Hotel fire kills 13
A fire at an Internet cafe spread to a hotel on the upper floors of a building in Xiangyang, Hubei Province, killing 13 people and injuring 50 others. Some of the hotel guests escaped and firefighters rescued others from the building. The fire started just after 6:30am on Sunday and was extinguished before 9am, Xinhua news agency said.
Transsexual fights to wed
The territory’s highest court yesterday began hearing the final appeal of a transsexual woman who is seeking to wed her boyfriend. The woman, who was born as a man, is known only as “W” under anonymity rules and now in her 30s. She is seeking to overturn earlier rulings that said marriage is only allowed between couples who were of the opposite sex at birth. She has argued that she has undergone sex change surgery and had her gender altered on her identity card since she launched the legal battle in 2010. The Registrar of Marriages had ruled that W could not marry her boyfriend because her birth certificate — which cannot be changed by law — says that she is still a man.
Pilots pass drug tests
The pilot and co-pilot of a Lion Air plane that crashed near Bali’s airport have passed initial drug tests, an official said yesterday, as investigators probe the causes of Saturday’s accident, which left dozens injured, but no fatalities. Officials had planned later yesterday to haul the half-submerged wreckage onto a beach to examine the jet’s interior and recover the cockpit voice recorder, but yesterday said it must be cut into several parts.
Hogan fights for earnings
Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan has taken legal action in a US court to recover US$34 million held in a Swiss bank account that he alleges has been misappropriated, reports said yesterday. Hogan says his once-trusted tax adviser has disappeared with the cash. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Californian district court documents allege Philip Egglishaw “absconded with or spent all” of Hogan’s millions.
Pangolins found on boat
The coast guard said yesterday it had found hundreds of frozen scaly anteaters, or pangolins, in the cargo hold of a Chinese boat that ran aground in a protected marine sanctuary last week. Wildlife officials have been informed, which could lead to more charges for the 12 Chinese men arrested on charges, including poaching after their boat was stranded in Tubbataha Reef last week. A protected species, pangolins are widely hunted in parts of Asia for their meat, skin and scales. They are also found in the wild on Palawan, the nearest land area to Tubbataha Reef, where the boat was marooned.
Cull cost US$1.6 billion
The nation’s poultry industry lost 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) in the week after the H7N9 bird flu virus began infecting humans, state-run media said yesterday as they sought to discourage panic. Sixty people have been confirmed as infected and 13 have died in the past two weeks. “The public should somewhat restrain their anxieties to avoid this becoming a disaster for the whole poultry industry,” the Global Times said in an editorial, adding that not eating poultry was “unfair to farmers.” It called the avoidance of such foods “excessive anxiety” and urged people instead to “demonstrate a collective spirit beyond individualism.”
Politician jailed for insults
A court yesterday sentenced main opposition leader and former legislator Mussallam al-Barrak to five years in prison after he was convicted of insulting the emir. “The court has sentenced the defendant Mussallam al-Barrak to five years in prison with immediate effect,” Judge Wael al-Atiqi said. Barrak was convicted of making statements deemed offensive to Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at a public rally on Oct. 15 last year. He was detained for four days that month and released on bail. He is also facing trial on several other counts, including charges of storming parliament and taking part in protests. On Monday last week, his defense team walked out of the court after the judge refused requests to hear defense witnesses. Al-Barrak had asked al-Atiqi to postpone the trial until he found a new lawyer, but the judge refused and insisted he would issue the verdict.
Bodies found in Cancun
Seven bodies were found blindfolded and stacked on top of each other in a courtyard in a Cancun house, a top state police official said on Sunday. “They were blindfolded with tape tan. The presumed cause of death is suffocation,” State Judicial Police Director Arturo Olivares Mendiola told local reporters. According to the preliminary investigation, the victims had been kidnapped on Saturday night near a park and were murdered in the early hours of Sunday. The bodies were thrown on the courtyard of a house apparently used to sell drugs and guarded by thugs.
Official security alert issued
The government on Sunday warned over insecurity in South Darfur State, where rebels said they destroyed an army garrison and the top local official has been replaced by a retired general. The Sudan Liberation Army’s Minni Minnawi faction said they killed an unspecified number of government troops in an attack on the Donki Dreisa Base, about 50km south of the state capital, Nyala. Vice President Ali Osman Taha “confirmed the importance of security and stability,” justice and rule of law in South Darfur, the official SUNA news agency reported. Taha made the comments at a meeting with new South Darfur Governor Adam Mahmoud. The ex-general replaced civilian governor Hamad Ismail, who was removed on Friday.
Bush becomes grandfather
Former president George W. Bush has become a grandfather after his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, gave birth to her first child, a daughter, on Saturday night in New York City. The former president announced the birth in a statement on Sunday. The baby’s name is Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager. The former president said the baby was named after her grandmothers, adding that “Jenna and Mila are healthy. And our family is elated.”
Thousands of people demonstrated against the monarchy on Sunday, demanding the return of a democratically elected head of state in another blow for embattled King Juan Carlos I. The marchers thronged Marid’s Puerta del Sol on the 82nd anniversary of the establishment of the nation’s last democratically elected republic, which was overthrown by an army uprising that led to a civil war and the 36-year military dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Franco appointed Juan Carlos as his successor as head of state, a job the royal took over upon Franco’s death in 1975.