■ Hong Kong
China slams US for meddling
China's government has accused the US Senate of meddling in its affairs and making "irresponsible remarks" in a resolution supporting democracy in Hong Kong. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue accused the US of interfering in Hong Kong affairs "in a rude manner" and said Beijing "will never accept the groundless censure from the US side," according to a report carried late Friday by the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The US Senate on Tuesday passed the motion introduced by Senator Sam Brownback, who accused China of hampering Hong Kong's wishes for full democracy through a ruling that the territory's residents cannot directly choose their next leader in 2007 and all lawmakers in 2008.
Bombs rock train station
Three bombs exploded at the main railway station in Yangon early yesterday, but caused no injuries, an official said. The explosive devices were apparently placed in flower pots near the tracks when they went off at about 3:45am, a railway official said. There were no passengers at the station at the time, and the blasts did not cause any injuries, said the official. He gave no other details. It was not clear who planted the bombs in the normally placid capital of this military-ruled Southeast Asian country.
Old detonator injures children
Eight children in central Vietnam were injured after a piece of war era ordnance exploded as they were playing with it, a local official said Saturday. After finding an egg-sized detonator on waste ground in Danang city, a nine-year-old threw a rock at it, and the device exploded, injuring the eight children aged between seven and 14, said Huynh Cu, the chairman of the ward where the children were injured. "The children received injuries to their stomach, heads and arms, but none of them is in critical condition," a nurse from Danang general hospital said.
Rebels die in firefight
Three Abu Sayyaf Moslem bandits were killed in a clash with government forces early yesterday in the southern Philippines, a military official said. Navy Captain Feliciano Angue said one of the fatalities, gang leader Ayub Bakil, had been the mastermind behind the abduction of two Malaysian sailors and an Indonesian tugboat skipper in April last year. Angue said the rebels had been cornered in Languyan town in Tawi-Tawi province, near the Malaysian border. A firefight ensued when Bakil and his two unidentified escorts resisted government agents, and they were eventually killed in the shooting, he said.
■ Hong Kong
Chinese police scrutinized
A man who claimed to be a Chinese police officer was carrying handcuffs -- a weapons-possession offense -- when he was arrested in Hong Kong, officials said yesterday. Chinese police are not allowed to carry out their duties in Hong Kong, and the arrest this month of two men who claimed to be officials of China's Public Security Bureau has stirred controversy here. Hong Kong lawmakers will next week consider allegations that Public Security Bureau officers have been working improperly in the territory. Hong Kong police have yet to confirm the identity of seven men who were arrested for acting "suspiciously" in an expensive residential neighborhood on June 16. Two claimed to be Chinese police officers.
NATO to send extra troops
NATO leaders will announce the deployment of an extra 1,200 troops to Afghanistan at a summit in Istanbul tomorrow to help provide security for elections due to be held in September. They will also agree that NATO should take over the command of five military-civilian reconstruction teams in the north of the country. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the secretary-general of NATO, described Afghanistan as his "priority No. 1" this week. The UN, the Afghan government and human rights groups have criticized NATO countries for reneging on promises to provide more troops and equipment to the country.
■ United States
Sanctions in Darfur crisis
The US said Friday it would slap punitive sanctions on members of pro-Khartoum militias operating in Sudan's crisis-wracked western region of Darfur and might also apply penalties to Sudanese officials found to be complicit in atrocities there. The State Department said the sanctions would be imposed regardless of whether Washington makes a legal determination that the Arab militias, known as Janjawid, or government troops are committing "genocide" in Darfur. Such a determination is now under review. "Whether you call it genocide or whether you call it ethnic cleansing, clearly there are atrocities being committed," deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.
