■ China Serial killer executed \n \nChina yesterday morning executed one of its worst serial killers in recent history, who reportedly murdered 67 people in the course of a three-year rampage, local media said. Yang Xinhai, 35, was put to death a fortnight after he received his sentence at the Luohe City Intermediate People's Court in central China's Henan province, the sina.com Web site reported. Yang, characterized as an introverted drifter, had not appealed his death sentence, according to the report. Executions in China are usually carried out with a bullet to the back of the head. Yang was said to have bicycled from one murder scene to the next beginning in 2000, and was not caught until November last year. \n \n■ Indonesia \nBob Dole offered new job \n \nIndonesia's government has asked former US Republican senator Bob Dole to act as a Washington-based consultant for it, a foreign ministry official said yesterday. "Bob Dole has expressed his readiness as a counsel for Indonesia on a case-by-case basis," foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said. "The Indonesian government would like to count on him as a friend to help our representatives in Washington." Dole currently works as a special counsel to a major Washington law firm. \n \n■ Vietnam \nMourners killed by coffin \n \nTwo mourners were crushed to death by a falling coffin in Vietnam when a hearse overturned, a local police officer said yesterday. A small converted truck was carrying the coffin of Nguyen Thi Cao and around 20 mourners on a 60km trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the birthplace of the deceased in Tien Giang Province, said police officer Le Anh Vu. As the hearse was rounding a corner in Long An province, it went into a ditch, and the bulky wooden coffin crushed the dead man's son, Nguyen Van My, 45, and Luong Thi Anh Nguyet, Vu said. My and Nguyet were taken to Long An provincial hospital but died soon after admission, Vu said. \n \n■ The Philippines \nKissing record broken \n \nMore than 5,000 couples locked lips on Valentine's Day in Manila yesterday, in the hope of beating the world record for the number of simultaneous kisses. Dubbed "Lovapaloza," the mass 10-second smooch followed a Friday night countdown into the most romantic day of the year. "We were looking for an event really to mark Valentine's Day meaningfully," said Manila's Mayor Lito Atienza, who led the event by kissing his wife. Atienza said 5,100 couples took part to beat the old record of 4,445 kissing couples in Chile last month. \n \n■ Australia \nTycoon to the rescue \n \nBillionaire Australian businessman Richard Pratt could call himself a good Samaritan yesterday after playing a crucial part in the rescue a Japanese round-the-world yachtsman drifting helplessly on the edge of the frigid Southern Ocean. Masayuki Kikuchi, 67, broke both arms when his self-righting 13m yacht rolled over in a storm, 4,000km southwest of Perth. His emergency beacon bounced off a satellite and was detected by the Canberra-based Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which formed a rescue party. The authority's Ben Mitchell said that because the yacht was so far from shore, Pratt was asked for the use of his super-long-range Global Express executive jet to help locate the missing adventurer. The recycling tycoon's plane, with a Japanese interpreter aboard, pinpointed the yacht's location and guided a cargo ship to it.< \n■ Great Britain Cocklepickers deny blame \n \nTwo Chinese workers arrested over the drowning of 19 presumed Chinese immigrants who were collecting shellfish on the northwestern English coast denied responsibility Friday for the deaths of their colleagues. Asylum seekers Gua Lin, 30, and Lin Mu Lung, 29, survived last week's tragedy off the English coastal resort of Morecambe, an incident that prompted calls for a clampdown on the exploitation of migrant workers. British police have been investigating whether the dead were being used for cheap labor by "gangmasters." Seven people were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, with all subsequently released on police bail. \n \n■ Great Britain \nPolice chief covets `phaser' \n \nA British police chief has revealed the type of weapon he would most like to see officers carry in the future, it was reported yesterday -- a disabling "phaser gun" of the sort used in the television show Star Trek. The gun -- which Deputy Chief Constable Ian Arundale admitted might not be developed for many years -- would be able to turn "someone's brain off," he was quoted as saying by The Guardian. Arundale, who is head of the Association of Chief Police Officers' use-of-firearms units, said, "What we would like in the future is a Star Trek-style phaser that, perfectly safely, temporarily switches someone's brain off so that officers move in," Arundale was quoted as saying. \n \n■ Ivory Coast \nGbagbo wants cleansing rite \n \nPresident Laurent Gbagbo is demanding a post-war purification ceremony in Ivory Coast's insurgent-held north, saying he won't make his promised first visit there