■ UNITED KINGDOM
Prisoners turn pagan
The number of prisoners who describe themselves as pagan has more than doubled in England and Wales since 2003, new government figures showed. Prison service guidelines say pagan prisoners may keep artifacts such as a hoodless robe and a flexible twig for use as a wand among their personal possessions. Naked worship, known as “skyclad,” is not allowed. The figures showed that 328 inmates listed themselves as pagan last year, up from 133 four years ago. The figures were released ahead of Halloween, a festival on which pagan prisoners will be allowed to choose not to work or attend education. Inmates are allowed to select two dates from a list of eight annual festivals when they are excused from work.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Military official resigns
The head of the country’s special forces in Afghanistan has resigned, reportedly in disgust at equipment failures that he believes led to the death of four of his troops. Major Sebastian Morley, commander of Special Air Service troops in Afghanistan, accused the government of “chronic underinvestment” in equipment in his resignation letter, the Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday. He had repeatedly warned that people would be killed if military commanders and government officials continued to allow troops to be transported in the lightly armored Snatch Land Rover vehicles, it said. Four of his soldiers died in June when their Snatch Land Rover hit a land mine in Helmand Province. Morley believes they died needlessly, the newspaper said.
TV station for gays launches
The country’s first television station for gay men will go on air this week offering entertainment and news with homosexual themes via satellite and cable, the new TIMM channel said on Friday. The line-up will include popular series such as Queer as Folk, The L-Word and Absolutely Fabulous dubbed into German, as well as documentaries on gay stars or celebrities who are big in the gay community, such as Rupert Everett, Susan Sarandon and Liza Minnelli, the station said in a statement. With the slogan “We love men,” TIMM said it was aimed at the country’s estimated 3.6 million gay men and hoped to draw their family and friends, lesbians and a few “metrosexuals.” “TIMM enriches the existing television landscape with programming from and by the target group — simply for everyone who loves men,” it said.
■ EL SALVADOR
Presidents leave summit
Eight presidents left the Iberian American Summit in San Salvador before it closed on Friday, in a mass escape that made the gathering’s last day lackluster. Between midday Thursday and early Friday, the leaders of Brazil, Nicaragua, Argentina, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic left San Salvador. The presidents of Venezuela, Cuba and Uruguay directly skipped the summit. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva missed the opening ceremony late on Wednesday and left after the first session of debate, at midday on Thursday. He traveled to Cuba for a visit of less than 24 hours. On Thursday, the countries meeting in San Salvador demanded a greater presence in global financial decisions at a time of crisis. Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina, among other countries, called for a fairer multilateral world order that would take into account the views of emerging countries.
Policemen killed in Toluca
Authorities in Toluca say eight police officers have been killed in less than 24 hours in a state near the capital. Mexico state attorney general’s office spokesman Octavio Campos says the police chief and a commander in the town of Teoloyucan were found shot to death on Friday inside a patrol car. Campos says six state officers were gunned down in three separate attacks late on Thursday. Seven other people were also killed in the state during the same period. Mexico state is one of several that have suffered a wave of homicides. Officials blame the violence on warring drug gangs.
■ OUTER SPACE
US astronauts to vote
Two US astronauts who are soaring in orbit hundreds of kilometers from Earth will be able to vote in the US election on Nov. 4, the US space agency NASA said. Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff, who are working aboard the International Space Station, are to vote by secure electronic ballot uplinked by Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, NASA said. Their votes will be submitted by secure link back to Earth, and recorded by local voting officials in Texas. Astronauts can vote from space due to a 1997 bill passed by Texas legislators which set up the process. Nearly all US astronauts live in Houston, NASA said.
■ UNITED STATES
Trick-or-treater shot to death
A 12-year-old boy trick-or-treating with his family in Sumter, South Carolina, was shot from inside a home on Friday and killed, and his father and brother were wounded by the gunfire, authorities said. The shooting suspect, Quentin Patrick, was in custody, a jail official said. Patrick, 22, has been charged with murder and three counts of assault and battery with intent to kill. The jail official said she didn’t know whether Patrick had an attorney and his telephone number was unpublished. The family was headed home from a city-sponsored event in Sumter, South Carolina, when they decided to stop at a few homes, Sumter Police Chief Patty Patterson said.
Wallaby escapes from pen
An intrepid wallaby has escaped from its pen at an exotic zoo and gone on an 80km walkabout across the eastern part of the country where he remained on the lam on Friday, zookeepers said. Wendell, a three-year-old Bennett’s Red Necked wallaby, was reported missing on Wednesday after a storm toppled a tree which destroyed the animal’s pen at a facility near the capital Ottawa. The animal, native to eastern Australia, and three others as well as a kangaroo, “just hopped out of their broken enclosure,” Carla Saunders, co-owner of Saunders Country Critters and Garden Centre said. But only Wendell strayed very far, she said.
■ UNITED STATES
Painting returned to France
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has sent a US$2.8 million painting back to France after concluding it had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II. The museum had owned the 1911 Fernand Leger painting Smoke Over Rooftops since 1961. But after a decade of detective work, the institute decided to return it to the French heirs of a Jewish art collector who died in 1948. “Having researched this to the end of the road, we decided we had to return the painting; it was the right thing to do,” Kaywin Feldman, director of the institute, told the Star Tribune for a story published on Thursday.
‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’: Three US senators sent a letter to the US commerce secretary asking whether the project ‘takes into consideration national security requirements’ US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
MOM’S LONG CAMPAIGN: Mao Yin had been brought up in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, without any idea that he was the target of a decades-long, high-profile search A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years. Mao Yin (毛寅), then two-and-a-half years old, was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday in Xian, where he was born. After Mao vanished, his mother Li Jingzhi (李靜芝) quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out more than 100,000 flyers and appearing on numerous TV shows. That long campaign helped 29 other families find their own missing children and made
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for