Hackers deface PM’s site
Hackers claiming links to international hacking group Anonymous defaced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s (李顯龍) official Web site late on Thursday, one day after he said authorities would spare no effort to track them down. Local media and bloggers said the hackers had posted an image of a Guy Fawkes mask on the prime minister’s office (PMO) Web site with the words: “It’s great to be Singaporean today.” The image had been placed above a story that quoted Lee as saying authorities “will spare no effort” to bring the hackers to justice. “The PMO main Web site is still working, and we are working to restore the page that has been compromised,” a spokeswoman for the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore said. Reports on social media said the Web site of the the official home of the president was also attacked by hackers, although this could not be independently verified.
Bombing suspect arrested
Police yesterday detained a local thief over deadly blasts that struck near the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party headquarters in Shanxi Province. The apprehended suspect was named as Feng Zhijun (豐志均), a 41-year-old ex-convict and resident of the city of Taiyuan where the explosions took place, Xinhua news agency said, citing Shanxi Province’s Public Security Department. Feng was captured at 2am yesterday and has admitted to the blasts, Xinhua said, which killed one person and wounded eight on Wednesday morning. Feng previously served nine years in prison for theft, Xinhua said.
Web master loses appeal
A Web master lost her appeal yesterday against a conviction for failing to remove a comment deemed critical of the monarchy from her Internet site — a case that triggered international alarm. The Court of Appeals in Bangkok upheld the eight-month suspended jail sentence for Chiranuch Premchaiporn, whose prosecution stoked fears of worsening Internet freedom in the kingdom. Google has branded her conviction a “serious threat” to the Internet in the country, while the EU has expressed “deep concern.” Chiranuch was charged over 10 comments posted on the popular Prachatai news site in 2008.
Firing squads may resume
Authorities are mulling the resumption of execution by firing squad because of problems getting chemicals for lethal injections, state media reported yesterday. The Laborer newspaper quoted Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang as asking the National Assembly to allow the use of firing squads until the end of 2015, along with execution by lethal injection. In 2011, the country decided to switch from firing squads to lethal injection on humanitarian grounds, but only seven prisoners have been executed since August after a long delay as it struggled to obtain needed chemicals. There are 678 people on death row, the paper said.
Six-tailed comet spotted
The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a six-tailed asteroid in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Scientists say they have never seen anything like it. Incredibly, the comet-like tails change shape as the asteroid sheds dust. The streams have occurred over several months. A research team led by the University of California, Los Angeles, believes the asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, is rotating so much that its surface is flying apart. It is believed to be a fragment of a larger asteroid damaged in a collision 200 million years ago. Scientists using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii spotted the asteroid in August. Hubble picked out all the tails in September.
Biden phones wrong Walsh
As he watched the returns in Boston’s most competitive mayoral race in two decades on Tuesday night, Marty Walsh’s mobile phone rang. “A 202 number popped up and I picked it up. It was Vice President [Joe] Biden. He went right into it: ‘Congratulations, Marty, you son of a gun. You did it,’” Walsh recalled on Thursday. “I said: ‘Mr Vice President, you have the wrong Marty Walsh.’” Biden had intended to call labor activist and Senator Marty Walsh, who had just been elected mayor of Boston. Instead, he was on the line with Marty Walsh, president of Gateway Public Solutions, a public affairs consulting firm in Boston.
Police shoot, kill Palestinian
Border police shot dead a Palestinian at a checkpoint near Jerusalem, police and family members said yesterday. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incident occurred at about midnight when a man ran at a border police officer with a knife, prompting him to open fire. “A Palestinian who arrived at the area ran out of a vehicle toward border police who were there on patrol,” Rosenfeld said. “The Palestinian had a knife in his hand and a border police officer responded by firing shots at the suspect, who was injured seriously and pronounced dead a short while after.” Family members named him as Anas al-Atrash, 23, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Questions over burned plane
The government on Thursday seeked an explanation from Venezuela about how a Mexican-registered small airplane ended up burned on an improvised runway in the South American country. Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said the Venezuelan government told Mexico that authorities there demanded the jet land and then burned the aircraft. The Mexican Foreign Ministry later said it had learned that the passengers abandoned the plane after it landed and before the authorities destroyed the aircraft. Officials, though, are wondering whether any Mexican citizens were involved in the incident.
Outbreak threatens Europe
An outbreak of polio poses a threat to Europe, where the crippling and potentially fatal disease was declared eradicated in 2002, doctors warned yesterday. Europe is exposed because some countries have low rates of innoculation, which lowers “herd immunity,” or protection through community-wide vaccination, a pair of epidemiologists warned in the Lancet. In addition, most countries use a type called inactivated polio vaccine, which is less effective against the virus than an oral vaccine, which is now largely discontinued because it causes rare cases of paralysis, they warned.