until traditional chiefs spiritually cleanse rebel turf of blood. Gbagbo initially had said he would visit the main rebel stronghold of Bouake on Feb. 16 to formally proclaim the end of a civil war that split the world's largest cocoa producer in two. Rebels had opposed the visit, saying they had not been consulted. "This war ... has been and still is the source of deep sorrow and pain for the Ivorian people and foreigners living on its soil," Gbagbo said. \n \n■ Mexico \nFonda marching for victims \n \nActress Jane Fonda and playwright Eve Ensler were to join thousands of protesters in a march across the US-Mexico border Saturday to demand justice for the hundreds of women killed here since 1993. "I'm a woman and I feel these mothers' pain like a dagger in my heart," an emotional Fonda told reporters after meeting with some of the mothers of the victims late Friday. "I'm here to show my support." Actresses Sally Field and Christine Lahti were also expected to take part in the massive march. \n \n■ Canada \nFight in Dalai Lama queue \n \nA man who hoped to buy tickets for the Dalai Lama's upcoming public appearance in Vancouver became so irate that he started a fistfight, according to reports late Friday. The Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Peace Laureate is due to speak to audiences in the British Columbia city on Apr. 18. An organizer, Victor Chan, told the Vancouver Sun that in at least one case, fisticuffs ensued when an unsuccessful enthusiast learned that the events were sold out within 20 minutes. "The man who got in a fight must want a more meaningful life, but he's still got a long way to go," Chan said. \n■ United States Bush lied, says poll \n \nA new poll shows a majority of Americans think US President George W. Bush lied or deliberately exaggerated evidence relating to Iraq's weapons programs to justify the war. The poll's results also show declining support for the war in Iraq and that the public is questioning Bush's honesty, the Washington Post said. Asked whether the Bush administration intentionally exaggerated or lied about its evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, 54 percent of the respondents said yes, while 42 percent said no in the Post-ABC News poll. Fifty-two percent said Bush was "honest and trustworthy," down 7 points since late October and his worst showing since the question was first asked in March 1999. \n \n■ United States \nPolitical novice uses Web \n \nA self-proclaimed outsider who's trying to unseat a nine-term congressman has put his campaign on the virtual auction block. Jeffrey Vance, a political neophyte, is offering shares in his fledgling campaign on eBay at US$20 a pop. Vance, 42, who's seeking the Democratic nomination to take on California Republican Representative Wally Herger, said he quickly realized he would go nowhere without money. But his platform is grounded in the belief that special interests are to blame for some of the nation's problems. So, trying to follow in the footsteps of national politicos exploiting the Internet, Vance is offering US$20 certificates "of Democratic freedom." So far, the certificates are not being snapped up too swiftly. \n \n■ United States \nPrince walks into trouble \n \nRoyalty, shmoyalty. The guy was walking on the wrong part of the street. Like many a commoner before him, His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince Charles' younger brother, was scolded by police for ignoring the strict pedestrian code on upscale Belle Meade Boulevard, in Nashville, Tennessee. Proper use of the boulevard has long been a sore point among Belle Meade residents. They have decreed the only legal place to walk on the boulevard is on the inside lanes facing traffic, and pedestrians must move to the grassy median if traffic is coming. The Belle Meade police pointed this out -- politely -- to His misplaced Highness. It appears the prince was otherwise well treated in Nashville, or as he put it: "I've been spoiled rotten." \n \n■ United States \nLab animals perish \n \nThirteen monkeys and dozens of hamsters used in disease research at a US government laboratory in Montana died after a heater malfunctioned and the temperature climbed to 37oC. Many other animals in the same room were not harmed, said Marshall Bloom, associate director of Rocky Mountain Laboratories. The animals that died last weekend were used to research chronic wasting disease and similar disorders. An alarm sounded but it was not designed to alert security staff, he said. \n \n■ United States \nAmericans love `I love you' \n \nNearly three-quarters of Americans -- not counting those who live alone -- say "I love you" at least once a day, according to a new poll. The poll, conducted in November by Chappaqua-based Reader's Digest and the Gallup Organization, asked 1,000 adults living in households how often they said the three little words to their spouse or children. Seventy-three percent claimed they said it once a day, including 71 percent of men and 74 percent of women.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since