Violent attack disrupted
Police arrested three people who planned to attack a legislator in the south where violence has claimed more than 70 lives this year, police said yesterday. A group armed with knives, swords and guns had surrounded the home of Prabhu Sah, a legislator for former communist rebels, on Saturday in Patuara village, about 200km south of the capital, Kathmandu. Police were called to the house and were able to disperse the group, local police chief Yogeshwor Romkhami said. Three people, believed to be leaders of the group, were arrested, he said. Romkhami said the attackers were from the Terai Liberation Front, one of several militant groups fighting for greater rights for ethnic minorities. Attacks on government officials, strikes, transportation shutdowns and demonstrations have increased this year.
Professors boycott classes
Faculty at Dhaka University boycotted classes yesterday to protest what they said was the "persecution" of the country's two main political leaders by the military-backed government. The protest followed the arrest of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed on extortion charges and a court case leveled against her rival, ex-premier Khaleda Zia, by the government last week. Sheikh Hasina and Zia were charged as part of a corruption crackdown by an emergency government that came to power in January following a decision to cancel planned polls. The teachers believe the moves against the political leaders by the emergency government are "persecution" to "force both of them out of politics," said Anwar Hossain, general secretary of Dhaka University Teachers Association.
Earthquake strikes northwest
An earthquake in a remote region of Xinjiang brought down more than 2,100 houses and prompted the evacuation of 8,250 people, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The 5.7-magnitude quake jolted Tekes County on Friday. Xinhua quoted an official as saying no one had died. The quake's epicenter was in a mountainous region 430km from Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. "Rescuers have displaced 8,250 residents as their houses, most of which are mud-brick, either collapsed or became dangerous," an official said.
Reserve to honor Irwin
The late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, killed in a stingray attack last year, will be honored with a new wildlife reserve in the outback, the government announced yesterday. A 135,000-hectare chunk of land near Weipa in the far north of Irwin's home state of Queensland will be named after the popular television host and managed by his family, Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. The area to be named the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve includes habitats for the endangered northern quoll, a carnivorous marsupial, and the speartooth shark, Turnbull said.
■ SRI LANKA
Minister to plea for girl's life
Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila has traveled to Saudi Arabia with the parents of a teenage housemaid to help prepare her appeal after she was condemned to death for murdering a four-month-old baby, a Sri Lankan diplomat said on Saturday. Bhaila arrived in Riyadh on Friday night with the parents of Rizana Nafeek. The 19-year-old was convicted of strangling her employer's baby in 2005, Sri Lankan Ambassador Amj Sadiq said. "The minister's week-long stay will include meetings with lawyers preparing Nafeek's appeal and we will also try to arrange with the Saudi authorities for the parents to meet their daughter," Sadiq said.
Extinguisher poisons readers
Thirty-nine people reading or working at a library in have been poisoned after breathing in carbon dioxide leaking from a fire-extinguisher, state media said. The leak occurred on the third floor of the Yunnan Provincial Library in Kunming where more than 600 people were reading or working, Xinhua news agency said on Saturday. "Thirty nine people, including 10 readers and 29 staff, felt sick and weak in their limbs," Xinhua said. "Some young people even fainted." Eight of the readers were school children. The victims were treated in hospital and were out of danger. Carbon dioxide, commonly used in fire extinguishers, is an asphyxiate at high levels.
Girls punished in pond
Two hundred school girls were forced by their hostel warden to squat in a murky pond after they failed to own up to a sanitary pad found in the toilet. The girls were in the pond for an hour in heavy rain and the warden watched under an umbrella in Sarawak State, newspapers reported yesterday. A picture on the front page showed the girls neck-deep in water. "This kind of punishment is inhumane. The water from the pond is dirty as waste from the canteen flows straight into it," Jimmy Kiu, chairman of the parent-teacher association was quoted as saying. A school official said the warden punished the girls after no one owned up the responsibility of leaving the pad in the toilet.
■ GAZA STRIP
Dead women found in street
The bodies of three women bearing signs of torture have been found in a street in the central part of the territory, medics said yesterday. The corpses were discovered in the Deir al-Balah refugee camp late on Saturday and taken to the nearby Al-Aqsa Hospital. Medics there said that the bodies had stab wounds, traces that wire had been placed around their necks and other signs of torture. Neither the identities of the women nor the circumstances surrounding their deaths were immediately known.
