■ China Uighurs to stay in Cuba \n \nThe US should abandon reported plans to send Uighur detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay to China, where they are likely to face mistreatment and possibly torture, a New York-based rights group said yesterday. More than a dozen ethnic Uighur separatists believed to be from China's westernmost Xinjiang region were apprehended in Afghanistan during the US-led war there and transferred to the US military detention facility in Cuba, Human Rights Watch said. They were reportedly training in Afghanistan with Uighur groups seeking independence or greater autonomy from China in the Xinjiang region. \n \n■ China \nFireworks deaths increase \n \nFireworks-related deaths shot up nearly 25 percent in China in the first nine months of the year, with the government blaming local officials protecting unlicensed manufacturers often operating in the poor hinterland. The official Xinhua news agency said there had been 98 fireworks-related explosions across the country from January to September, up 21 percent from the same period last year. The blasts killed 209 people. Still, Xinhua quoted the deputy director of the State Administration of Production Safety, Sun Huashan, telling a forum that the government had brought the production of fireworks under strict control to curb accidents. \n \n■ China \nCondoms return to TV \n \nCondoms have made a rare appearance on Chinese state television in an infomercial about the dangers of AIDS, state media reported yesterday. The 30-second ad, which was shown across the nation on Wednesday, was prepared to mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the Beijing Morning Post said. It showed a young couple and played a female voice explaining the importance of protection and safety. A condom infomercial was aired on state television in late 1999, also to mark World AIDS Day, only to be pulled days later. Since then, hundreds of thousands more Chinese have contracted HIV. \n \n■ Japan \nIraq report to finalize troops \n \nA fact-finding mission returned from Iraq yesterday to brief Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on whether the situation there is stable enough for Japan to send troops to help with the US-led reconstruction effort. Koizumi's top spokesman said the government will decide whether to dispatch its military to Iraq based on the content of the mission's report, which media said was likely to advise that conditions were acceptable. "We will take the report into account and make a comprehensive decision," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda. "If the situation allows, we will dispatch troops as soon as possible. Within the year, if feasible." \n \n■ China \nChild rescued from cell \n \nA 10-year-old girl in southern China has been rescued after being locked up alone for four years in a dark cell built by her parents. The girl was discovered locked up in the 4m2 shed in Jiangmen, Guangdong province, with no windows and only a few holes for ventilation in its metal door. Her parents and older sister meanwhile lived comfortably in a nearby three-story house, according to the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily. The girl's parents, who run a liquor distillery, wanted a male heir and were disappointed when a second daughter was born, the newspaper said. The local Women's Federation is now considering taking legal action against the parents. \n■ Turkey Trio charged in bombings \n \nA court has charged at least two women and a man with involvement in last week's deadly suicide bombings in Istanbul outside the British Consulate and a British-owned bank. The new arraignments on Wednesday bring to at least 18 the number of people charged as accomplices to the two suicide bombers in the Nov. 20 attacks. Officials have blamed Turkish militants backed by international assistance, possibly from al-Qaeda. The three suspects were charged Wednesday with belonging to and aiding an illegal organization, crimes punishable by up to five years in prison, news reports said. \n \n■ Russia \nBig ballerina to get job back \n \nA prima ballerina sacked by the Bolshoi Theater for being too heavy must be given her job back, a court has ruled. A Moscow court decided Anastasia Volochkova, one of Russia's top dancers, had been unfairly dismissed and should be reinstated in the theater's troupe with 190,000 roubles (US$6,300) compensation. The Bolshoi claimed ice-cream fan Volochkova had grown too bulky for male dance partners to lift, and fired her. That, she complained, left her career in tatters. But Volochkova, who says she weighs around 50kg and stands at 169cm -- taller than most ballerinas -- said it was far from certain whether the theater would allow her to dance again. \n \n■ United States \nPetite woman outeats rivals \n \nPetite Sonya Thomas wolfed down 3.5kg of holiday food in 12 minutes to defeat a pair of rivals almost four times her weight and win the Thanksgiving Invitational eating contest. The 48kg Virginia woman devoured massive helpings of yams, green beans, cranberry sauce and turducken, a turkey stuffed with duck, chicken and sausage, to win the International Federation of Competitive Eating event. "I'm full but I could eat more," Thomas, 36, a former Burger King manager, said. \n \n■ Yemen \nNet closes on terror figure \n \nSecurity forces are pursuing a senior al-Qaeda figure, a day after arresting his colleague for alleged involvement in the attacks on the destroyer USS Cole and a French oil tanker, government officials said Wednesday. Abu Ali al-Kandahari, one of the two leaders of al-Qaeda in Yemen, is believed to be hiding in the northern provinces of Marib and Jawf, and security forces are closing in on him, the officials said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. \n \n■ Venezuela \nChavez threatens media \n \nFacing a recall campaign, President Hugo Chavez warned Venezuela's news media he could take over the airwaves if they don't start broadcasting pro-government political ads. News media owners responded Wednesday that no one from the government or pro-government parties had asked them to broadcast ads. Still, they offered to air voting information approved by elections authorities before an opposition petition drive this weekend to demand a presidential recall vote. In speeches late Tuesday and on Wednesday, Chavez claimed that Venezuela's private television stations were refusing to broadcast paid government advertising. He threatened to interrupt private programming any time he chooses unless the National Elections Council forces the stations to air government ads. \n■ United States Subway fumes cause alarm \n \nSix New York transit workers were overcome by fumes in the city's subway system on Wednesday in an incident that briefly spooked financial markets before officials said the exposure was not related to terrorism. Emergency crews responded to reports of an odor on a subway track just after 11am. "There were negative results on anything radiological. No foul play is suspected," said John Odermatt, head of New York's Office of Emergency Management. Fire department spokesman David Billig said the men were working on a construction project in a subway tunnel and preliminary testing had not revealed the source of the fumes. \n \n■ United States \nPolitically incorrect PCs \n \nA county official has asked computer and video equipment vendors to consider eliminating the terms "master" and "slave" from equipment because they may be considered offensive. "Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label," according to an e-mail sent to vendors on Nov. 18. The memo requests that manufacturers, suppliers and contractors to change or remove any labels on components "that could be interpreted as discriminatory or offensive in nature." In May, a black employee of the Probation Department filed a discrimination complaint after noticing the words on a videotape machine. \n \n■ Greece \nMasks for Athens subway \n \nAthens officials announced yesterday they will stock subway cars with gas masks to guard against fire or a possible chemical weapons attack. A spokesman for the Athens subway system told Greek television the masks are designed to be quickly and easily applied and will provide protection from smoke or chemical substances for 20 minutes. A total of 24,000 masks are to be purchased, with each subway car containing 175 of the devices. Officials estimate that in the case of fire or chemical attack, it will take a maximum of seven minutes for all passengers to put on their masks. \n \n■ United Kingdom \nN Ireland awaits results \n \nNorthern Ireland is waiting to find out which parties have won majority control of the province's legislature -- and, through it, the power to form or block a new Catholic-Protestant administration. The first winners from Wednesday's election for the 108 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly were expected to be announced yesterday afternoon. But the complexity of the election -- which allowed voters to rate several candidates in order of preference -- means several recounts of ballots will be required. \n \n■ Zimbabwe \nLieutenant stuffed ballots \n \nAn army officer on Wednesday described how, under orders, he forged thousands of ballots for President Robert Mugabe in last year's disputed presidential elections. Lieutenant Herbert Ndlovu, 43, said he had worked with five other army personnel to falsify thousands of army postal ballots so they were all for Mugabe. Speaking to reporters in Johannesburg, South Africa, he said he had been instructed to fill out the ballots by a Captain Chauke at the headquarters of the 4th Brigade in the southern city of Masvingo in February, a month before the election was held.
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
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
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
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