Fire tackled after 30 years
A project has begun to extinguish a fire that has been burning in a Chinese coal mine for almost 30 years and spews out tonnes of poisonous gases, state media said yesterday. The blaze that started in the mine in Baicheng county in northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region in 1975 has consumed 20 million tonnes of coal, the Xinhua news agency cited an official as saying. It has also led to 70,000m3 of noxious gases being blown across the area annually, according to Qi Dexiang, deputy head of the Firefighting Team of Xinjiang Coalfield. A report last year said 35 fires were burning in Xinjiang. Regional authorities aim to extinguish them all by 2018.
Teacher gunned down
An unidentified gunman yesterday shot to death an Islamic religious teacher who cared for hilltribe children at his house in southern Thailand, police said. Nuzee Yakoh, 39, was shot in the forehead from close range when he came out of his house in Narathiwat province to greet the gunman, police Major Metha Singhasena said. Police believe Nuzee was targeted because he was helping non-Muslim children. Nuzee had taken in 33 animist hilltribe children in his house to raise them and give them an education, Metha said. Nuzee's killing raised to 294 the number of people killed in violence linked to the separatist campaign since it gathered pace earlier this year.
■ Hong Kong
HK wants to swim
The Hong Kong government plans to spend US$2.5 billion to make the city's landmark Victoria Harbor clean enough to swim in again, a news report said Tuesday. A new sewage network would be constructed under the plan which would also allow for the reopening of beaches around the harbor shut down because of pollution, according to the South China Morning Post. The huge scheme would be funded by increases in sewage disposal fees in Hong Kong under a proposal that has been put out to a four-month public consultation, the newspaper said. The state of the water in Victoria Harbor has declined dramatically over the past century because of increasing levels of sewage being pumped out into it.
Flags required at schools
Australian schools will be required to have a flagpole and fly the national flag or risk losing federal government funding, Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday. Howard rejected the view that flying the Australian flag was old-fashioned or smacked of jingoism. "I don't think that kind of symbolism is old-fashioned at all," he said. "It's perfectly compatible with the attitude of Australians, the display of the national flag by Australians now is far more regular, far more visible, far more a part of life than what it was when I was 30 years younger."
Candidate scatters spikes
A disqualified presidential candidate who scattered steel spikes on Manila's streets in a political protest said yesterday he went into hiding after police announced plans to charge him over the act, which punctured the tires of more than 100 cars. Elly Pamatong, head of the group Discovery Crusade of the Philippines Inc, said he was miffed at being deemed a "nuisance" candidate and disqualified from the May 10 election. He defended his action as part of "taxpayers' active defiance and insurrection against corruption."
Taste a tree in Zagreb
A park set to open this summer as a new Zagreb attraction offers visitors
the full range of sensory perceptions, including the chance to listen to, smell and even taste the trees. The 10,000m2 site at Jarun lake was primarily conceived for the blind and is currently being given the finishing touches. All the plants are labelled in braille and visitors are encouraged to run
their hands over the plants,
while a chew of some of
the more tasty tree-barks is recommended. Ramps make it easier for wheelchair users to approach the water's edge.
Terror suspects arrested
Security forces early yesterday arrested at least three Bahrainis on suspicion of links to the al-Qaeda terror network, their lawyer said. The reasons for the arrests of Bassam al-Ali and brothers Yasser Abdullah Kamal and Omar Abdullah Kamal were unclear, lawyer Abdullah Hashim said. The lawyer said police also searched the home of Sheikh Mohammad Saleh and confiscated documents, books and computer disks. The suspects are believed to follow the Sunni Salafi movement, which is close to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.
Posters used in manhunt
After trying for almost nine years to help find and arrest the region's most wanted war crimes suspect, NATO peacekeeping forces in Bosnia are renewing their efforts. The military alliance has paid for a billboard advertising campaign to coincide with the birthday last Saturday of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The advertisements offer him a free one-way plane ticket to The Hague, the home of the UN war crimes tribunal. Advertising campaigns
have been tried before, but without success. "Radovan, we didn't forget," reads the advertisement, which was also placed in the country's two leading newspapers, above a picture of an airline ticket with Karadzic's name written on it.
■ South Africa
Mbeki sued in US
South African President Thabo Mbeki is to be sued in the US in a class-action case in which it is alleged that he continued apartheid-style economic exploitation of black South Africans. Court documents filed at New York's district court earlier this week accused the African National Congress-led government of siding with big business against ordinary people. Ed Fagan, a New York lawyer who made his name suing Swiss banks for Holocaust survivors, also cited eight multinationals in a lawsuit which wants the government and firms to
pay US $20 billion into a "humanitarian fund."
Big cat taken for panther
A massive hunt for a black panther in a popular tourist area in southern France was called off yesterday after the animal was identified
as being just a "big cat," authorities in Marseille
said. Sightings of the "black panther" forced police
to close an area of 5,000 hectares popular with tourists along the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Cassis. Soldiers and police had prepared to search the region yesterday for the animal, after a guard had spotted it on Saturday, confirming earlier sightings. Everyone who had seen the animal had identified it as a black panther.
