Officials block graft reports
Local officials are blocking citizens seeking to report corruption to a central government inspection team, state media said yesterday, in the latest apparent abuse of the country’s petitioning system. Citizens unable to find redress from local officials can appeal to higher-level authorities under a so-called petitioning system, but are often illegally detained by local officials. The Chinese Communist Party said last month that government bodies must avoid such blocking of “normal petitioners,” Xinhua news agency reported. However, officials in Henan Province have sent teams to surround a hotel to block residents hoping to report corruption to an inspection team sent from Beijing, the state-run Global Times reported. The move was slammed by another state-run media outlet as “illegal,” but a staff member of the central government inspection team declined to condemn the move, the Global Times said. Detention of petitioners seem to have continued despite official vows to halt the practice.
Huge weapons cache seized
Police have seized a huge cache of weapons, including 15,000 guns and 120,000 knives, from an illegal arms ring and detained 15 suspects, state media reported yesterday. The weapons were confiscated after a four-month investigation, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper, which called the operation the nation’s largest-ever such seizure. Police were tipped off to the arms ring’s existence after investigating a robbery in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province, the newspaper said. They traced the source of a gun used in the robbery to a family-run “gang” in Hunan Province that advertised itself as a factory, but controlled several warehouses where guns and knives were sold.
Detentions over bus crash
Police on Sunday said that they have detained five people over a bus accident that killed eight elementary school students and injured 32 others last week. Those detained included the driver and an executive with the bus company, a notice on the Hainan Provincial Government’s Web site said. The principal of the private Xincai School, its chief investor and her husband were also detained, the notice said. Thursday’s accident came during an outing organized by the school for 586 students. Xinhua said the accident occurred when the bus with a total of 47 people on board rolled over on a road under construction that was slippery from rain. Xinhua said no special safety arrangements for the outing had been made with local authorities, despite the large number of students taking part. It said those killed were four girls and four boys.
Searchers to deploy mini-sub
A ship leading the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will deploy a mini-sub “as soon as possible,” the head of the search said yesterday. “Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 as soon as possible,” said retired air chief marshal Angus Houston, who fronts the Joint Agency Coordination Centre. Houston said that in the hunt for the plane’s black box transmissions, the last signal was logged six days ago. “We haven’t had a single detection in six days so I guess it’s time to go underwater,” he said at a press conference in Perth.
Kansas shooting kills three
Authorities say three people died in a shooting at a Jewish community center and retirement community in Kansas, and two others were shot at, but not injured. Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said at a news conference on Sunday that the person who had been reported to be in critical condition was one of the three dead. Douglass said shots were fired behind the Jewish Community Center in a parking lot, and two males died. Shots were reported minutes later at the Village Shalom retirement community, where one female died. Ages and identities of the victims were not released. A man in his 70s who is not from Kansas was taken into custody at a nearby school. Douglass did not provide further information.
Bus crash kills 36
A passenger bus slammed into a broken-down truck and burst into flames, killing at least 36 people on Sunday in the south, the Veracruz State Government reported. Both state and federal officials said that four people survived the crash, which occurred shortly after midnight. A communique from the state civil defense agency said the victims were businesspeople from the region who were traveling from the Tabasco state capital of Villahermosa to Mexico City. Agency emergency director Ricardo Maza Limon said that victims apparently burned to death inside the bus, which was so badly charred that the tires melted and the markings on its sides were unreadable. The federal highway department, which earlier gave the death toll as 34, said the three-axle bus was on a highway in the area of Acayucan when it struck a five-axle tractor-trailer owned by a milk protein company that had broken down and was parked along the roadside. Via Twitter, President Enrique Pena Nieto sent a message of condolences to the families of those who died.
Hackers target space center
The country’s aeronautics and space research center has for months been the target of a suspected cyberattack by a foreign intelligence service, a news weekly reported on Sunday. Der Spiegel said that several computers used by scientists and systems administrators at the Cologne-based center had been infiltrated by spy programs. “The government classes the attack as extremely serious because it, among other things, is aimed at armament and rocket technologies,” Spiegel reported. In some computers, IT experts found traces of spy programs that were set up to destroy themselves on discovery, while others only activated themselves after months of lying in wait. Spiegel said the attacks were “coordinated and systematic” and all the center’s operation systems were affected. IT forensic experts probing who could be behind the assault have turned up clues that seem to point to China, but Spiegel quoted an unidentified “insider” as saying they could also simply be “camouflage.”
Foreign doctor kidnapped
An armed group kidnapped a foreign doctor in the north, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday, the latest in a spate of abductions against Westerners in the country. A local official said the gunmen group kidnapped the doctor from the hospital he worked at in Marib Province, late on Sunday. The doctor was from Uzbekistan, but the ministry gave his nationality as Russian and added that he was an anesthetist.