UN meets on S China Sea
The Philippines said a UN arbitration tribunal has convened in The Hague to look into a case it lodged to question the legality of China’s massive territorial claims in the South China Sea. Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told a news conference yesterday that the five-member tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) convened last week in the Netherlands and approved a set of rules to look into the legal challenge the Philippines launched against Beijing in January. The Philippines says that China’s claim over virtually the entire South China Sea, including its seizure of several islets and reefs, is illegal and violates UNCLOS, the 1982 UN convention which sets territorial limits for coastal states.
Disabled students excluded
Millions of students with disabilities are being deprived of education because of pervasive barriers and a failure to devote resources, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. In a study based on 62 interviews, the New York-based advocacy group said few children with disabilities were able to pursue school into their teenage years. The report credited the country with some progress, including making commitments when it ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, but it said more needed to be done. The country requires physical examinations for university admittance, which force applicants to declare any disabilities, said Sophie Richardson, the group’s China director. It also makes little effort to accommodate students with visual or hearing impairments when they take the all-important national exam known as the gaokao, she said. The report said the country has developed some well-resourced schools for special education, but students are rarely given options of pursuing mainstream careers. Human Rights Watch quoted official statistics saying 28 percent of children with disabilities were not receiving educations.
Overweight sex firm busted
Police have arrested the alleged ringleader of a sex home delivery service specializing in women weighing up to 150kg, a force spokesman said yesterday. Keiko Saito, 41, and one of her employees are suspected of conspiring to run a prostitution business under the name Makkusu Bodi (“Max Body”), which boasted that it catered for men who like “explosive boobs and bums,” police said. Saito is alleged to have had about 30 overweight women in her employ, including one who tipped the scales at more than 150kg, Jiji Press reported. Saito, who is believed to have earned about ￥400 million (US$4 million) over three years, had previously worked as a prostitute, Jiji said.
‘Fake’ museum shut
Authorities have closed a museum which contained scores of fake exhibits, including a vase decorated with cartoon characters billed as a Qing
Dynasty artifact, state-run media reported yesterday. The facility, built in Hebei Province at a cost of 540 million yuan (US$88 million), has “no qualification to be a museum as its collections are fake,” a local official told the Global Times newspaper. It had been closed, the paper said, while its founders have been placed “under investigation” after local residents accused them of wasting village money. Several items were supposedly signed by the Yellow Emperor in the 27th century BC, but the signatures used the simplified Chinese characters brought in after 1949.
Spain apologizes over delay
Spain apologized on Monday for its part in the events that led President Evo Morales’ plane to be delayed earlier this month during an international search for US fugitive Edward Snowden. The government has accused Spain, France, Portugal and Italy of closing their skies to Morales’ plane, which was searched at the airport in Vienna on July 3, after being told it was carrying Snowden from Moscow. “We recognize publicly that perhaps the procedures used in the Vienna airport by our representative were not the most effective,” Spanish Ambassador to Bolivia Angel Vasquez, told journalists after dropping the letter off at the Foreign Ministry in La Paz. “We regret this fact ... the procedure was not appropriate and bothered the president, putting him in a difficult situation.”
Predator sweep nabs 255
Authorities in nine countries, including the US, have arrested 255 alleged child predators in an operation led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that illustrated a growing trend called “sextortion” in which children are blackmailed into providing pornographic images of themselves, officials said on Monday. The month-long Operation iGuardian last month was part of a larger effort to identify and rescue victims of online sexual exploitation and arrest their abusers as well as others who own, trade and produce images of child pornography, officials said. “In many instances, the abusers take advantage of a sexual image the child divulges in a chat room or over a text to force the child to continue to produce darker and more pornographic images on threat of broader disclosures of the images over the Internet,” ICE Director John Morton said.
T rex hunted live prey
The fearsome bite of a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex left behind new evidence that the famous beast hunted for food and was not just a scavenger. Researchers found a part of a T rex tooth wedged between two tailbones of a duckbill dinosaur unearthed in northwestern South Dakota. The tooth was partially enclosed by regrown bone, indicating the smaller duckbill had escaped from the T rex and lived for months or years afterward. The fossil provides definitive evidence that T rex hunted live animals, researchers say in Monday’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The fossil, from about 67 million years ago, indicates the T rex bit the duckbill from behind and “intended to take it for a meal,” said David Burnham of the University of Kansas, an author of the report. Jack Horner of Montana State University said T rex apparently preyed on the weak, the sick and the young.
Weiner leads NYC race
Former Democratic representative Anthony Weiner has edged ahead in the race for the party’s nomination for New York’s mayoral election, a poll showed on Monday. Weiner, who quit Congress in 2011 after it emerged he had exchanged sexually explicit messages and photographs with various women on Twitter, now leads New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The Quinnipiac University poll showed Weiner has opened up a three-point advantage over his rival, leading by 25 percent to 22 percent. Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer — whose stellar political career went up in flames after a sex scandal —is currently the front-runner for the city’s financial controller, according to Quinnipiac, leading rival Scott Stringer with 48 percent to 33 percent.