■ Malaysia Muslim role seen for Iraq \n \nMalaysia said yesterday that Muslims should take responsibility for peacekeeping in Iraq, but only under the command of the UN Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, speaking on the eve of an Islamic summit, said Muslim countries should not send troops to help the US-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein. "You cannot have peacekeepers from countries which are not Muslim," Syed Hamid told a news conference before the eight-day meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia's new administrative capital, Putrajaya. "It must be done under the umbrella of the UN. We cannot take part if it is still under the United States," he said. \n \n■ Thailand \nLast WW1 veteran dies \n \nThailand 's last surviving veteran of World War I, Second Lieutenant Yod Sangrungruang, has died at the age of 106, reports said yesterday. Yod, who was a recipient of France's Legion d'Honneur award, was just 20 years old in 1917 when he joined 1,284 Thai soldiers in volunteering to fight with the Allies in France. He served as a mechanic in France before returning to Thailand in 1919 and was awarded a medal for his services from Thai King Rama VI. In 2000, French President Jacques Chriac awarded Yod the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest decoration. \n \n■ The Philippines \nArroyo favors parliament \n \nPhilippines President Gloria Arroyo said yesterday that she preferred a parliamentary style of government and that she would put it to the electorate when seeking a new term in next year's presidential contest. If she wins the election on May 10 next year, Arroyo would serve for six years, meaning a change of system would be unlikely before June 30, 2010. "A parliamentary form of government improves the political interface between the executive and the legislature and thereby could galvanize reforms more efficiently and effectively," Arroyo said in a statement. \n \n■ China \nMedia warned over SARS \n \nChina has stepped up warnings to local authorities against covering up any new SARS outbreak, but has also slapped stern regulations on how the media reports a fresh epidemic. In a speech carried by the People's Daily yesterday, Health Minister Wu Yi (吳儀) said her department would be in charge of reporting any potential new outbreak of the disease and that media outlets could only publish information vetted by the ministry. "The news media must strictly report the outbreak of epidemics in accordance with the circulars issued by the Ministry of Health and must not report any information that has not be verified," Wu said. \n \n■ Hong Kong \nTung opponents plan rally \n \nOpponents of Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) said yesterday they will stage a weekend protest calling for his resignation even though they likely will fail to obtain required insurance to cover potential damage. Police have approved the anti-Tung rally set for tomorrow in a downtown park, but insurance providers have balked at providing any coverage. Although Hong Kong has frequent protests, they are typically peaceful and the demonstrators say the insurance requirement appears to be a government ploy to discourage dissent. "I haven't even been able to get a quote," Anti-Tung Solidarity spokesman Andrew To said by phone \n■ United Kingdom Moore, Sting honored \n \nQueen Elizabeth II Thursday awarded a knighthood to James Bond star Roger Moore for his services to charity, and also bestowed an honour on rock singer Sting for his musical achievements. The awards, announced in the queen's birthday honors list in June, were made at Buckingham Palace, the monarch's London residence. Moore became Sir Roger following his knighthood while Sting was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) -- one gong away from being knighted. Moore, 75, received the gong for his tireless work for children's charity UNICEF for which he has been a goodwill ambassador for the past 12 years. \n \n■ United states \nBoard game stirs uproar \n \nA controversial adaptation of the board game Monopoly featuring a thuggish, bandana-wearing black man with bug eyes has outraged African Americans in Chicago. While the original Monopoly board game featured a gentlemanly character in a top hat and cane, in Ghettopoly, the black man clenches a marijuana cigarette in his teeth and holds an Uzi in one hand and a bottle of malt liquor in the other. While the original boardgame rewarded them for such achievements as winning second place in a beauty pageant, Ghettopoly players get cash for doing things like getting everyone in their neighborhood hooked on crack cocaine. \n \n■ Liberia \nStop meddling, Taylor told \n \nThe Security Council warned Liberia's ousted president, Charles Taylor, on Thursday against trying to keep running the war-battered West African country from exile in Nigeria. "We think that his activities need to be curbed so that he does not remain in political contact with his former supporters," said US Ambassador John Negroponte, the Security Council president for October. "So I think it's very important that he observes the terms of his having left Liberia and that he respects the commitment that he undertook not to pursue political activities from outside the country," Negroponte said. \n \n■ The hague \nMilosevic knew of massacre \n \nA former UN commander testified at Slobodan Milosevic's war crimes trial on Thursday that he believed the former Yugoslav president knew about the 1995 Srebrenica massacre while it was happening. Former British General Rupert Smith, who headed the UN Protection Force known as UNPROFOR, said he met with Milosevic on July 15, 1995, while Bosnian Serbs were slaughtering an estimated 7,500 Muslims in the UN-declared safe zone of Srebrenica. Smith said General Ratko Mladic, who is accused of ordering the Srebrenica massacre, attended the meeting. The British general said he believed Mladic's presence there implied that Milosevic knew about the killings. \n \n■ United States \n91 year old robber caught \n \nA 91-year-old man who walks with a cane and is hard of hearing pleaded guilty to stealing nearly US$2,000 from a bank, his third such robbery in less than five years. Leaning on his cane and wearing a headset to listen to the judge, J.L. Hunter "Red" Rountree initially responded "not guilty" when asked for his plea Thursday. "I mean, `Guilty,'" Rountree later said. "I'm sorry."
POLAND-GERMANY RIFT: Warsaw’s response to Berlin over a NATO system that would increase the alliance’s involvement in the war came as Kyiv accused Russia of war crimes Anti-missile systems that Germany offered to send to Poland should instead go to Ukraine, the Polish government said on Thursday, a proposal that is likely a nonstarter for Berlin because it would significantly ratchet up NATO involvement in Ukraine. Poland’s surprising response to Berlin’s offer was welcomed by Ukraine, which is desperate to protect its airspace as barrages of Russian missiles have knocked out power across the country. German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht said that use of NATO defense systems outside its territory needs to be agreed by all member states. “It is important to us that Poland can rely on allies
MONEY-MAKING SCHEME: Some students said they were misled about study or work opportunities, or were not told that they were coming to a self-proclaimed republic Foreign students are big business in northern Cyprus, a tiny, breakaway statelet only recognized by Turkey, but some warn that university recruiters are selling “dreams” in the internationally and economically isolated territory. One Nigerian student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he expected to arrive in the country whose soccer teams compete in European tournaments. Instead, when he saw the currency was the embattled Turkish lira, he realized this was “not the Cyprus I thought it was.” The Mediterranean island is divided between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and a northern statelet established after Turkey launched a 1974 invasion in
COUNTERING CHINA: The vice president said on the island of Palawan that the US supports the Philippines ‘in the face of intimidation ... in the South China Sea’ US Vice President Kamala Harris yesterday visited a Philippine island near waters claimed by Taiwan and China to show support for the longtime US ally and counter Beijing’s growing influence in the region. Harris is the highest-ranking US official ever to visit the western island of Palawan, the closest Philippine landmass to the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) in the hotly contested South China Sea. Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire sea and has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis. Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have overlapping claims to parts of
CRACKDOWN ON DISSENT: The prosecution had shelved sedition charges against the six in exchange for the defendants pleading guilty to ‘conspiring’ with Jimmy Lai Six former employees of a now-defunct Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper yesterday pleaded guilty to a collusion charge under the National Security Law that has silenced and jailed most opposition voices in the southern Chinese territory. The staff members of the Apple Daily were arrested last year during a crackdown on dissent after Beijing imposed the sweeping security law in response to the widespread anti-government protests in 2019. They were charged with conspiracy to commit collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security. The six have been in pre-trial custody for almost a year-and-a-half. The law criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion