Bigger soldiers squeezed
People’s Liberation Army soldiers have become so much taller and fatter in recent years that they often find themselves cramped in tanks designed three decades ago, the military’s PLA Daily reported on Tuesday. A survey found that soldiers were on average 2cm taller and 5cm fatter around the waist than 20 years ago, the newspaper said. As a result, it is harder for soldiers to squeeze into a tank designed for smaller personnel 30 years ago, it said. Rifle stocks are also too short for some, limiting their accuracy, it added. The findings of the survey, which began in 2009, suggested an upgrade to the military’s equipment was necessary, the newspaper said.
Officials battle dengue fever
The Pacific island nation is grappling with its worst outbreak of dengue fever in 16 years, but authorities say tourists face little risk. Health officials yesterday said there have been 2,589 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus since the outbreak began in November last year. Two males, aged 17 and 35, have died. Authorities have been spraying insecticide across the country and have started a public health campaign to remind people to clean out water containers. Most cases have been reported near the capital, Suva, and in inland areas. There have been no outbreaks around the major resorts in the country.
Officials under investigation
Hainan Province Vice Governor Ji Wenlin (冀文林) is under investigation for serious violations, the Chinese Communist Party’s disciplinary body said yesterday. In a one-line statement, it said that Ji is suspected of serious violations of regulations and the law, but gave no details. The party also announced that Zhu Zuoli (祝作利), vice chairman of the top political advisory body of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Shaanxi Province, is also under investigation for serious violations of party disciplines and laws. Ji has personal and professional connections to former security boss Zhou Yongkang (周永康), who himself is the subject of a rumored investigation. Yesterday’s announcement is the latest sign of moves against Zhou, who amassed huge power before he retired from the Politburo Standing Committee in late 2012.
State leader quits in protest
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy quit yesterday in protest at a contentious bill to split his state in two, a plan which triggered chaotic scenes in parliament. Lawmakers in the lower house on Tuesday passed the bill to carve a new state called Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh, amid an uproar from opposing MPs that saw a blackout of televised proceedings. Reddy slammed as shameful lawmakers’ behavior in pushing through the bill without proper debate, and also attacked the decision to cut the live TV feed during the vote. MPs were “robbers, hiding from people, putting off TV, throwing out those who were objecting,” Reddy was quoted as saying by NDTV.
Raid on Dotcom ruled legal
An appeals court yesterday ruled that police acted legally when armed officers raided Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s Auckland mansion as part of a US-led online piracy probe. The decision overturned an earlier finding that the January 2012 dawn raid was unlawful because the search warrants police used were too broad to be considered reasonable.
Nun, 84, jailed for protest
An elderly nun who broke into what was supposed to be one of the most carefully guarded nuclear facilities in the country was sentenced to 35 months in prison on Tuesday, media reported. Sister Megan Rice, 84, cut through fences and several layers of security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee along with two other members of Transform Now Plowshares — a pacifist group — in July 2012. They spent two hours in the complex before being caught by security guards. In that time, they hoisted banners, spray painted messages like “work for peace not war” and tossed human blood on a building used to store and process the highly enriched uranium used to make nuclear bombs.
Arrest made in Alps killings
Police in Annecy on Tuesday arrested a 48-year-old man, described by a source as a former police officer, over the 2012 killings of a British-Iraqi family and a cyclist in the Alps, in their first breakthrough in the case. Checks on the man’s telephone “put him in the zone at the moment” of the murders of the al-Hilli family and the cyclist on Sept. 5, 2012, another source said. Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said the man, from the Haute-Savoie region, was placed in formal custody and detained following the release in November last year of an identikit image of a mysterious motorcyclist seen near where the quadruple murder took place.
Marvis Gallant dies at 91
Mavis Gallant, the Montreal-born writer who carved out an international reputation as a master short-story author while living in Paris for decades, died on Tuesday at age 91, her publisher said. The bilingual Quebecoise started out as a journalist and went on to publish well over 100 short stories in her lauded career, many of them in the New Yorker magazine and in collections such as The Other Paris, Across the Bridge and In Transit.
Former politician arrested
Former US representative Mel Reynolds has been arrested for allegedly possessing pornography and violating immigration laws. The former politician, who lost his seat in the US Congress almost two decades ago because of a statutory rape conviction, was arrested on Monday by police and immigration officials at a Harare hotel, according to the state-controlled newspaper the Herald. He allegedly brought several models and other women to his hotel room where he took photographs and videos. In Harare, Reynolds has accumulated hotel bills worth US$24,500 which he has not yet paid, the Herald reported. Reynolds could face up to two years’ imprisonment or a hefty fine if found guilty of possessing pornographic material and deportation for breaching immigration laws.
Killer of Iraqi family dies
A former US soldier jailed for raping an Iraqi teenager and executing the girl and her family in 2006 has died in an apparent suicide in prison, a spokesman said. Steven Dale Green, convicted in 2009, died on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona. Guards discovered the 28-year-old “unresponsive” in his cell on Thursday last week, during regular rounds, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman John Stahley said in a statement released on Tuesday. Staff immediately called for assistance and began life-saving measures, with Green being transported to a local medical center. However, he died on Saturday, Stahley said.