General strike shuts country
An opposition-called general strike against next week’s general elections shut down schools, markets and industries across the country yesterday. Protesters attacked vehicles that defied the strike call and torchedt half dozen buses and trucks, police spokesman Ganesh Chetri said. Police have arrested 51 protesters. The alliance of 33 opposition parties called the strike in an attempt to disrupt the Nov. 19 elections and plan a complete transport strike until the poll day.
North executes TV watchers
North Korea publicly executed about 80 people earlier this month, many for watching smuggled South Korean TV shows, Seoul’s JoongAng Ilbo reported yesterday. The paper cited a single, unidentified source, but at least one North Korean defector group said it had heard rumors that lent credibility to the front-page report. The source said the executions were carried out in seven cities on Nov. 3. Most were charged with watching illicit South Korean TV dramas, and some with prostitution.
Petitioning system to change
The central government is changing the way it deals with petitioners who raise grievances with it, eliminating pressure on officials to intercept them before they travel to Beijing, the Beijing News reported. Under the current system, provincial officials may hurt their chances of promotion if too many people from their area get to Beijing to press their case. The current system will be replaced by direct communication between higher and lower levels of government, with supervision based on interviews with petitioners, the paper said.
Schools bans Malala’s book
Private schools have been barred from buying a book written by Malala Yousafzai due to its “anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam content,” All Pakistan Private Schools Federation head Kashif Mirza said on Sunday. “Yes we have banned Malala’s book [I am Malala] because it carries the content which is against our country’s ideology and Islamic values,” he said. He denied any threat or pressure by any militant group to ban the book.
Workers attack factories
Garment workers demanding higher pay yesterday clashed with police and attacked factories in an industrial belt on the outskirts of Dhaka, forcing more than 100 to shut down. The workers rejected a 5,300 takas (US$66.25) monthly minimum wage, a raise of 77 percent from 3,000 takas. They want 8,114 takas. The chaos came amid a nationwide general strike enforced by the main opposition party and its 17 other allies to demand a caretaker government with people from outside political parties to oversee national elections due by early January. Yesterday was the second day of the strike, which ends tomorrow.
Batman going to jail
A man whose superhero-sounding name turned him into a social media celebrity was jailed for nearly three years yesterday for theft, housebreaking and drug offences. Batman bin Suparman, an unemployed 23-year-old whose name translates to “Batman son of Suparman,” was arrested on Aug. 19 after security videos showed him twice sneaking into a store at night, where he stole a total of S$500 (US$400), court documents showed. He also pleaded guilty to stealing his brother’s ATM card and consuming heroin. He was sentenced to a total of 33 months in jail.
Two dead in party shooting
Celebratory gunshots fired at a Texas girl’s 18th birthday party triggered more gunfire that left two people dead, two critically injured and 20 wounded in a chaotic scene where people jumped from second-floor windows to escape the shooting at a suburban Houston home, authorities said on Sunday. Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said the gathering on Saturday night drew more than 100 people, most of them 17 to 19-year-olds, and became a “birthday party gone wild.” He said it appears partygoers were dancing when someone armed with a pistol shot into the air in celebration. In the ensuing confusion, another person who was armed began firing into the crowd, Garcia said. Sixteen of the injured suffered gunshot wounds and four others had fractures and twisted ankles. Authorities are searching for two gunmen.
Olympic torch back on Earth
Three astronauts returned to Earth yesterday, following a 166-day mission, bringing the Olympic torch back from the International Space Station after a historic space walk. Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and Italian colleague Luca Parmitano, descended in the Soyuz capsule to the frosty steppes of Kazakhstan. The torch, kept unlit throughout its space journey due to safety precautions, was securely wrapped during the descent, and an employee of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos took it out of the packaging yesterday and handed it to Yurchikhin, who held it briefly before he was taken away for medical tests.
Two MERS deaths reported
The government announced another fatality from the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus on Sunday (MERS-CoV), taking its toll to 53, as Oman recorded its first death from the respiratory disease. The MERS virus had killed 64 people worldwide as of Nov. 4, the WHO said.
ABBA mulling reunion
Legendary Swedish pop group ABBA could reunite next year to mark the 40th anniversary since they won the Eurovision Song Contest and were catapulted to global stardom, singer Agnetha Faltskog said on Sunday in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag. “Of course it’s something we’re thinking about,” 63-year-old Faltskog said. “There seem to be plans to do something to mark this anniversary in some way. But I can’t say at this point what will come of them.” ABBA formed in 1972 when Faltskog met guitarist and songwriter Bjorn Ulvaeus — whom she later married — and Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Andersson and Lyngstad were also married for a while. Both couples divorced. They became Sweden’s biggest-ever pop act and one of the most successful pop groups in history, selling more than 380 million records worldwide.
Three jailed for bombing
A court yesterday jailed for life three men from Ingushetia over their role in the 2011 bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport that killed 37 people, Interfax news agency reported. The court found the men guilty of facilitating the bomber’s travel to Moscow and providing him with explosives, the agency said. The bomber’s brother, who said he knew nothing about the attack, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, it said. The January 2011 attack also wounded 180 people.