Anti-polio workers killed
Two polio vaccination workers in the northwestern tribal region were killed by a bomb yesterday, officials said, the latest in a series of such attacks which have now killed 19 in two months. “The two-men team was visiting Mali Khel Village in the upper Kurram tribal region when an improvised explosive device planted along the roadside went off, killing them on the spot,” said Jawad Ali, who is in charge of the campaign in Kurram. There has been no claim of responsibility for any of the killings, but the umbrella Taliban faction last year banned polio vaccinations in Waziristan, condemning the campaign as a cover for espionage.
Factory owners arrested
Police have arrested two owners of a garment factory where a fire killed seven workers on Saturday. Police yesterday were questioning Smart Export Garment chairman Sharif Ahmed and managing director Zakir Ahmed after a court placed them on a two-day remand. They face charges of negligence and murder. A police case has been filed against the duo and another official.
Millionaire sells canned air
Two weeks of very smoggy weather in Beijing has rekindled a tongue-in-cheek campaign by showboating multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao (陳光標), who is selling canned fresh air. Chen on Wednesday handed out soda pop-sized cans of air, purportedly from “pristine” regions such as Xinjiang and Taiwan. “I want to tell mayors, county chiefs and heads of big companies: Don’t just chase GDP growth, don’t chase the biggest profits at the expense of our children and grandchildren and at the cost of sacrificing our ecological environment,” Chen said. He handed out green and orange cans of “Fresh Air,” with a caricature of himself on them saying, “Chen Guangbiao is a good man.” He said his canned-air effort was a way to awaken people to the importance of environmental protection. Chen aroused controversy on a visit to Taiwan in 2011, when he handed out hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars.
Smog, not fire in Shanghai
Shanghai was forced to deny that the nation’s future tallest building, now under construction, was on fire yesterday after what looked like smog surrounded the structure. Alarmed microblog users posted photos of the Shanghai Tower with smoke appearing to billow from the building. The city government sought to calm the panic by denying a blaze, but its explanation of “fog” was quickly ridiculed. Internet users said the culprit was air pollution. One, referring to the tiny air particles that can deeply penetrate the lungs, said: “It’s PM2.5, which is fiercer than fire.”
Fugitive politician caught
Police have arrested a fugitive politician who disappeared eight years ago after being convicted of hiring a gunman to kill a rival. Police Lieutenant General Pongpat Chayaphan on Wednesday said Somchai Khunpleum, 75, was arrested in a car while traveling from Bangkok to his hometown of Chonburi. The Supreme Court sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment in 2004 for conspiring in the murder of a political opponent. He also received a five-year jail term for a corruption case. Somchai was released on bail in 2005 and reportedly fled the country. Police said a commando squad had followed him on Wednesday to a Bangkok hospital, where he had an appointment under a fake name.
Ex-legislator pleads guilty
A former state senator pleaded guilty on Wednesday to funneling over US$87,000 in taxpayer money through a nonprofit agency that she was running to cover shopping for herself and her relatives. At her appearance in US District Court in Brooklyn, the former senator, Shirley Huntley, a Democrat who had represented Queens, recounted her crimes. Huntley, 74, had claimed the agency she founded, Parents Information Network Inc, was focused on giving parents more of a voice in their local schools. Instead, prosecutors said, she siphoned the money she received as “member items,” or grants for legislators to support social causes, from the state Education Department. Huntley wrote more than US$21,000 in checks to herself from the agency’s account, made more than US$34,000 in ATM withdrawals and wrote almost US$25,000 in checks to others who later returned the money to her in cash, according to court records. Huntley will pay the state the full amount she stole and faces up to two years in prison.
Buenos Aires swipes back
Argentina has swung back after Israel protested an accord reached with Iran over a 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, accusing the Jewish state of meddling in its affairs. Israel summoned Argentina’s ambassador on Tuesday to complain about the decision to create an independent commission to investigate the attack — which killed 85 people — saying Iran had been clearly implicated in it. On Wednesday Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman summoned Israeli Ambassador Dorit Shavit to express “surprise and discomfort” at Israel’s action, insisting that the decision had nothing to do with Israel, according to an official statement.
Man sues Boy Scouts
A man has sued a California Boy Scouts council, alleging he was sexually abused by his scout leader more than 30 years ago. Coast guard veteran Mark Dietrich, 49, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday claiming the scoutmaster of his troop frequently molested him between 1978 and 1981. The suit also claims Boy Scouts officials at the local and regional level knew the scoutmaster, Gary Hatfield, had inappropriate contact with other boys, and the abuse occurred “despite knowledge of Hatfield’s dangerous propensities and unfitness.” Hatfield denied abusing Dietrich.
Naples suspends buses
Buses ground to a halt in the city of Naples on Wednesday after the local public transport company said it could not afford fuel following a cut in its budget. The company said the service was reduced across the city and suspended entirely in three areas. It said the number of buses in the city had been cut from 600 three years ago to around 350 now due to reductions in budgets for salaries, maintenance, insurance and fuel totalling around 40 percent. Enraged Neapolitans vented their frustration on the company’s Facebook page with one user quipping: “We’ve really reached the end of the line.”
Big turn-off to save energy
Shops and office buildings will have to turn off their lights at night to save energy and reduce light pollution, the environment ministry said on Wednesday. From July 1, all non-residential buildings will have to switch off interior lights one hour after the last worker leaves the premises. All exterior and shop window lighting will have to be turned off by 1am.