Body parts fall from sky
Human body parts fell from the sky in Jeddah on Sunday, with police saying they could be the remains of someone trapped in an aircraft’s undercarriage bay. “Police received a telephone call at 2:30am from a witness reporting the fall of human remains at an intersection in Mushrefa neighborhood” in the Red Sea city, spokesman Nawaf bin Naser al-Bouq said. Initial indications were that the remains “fell from a plane’s landing gear,” Bouq said.
Merkel fractures pelvis
Chancellor Angela Merkel has fractured her pelvis in a cross-country skiing accident and is walking with the help of crutches, forcing her to call off some foreign visits and appointments, her spokesman said yesterday. Merkel fell while skiing over the Christmas vacation. What she first thought was heavy bruising turned out to be a partial fracture, meaning she must take it easy for three weeks and work from home where possible, spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Merkel has postponed a visit to Warsaw scheduled for tomorrow, but she will hold her first Cabinet meeting of the year tomorrow.
Pope to visit Holy Land
Pope Francis says his upcoming trip to the Holy Land aims to boost relations with Orthodox Christians. However, the three-day visit in May also underscores Francis’ close ties to the Jewish community, his outreach to Muslims and the Vatican’s longstanding call for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Francis told thousands gathered in the rain for his weekly on Sunday blessing that he would visit Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem from May 24 to May 26. It is the only papal trip confirmed so far this year and the second foreign trip of Francis’ pontificate.
Opposition elects leader
The main opposition National Coalition re-elected Ahmad Jarba as its leader during a general assembly meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sunday, the coalition said in a statement. Jarba won 65 votes, beating his only rival Riad Hijab — the best-known defector from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad — by 13 votes. Jarba, who is seen as close to key rebel backer Saudi Arabia, was first elected to head the coalition in July last year, and is now set to lead the group for another six months.
Concern over desert prison
Thousands of African migrants, many holding banners demanding freedom for jailed compatriots, protested on Sunday in a Tel Aviv square against a new open-ended detention law that allows migrants to be sent to a desert prison. The protests prompted a rare and strongly worded UN refugee agency statement, saying that the nation’s incarceration of migrants caused “hardship and suffering” and was “not in line with” a 1951 world treaty on the treatment of refugees. Hotline for Migrant Workers accuses the government of pressuring migrants to accept payouts and leave.
Pessimism on Afghanistan
Former defense leaders warned yesterday that parts of southern Afghanistan could fall to the Taliban when British troops leave this year. Former commander of the elite Special Air Service Richard Williams told the Times newspaper that there was already evidence of growing collaboration between Taliban insurgents and Afghan soldiers and politicians in the Helmand Province. “We will end up in a very uncomfortable position.
Man saved from washer
A naked man was left red-faced after getting stuck in a washing machine during a game of hide and seek, after police had to grease him up with olive oil to get him out. The man clambered into the top-loader machine on Saturday afternoon in his apartment north of Melbourne, aiming to surprise his girlfriend when she got home. However, he became wedged, sparking a delicate rescue effort. Police, firefighters, paramedics and a local search and rescue squad used olive oil to maneuver the man out of his predicament. “They greased him up until he was free,” Sergeant Tim
Lamb waterers detained
Police are holding seven people in Guangdong Province for injecting dirty pond water into lamb meat to swell its weight and raise its price, China Central Television (CCTV) said in a three-minute report. The suspects slaughtered up to 100 sheep per day at an illegal warehouse, pumping bacteria-ridden water into the meat before it was sold at markets, food stalls and restaurants in major cities, such as Guangzhou and Foshan, the report said.
Land-grab resisters jailed
Six herders who tried to defend grazing land from expropriation by a forestry firm have been sentenced in Inner Mongolia, a lawyer and family members said yesterday, in a case that has sparked protests. Ethnic Mongols have long complained that their traditional grazing lands have been ruined by mining and desertification, and that the government has tried to force them to settle in permanent dwellings. The six Mongol herders were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to two years.
President calls for reunions
President Park Geun-hye yesterday called for resuming reunions of families separated by war, expressing hopes that the humanitarian program would improve strained ties between the rival Koreas. The two Koreas had planned to hold family reunions in September last year for the first time in three years, but Pyongyang canceled them at the last minute. Park said she wants the reunions to take place on Lunar New Year’s Day. She added that her government plans to approve the shipment of more humanitarian assistance to the North.
Cui Jian invited to gala
State broadcaster CCTV has invited rock singer Cui Jian (崔建) — an inspiration for 1980s pro-democracy protesters — to perform at its annual new year gala, his manager said yesterday. “We have some details we are working on” ahead of Cui’s possible appearance at the annual Spring Festival Gala, which has an audience of hundreds of millions, his manager said.
Land activists arrested
Five land activists were arrested yesterday in the latest move by the authorities to suppress street protests against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, a rights group said. The five woman were detained as they prepared to stage a rally in front of the French Eembassy to call for the release of other imprisoned human rights defenders, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights said. The activists are from the Boeung Kak community, where thousands of families have been displaced to make way for a private development.