Xinjiang mulls anti-terror laws
Xinjiang is considering drafting anti-terror laws for the first time, following a string of deadly incidents, the China Daily newspaper said yesterday. Authorities are keen to clamp down on unrest that has killed more than 100 people during the past year. Work on the anti-terror law is planned to start this year, although finalizing a draft may take several years, legislative official Bo Xiao told the Daily.
Arson suspect identified
Authorities said yesterday that they have identified a person suspected of setting a fire aboard a bus that killed six people and injured 35 this week in Guiyang. Police did not say whether the suspect was on the bus at the time of the fire, or anything about a possible motive. The bus caught fire near an elementary school on Thursday. Media reports said about 50 people were inside the vehicle. “After some sparks gleamed in the middle of the bus, it all of a sudden got engulfed in a sea of flames,” a witness, Zeng Xi, said. “It only took a few minutes for the inferno to destroy the whole bus.”
Zhou Yongkang ally resigns
A former vice minister of public security and ally of retired security chief Zhou Yongkang (周永康) has resigned from his position as a member of parliament for Sichuan Province, state media said, possibly opening the way for criminal charges against him. Li Dongsheng (李東生) was formally sacked this week after being suspended in December last year for suspected “serious discipline violations,” a term normally used to refer to corruption. The move removes Li’s immunity from prosecution as a member of the largely rubber-stamp body.
Injured journalist improving
Kevin Lau (劉進圖), former editor of the liberal Ming Pao, is improving and has regained consciousness, officials said yesterday. Lau was attacked on Wednesday by a man wielding a cleaver. “His situation has improved from critical to serious this morning,” government spokesman said. The news came as a new group of journalist and news organizations said it would stage a rally tomorrow to condemn violence against the media.
Bus crash kills 15
A double-decker tour bus carrying students on a school trip to the beach yesterday crashed into a truck, killing 15 people and injuring more than 30, police said. The fatalities included 13 children, between the ages of 10 and 15, and two teachers, police Lieutenant Colonel Anukarn Thammavijarn said. The bus was carrying about 60 girls from a school in Nakhon Ratchasima for a daytrip to the seaside town of Pattaya. Police were searching for the driver, who fled the scene, and were investigating whether the brakes had failed or if the driver had dozed off at the wheel.
Trafficking rings broken
Police have detained 1,094 people and rescued 382 infants in a nationwide crackdown on four online baby trafficking rings, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The traffickers used Web sites with names such as “China’s Orphan Network” and “Dream Adoption Home,” highlighting a trend of online deals that make it harder to hunt down the criminals, Xinhua added.
World Bank delays loan
The World Bank on Thursday postponed a US$90 million loan to the nation’s health system over a law that toughened punishment for gays, an unusual move for an institution that typically avoids wading into politics. “We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law,” World Bank spokesman David Theis said in an e-mail. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed an anti-gay bill earlier this week that strengthens already strict laws against homosexuals by imposing a life sentence for certain violations and making it a crime to not report anyone who breaks the law.
Hacker faces more charges
Federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday slapped two extra charges on a British man accused of hacking into thousands of government computer systems, officials said. They indicted Lauri Love, 28, on one count of hacking into the Federal Reserve and one count of aggravated identity theft. He was already facing charges in New Jersey for hacking the computer networks of the army, the Missile Defense Agency, NASA and other agencies.
Blast, militants kill 52
At least 52 people were killed on Thursday as a motorcycle rigged with explosives detonated in Baghdad’s Sadr City and militants targeted mostly Shiites around the country. The motorcycle was parked in a second-hand bike market in the Shiite Muslim neighborhood that was filled with people, mostly young men, when it exploded on Thursday afternoon, killing 31 and wounding 51 others, medical and police sources said. It was not clear who was behind the bombing, but violence against Shiites is often blamed on the Sunni Muslim Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Syrian convoys attacked
There were two attempted attacks on Syrian convoys transporting chemical weapons late last month, Syrian authorities told the international mission overseeing the removal and destruction of its toxic arsenal, according to a UN report on Thursday. The monthly report to the UN Security Council of the joint mission of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said the attempted attacks happened on Jan. 27. It gave no details on the location of the convoys. “In addition, Syrian authorities indicated that ongoing military activities rendered two sites inaccessible during most of the reporting period,” the five-page report said.
Rome faces shutdown
Rome’s mayor says the capital next week risks a shutdown of mass transit, trash collection and other city services unless Parliament quickly frees up funds. Mayor Ignazio Marino said on Thursday that he was not seeking a bailout. The 320 million euros (US$440 million) blocked in Parliament are Roman taxpayer money that the national government was supposed to give back to the city by yesterday. However, Parliament is suffering gridlock as opposition lawmakers use stalling tactics to protest that Italy last week got another premier who was not elected. Marino says if the funds do not arrive, city buses will not have fuel, trash collection will halt and daycare and other public services will close. “I can’t blow on buses to make them go,” he said.
Sinaloa state authorities said on Thursday that they are investigating who organized a march in which hundreds demanded the release of cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a display of public support for the crime boss in a state that many say he controls. Govenor Mario Lopez Valdez told Televisa that officials suspect Guzman’s family and friends. “We don’t know at this time, but the investigation should reveal that,” Lopez said. Hundreds of people marched on Wednesday demanding that authorities free the boss of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. Many said he provides needed jobs in poor mountain areas.
Google maps polar bears
San Francisco-based Google on Thursday added polar bears to the natural splendor people can on the Internet giant’s free online mapping service. Members of the Google Maps team joined with non-profit group Polar Bears International to venture into tundra in a remote part of Canada’s Churchill, Manitoba, late last year for images of the animals. However, the Google Maps images only captured a few sightings of the polar bears, whose population is said to be threatened by warming global temperatures.