Tornadoes kill at least 48
Tornadoes tore through northern Bangladesh, killing at least 48 people, injuring hundreds and blowing away thousands of flimsy huts, the United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency reported yesterday. The twisters swept through nearly two dozen farming villages in Netrokona and neighboring Mymensingh districts on Wednesday night. Most people were home after celebrating the Bengali New Year's day, Pahela Baishakh, with colorful parades and fairs. UNB reported that least 36 people were killed in Netrokona, 130km north of the capital, Dhaka.
Howard queries court ruling
Prime Minister John Howard yesterday questioned a court's decision to allow a 13-year-old girl who believes she is a boy to begin sex-change treatment. Howard, who describes himself as a social conservative, said he believed the Family Court might have gone too far in the case of the girl, known only as Alex. He said he was seeking further advice on what was a "very difficult, traumatic and sad situation." He did not say whether he would seek to have the decision appealed in a higher court. The Family Court ruled in favor of allowing Alex to undergo preliminary sex change processes after hearing she became suicidal at the onset of puberty and genuinely believed she was a boy trapped in a girl's body.
Taliban mount attack
Gunmen killed a district police chief and eight Afghan soldiers in an ambush in a southern province, a senior official said yesterday, in an attack claimed by the Taliban militia. The assailants fired AK-47 assault rifles and heavy machine guns on two four-wheel drive vehicles carrying Yar Mohammed, police chief of Mizan district in Zabul province, and the soldiers around 10am on Wednesday. There were no survivors. "Taliban did this attack," said Zabul Governor Khyal Mohammed. He said one of the attackers had been killed when the soldiers fired back during the ambush.
Fat guy outruns cops
A chubby, barefoot Australian man outran police Wednesday when he bolted through security gates left open at the back of a court he was being led into, officials said. Security footage showed the overweight man dashing down a back lane in central Sydney pursued by at least four police and prison guards, two of whom tripped while giving chase. "There was about seven or eight fellows but they couldn't stop him. He was a big fellow, pretty strong, but he could run," witness Chris Swift said. Red-faced police and prison officials were left to blame each other for the security slip-up.
PM to ax Aboriginal body
Australia's top Aboriginal body will be abolished because it has failed to help the nation's impoverished indigenous population, Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday. Howard said his government would introduce legislation dissolving the group next month. His pledge came less than three weeks after the opposition Labor Party said it would ax the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission if it wins elections expected later this year. "We believe very strongly that the experiment in elected representation for indigenous people has been a failure," Howard said. "We will not replace [this body] with an alternative body,'' Howard said.
■ United States
Muslim chaplain cleared
The US military dismissed convictions on Wednesday against a Muslim chaplain who was initially suspected of espionage at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects but found guilty only on lesser, sex-related charges. The appellate decision by Army General James Hill, the Southern Command chief who oversees US military operations at Guantanamo, wiped the slate clean for Captain James Yee, who ministered for 10 months to foreign terrorism suspects at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His decision ended what one of Yee's lawyers called a "hoax" case against the chaplain. Yee, 36, was found guilty last month of non-criminal charges of committing adultery and storing pornography on a government computer.
■ United States
Hawaiians go dough-nuts
Apparently doughnuts can clog more than just your arteries. Hawaii residents love Krispy Kreme doughnuts so much that they often stock up at a new store in Maui before boarding inter-island flights back home, overloading airline luggage bins along the way. Hawaii's first Krispy Kreme store opened on Jan. 27 in Maui, less than a mile from Kahului Airport. Doughnut shops are sprinkled liberally across the Hawaiian islands. But the novelty of a major chain, combined with the widespread custom of omiage -- bringing gifts home to family and friends -- have given rise to the commuter doughnut.
■ United Kingdom
`Tooth Ferry' to the rescue
A local councilor fed up with the exorbitant prices charged by Britain's dentists has come up with an alternative plan: he will ship people to France for cheap operations on what he is calling the "Tooth Ferry." Bernard Buckle, who represents Cowes on the Isle of Wight, has already gained interest from more than 20 people in his plan to organize a coach and ferry trip to Normandy in northern France. Buckle
was quoted yesterday as saying he felt that traveling to continental Europe was the only way for people on the Isle of Wight to receive affordable dental treatment. Britain's National Health Service does not offer treatment on the island.
Schroeder blocks thriller
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has won an injunction to halt the sale of a crime thriller called The End of the Chancellor which featured a likeness of him in the hairs of a gunsight on its cover. The book tells the story of a German chemist who blames the government when his business goes bankrupt. His quest for revenge leads him to shoot the head of government -- never identified by name -- on the steps of Hanover train station. Hanover is Schroeder's home town. "We didn't really think too much about it and thought it was too unimportant," said Dietrich Reinhardt, the book's publisher.
PM wins voting round
Macedonia's prime minister won the first round of this Balkan country's election to replace a president killed
in a plane crash, unofficial results showed. With 80 percent of the vote counted in Wednesday's election, Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski had about 42.9 percent or about 332,000 votes. Sasko Kedev of the opposition VMRO party was next with 34.5 percent or about 267,000 votes. The two candidates will compete in a runoff in two weeks.
SOUTH CHINA SEA SPAT: The image bolsters a Philippine Coast Guard assertion that Chinese inflatable boats deployed floating barriers at the shoal’s entrance last week Satellite images of the hotly disputed Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島) in the South China Sea show a new floating barrier across its entrance, near where Philippine ships and Chinese coast guard vessels have had frequent run-ins. One of the images taken by Maxar Technologies on Thursday last week and viewed by Reuters showed the barrier blocking the mouth of the shoal, where the Chinese coast guard last week claimed to have driven off a Philippine vessel “illegally intruding” into Beijing’s waters. Manila, which last week deployed a Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel to patrol the shoal and
Satoshi Kirishima spent almost half a century evading arrest, until mortality intervened. As deathbed confessions go, his was astonishing: Having lived a double life as a construction worker, the 70-year-old was admitted last month to a hospital near Tokyo where he told staff he was one of Japan’s most-wanted fugitives. In a more recent image provided to Japanese media by an acquaintance, it is just possible to discern a resemblance with the black-and-white photograph that has adorned Japanese police boxes for decades showing a bespectacled, smiling university student with shoulder-length hair. While he shared details of his family and his organization that only
CHINA LINKS: A report said that there were concerns about the loyalty of Qiu Xiangguo and Cheng Keding due to their direct contact with entities linked to China Two scientists at Canada’s top infectious disease laboratory lost their jobs after reviews found that they failed to protect sensitive assets and information, and failed to acknowledge collaborations with China, newly released records showed. The scientists, Qiu Xiangguo (邱香果) and her husband, Cheng Keding (成克定), were stripped of their security clearances in 2019 at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory over questions about their loyalty to Canada, and the potential for coercion or exploitation by a foreign entity, the documents say. More than 600 pages were made public on Wednesday following a special all-party review of the records. The records show that the Canadian Security
‘RUSSIA CANNOT WIN’: The French president declined to say which nations were considering sending troops, saying he prefers to maintain some ‘strategic ambiguity’ French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said that sending Western troops on the ground in Ukraine is not “ruled out” after the issue was debated at a gathering of European leaders in Paris, as Russia’s full-scale invasion grinds into a third year. The French leader said that “we will do everything needed so Russia cannot win the war” after the meeting of more than 20 European heads of state and government, and other Western officials. “There’s no consensus today to send in an official, endorsed manner troops on the ground, but in terms of dynamics, nothing can be ruled out,” Macron said