Malaysia \n \nPolice search for bombers \nMalaysia tightened entry points yesterday to keep watch for two long-sought Malaysian Islamic militants who are believed to have built the car bomb that exploded outside Australia's embassy in Indonesia. Azahari Husin, a British-trained engineer, and Noordin Mohammed Top disappeared from Malaysia three years ago during a crackdown against the al-Qaeda-allied Jemaah Islamiyah terror group. They have since been linked to blasts on Bali that killed 202 people in October 2002, and to last year's suicide bombing that killed 12 at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta. \nNepal \n \nRebels bomb checkpoint \nMaoist rebels detonated a bomb at a checkpoint in southern Nepal yesterday, killing two policemen and injuring eight civilians. The explosion at the checkpoint near the town of Bhirahawa, about 280km southwest of Kathmandu, killed the two policeman on the spot. The eight injured were passengers inside a bus that was waiting for a security check, police officials said. They've been taken to a hospital and are in stable condition. A local rebel leader called reporters in the town and claimed responsibility for the blast. \nChina \n \nTrio executed for car thefts \nThree people were executed after being convicted of stealing six luxury vehicles and strangling their drivers, state press said yesterday. Li Xiaoping, Wang Qinghai and Cheng Long were executed on Thursday after being found guilty of stealing five Mercedes Benzs and one Audi and murdering the drivers in a spree that began in July 2001, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported. Li, 41 was identified as the ringleader in the sales of the cars, valued at over 5.9 million yuan (US$712,000), the paper said. The group would wait outside the gates of upscale apartment blocks in Beijing or just tail the cars before hijacking them and killing the drivers, it said. \nThailand \n \nSmuggled pangolins saved \nCustoms officials yesterday saved 300 pangolins from being eaten after tracking a smuggled shipment of the animals hidden in a rubber plantation near the Thai-Malaysian border. Acting on a tip-off, customs officials and police raided a rubber plantation in Badang Besar, a Thai-Malaysian border pass 760km south of Bangkok. They discovered 300 live pangolins packed in boxes, said customs official Ittiwat Thipthat. "There has been a big increase in pangolin smuggling," Ittiwat said. "There must be big orders coming in from restaurants specializing in jungle meats or for re-export to other countries." \nagencies \nHong Kong \n \nMan jailed for maid rape \nA bus driver who pleaded guilty to trying to rape his Filipino maid has been jailed for three years and nine months, a newspaper reported yesterday. The High Court heard that Chan Lam-kin, 47, entered the bedroom of the 28-year-old victim on Sept. 26 last year. "I want you to be my wife," the South China Morning Post quoted him as saying before he attempted to rape the woman, who came to Hong Kong to work for Chan in July last year. She was not identified. Chan left the room after the attack and the victim -- who suffered bruises to her neck, back and shoulder as she struggled to fend him off -- called her cousin for help. Chan was later arrested and pleaded guilty to attempted rape. \nGrenada \n \nHurricane bashes Grenada \nHurricane Ivan left Grenada a wasteland of flattened houses, twisted metal and splintered wood as it bore down on Jamaica with deadly winds and monstrous waves, prompting the Jamaican government to order a half million people to flee their homes. The death toll in the Caribbean stood at 23 and was expected to rise. Ivan, a Category IV hurricane with winds of 230kph, was forecast to make a direct hit on Jamaica yesterday afternoon. The hurricane devastated Grenada on Tuesday, tossing sailboats against shore, tearing apart buildings and setting off frenzies of looting. "The destruction is worse than I've ever seen," said Michael Steele, a 34-year-old resident whose home was completely destroyed. "We're left with nothing." \nYemen \n \nPolice kill anti-US cleric \nYemeni forces yesterday killed anti-US rebel cleric Hussein al-Houthi and some of his supporters, ending two months of clashes that have left over 200 rebels and troops dead, a government official said. "We can confirm that Houthi and tens of his supporters were killed today in morning fighting," the official said. "This is the end of the rebellion." The government accuses Houthi of setting up unlicensed religious centers and of forming an armed group which has staged violent protests against the US and Israel. Yemen had offered a US$54,000 reward for Houthi's capture. \nSouth Africa \n \nRunaway hippo sought \nA young hippopotamus, bullied by his herd's dominant male, has escaped from a Cape Town nature reserve is on the run and could pose a threat to traffic, sailing dinghies and local people. The animal, who is 1.5m tall and could weigh up