Five boys die in Guizhou
Five boys left alone by their parents died of asphyxiation in a deserted house in Guizhou Province, in a case similar to one that sparked a national outcry in November last year. The boys, between the ages of four and six, had been burning straw in the house, which was once used for tobacco curing, Xinhua news agency reported. Their parents left them alone to go help arrange a wedding banquet, Xinhua said. In November, five boys were found dead inside a dumpster in Guizhou where they had taken shelter and burning charcoal for warmth.
Arbitration bid rejected
The nation cannot accept a bid by the Philippines to seek international arbitration over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) told a briefing in Beijing yesterday. Beijing has returned a notice in which the Philippines said it had forwarded the dispute for international arbitration, Hong said. The Philippines sought UN arbitration last month over Beijing’s assertion of sovereignty over waters in the sea.
High-speed rail planned
The city-state and Malaysia announced yesterday that they would build a high-speed rail link to Kuala Lumpur with a target to complete it around 2020. “This is a strategic development in bilateral relations that will dramatically improve the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore,” said a statement issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak. “It will usher in a new era of strong growth, prosperity and opportunities for both countries.”
Navy rescues 32 Burmese
The navy rescued 32 Burmese on Saturday whose wooden vessel began sinking while making a perilous journey to Australia. Those rescued are being treated for acute dehydration. The group of 31 adult males and a boy had been at sea without food for 21 days before being rescued. Survivors told local newspapers that there were 130 passengers at the beginning of the journey and 98 died on the way and their bodies were dumped to sea.
MDP condemns arrest bid
The main opposition party yesterday condemned new moves to arrest its leader, former president Mohamed Nasheed, who has taken refuge in the Indian embassy in the capital, Male. The government on Monday announced that a new arrest warrant has been issued for Nasheed to face charges of abuse of power while president, after a previous warrant expired. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accused President Mohamed Waheed of defying the international community and pressing for a politically motivated trial that could disqualify Nasheed from September presidential polls. “Waheed hides behind so-called judicial independence, but his fingerprints are all over this trial,” MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said. Nasheed took refuge at the Indian embassy six days ago.
Lee warns North Korea
President Lee Myung-bak yesterday warned that North Korea has pushed itself further into a corner with its recent nuclear test. In his farewell address, Lee said the North would only face international sanctions and isolation if it hangs on to its nuclear and missile programs. Lee leaves office on Monday.
Gbagbo to face ICC judges
Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo was to face International Criminal Court (ICC) judges yesterday, who will decide whether there is enough evidence to try him over a bloody election standoff two years ago. Presiding judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi was to open the hearings at The Hague-based court’s headquarters at 2:30pm, with prosecutors expected to launch their case later in the afternoon. Gbagbo, 67, faces four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape for fomenting a wave of violence that swept Ivory Coast after he refused to concede defeat in November 2010 presidential polls. Prosecutors and the defense will argue their cases before a three-judge bench, who will then decide if he should be charged. Gbagbo is expected to speak on the final day, Feb. 28.
Divorced dad ends protest
A father demanding visiting rights with his son climbed down on Monday from his protest perch atop a crane, but said it would be a long time before divorced dads are seen as credible single parents and get the same rights as mothers. Serge Charnay halted his four-day protest on the crane in Nantes after Justice Minister Christiane Taubira met with SOS Papa, an activist group for divorced fathers. “It’s a start ... There’s lots of work to do,” he told TV cameras after reaching the ground. “These little ladies still think we can’t change the diapers of a kid and take care of him ... This must stop.”
Police chief missing
The police chief of the violent border city of Nuevo Laredo is missing, authorities said on Monday. Tamaulipas state prosecutors said they have opened an investigation into the whereabouts of Roberto Balmori Garza, police chief of the city across the border from Laredo, Texas. Local media reported that two of Balmori Garza’s brothers were found shot dead on Sunday inside the trunk of a car in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon. One of his brothers was a federal investigator, media reported.
Lawmaker’s body found
The body of a local lawmaker has been found cemented in a barrel, and a former government official has been accused of ordering the killing over an US$80 million debt, officials said on Monday. Mikhail Pakhomov, 37, was a member of the legislature in Lipetsk, a city about 350km south of Moscow, and was last seen on Tuesday last week, when three unidentified men pushed him into a car outside a restaurant in Lipetsk and drove away. The Investigative Committee said several suspects had been detained, including Yevgeny Kharitonov, a former deputy minister for communal services in the Moscow region’s provincial government, who was suspected of ordering the killing.
Animals win in boar hunt
At first it looked like no contest: 200 hunters versus 170 wild boars, but in the end, only one boar was slain. As hunter Jef Schrijvers said after a frustrating day: “The boars won. The hunters lost.” The town of Postel had organized the hunt because a sharp rise in the boar population had damaged farm fields and woods and caused traffic problems. In a coordinated swoop, the hunters sought to drive the boars together so that marksmen in high positions could shoot them, but the plan did not work. Schrijvers told VRT television that “the hunt was perfect, safe and correct. Only the result was disappointing.”