■ Japan Orgy complaint probed \n \nJapan's foreign minister said Tuesday officials were checking into complaints that Japanese tourists hired hundreds of prostitutes for an orgy in China on a sensitive World War II anniversary. Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tokyo had yet to determine whether the reports that hundreds of Japanese men, believed to be on a company tour, hired as many as 500 prostitutes in the southern city of Zhuhai, near Macau. Chinese news reports said more than 400 Japanese male tourists had sex with Chinese prostitutes at the Zhuhai International Conference Center Hotel from Sept. 16-18, which was the anniversary of an attack by Japanese forces in 1931 that China regards as the start of its World War II occupation. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan has called the case ``extremely odious'' and asked the Japanese government to ``strengthen education of its citizens in this regard.'' \n \n■ Indonesia \nSex laws slammed \n \nIndonesian lawyers have criticized plans by the justice ministry to criminalize extramarital sex and some sexual acts by minors, a report said yesterday. Gayus Limbuun, chairman of the Indonesia Bar Association, said the state should not interfere in citizens' sexual behavior. The draft proposes that a couple found guilty of cohabitation be punished by up to two years in jail. A man who impregnates a woman but refuses to marry her could spend five years in prison. For those aged under 18, sodomy and oral sex would be punishable by between three to 12 years in jail and homosexual sex would be liable to punishment of between one and seven years. Sodomy, oral sex and homosexual acts would not be an offence for adults. \n \n■ Australia \nFirst dingo probably a pet \n \nNew DNA research has found that Australia's iconic wild dog, the dingo, probably descended from a family pet brought to the continent 5,000 years ago. The research unveiled at a New South Wales University conference and reported in yesterday's press, said the mother of all dingoes may have been a single pregnant female travelling with a group of migrants from what is now Indonesia. "All the dingoes have a very similar DNA type," said Alan Wilton, a molecular biologist and geneticist at the university. "Any variations we find in a population is only a single mutation away from the main type," he said. Dingoes are believed to have been brought by migrants as hunting dogs and "living blankets" for their body warmth at night. \n \n■ Hong Kong \nInmates may make masks \n \nPrisoners in Hong Kong could be used to make surgical masks to help alleviate concerns about a possible shortage should SARS re-emerge, officials said yesterday. Prison bosses have proposed employing 20 to 30 inmates who could produce up to 30,000 masks a day for the Hospital Authority, said Daniel Hui, general manager of the Correctional Services Department's industry division. The prisoners would not make state-of-the art N-95 masks that are used by health professionals in high-risk hospital areas. A supply of 30,000 masks a day is sufficient for public hospitals during normal times and could be used during any rush on masks if the territory is again hit by SARS or some other epidemic, Hui said. Officials will make a decision on the proposal at the end of the month. \n■ Liberia US military to leave \n \nSaying its mission has "largely been accomplished," the Pentagon is moving three warships away from Liberia as the US winds down its role in the peacekeeping operation, officials said on Monday. Defense officials said the dock-landing ship USS Carter Hall and the amphibious transport dock USS Nashville, together carrying 1,550 navy sailors and Marines, sailed north away from the coast of the west African nation over the weekend. The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, a helicopter carrier serving as lead vessel in the three-ship Amphibious Ready Group, was slated to sail midweek, perhaps today. \n \n■ Italy \nBoy traded for color TV \n \nA pensioner and his wife were being questioned by detectives last night for allegedly buying an Albanian boy whose father had traded him for a color TV set. Police believe a trafficking ring responsible for selling the boy has smuggled more than 60 children into Italy, posing as their parents. The case has once again focused attention on the trafficking of women and children from Albania, amid growing concern across Europe that small mafia-style gangs are generating a lucrative slave trade. Police have evidence that the couple paid 10 million lira three years ago for the child, then three, whom they called Tomaso. The child's father had swapped his youngest son for a color television. \n \n■ Colombia \nRebels claim abduction \n \nThe second-largest rebel group in Colombia said it was holding seven foreign backpackers kidnapped this month from an archaeological site in the mountains. It was the first claim of responsibility for the abduction. The National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, did not make any demands in its statement, but said Monday it was open to negotiations "to find a solution." The group of eight backpackers -- four Israelis, two Britons, a German and a Spaniard -- was abducted by gunmen on Sept. 12 from the Lost City archaeological ruins in the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains. \n \n■ Germany \nMarathon saves drug addict \n \nMedics at the Berlin marathon saved the life of a collapsed heroin addict when they mistook him for a competitor. The head of the marathon's medical team said some of his doctors found and resuscitated a 40-year-old man wearing a numbered race bib who had collapsed on a railway platform at the 37km mark of the 42km marathon. "It turned out he was a heroin addict," said Willi Heepe. "He smelled of alcohol, but he was wearing running shoes. We thought he was a runner. The Berlin marathon probably saved his life," said Heepe. \n \n■ United kingdom \nBrits believe Blair lied \n \nNearly 60 percent of Britons believe Prime Minister Tony Blair lied over the threat posed by Iraq in the run-up to the US-led war to oust former president Saddam Hussein, an opinion poll showed yesterday. The NOP poll, published by the Independent newspaper, found 41 percent wanted Blair to resign while 52 percent did not. Fifty-nine percent thought Blair lied over Iraq and 29 percent did not. Other polls have also shown a majority of Britons no longer trust Blair after the failure of US-led forces to find any banned weapons in Iraq, his main justification for the war. The NOP poll suggested that replacing Blair with Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown would not boost the party's appeal significantly.
Australian scientists have raised questions over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in establishing herd immunity, calling for a pause on its widespread rollout as the country recorded one new case of the virus yesterday. Opposition to the vaccine casts a cloud over Australia’s immunization plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on hand. “The question is really whether it is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don’t know how long that will take,” Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology president Stephen Turner said. Turner added
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client