Battery law sparks debate
A leading Spanish judge has sparked a fierce row between conservatives and progressives by recommending that a government bill to protect women from domestic violence should be thrown out on constitutional grounds. Jose Luis Requero made the recommendations in a report for the Judicial Council, a high-level constitutional committee. The council endorsed the report in a vote this week. The social affairs minister, Jesus Caldera, was incensed by the decision. He told the Spanish parliament it was time to choose between the forces of conservatism and the victims of abuse. "Either you are with Requero, the conservatives and the Opus Dei, or you are with the women of Spain, who need a law to protect their rights," he said.
Nazi's sentence voided
A German federal court has voided the two-year-old murder conviction of a 95-year-old former Nazi SS major who was found guilty in a World War II massacre of Italian prisoners. Ruling on Friedrich Engel's appeal, the Federal Court of Justice said Friday that the case had been taken up "incomprehensibly late" and closed legal proceedings. It argued that given Engel's age, it was no longer practically possible to stage a retrial that would clear up doubts about the 2002 verdict.
`Limpness' warned against
Conservative politicians are urging German men to have more sex to boost birth rates or risk being labeled "limp" abroad, a newspaper reported on Friday. Johannes Singhammer, a member of parliament and father of six, said Germany's aging population needed to produce more offspring to sustain its overstretched pensions system. "Children are our future," Singhammer told Germany's Bild newspaper. "Germans need to work more on that again in bed. Things mustn't get to the stage where German men are scoffed at abroad for being limp."
■ United States
Cop guilty of drug dealing
A former New York narcotics detective pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge, telling a judge that he led a group that stole millions of dollars worth of cocaine and resold it on city streets. Thomas Rachko, 46, said Friday he was the leader of least five people who stole 100kg of cocaine between 1998 and 2003. At least seven other police officers have been implicated in the scandal. The stolen cocaine would bring at least US$2 million at current wholesale prices.
■ United States
New computer virus threat
A potentially dangerous Internet attack on personal computers by a virus designed to steal financial data and passwords from Web users rippled across the Internet on Friday, computer security experts said. The attack, which surfaced earlier this week and is known as the "Scob" outbreak, exploits a vulnerability in servers using a version of Microsoft Corp.'s IIS software, and has been called more dangerous than than the recent "Sasser" and "Blaster" infections. The infected servers in turn exploit another vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser to install a Trojan Horse virus on the PCs of Web surfers who visit the infected Web sites allowing key strokes to be recorded.
■ United States
Rapper DMX charged
Rapper DMX was charged on Friday with cocaine possession and criminal impersonation after trying to steal a car then crashing another vehicle through an airport parking lot gate, claiming he was a federal agent, prosecutors said. DMX, 33, whose real name is Earl Simmons, and a man police identified as Jackie Hudgins, 41, were arrested on Thursday night at New York's Kennedy Airport by police officers who found a billy club and a bag of crack cocaine in their sport utility vehicle. The two were jailed without bond on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and drug possession. In addition, DMX was charged with criminal impersonation, criminal mischief, menacing and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
■ United States
Telltale signs of murder
A man who walked into a discount store covered in blood and bought garbage bags was charged with murder after authorities found a stabbed body in a trash bin. Wal-Mart workers called deputies Friday after a blood-soaked man walked into the store and bought some clothes, bandages and trash bags around 4am. He paid with a US$100 bill that also appeared to be bloodstained, they said, and drove off in a pickup. Deputies found a man that matched workers' description, but the man fled. Sheddrick Deon Bentley, 26, was arrested after a second search and charged with killing Cory Brightman, 18, whose body was found in a trash bin about 3km from the hotel.
■ United States
An 80-year-old great-grandmother was arrested and jailed in Florida this week for passing a rubber check 19 years ago, press reports said Friday. Elizabeth Milton was stopped for a routine traffic check by a police officer on Wednesday. "A few minutes later he came back to my car and said, `I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to take you in'," she told the St. Petersburg Times. The police said a computer check turned up an outstanding warrant for Milton charging she had written an insufficient-funds check for US$145.93 on December 24 1985. Milton said she had no recollection of writing the check.
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,