PM's goats nabbed
Thieves stole two goats belonging to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from a government facility in northern Malaysia, a newspaper reported Saturday. The pair of Boer goats from Australia have lived under the care of the Penang state veterinary department since businessmen gave them to Abdullah a few years ago. Thieves broke into the department's compound and stole 13 goats, including the pair of Boers worth about 5,000 ringgit (US$1,300). Police were checking with abattoirs and breeding farms to trace the animals and thieves.
■ Hong Kong
Man slain in teahouse
Authorities in southern China have charged two Hong Kong men and four from the mainland with a millionaire's 2002 execution-style killing in a busy Hong Kong teahouse, a newspaper reported. Police haven't announced a possible motive for the slaying of Harry Lam, which prompted fears that Hong Kong gangsters could evade justice by fleeing to China. Lam was killed in the Luk Yu teahouse in Hong Kong on Nov. 30, 2002 when a lone gunman walked up and shot him in the head. Hong Kong is a Chinese territory, but border controls remain in place and the two sides have no arrangements for extraditing crime suspects.
3 missing in copter crash
Three Japanese airline employees are missing after their helicopter crashed into the sea on its way home from offering Christmas flights in a mainly Christian area of Japan, the coast guard said. The Robinson R44 Raven helicopter went missing in bad weather late Friday after leaving the southern city of Nagasaki for its home airport in Saga about 70 km away. The charter flight company employees were veteran pilot Hiroyuki Ubukata, 48, Sachiko Fujimitsu, 33, and Yuki Morita, 33. Coast-guard ships, navy vessels and fishing boats had found debris from the helicopter in the sea off the southern city of Kagoshima, the spokesman said. A black bag containing Fujimitsu's driver's licence had also been found. "Divers will soon start searching for any other clue," he said.
Bus crash in ravine kills 18
A speeding bus packed with passengers plunged into a deep ravine in eastern Pakistan yesterday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 39. The accident occurred near Jehlum, a small city about 100km southeast of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The driver lost control of the bus as it went around a sharp corner on the main highway. ?ief said. The bodies and injured have been transported to two nearby hospitals. The driver survived, but was in critical condition. Mohamood Ahmed, a doctor at the government-run hospital in Deena, said a total of 18 bodies had been counted at the two hospitals, while 39 others were being treated.
18 rebel villagers killed
Indonesian troops killed 18 suspected rebels in Aceh province, as violence continues despite Jakarta's claim seven months ago that security had improved, the army said yesterday. The guerillas were killed in separate clashes across the province on Friday, said army spokesman Ari Mulya Asnawi. Rebel spokesman Tjut Kafrawi denied the report, saying the dead were unarmed villagers who support the independence struggle. Both sides have been accused of committing human rights violations.
■ West Bank
Leadership campaign starts
The campaign to elect a successor to Yasser Arafat as Palestinian Authority president was to begin in earnest yesterday as frontrunner Mahmud Abbas prepared to unveil his manifesto. The official start of campaigning comes just over a fortnight before the residents of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied east Jerusalem prepare to cast their ballots for only the second time. A total of seven candidates, four of them independents, are taking part in the Jan. 9 contest although only Abbas has a realistic chance of victory. The moderate former prime minister has already succeeded Arafat as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and has been chosen as the candidate of the dominant Fatah faction.
Arms to keep abreast of US
The government will keep pace with the US in nuclear weapons technology but not in the size of its strategic arsenal, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday according to Interfax news agency. "In a long historical perspective, nuclear parity will be preserved not only with the United States but also with the other countries with nuclear arms," he was quoted as saying. He said he was not referring to the "numbers of cluster warheads but the techno-logical potential -- the capacity of cluster warheads for extensive maneuvering, strategic range and high precision." Ivanov also said new long-range, nuclear-capable cruise missiles would be purchased for the country's air force next year. The new missiles had a range of more than 2,000km.
Victims of quake need help
The health and education of children in the Iranian city of Bam, devastated by a huge earthquake a year ago, must be the top priority for the government, the UN's Children's Fund said yesterday. Many of some 24,000 children who survived the disaster, which killed more than 31,000 people in the historic city, a World Heritage site, have suffered emotional trauma, UNICEF said. In addition, they have been forced to continue their education in make-shift classrooms after many schools were destroyed.
■ United Kingdom
Suspect's assets frozen
The government froze the assets on Friday of an Islamic group it suspects of acting on behalf of Saudi dissident Saad al-Fagih, named by the UN as a suspected al-Qaeda associate. "Chancellor Gordon Brown today instructed the Bank of England ... to direct all UK financial institutions to freeze any funds held for or on behalf of the entity, the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia," the government said in a statement. "The action has been taken because the Treasury has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the organization is acting on behalf of Saad al-Fagih," the statement added.
French nationals to get aid
Some 8,000 French nationals who fled unrest in the Ivory Coast are eligible to receive financial aid to help them resettle in France, the prime minister's office said Friday. Detailing an overall budget of 5 million euros (US$6.7 million) announced early this month, the office of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced "exceptional aid" to cover initial expenses, for example 750 euros for a single person and 3,000 euros for a couple with a child.
Apps and Web sites that use artificial intelligence (AI) to undress women in photos are soaring in popularity, researchers said. In September alone, 24 million people visited undressing Web sites, the social network analysis company Graphika said. Many of these undressing, or “nudify,” services use popular social networks for marketing, Graphika said. For instance, since the beginning of this year, the number of links advertising undressing apps increased more than 2,400 percent on social media, including on X and Reddit, the researchers said. The services use AI to recreate an image so that the person is nude. Many of the services only
IN ABSOLUTE CONTROL: About 80 percent of Russians approve of Putin, a survey shows, but that might be misleading due to his intolerance to criticism Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday moved to prolong his repressive and unyielding grip on Russia for at least another six years, announcing his candidacy in the presidential election in March that he is all but certain to win. Putin still commands wide support after nearly a quarter-century in power, despite starting an immensely costly war in Ukraine that has taken thousands of his people’s lives, provoked repeated attacks inside Russia — including one on the Kremlin itself — and corroded its aura of invincibility. A short-lived rebellion in June by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin raised widespread speculation that Putin could be
JUMPING BAIL: The democracy advocate said made the decision after ‘considering the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, my physical and mental health’ Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow (周庭), who was jailed over her role in massive 2019 protests, on Sunday said she had moved to Canada and would not return to meet her bail conditions. Chow was one of the best-known young faces of the 2012, 2014 and 2019 protest movements against Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. She spent about seven months behind bars for her role in a protest outside Hong Kong police headquarters in 2019, when huge crowds rallied week after week in the most serious challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover. On Sunday
TAKING STOCK: It was not yet clear how damaging the espionage, dating to 1981, has been, as authorities are still assessing the situation, the State Department said A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over a 40-year span, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday, detailing a shock betrayal by a suspect who called the US “the enemy.” US Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the allegations against Victor Manuel Rocha, a onetime member of the White House’s National Security Council now accused of using his positions within the government to support Cuba’s “clandestine intelligence-gathering mission” against the US. The charges against Rocha, 73, expose “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign