■ Japan US praises missile move \n \nWashington on Friday welcomed Japan's decision to deploy two US-made anti-missile systems, but declined to comment on its stated motives. Japan said Friday that the deployment would protect it from a possible ballistic missile attack from North Korea. Adam Ereli, deputy spokesman in the US State Department, said: "We welcome the Japanese government's decision to move forward on plans for missile defense." \n \n■ North Korea \nIreland establishes ties \n \nNorth Korea has established diplomatic ties with Ireland, Pyongyang said yesterday, as it seeks to improve ties with the EU despite tensions over its nuclear program. Officials of the two countries met in Pyongyang on Dec. 10 and exchanged documents on the opening of diplomatic relations, North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. "It was agreed to establish the diplomatic relations between the two countries on Dec. 10, 2003," KCNA said. Pyongyang has been seeking to improve relations with EU capitals, especially since 2001 when its ties with Washington hit their nadir over the North's nuclear weapons program. \n \n■ Cambodia \nFishermen nets body \n \nA 60-year old fisherman found the body of a woman stuffed into a suitcase and floating in a river near the southeastern coast, police said yesterday. Pon Sok reportedly found the corpse partly exposed from the suitcase on Thursday in a river near the Gulf of Thailand. A senior police official in Sihanoukville said the woman, aged 25 to 30 years old, was thought to be of Korean or Chinese decent but carried no identification. He said the woman likely died from being struck on the neck, then her body was stuffed into the suitcase and tossed from a bridge spanning the river. The police say they have no leads in the case. \n \n■ Singapore \nWarden jailed for favors \n \nA prison warden ended up in jail for smuggling food in for seven female inmates and giving special treatment to a Colombian inmate. Sandarozlin Anthony, 32, was sentenced to two months in jail. The court heard on Friday she let the Colombian prisoner, Paula Andrea Rendon Cellabos, use her mobile phone to call her mother and let her read an e-mail message from home, The Straits Times said. She also smuggled in a birthday card for Cellabos to write to her son, a box of chicken curry, prawns and rice, a bottle of guava juice, chocolates and sandwiches, which the Colombian shared with another inmate. The warden also sneaked in six curry puffs and gave them to five other inmates. \n \n■ Singapore \nNude photos spark storm \n \nA member of parliament is under investigation by police after his wife complained about photographs she found in their home of him and their Indonesian maid, both naked. Doreen Chia, 31, alleged her husband Steve Chia, 34, had outraged the maid's modesty, The Straits Times reported yesterday. The wife, pregnant with the couple's first child, reported the matter to the police at the end of last month shortly after their seventh wedding anniversary. The maid, in her early 20s, told police she had not been forced into posing for the pictures, according to the paper. Doreen Chia confirmed she had made the police report, but would not explain why. The Indonesian woman is now reportedly staying at a haven for maids who run into problems with their employers. Steve Chia is secretary general of the National Solidarity Party \n■ United States Pilot detained after drinking \n \nA Virgin Atlantic Airways pilot was detained shortly before his flight on Friday night after security screeners detected alcohol on his breath, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Virgin Atlantic Flight 22, scheduled to leave Washington Dulles International Airport for London's Heathrow at 7:15pm, was canceled after the pilot was escorted off the plane by airport police. The pilot had gone through security screening and boarded the plane, said Tara Hamilton, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman. He was being held and questioned at the airport Friday evening. \n \n■ United States \nThief sells stolen toys \n \nA Christmas grinch was caught trying to sell stolen toys that had been intended for poor children, police said. Police arrested Nathaniel Burroughs, 38, early Friday morning. They allege he stole 500 donated toys, about 100 of which had been recovered by Friday. The Reverend Clifford Davis, of Wesleyan Community Church in Belle Glade, Florida, said he was stunned last Sunday morning when he found about US$1,000 worth of dolls, trucks and other toys missing from the warehouse where he had stored them. Burroughs knew about the donated toys because he had helped unload the delivery truck, Belle Glade police Sergeant Jim Benedict said. \n \n■ United States \nDoctor diluted cancer drug \n \nA Fort Lauderdale, Florida urologist received prison time for giving dozens of prostate cancer patients lowered dosages of medication, then billing them for the full amount. Dr. Victor Souaid was sentenced on Friday to four years and three months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in September to 59 counts of health care fraud and unlicensed wholesale distribution of a prescription drug, Lupron. Lupron