Female diplomats deployed
The government will deploy female labor officers to the Middle East, an official said yesterday, amid an inquiry into allegations some of its diplomats in these posts forced distressed Filipino workers there into prostitution. A total of 13 female officials will be sent soon to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and also Malaysia, to work with current staff at embassies there, labor department spokesman Nicon Fameronag said. They will mainly help workers who had sought refuge at embassy shelters to escape abuses by their employers, he added. The planned deployments were announced amid an investigation by the foreign department over allegations that at least two diplomats were forcing Filipinas at the shelters to submit to sex, either with them or other men.
Rewards offered over unrest
Xinjiang authorities announced rewards of up to 100,000 yuan (US$16,000) yesterday for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the deadliest violence in four years in the region. The announcement came less than a week after a marauding gang staged a series of attacks in a Xinjiang township that killed 35 people. The government says that the attacks were carried out by a gang engaged in “religious extremist activities.” Beijing has traditionally blamed violence in Xinjiang on Islamic separatists who want to establish an independent state of “East Turkestan.”
Porn screened at rail station
A maintenance worker surprised passers-by near a railway station when he starting watching a banned porn film, not realizing his computer was connected to a giant screen, state media said yesterday. The worker, identified only by his surname, Yuan, was supposed to repair the screen, on a building near the main railway station in Jilin, the Global Times reported. However, when he began playing The Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks, hundreds of passers-by stopped to watch as well, Xinhua news agency reported. The company that owns the screen called him after about 10 minutes, and he immediately disconnected the computer before throwing the disc out of a window, the Global Times said.
Lhasa renovation completed
The controversial renovation of an historic area around a key monastery in the Tibetan capital has been completed, state media said yesterday. The 1.5 billion yuan (US$240 million) project in downtown Lhasa around the Jokhang Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has raised concerns that commercialization would harm old structures and local religious traditions. The seven-month project to upgrade infrastructure and preserve buildings was “completed on Sunday,” the Global Times said, citing a Lhasa media official. More than 100 Tibet experts last month sent a petition to President Xi Jinping (習近平) and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova detailing the negative impact of the project.
Helicopter crash kills 19
Nineteen people died yesterday when a MI-8 helicopter crashed in the Yakutia region in eastern Siberia, the latest disaster to hit the nation’s accident-prone aviation industry, an aviation committee said. Of the 25 passengers, 11 were children, the emergencies ministry said in a separate statement without providing further details. The people died when the helicopter performed a hard landing, apparently in bad weather conditions.
Candidate gunned down
A mayoral candidate was shot dead on Monday, the third attack on a politician in less than a week and the latest incident in the run-up to Sunday’s elections. Ricardo Reyes, a candidate for the leftist Citizen’s Movement party, was running for mayor of San Dimas municipality. He was killed around midday in Tayoltita, a rural mining town in the northwestern state of Durango, a party statement said. “The cowardly killer of comrade Reyes is part of an alarming climate of violence and impunity, which seems to be aimed at inspiring terror ... before the elections next Sunday,” the statement said.
De Klerk to get pacemaker
The F.W. de Klerk Foundation yesterday said former president F.W. de Klerk was scheduled to be fitted with a pacemaker later yesterday to help his heart function. It said De Klerk felt dizzy after returning home on Sunday from Europe, and that he had suffered several similar spells of dizziness in recent weeks. De Klerk was the last leader of the apartheid era and a co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with former president Nelson Mandela.
Green cards for gay couples
Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano announced on Monday that married same-sex couples may now apply for “green card” residency permits just as heterosexual married couples can. “I have directed US Citizenship and Immigration Services to review immigration petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse,” she said. The announcement follows last week’s landmark Supreme Court ruling that extends federal rights and benefits to gay couples who wed in states that recognize such unions.
Microbes to inherit Earth
Two billion years from now, an ever-hotter sun will have cooked the Earth, leaving microbes confined to pockets of water in mountains or caves as the last survivors, a study said on Monday. The bleak scenario is proposed by astrobiologist Jack O’Malley-James of the University of St Andrews in Edinburgh. As the sun ages over the next billion years, it will become more luminous, cranking up the thermostat on the Earth, O’Malley-James suggests in a computer model presented at a meeting of Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society. Increased evaporation rates and chemical reactions with rainwater will cause a dramatic fall in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Over the second billion years, the oceans will dry up completely, leaving extremophiles — microbial life able to cope with intense ultraviolet radiation and heat — to inherit the planet.
Lopez offers excuses
Singer Jennifer Lopez appeared at a birthday bash for Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, but would have abstained if she had known of “human right issues of any kind” regarding him, her publicist said on Monday. And she only wished “Happy Birthday” to Berdimuhamedov as a “gracious” last-minute favor when asked to by the China National Petroleum Corp, which organized Saturday’s event, the publicist said in a statement. Lopez performed along with stars from Ukraine, Russia and Turkey for Berdimuhamedov’s 56th birthday. “The event was vetted by her representatives, had there been knowledge of human right issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended,” the publicist said.