But they were mistaken.
"This is the animal we have been looking for," a police spokesman said. "It's a black cat about 60cm long."
■ United States
Miscount problem for Bush
Several hundred more people died from international terrorist attacks last year than the 307 fatalities the US State Department originally reported, a US official said on Monday. The official, who asked not to be identified, spoke as the department prepared to release revised terrorism figures after its embarrassing June 10 announcement that its original count of last year's attacks and deaths was wrong. The admission dented the claim by US President George W. Bush's administration that Washington is winning the war on terrorism, an argument key to his re-election campaign.
■ United States
Arnold flip-flops on casinos
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger struck a bargain on Monday with five California Indian tribes that will provide the state with a quick cash infusion of $1 billion while permitting a sizable expansion of tribal gambling operations in the state. The deal is a sharp reversal for the governor, who last fall during his campaign demonized the tribes as a "special interest" that did not pay a fair share of its billions of dollars in gambling winnings to the state. The five tribes that signed new compacts with the state on Monday own something less than 20 percent of the slot machines now in operation at 50 Indian casinos around California. Under the new agreements, the tribes will be able to operate as many slot machines as the market will bear.
■ United States
Clinton book a doze
Reviews have been discouraging and conservatives are on the attack, but booksellers still hoped for the best as shoppers snapped up copies early yesterday of Bill Clinton's My Life, the year's most anticipated nonfiction book. Critics have so far deemed My Life about as interesting as Herbert Hoover. The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani, in a front-page review Sunday, panned Clinton's 957-page book as "sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull."
■ United States
Airport switch grounds pilots
Two pilots who landed a Northwest Airlines flight at the wrong airport have been suspended from flying pending an investigation. NWA's Kurt Ebenhoch said Monday that the two pilots "have been held from service." The flight carrying 117 passengers to Rapid City, South Dakota, veered off-course Saturday and landed at nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base. The plane remained on the ground for three hours as the pilots told the Air Force what went wrong, and a new crew resumed the flight to Rapid City, 11km away. Air Force Lt. Christine Millette said the pilots reported that they were in contact with Rapid City controllers when they descended through a cloud, and the first runway the pilots saw was the one at Ellsworth, which is parallel to the Rapid City runway.
■ United States
Corpse noticed after 4 days
A man who was apparently pinned by a van he was working on lay dead in his driveway in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, for up to four days before a neighbor noticed him, police said. Allan Burfoot, 57, was found on Sunday morning, State Police Trooper H.D. Heil said. The parking brake wasn't on and the vehicle wasn't in gear, and it apparently rolled onto him as he worked on the vehicle. Checking messages on Burfoot's answering machine, investigators believe he was pinned as early as Wednesday, Heil said.
He used to preside over Latin America’s largest country and its 214 million people. Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro now lives in a small Florida town and eats alone in a fast-food restaurant. Bolsonaro, 67, has found an unusual refuge in the US, where he arrived in late December last year, several days before his supporters stormed government buildings in Brasilia in an attempt to overturn the election victory of his rival, Brazilain President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. At home, Bolsonaro is being investigated over his alleged involvement in the unrest, which he denies. From the lavish presidential palace, Bolsonaro, a political
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee (李家超) yesterday unveiled a promotion campaign that would include 500,000 free flights to lure back visitors, businesses and investors to the financial hub after more than three years of tough COVID-19 curbs. The “Hello Hong Kong” campaign was launched with dancers and flashing neon lights in the territory’s main convention center, next to its famous harbor, with a backdrop bearing the slogan in various languages including Russian and Spanish. Lee, speaking in English, said the campaign would show that the territory was open for tourism, and was aimed at boosting business and investment in the Chinese
There could be some relief to 150,000 commuters who endure hours-long waits to cross the road border between Malaysia and Singapore, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported. The Malaysian government has proposed a “single clearance system” to ease traffic along the Johor-Singapore Causeway, the report said. Such waits often require cross-border workers on the Malaysian side to wake up as early as 4am to get to work on time in Singapore. The proposal, still in its initial stages, would involve Malaysian immigration officials being stationed on the Singapore side of the causeway, with Singaporean officials stationed on the Malaysian side, in the southern
‘HONOR KILLING’: These ‘horrific murders’ are likely to continue unless the Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls, a rights group said The death of a young YouTube star at the hands of her father has sparked outrage in Iraq, where so-called “honor killings” continue to take place in the conservative country. Tiba al-Ali, 22, was killed by her father on Tuesday last week in the southern province of Diwaniya, Iraqi Ministry of Interior spokesman Saad Maan wrote on Twitter on Friday. Police had attempted to mediate between Ali — who resided in Turkey and was visiting Iraq — and her relatives to “resolve the family dispute in a definitive manner,” Maan said. Unverified recordings of conversations between Ali and her father appeared to indicate