Military bombs MILF areas
Military planes dropped bombs and fired rockets yesterday into areas where Muslim insurgents are believed to be holding out in Mindanao, officials said. “They were continuing to drop bombs in MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] positions,” MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said by phone. He said rebels destroyed a military armored personnel carrier early yesterday near the town of Guindulungan while troops retaliated by calling in OV-10 planes to drop bombs into the area. The military headquarters in Manila confirmed the air assaults.
Scientists clone buffalo
Scientists in Haryana state have cloned a buffalo using fetal tissue, a report said yesterday. The female calf, named Garima, weighed 43kg and was born at the National Dairy Research Institute in the city of Karnal, the Hindu newspaper said. “Garima is absolutely healthy and we are fully optimistic about her survival,” institute director A.K. Srivastava was quoted as saying. Scientists cloned the world’s first buffalo in February, but it died of pneumonia within a week. It was created from the ear tissue of a female buffalo.
Military deserters pardoned
The president yesterday marked a key Buddhist celebration by granting a pardon to 585 jailed military deserters, officials said. The pardon applied to deserters serving up to a year in jail after being convicted by a military court. The amnesty announcement coincided with Boson, the celebration of the arrival of Buddhism to the island more than 2,500 years ago. “They were released from the main prison in Colombo and several other jails across the country,” an official said. Most of the desertions took place several years ago, a military official said.
Hostage escapes captors
A hostage escaped from her al-Qaeda-linked captors as they tried to evade a marine offensive that killed three kidnappers, officials said yesterday. The woman had been abducted by Abu Sayyaf militants on Feb. 3 on Basilan Island. She fled from her captors’ jungle hideout late on Saturday and was found by villagers before dawn yesterday in Sumisip township. Lea Laping is the latest of several hostages to escape from the Abu Sayyaf, a group that is on a US list of terrorist organizations because of its al-Qaeda links and involvement in kidnappings, beheadings and bombings. The group has been weakened by years of US-backed offensives, but security officials worry that kidnappings for ransom could revive the group and have been cracking down.
Prisoners making explosives
Concerns were raised on Friday about security in British jails, even high-security ones, after it emerged that prisoners have been building scores of homemade explosive devices. Ministry of Justice statistics show there had been 334 recorded incidents since 1997 involving suspected explosive devices in England and Wales, of which 80 were found to be “viable.” Prison officers warned of a rise in the number of extremists in jail. “Over the past 10 to 15 years the length of prison sentences and the nature of people being sent to prison has changed dramatically,” said Glyn Travis, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association. “As a result there are now an awful lot of people with time on their hands.”
PM readies policy address
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he’ll deliver a major policy address next week in the wake of repeated US calls for a freeze in West Bank settlement construction. Ahead of yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Cabinet Minister Yisrael Katz said Israel cannot end “normal life” in the settlements. He said he hopes the Americans will respect past, unofficial understandings to allow at least minimal construction to continue.
Fianna Fail suffers in polls
Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s party suffered a vote collapse in two parliamentary by-elections and faces heavy losses in local councils, exit polls and first results showed on Saturday. Cowen’s centrist Fianna Fail party had not been expected to win either of the by-elections in Dublin, but the scale of the drubbing was unexpected. Enda Kenny, leader of the main opposition Fine Gael party, said Cowen’s government was no longer credible and said he would table a motion of no-confidence in him in parliament this week. An exit poll for public broadcaster RTE and the Sunday Independent newspaper suggested that Fianna Fail was also set to suffer a backlash from angry voters in the battle for over 1,600 local council seats.
Chechen aide assassinated
An aide to the deputy prime minister of Chechnya has been shot dead in the latest murder of an official in the Caucasus region, Interfax and RIA-Novosti news agencies said yesterday. Musost Khutiyev was killed on Saturday with a pistol shot to the head in the town of Argun just outside the Chechen capital of Grozny. He had been working as an aide to the deputy prime minister in the local government.
World War I vet turns 113
One of the nation’s last surviving veterans of World War I has celebrated his 113th birthday. Henry Allingham, who is also Britain’s oldest man, marked the occasion on Saturday with a cake and a party with family and friends. His cake was delivered by the Royal Marines, and a Royal Navy helicopter flew overhead. Allingham joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1915. Allingham and 110-year-old Harry Patch are the only two surviving World War I veterans in Britain.
Lost runners found
The Royal Air Force located four runners who went missing when severe weather hit a 35km race in the Snowdonia mountain range in Wales on Saturday in which 245 runners were taking part. Eight people, including a runner with hypothermia, were hospitalized. Helicopters airlifted at least 20 people to safety after treacherous winds and heavy rain swept in.
Never too late for a diploma
A 90-year-old suburban Chicago woman who dropped out of school to help her family during the Great Depression now has her high school diploma. Eleanor Benz left Chicago Public Schools’ Lake View High in 1936 during her senior year to take a job. Over the following decades she moved to the suburb of Gurnee and had 15 children, 54 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren. Benz attended night school for typing and bookkeeping, but she recently told one of her daughters that never completing high school was one of her greatest disappointments. Her children contacted Lake View, and the school approved Benz’s diploma.
West needs ‘perestroika’
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called yesterday for a perestroika, or top-to-bottom reform, in the West, arguing that its current economic model was “unsustainable” and needed replacement. Commenting on the current global economic crisis, the former Soviet president, who presided over the collapse of his country, said it was now clear to him “that the new Western model was an illusion that benefited chiefly the very rich. “The model that emerged during the final decades of the 20th century has turned out to be unsustainable,” he wrote in the Washington Post.
Obama speech SMS’d
More than 20,000 people outside the country received free text messages about President Barack Obama’s speech to Muslims in Cairo, Egypt. White House Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough said on Saturday that the State Department’s free message program helped spread Obama’s words of engagement to countries with predominantly Muslim populations. The messages were available in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English. The text-messaging service was not available in the US. Law forbids taxpayer dollars to be used domestically for propaganda. The tech-savvy White House sought to reinforce Obama’s message in every way possible, including distributing a transcript in 13 other languages.
Plane avoids flying object
Investigators in Texas said a flying object that narrowly missed a Continental Express plane last month may have been a large model rocket. The jet’s pilot and co-pilot spotted the object and a long white vapor trail shortly after they took off from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on May 29. The plane was bound for Greenville, South Carolina. Pilots spotted the object at about 4,900m. It was about 2m long. Liberty County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ken DeFoor told the Houston Chronicle that no model rocket clubs reported having launches that day and that a permit would be needed to launch a rocket that high.
Parents bury their children
The death toll from a fire at a daycare center in Hermosillo rose to 38 children with 23 more hospitalized, many with life-threatening burns, authorities said on Saturday. President Felipe Calderon ordered an investigation into Friday’s fire at the ABC daycare center in the northern city of Hermosillo to find who is to blame and later visited hospitals where survivors were being treated. Three additional children have died and more seriously burnt victims remained in the hospital, Health Minister Raymundo Lopez said on Saturday. Smoke inhalation killed many children before rescuers could reach them, with the victims ranging in age from a few months old to about three years old.
‘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,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,