‘Tainted alcohol’ kills Brit
A British backpacker has died while trekking through the jungle in Sumatra after she drank suspected tainted alcohol, police said on Saturday. Cheznye Emmons, 23, was travelling with fellow Briton Joseph Cook, 21, according to a police report. The pair, accompanied by a third tourist, drank four bottles of local whisky called Mansion on April 20, according to the document. Police said they were investigating whether the alcohol was laced with methanol, which is highly poisonous. The morning after consuming the alcohol, Emmons told staff at her accommodation that she had a stomachache. She was admitted to hospital in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, after checking out. “On April 23, the owners of the accommodation ... received the news that [she] had died,” the report said.
Rainstorms leave 55 dead
Authorities say rainstorms that battered the south of the country last week have killed 55 people and left 14 others missing. The Ministry of Civil Affairs Web site says at least nine provinces have had storms and some flooding and landslides since Tuesday. It says Guangdong Province has been hit the hardest, with 36 deaths and 10 missing people, followed by Jiangxi Province, where six people are reported dead and four more missing. Guangdong’s weather service forecasts more heavy rain along with thunder, strong wind gusts and hail in the coming days and warns of flooding and mudslides.
Electric taxis hit streets
The territory saw its first electric taxis hit the streets on Saturday in a step toward reducing its high levels of pollution. The 45 bright red cars were launched by Chinese electric vehicle producer BYD, which is partly backed by US investment titan Warren Buffett. Called the BYD e6, the five-door crossover sedans are powered by iron phosphate batteries and take two hours to charge, a statement from BYD said, adding that they can then travel for 300km. The cars have been rented by the Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association, which is testing them over the next six months. The government announced revisions to its air quality objectives for the first time in 25 years in January last year, after University of Hong Kong research showed pollution-related illnesses killed more than 3,000 residents a year.
PM to meet Chinese leaders
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said yesterday he would meet Beijing’s leaders in China this month, a week after unveiling an official trip to Russia, as he looks beyond strained regional ties in the South Pacific. Bainimarama has been banned from Australia and New Zealand since seizing control in a 2006 coup. His announcement that he would hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) and President Xi Jinping (習近平) came a week after he said he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next month when he is in Moscow for the Rugby Sevens World Cup. “I have been invited to visit China late this month to meet with the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, and President Xi Jinping,” Bainimarama told the Fiji Sun from France. He has previously said he wants to ditch traditional ties with Australia and New Zealand and align the nation with China. He said the Chinese understood the reforms he has been trying to implement before a return to democratic elections scheduled for next year.
Government sites hacked
Several government Web sites were sabotaged in a series of heavy cyberattacks from abroad in recent days, disabling them briefly until the attacks were repelled, the government said. An investigation traced the “coordinated and simultaneous attacks” to hundreds of Internet protocol addresses in a number of countries, an unnamed source at the Ministry of the Interior told state news agency SPA. The ministry’s site crashed on Wednesday after it received a “huge amount” of service requests, but was back online less than two hours later, the source said.
Official’s father abducted
Gunmen abducted the elderly father of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Faisal Muqdad on Saturday, apparently in reprisal for the arrest of one of their relatives, according to a government source and a watchdog. “Today armed men abducted Mr Muqdad’s father from his home in the village of Ghossom,” in Daraa Province, the source said on condition of anonymity “They beat him up in front of his family, then took him to Daraa City,” the source said, adding that Muqtad’s father is 84. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction, which was first reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told reporters that Muqdad’s father, who was not named, was seized “in reprisal for the arrest by regime forces of relatives of one of the armed men.” Abdel Rahman said negotiations to free him were underway.
Two men hung for spying
The government hanged two convicted spies yesterday, one found guilty of working for Israel, the other for the US, the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office announced. Mohammad Heydari was convicted of “receiving payment to provide intelligence on various security issues and national secrets in repeated meetings with the Mossad,” Israel’s intelligence agency, a statement said. Koroush Ahmadi was found guilty of “providing intelligence on various issues to the CIA.” The statement did not give further details. Tehran accuses archfoes Israel and the US of waging a deadly campaign of sabotage against its nuclear program and has announced a string of arrests of alleged agents in recent years.
