalities including China, Japanese can take part,” the report quoted a source at the organizing committee of the Nov. 25 marathon as saying. The committee made the decision by taking into consideration the safety of athletes, the daily said in a report from Beijing. Japanese companies such as Canon sponsored the annual event until last year, but they are not sponsoring it this year.
Girl embarrasses officials
Officials accustomed to the tame questions of a compliant state press were caught out by a plucky 11-year-old reporter during the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th Party Congress. Sun Luyuan (孫露源), a Beijing sixth-grade student, on Friday shook up one of the party meetings on the congress’ sidelines with a question that put officials on the spot over the country’s miserable food-safety record. Saying that a steady stream of scandals and health scares involving tainted or unsafe food products had particularly affected students, Sun asked why China cannot clean up its act. “I love snacks, but I don’t dare eat snacks now because we see so many reports these days of problems with food products,” Sun asked high-level officials during a congress delegate meeting, according to state-run China News Service. During the meeting, Sun continued by asking: “Why are these kinds of food products available for purchase?” Chinese Education Minister Yuan Guiren (袁貴仁) offered a stock official response, pledging the government was addressing the situation and putting proper safety measures in place, a line repeated for years even as the scandals have persisted.
Google services cut off
Google said its search engine and other Internet services have been cut off from much of China just as the country’s ruling party’s holds its 18th congress. Data posted on Google’s Web site shows its services became largely inaccessible beginning at about 1am on Friday. A Google spokeswoman said the company had found no problems in its own computers or network that would disrupt its services. That raised the possibility that the Chinese Communist Party decided to block Google’s services at a politically sensitive time. Google’s search engines, e-mail and other services have been periodically unavailable in China since 2010, after Google decided to stop censoring its search results to remove Web sites that the government found objectionable.
FBI declares mafia victory
The FBI declared victory on Friday in its latest battle against the Cosa Nostra mafia, after wrapping up a case that apprehended the entire administration of New York’s Colombo organized-crime family. The last of 38 guilty pleas to a variety of mobster activities was entered in Brooklyn Federal Court by Colombo associate Angelo Spata, nicknamed “Little Angelo.” His plea completed the circle that began with the unsealing of the case in January last year and a series of raids that amounted to the biggest single-day US operation against the Italian-American mafia. With street names like “Big Mike,” “the Claw,” “Fat Dennis” and “the Beard,” the defendants were at the core of one of New York’s historic five crime families. Most will now go behind bars. The FBI said the mass pleas demonstrated the steady dismantling of the Cosa Nostra in New York, long one of its strongholds.
Authorities charge officers
Authorities charged 14 federal police officers with attempted murder on Friday over an August shooting attack that wounded two US government employees. The attorney general’s office said the officers, who were formally placed under arrest, “attempted to take the life of two employees of the US embassy” and a Mexican navy officer who was traveling with them south of Mexico City. One of the officers was charged with making false statements, while five others were accused of covering up the attack.
Alleged killers arrested
Mexican authorities have arrested 24 people, including two female minors, accused of murdering 48 people for drug cartels in northeastern Mexico, a state spokesman said on Friday. The group admitted that they worked for the Zetas criminal organization and then switched allegiance to the rival Gulf Cartel because the Zetas were late in paying them, Nuevo Leon State security spokesman Jorge Domene said. “These people confessed that of the 48 executions attributed to them, 38 were committed when they worked for the Zetas and the other 10 when they were part of the Gulf Cartel,” Domene said.
Darwin garners votes
Charles Darwin, the 19th-century father of the theory of evolution, earned more than 4,000 votes in a US congressional race from voters protesting the unopposed candidacy of an ardent creationist, a local newspaper reported on Friday. The English biologist was the object of a grassroots write-in campaign in Athens-Clarke county, in the southern state of Georgia, according to the Web site of the Athens Banner-Herald. The only name officially on the ballot was that of incumbent Paul Broun, a Republican representative who believes in creationism, the movement that declares God literally created the world in seven days. During the campaign, Broun declared that evolution amounted to “lies straight from the pit of hell.” University of Georgia biologist Jim Leebens-Mack then launched a Facebook page calling for “Darwin for Congress” and asking voters to “send a message to Paul Broun and his colleagues.” Public records show that 4,000 write-in votes were cast for Darwin, although they were not included in the official tally. Broun earned 100 percent of the tally, with 209,917 votes across the district. Undeterred, the movement, in its latest update on the “Darwin for Congress” Facebook page, pledged to “find a rational, living candidate to replace Dr Broun in 2014.”