Airport ‘bomber’ arrested
A disabled man who bombed Beijing airport to protest police brutality has been formally arrested, his lawyer said yesterday, in a case that highlighted popular resentment toward low-level authorities. Ji Zhongxing (冀中星), a 33-year-old former driver who said a 2005 beating left him paralyzed, set off a small explosion on July 20, destroying his hand and injuring an officer. He was arrested on Monday on suspicion of bombing, said his lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan. The act carried a potential sentence of three to 10 years’ jail because it caused little damage, Liu said.
Musharaff to be indicted
Prosecutors will next week charge former president Pervez Musharraf with criminal conspiracy and the murder of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, lawyers said yesterday. Musharraf has been under house arrest since April. He appeared before an anti-terrorism court in person yesterday. Indicting a former army chief would be an unprecedented move in a country ruled for more than half of its life by the military. It would be seen by many as a challenge to the armed forces’ power. “Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman fixed the next hearing on Aug. 6 for General Musharraf’s indictment,” prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar said.
Toxic dumpling trial starts
A man went on trial yesterday for poisoning frozen dumplings that were exported to Japan, state media reported, in a case that raised tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. Factory worker Lu Yueting (呂月庭) was said to have injected pesticide into the dumplings because he was unhappy with his pay and did not get on with his coworkers at the Tianyang Food Plant in Hebei Province. Ten people fell ill in Japan, including a small child. Lu went on trial at the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court in Hebei, Xinhua news agency reported. The poisoned dumplings caused Japanese consumers to avoid Chinese frozen food, which temporarily disappeared from stores. Concerns over Chinese food imports were compounded in late 2008 after six Chinese infants died and almost 300,000 were made ill by milk powder laced with the industrial chemical melamine.
Monks attack bailiffs
A group of monks on the monastic sanctuary of Mount Athos who are facing eviction attacked court bailiffs with rocks and gasoline bombs on Monday, civilian authorities on the peninsula said. No one was injured in the incident outside the administrative offices of 1,000-year-old Esphigmenou Monastery, and no arrests were reported. The bailiffs withdrew from the site. Cellphone video of part of the incident, taken by the monks, showed the court-appointed bailiffs using a small earth-moving machine in an unsuccessful attempt to force their way into the grounds of the office at Karyes, the capital of the all-male sanctuary from where its 20 monasteries are run. About 100 monks in the Esphigmenou monastery have been involved in a years-old dispute with the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, over his efforts to improve relations with the Vatican. The monks have defied court orders to leave the monastery and allow church-appointed replacements to take over the site and the Karyes offices. The Esphigmenou monks, who say they are safeguarding centuries-old Orthodox traditions, have refused to leave the complex, and receive food and other assistance from supporters in other parts of the nation.
Verdict due in Manning trial
US soldier Bradley Manning was due to learn yesterday whether he will be convicted of aiding the enemy — punishable by life in prison without parole — for sending classified government documents to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, a military judge said on Monday. The charge of aiding the enemy is the most serious of 21 counts Manning is contesting. He also is charged with eight federal Espionage Act violations, five federal theft counts and two federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations, each punishable by up to 10 years; and five military counts of violating a lawful general regulation, punishable by up to two years each. Manning has admitted to sending more than 470,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables and other material to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in early 2010.
Cash bonds for visas
The Home Office confirmed it will demand a ￡3,000 (US$4,350) refundable bond for visas for “high-risk” visitors from six former colonies in Africa and Asia. A statement on Monday says Britain will go ahead with the pilot scheme which has caused outrage, charges of discrimination and warnings of retaliation and that the move will hurt trade. The statement sent by e-mail did not say when the pilot would start. It said if the scheme is successful Britain would like to apply the bond “on an intelligence-led basis on any visa route and any country.” The countries affected are Nigeria, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Britain’s Home Office said it hopes the bond system deters overstaying of visas and recovers costs of foreign nationals using public services.
Fire leads to snake surprise
Firefighters at a home to put out a blaze and discovered more than flames — 28 snakes, six of them deadly. The owner did not have a permit for the six venomous snakes — five rattlers and a gaboon viper — and he may face misdemeanor charges. The snakes were inside cages in a separate room and were removed as firefighters put out the kitchen blaze on Friday in Utah. All of the snakes survived. “I don’t think firefighters were ever in danger from the snakes, except for the creep factor,” North Davis fire chief Mark Becraft said.
Arrest made in paint attacks
Police arrested a female suspect on Monday after three Washington landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorial, were vandalized with green paint. Police said the woman arrested was 58-year-old Tian Jiamel. She has been charged with defacing property.
Comet may have fizzled out
Astronomers slated to meet this week to discuss observing plans for Comet ISON may not have much to talk about. The so-called “Comet of the Century” may already have fizzled out. “The future of comet ISON does not look bright,” astronomer Ignacio Ferrin, with the University of Antioquia in Colombia, said in a statement on Monday. Ferrin’s calculations show the comet has not brightened since mid-January. That may be because the comet is already out of ice particles in its body, which melt as the comet moves closer to the sun, creating a long, bright tail. Another theory is that the comet is covered in a layer of silicate dust that snuffs out water vapor and other gases that brighten the comet.