Baggage handlers strike
Officials say baggage handlers in Cairo International Airport have gone on strike to protest a colleague’s death, leaving passengers on 20 international flights from Europe and Arab countries waiting several hours for luggage. Airport officials say senior officials from national carrier EgyptAir are meeting the baggage handlers to hear their demands, which include guarantees of safer working conditions. The strike started on Saturday after a baggage handler for EgyptAir died when a conveyer belt used to unload luggage fell on his head. Airport officials say it took more than an hour for the ambulance to arrive at the scene from the airport’s onsite hospital.
‘Red Shirts’ rally in Bangkok
About 20,000 ‘Red Shirt’ protesters rallied in Bangkok yesterday to mark the third anniversary of a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests that saw about 90 people killed and almost 1,900 wounded in a series of street clashes in May 2010. Roads were blocked as Red Shirts, loyal to ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, massed at an intersection in a main shopping district.
Pair held in Shabazz case
A judge on Saturday issued an order for the imprisonment of two waiters accused of beating to death Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of US civil rights activist Malcolm X, the Mexico City Attorney General’s office said. The resolution begins the judicial process against David Hernandez Cruz and Manuel Alejandro Perez de Jesus, who worked at the Palace bar near Mexico City’s popular Plaza Garibaldi. The men are accused of theft and homicide and are being held in a Mexico City prison. Prosecutors say Shabazz and a friend were lured into the bar by a young woman who made conversation with Shabazz in English. They were later presented with a US$1,200 bar tab and a violent dispute ensued. Prosecutors say the men who beat Shabazz to death not only punched and kicked him, but also used a bat or stick during the attack. Shabazz died in a Mexico City hospital. On Friday, hundreds gathered to remember him as mourners said Shabazz was well on his way to cementing his own legacy before his death at age 28.
‘Teardrops’ wins Eurovision
“Europe adores Emmelie,” the press said after 20-year-old Emmelie de Forest won the Eurovision Song Contest early yesterday in Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmo. The Danish singer took the crown from last year’s Swedish winner Loreen after gaining 281 points from viewers and jurors, who accounted for 50 percent each of the vote. Rhythmic pop tune Only Teardrops was already heavily favored by bookmakers before the live broadcast, which was watched by 125 million people last year. It is the third time Denmark has clinched the top spot in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Former general released
Authorities have released a dissident retired general who was jailed on charges of inciting unrest after last month’s disputed presidential election. Antonio Rivero said he would “take care of [his] health” as he was freed late on Friday. Opposition leaders said he was hospitalized on Saturday with a respiratory infection and digestive problems following a 16-day hunger strike to protest his arrest. Rivero remains accused of instigating violent protests following the April 14 presidential election, which the government says left at least nine people dead and dozens injured. Opposition leaders say the charges are part of a crackdown on dissent after the narrow election win of President Nicolas Maduro, former president Hugo Chavez’ hand-picked successor. Rivero gained fame for denouncing Cuban involvement in the Venezuelan military in 2010 and became a prominent member of the opposition.
Lucky lotto player wins big
One ticket-holder won a record Powerball lottery jackpot of more than US$590 million, organizers said yesterday. The lone winner was sold at a supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida, according to Florida Lottery executive Cindy O’Connell. She told reporters by telephone that more details would be released later. The winner was not immediately identified and she did not give any indication hours after Saturday’s draw whether anyone had already stepped forward with the ticket. With four out of every five possible combinations of numbers in the multi-state lottery in play, someone is almost sure to win the game’s highest jackpot. Estimates had put the jackpot at about US$600 million. The chances of winning the prize were astronomically low: 1 in 175.2 million.