to a tonne, first fled to a sewage works after a fence was stolen and from there into the Zeekoevlei area, a network of waterways and grassland often used for water sports and recreation. "This weekend there is a massive regatta there," conservation officer Clifford Dorse said. "I would advise that people don't go into the water until it's located." \nGermany \n \nTomato poses legal riddle \nThe mushy remains of a tomato thrown at a prominent member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats has posed a legal dilemma for authorities trying to assess how to punish the thrower. Police investigating the fruit, thrown by an unemployed protester at Brandenburg's premier, said on Thursday they have concluded it was a yellow tomato. Had it been a soft red one, the man would have faced a lesser charge of causing malicious damage. A harder, green tomato could carry a charge of bodily harm. A yellow one is somewhere in between. \nUkraine \n \nCrimean war remembered \nThe opposing sides in the Crimean War began commemorations on Thursday of the 150th anniversary of the start of the gruelling two-year conflict that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Delegations from Britain, France, Italy, Turkey and Russia arrived in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea to remember a conflict that pitted Russia against other European countries. Yesterday, the foreign delegations were to unveil monuments for their dead from the war and also place wreaths on a monument named the "Stone of Reconciliation." \nUnited States \n \nSaudi link ignored, book says \nUS Senator Bob Graham, intelligence committee chairman in the run-up to the Iraq war, said on Sunday the Bush administration had "taken every step" to shield Saudi Arabia from links to the Sept. 11 attacks. The Florida Democrat in 2002 helped launch a joint inquiry with the House Intelligence Comm-ittee that produced a report on intelligence failures related to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He told NBC's Meet the Press that his new book, Intelli-gence Matters, makes the case on "the extent to which Saudi Arabia was a key part of making 9/11 happen." \nUnited States \n \nResolution links 9/11 to Iraq \nMention of the war in Iraq clouded a House resolution marking the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and 16 lawmakers voted Thursday against the otherwise non-controversial measure. Repre-sentative Maurice Hinchey, of New York, a Democrat, one of 15 Democrats and one Republican to cast no votes, said linking the Sept. 11, 2001 acts of terrorism to the war in Iraq was "blatantly untrue" and had turned a resolution honoring the sacrifices of Sept. 11 victims into a political document. "Why are we putting together a resolution that convolutes the issue?'' asked Representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat who voted `no.' The vote was 406-16. \nThe Vatican \n \nWar on terror a `world war' \nA leading Vatican cardinal said on Tuesday that terrorism was a new world war and fighting it may involve the loss of some civil liberties. "We have entered the Fourth World War," said Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace, saying he believed that the Cold War was World War Three. "I believe that we are in the midst of another world war," he said in comments published in Italian media on Tuesday. "And it involves absolutely everyone because we don't know what will happen when we leave a hotel, when we get on a bus, when we go into a coffee bar. War itself is sitting down right next to each and every one of us," he said. \nPhilippines \n \nArmy on alert before Sept 11 \nThe military went on heightened alert Wednesday ahead of the third anniver-sary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the US, a spokes-man said. Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero said troops have been ordered to incr-ease security patrols and visibility in possible targets of attacks until today. While there has been no specific threats, Lucero said, "We are not putting our guard down. Remember in two days, we will be commemorating the third anniversary of 9/11," he said. Security experts have warned that the Philippines was a potential target of terrorists in the region. \nPakistan \n \nIslamists plan demonstration \nA coalition of radical Pakistani Islamic groups plans to stage rallies on the third anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the US to condemn Washington for "creating anarchy" in the world, an official said Monday. "We want to con-vince people that peace is becoming difficult in the world because of American policies after the Sept. 11 attacks," said Shahid Shamsi, a spokesman for the Muta-hida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum, opposition coalition. The rally was organized by an influential bloc of law-makers in Pakistan's Parliament. It opposed the war that ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big