Israel and its allies had an earful on Monday. \nWith the world pressing Iran and North Korea to give up nuclear programs, Arab states on Monday criticized the West for allowing Israel to remain outside global non-proliferation regimes. \nIsrael is widely believed to have nuclear weapons capability but has not signed on to major agreements, including the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which is aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear arms. \n"What surprises us is that at a time when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is intensifying its efforts and monitoring members countries ... we see that it continues to ignore the rejection of Israel in not joining the treaty," Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. \nMeanwhile, the US, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan have been working to engage Pyongyang in a negotiating process aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. \nEgyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said: "It is unacceptable that Israel's possession of such weapons should remain a reality that some prefer to ignore or prevent the international community ... from facing it squarely and frankly." \nSyria, accused by the US of developing chemical and biological arms, took aim at both Washington and Israel. \nForeign Minister Farouq al-Shara noted that "a lot has been said lately about the dangers of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by countries that already have different types of such weapons." \n"Some have even waged war under the pretext of eliminating these weapons," he said in an apparent reference to the US and its war to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq. \nShara called it "regrettable ... that some quarters selectively choose to level their false accusations at some Arab and Islamic states but not on others, while simultaneously ignoring the Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons." \nThe Arab ministers repeated their support for making the Middle East region free from all weapons of mass destruction. \nIsrael maintains an ambiguity about its weapons programs but Joe Circincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has written that the Jewish state is believed to have between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons, a stockpile of chemical weapons and an active biological arms program. \nArabs were not the only critics to voice opinion on Israel on Monday. \nA senior US diplomat said on Monday that Israel's refusal to stop building settlements in the West Bank threatened its future as a democratic Jewish state. \nThe warning came in a speech by William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, at the US-Arab Economic Forum in Detroit, a conference exploring ways of fostering growth, development and trade between the US and the Arab world. \n"As Israeli settlements expand and their populations increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how the two peoples will be separated into two states," Burns said. \n"The fact is that settlements continue to grow today, encouraged by specific government policies and at enormous expense to Israel's economy, and this persists even as it becomes clear that the logic of settlements and the reality of demographics could threaten the future of Israel as a Jewish democracy." \nBurns was referring to experts' predictions that Jews will become a minority in the area encompassing Israel, the West Bank and Gaza by 2020. \nSecretary of State Colin Powell, in a speech to the forum later, claimed US progress in rebuilding Iraq and having "mobilized the world against terrorism," while calling on Palestinians to help get the "road map" back on track. \nPowell's 35-minute speech was interrupted by applause just twice, in a city with one of the largest Arab and Islamic populations outside the Middle East. \nOne was when Powell reinforced the call for an end to Israeli settlement activity and the other when he urged an end to the opening of "unauthorized outposts" by Israel.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent