Tibetan teen self-immolates
A 16-year-old Tibetan girl has died after setting herself on fire, state media said yesterday. The school pupil self-immolated in the village of Dageri in Qinghai Province, an area with a high population of ethnic Tibetans, just before 7pm on Sunday, Xinhua news agency said. Her body was cremated four hours later and returned to her family, the news agency said, adding that local government officials were investigating.
Launch window extended
The country yesterday extended the window for its planned rocket launch by one week to deal with a “technical deficiency” with the first stage of the carrier. The original Dec. 10 to Dec. 22 window was extended to Dec. 29, the Korean Committee of Space Technology said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. The statement said that scientists and technicians were still “pushing forward” with preparations for the mission, which has been widely condemned by the international community.
Crocodile dumped in trash
A live crocodile has been found dumped in a fish tank at a garbage site, the second time in nine years that a croc has surfaced in the densely populated urban jungle. Media reports yesterday said the 1.2m, 5kg croc was thought to have been dumped by a pet owner who found it too hard to handle. It appeared unharmed and was being cared for at a government animal center, according to the Standard newspaper. Conservation officials were trying to decide where to relocate the reptile.
Feng shui deters weddings
The number of couples planning to marry tomorrow — 12/12/12, which is seen as a fairly fortunate date by feng shui masters — has shrunk compared to the more auspicious 11/11/11 last year, reports said yesterday. Dates like 10/10/10 or 11/11/11 have traditionally seen couples flock to tie the knot, but some Chinese feng shui masters said Dec. 12 this year, which is seen as signifying “love,” was not ideal for nuptials. The territory’s marriage registry has received only 696 notifications from couples planning to get married tomorrow. This was a sharp fall from 1,002 weddings on Nov. 11 last year and 859 weddings on Oct. 10, 2010.
Greenpeace sues government
Greenpeace said yesterday it had filed a lawsuit against the government for denying entry to half a dozen key campaigners and seeking to “silence” criticism of its nuclear policies. The environmental group said it wanted recognition from the court that Seoul’s decision to bar six Greenpeace staff was a violation of freedom of expression and international human rights. The lawsuit also demands almost 70 million won (US$65,000) in compensation.
Chief who kept twins fired
A police chief accused online of keeping twin sisters as mistresses has been fired, state media said yesterday. Qi Fang (齊放), police chief of Wusu, a small city in Xinjiang Province, was removed from his post after it emerged he kept twin mistresses and found them jobs in the police force, the state-run Global Times reported. Revelations about Qi’s mistresses first emerged on Chinese social networking Web sites last week. An investigation by the provincial police bureau showed “part of the online accusations are true,” the Global Times said.
Singer Rivera dies in crash
Singer Jenni Rivera died in a plane crash after the small jet she was traveling in went down, her father said on Sunday. A spokesman for the state government of Nuevo Leon said investigators had found the remains of Rivera’s Learjet, which disappeared from the radar 100km from the northern city of Monterrey at about 3:30am. Speaking after the wreckage was discovered, Pedro Rivera told Telemundo television all seven of the people on board the plane, including two pilots, had died. It was not clear what caused the crash. Born in Long Beach, California, to Mexican immigrants, Rivera sold about 15 million records, won several awards and received Grammy nominations, her Web site said.
Astronomer Moore dies
Astronomer and broadcaster Patrick Moore died on Sunday, friends and colleagues said. He was 89. He died at his home in Selsey, southern England, a statement on Sunday read. No specific cause of death was given, but he had heart problems and been confined to a wheelchair. Moore was well known for his long-running BBC television show The Sky at Night, which was credited for popularizing astronomy with generations of Britons. In its obituary, the Daily Telegraph reported that Moore believed he was the only person to have met the first man to fly, Orville Wright, the first man in space, Russian Yuri Gagarin, and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
Cosmodrome lease may end
Space agency Kazcosmos head Talgat Musabayev yesterday said that Russia’s lease of a launch facility, the only site worldwide currently being used to get astronauts to the International Space Station, may be suspended. Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency cited Musabayev as telling parliament that proposals are being considered to bring the Baikonur facility under Kazakh jurisdiction. Russia pays US$115 million annually for use of the Soviet-built Baikonur cosmodrome under an arrangement set to expire in 2050. It spends US$160 million per year operating the facility. It is likely that Russia will continue to use Baikonur, since its own in-country launch facilities remain underdeveloped, but the absence of a lease may create an air of uncertainty over how the facility will be administered in future.
>Psy performs for Obamas
This year’s “Christmas in Washington” concert attended by President Barack Obama and his family included some non-traditional entertainment: a performance by South Korean rapper and Internet sensation PSY. Wearing an all-red outfit, including a sparkling, sequined top, PSY was joined by dancers wearing reindeer antlers as he performed his popular Gangnam Style dance. Other performers included Diana Ross and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery. The concert benefits Children’s National Medical Center.
Center-left wins: official
Partial results show that the center-left government overwhelmingly won parliamentary elections, an outcome that could bring more upheaval because of a feud between the president and the prime minister. Election official Marian Muhulet yesterday said that the center-left alliance led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta won about 59 percent of the seats in the 452-seat legislature, followed by a center-right group allied to President Traian Basescu that polled just below 17 percent. About 81.45 percent of the votes have been counted.