■ GAZA STRIP
Two Hamas activists killed
Israeli troops early yesterday killed two Hamas activists on the northern border, the armed wing of the Islamist movement announced. "Two of our fighters were killed in an exchange of fire" with the Israeli army, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades said. Palestinian medical sources said the two men were killed near the electric fence near Beit Lahiya. The Israeli army confirmed the clash. A military spokesman said that soldiers had spotted two armed men near the fence and opened fire on them, "killing or wounding them." The latest deaths bring to 5,790 the number of people who have died since the start of the second Palestinian uprising in September 2000.
Donated jetliner arrives
A jetliner donated to the government by Iran landed at Baghdad airport on Saturday, four months after it was first promised by Tehran, according to government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. He attributed the delay to unspecified technical reasons. "The Iraqi government would like to thank the Islamic government of Iran for this present, which we hope will contribute to the development of relations and common interests between the two nations," al-Dabbagh said. A government official said the plane, which local television reports said was an Airbus 300, would be set aside for the use of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top officials in his government.
Wife's infidelity discovered
A man who hired a detective to find out whether his daughter was cheating on her husband was told by the investigator his wife was in fact the one being unfaithful, a newspaper reported yesterday. The man had his daughter followed at the request of his son-in-law, who had been suspicious of his wife's behavior. The daughter was found innocent but the private investigator managed to snap photographs of the mother and another man caught in the act, the Maariv daily said. "I saved my daughter's marriage and at the same time, saved myself from a woman who had it all in life but chose another man," the manwas quoted as saying.
Bus crash kills 20
Twenty people were killed and 50 injured when two buses collided on Saturday in the northern part of the country, the official SANA news agency reported. SANA said the accident took place in the afternoon on a highway some 160km north of the capital, Damascus. Police officers at al-Nabek police station were quoted as saying that some 70 people were on board when the buses collided. One of the buses had its tire burst, causing the driver to lose control of the coach at high speed and hit the oncoming bus head-on. Both buses were completely destroyed, with 15 people killed instantly.
Kangaroos scared to death
Violent thunderstorms have driven seven distressed kangaroos to death at a Mexican zoo, say veterinarians who are now pampering the remaining three mothers and their babies. The zoo in the western city of Guadalajara brought the kangaroos from Texas in April and all went smoothly until last month when the rainy season began. Seven kangaroos died over a period of four weeks, most soon after harsh rain storms. "They became apathetic in the morning then sad in the afternoon and by night they could be dead," veterinarian Andrea Saucedo said. "We would just be trying to understand what was happening, when -- oops -- another."
■ UNITED STATES
Hundreds trapped in arch
Some 200 people were trapped inside the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Illinois, for about two hours after an apparent power outage, authorities said. Fire Department spokesman Steve Simpson told KSDK-TV that rescue crews treated two people. One was given oxygen and the other was diabetic. He did not elaborate on their treatment. The people became trapped on Saturday night when trams on both legs of the arch stalled, authorities said. Some also were stranded at the top of the 192m high monument of stainless steel where they were watching a fireworks show, the TV station reported.
■ UNITED STATES
Hay wagon on a fiery trip
A panicky man left a blazing trail behind him as he dashed around the countryside looking for a hose to put out his burning hay wagon, authorities said. The man had trouble with the brakes on the hay-filled wagon being towed by his truck on Thursday afternoon in Hart Township, about 300km northwest of Detroit. The malfunctioning brakes apparently set the hay on fire, Hart fire chief Ken Klotz said. The man was unable to unhook the trailer as the fire grew. "The wind caught it, and I guess it singed the hat right off his head," Klotz told the Ludington Daily News.
■ UNITED STATES
Mayor saves cat from blaze
The Philadelphia mayor and two of his bodyguards happened upon a house fire and ended up rescuing a cat, helping a victim and warning neighbors, officials and witnesses said. Neighbor Dorothy Young said she saw the smoke on Friday morning and went outside to find two children who lived in the house crying at the bottom of her steps. "We were all in shock, just yelling and crying," Young said. "I couldn't believe what was happening. It was like a movie." Mayor John Street and two bodyguards, who had been walking to City Hall when they saw the burning home, rushed over to help, Young said.
■ UNITED STATES
Package sparks bomb scare
A poorly packaged college application prompted a call to the bomb squad at Eastern Illinois University. Emergency crews evacuated a campus building on Friday, after a postal carrier discovered a disheveled-looking package heading for the college's admissions office. "There was no return address, it was poorly written, poorly addressed to the university, there were misspellings," school spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said on Saturday. "There was some tape over it. Just the overall appearance was rather strange." Explosives investigators X-rayed the package and blocked off a nearby street before they discovered the envelope contained only an application to the 12,500-student school.
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
‘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,
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