doesn't cure prostate cancer but is supposed to stop the cancer from worsening by halting production of testosterone. Souaid billed his patients' insurance companies for up to four times the amount of the drug he administered. \n \n■ United States \nChristmas bad for trials \n \nBexar County District Attorney Susan Reed is no Grinch, but she does not view the Christmas season as the most wonderful time of the year in her line of work: putting criminals away in Texas. Annually, the Texas criminal prosecutor makes every effort to ensure major cases are not tried during the holiday season, because all of the good spirits are "bad for business," she told a reporter. "Everybody's in the loving, friendly, forgiving, peace and goodwill toward men spirit," Reed said. "Nobody wants to send their fellow man to prison at a time like this." Her favorite time of year to pick juries: income-tax season. \n \n■ Germany \n`Old Europe' a hot favorite \n \n"Old Europe" -- a term US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld used to disparage Germany and France for resisting war in Iraq -- was named phrase of the year in Germany by a panel of language experts. The Wiesbaden-based Society for the German Language (GfdS) made das alte Europa its choice in the annual poll for the expression of the year after Rumsfeld's phrase became a popular rallying cry used proudly by opponents of the war. Other sayings nominated for best of the year included "Agenda 2010" (Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's economic reform program) "SARS" and "embedded journalists." \n■ Qatar New terror tape aired \n \nA man believed to be Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 man in the terrorist network al-Qaeda, warned in an audio tape broadcast on Al Jazeera TV that Americans would be targets "in their own home." The tape, which has yet to be verified, was broadcast on Friday on the Qatar-based satellite channel. Al-Zawahiri also said US forces will suffer great losses in Iraq. Al Jazeera said the tape is believed to have been made last month during Ramadan. The voice said al-Qaeda's pursuit of Americans knew no borders, but was taking place in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and the Arab Peninsula in particular. \n \n■ United States \nNASA releases new images \n \nA new space telescope that looks at the cosmos with infrared detectors has lifted the dust veils from newborn stars and a bumptious comet, and revealed detail in the spiral arms of a neighboring galaxy. The first images from the Spitzer Space Telescope were released on Thursday by NASA, showing the nearby galaxy Messier 81, located in the constellation Ursa Major, which includes the Big Dipper. The pictures of the galaxy show its different components in some detail -- including old stars, interstellar dust heated up by star-forming activity and the sites of star formation. Spitzer also captured images of a comet which orbits the sun outside Jupiter, as well as a stellar nursery within the Elephant's Trunk Nebula in the constellation Cepheus. \n \n■ United States \nBeauty queen uses gun \n \nA Georgia man allegedly \nshot by his beauty-queen girlfriend during an argument over another woman died on Friday from the injuries, police said. Sharron Nicole Redmond, who holds the title of Miss Savannah, was expected to turn herself in yesterday to face a murder charge, Savannah-Chatham County police said. Redmond, 21, was charged with aggravated assault after the Tuesday night shooting of 25-year-old Kevin Shorter. The argument was apparently over Shorter dating another woman at the same time he was seeing Redmond. Police said the two argued outside the home of the father of the second woman, whose name has not been released. Shorter was shot in the lower abdomen, then ran back into the house and collapsed. Redmond probably wouldn't lose her crown as Miss Savannah unless she was convicted, said Tim Strickland, co-chairman of the Miss Savannah pageant. \n \n■ Venezuela \nGunmen use beauty queen \n \nUnidentified gunmen briefly kidnapped Miss Venezuela 1997, Veruzhka Ramirez, stole her pickup and forced her to sign copies of her new nude calendar, her agent said on Friday. Agent Luigi Rattino said Ramirez, 24, was forced to drive the offenders around in her just-paid-off truck in Valencia, before they stole her cellphones, clothes and vehicle. "It was an express kidnapping; they didn't do anything to her," Rattino said. But before the curvaceous brunette was sent on her way, she signed 15 copies of her new calendar. At gunpoint. \n \n■ Iraq \nSpanish PM visits troops \n \nSpanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar paid a surprise visit to Iraq yesterday, flying in to inspect Spanish troops deployed in the south of the country, Spanish radio announced. Aznar left Madrid on Friday for Kuwait where he went by helicopter to the Iraqi town of Diwaniyah, the radio correspondent said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
BEYOND CULTURE: The US State Department was expected to announce that the Chinese government-funded institutes would have to register as foreign missions US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by