‘Miracle’ elephant blessed
A baby elephant that experts thought had died during labor has been blessed by Thai monks and given the name Pathi Harn — which means “miracle” in Thai. The calf was hailed a miracle when he was born at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo on March 10, nine days into a difficult labor. He was nicknamed “Mr Shuffles” for his early walking attempts.
PRC to provide Mekong info
China has agreed to provide information on Mekong water levels in a boost for efforts to respond to an alarming decline in the river’s flow, authorities said yesterday. Activists in Thailand have said that Chinese dams are responsible for record-low levels on the critical waterway, but poor rainfall in the region has also been identified as a factor. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) said that China would share data from its upstream monitoring stations on the Mekong — on which more than 60 million people depend for drinking water, transport, irrigation and fishing. “This is very positive news, as it shows that China is willing to engage with lower basin countries,” MRC secretariat chief Jeremy Bird said in a statement.
Diabetes epidemic looming
A report warned yesterday that the country is facing a diabetes epidemic, with rising obesity levels and an ageing population helping to trigger a major public health problem. The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that more than 92 million men and women are living with diabetes in China, or almost one in 10 adults. The report said most cases remained undiagnosed and that another 148.2 million were considered to be pre-diabetic, or showing early symptoms of developing diabetes.
Leaders join campaign
Religious leaders have joined a campaign to reduce the suicide rate, officials said yesterday. The Korean Council of Religious Leaders said it would conduct public education programs to combat the leading cause of death among young people. The health ministry says 23.9 in every 100,000 South Koreans committed suicide in 2007, the highest rate among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This compared with 21 in Hungary, 19.4 in Japan and 16.7 in Finland, the ministry said. “A highly competitive atmosphere in society, mounting uncertainties over the future and crumbling traditional social networks amid weak social safety nets are all to blame for the high suicide rate,” Ha Sang-hun, director of telephone counselling service Lifeline Korea said.
Police arrest candidate
Police yesterday said they had arrested a candidate running for governor on drugs charges. Independent Ruperto Eludo Deguino was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly selling drugs to undercover agents in Surigao city on Mindanao island, a police spokesman said. Deguino is running for governor of Surigao del Norte province in nationwide elections in May. The head of the country’s drug enforcement agency, Dionisio Santiago, said “narco-politics” had become a major problem in the Philippines, where some candidates use proceeds from illegal drugs to finance their campaigns.
Acclaimed author dies
Internationally acclaimed children’s author Patricia Wrightson died this week, an official said yesterday. She was 88. In 1986 Wrightson was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal — the highest accolade for a writer of children’s fiction.
Monarchy not dead: ex-king
The former king has hinted he hopes the monarchy may one day be restored, nearly two years after he was dethroned. Ex-king Gyanendra lost his royal title in 2008 after Maoists won landmark polls and scrapped the monarchy. “I don’t think the monarchy is over,” he said in an interview, broadcast late on Wednesday by Nepal’s Avenues Television. “History shows that the monarchy has had its ups and downs ... But I will do whatever the people want me do.” Gyanendra became deeply unpopular when he seized direct control of the nation in 2005, claiming mainstream parties had failed to tackle a Maoist insurgency. The takeover pushed political parties and rebel Maoists into an alliance that eventually led to the fall of the monarchy.
Runaway train kills three
Sixteen runaway train cars careened downhill for 5km and crashed into a port building, killing three workers, before two of the cars plunged into the water. The empty train cars broke loose on Wednesday from a cargo train and slammed into the port terminal on the edge of the Oslo fjord, destroying the building, police and railroad officials said. The victims had been working in or around the terminal, police spokeswoman Martine Laeng said.
Homeless killing case ends
A court on Wednesday sentenced a 28-year-old student to nearly 14 years behind bars for murdering and dismembering a homeless man and hiding the body parts in various locations. The regional court in Berlin found the literature student, identified only as Mario Z, guilty of killing his 42-year-old victim with an axe and chopping the body into bits. He then placed the victim’s limbs in his deep freezer at home and hid the torso on an abandoned freight station.
Sex workers protest
Dozens of sex workers proclaiming themselves proud to be prostitutes marched on Wednesday to protest a lawmaker’s proposal to legalize brothels, saying that such a law would deny them the freedom to work on their own. A lawmaker in the governing party has proposed reopening brothels just more than six decades after they were banned to move prostitutes off the streets and provide them with medical, financial and legal protection. The protesters say the proposal limits their options to make their own decisions — and are demanding, instead, a repeal of a 2003 law that outlaws solicitation.
Women enraged by Azarov
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has enraged feminist groups by suggesting women are unsuitable for high political office and incapable of carrying out reforms. Women’s groups in Ukraine have angrily reported Azarov — who presides over an all-male Cabinet — to the country’s ombudsman following his remarks last week. They accuse him of gender discrimination and holding Neanderthal views. Speaking on Friday, Azarov said Ukraine’s economic problems were too difficult for any woman to handle. “Some say our government is too large; others that there are no women,” he said. “There’s no one to look at during Cabinet sessions: They’re all boring faces. With all respect to women, conducting reforms is not women’s business.” The all-male government was capable of working 16 hours a day with “no breaks and weekends,” Azarov boasted. New president Viktor Yanukovych said during last month’s election campaign, that his female opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, should “go to the kitchen.” On Wednesday, Azarov’s political opponents denounced him as an unreconstructed dinosaur. They said his derisory remark, snubbing half of the country’s 46 million population, underlined just how out of touch he is with ordinary Ukrainians.
Airport scan sparks warning
Police have issued a warning for harassment against an airport worker after he allegedly took a photo of a female colleague as she went through a full-body scanner at London-Heathrow airport. The incident, which occurred on March 10, is believed to be the first time an airport worker has been formally disciplined for misusing the scanners.
Texas execution delayed
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the execution of a convicted murderer in Texas less than an hour before he was due to die after a plea from France and his lawyers to allow further DNA tests. Henry Skinner claims that new DNA tests will prove he did not commit the New Year’s Eve 1993 murder of his girlfriend and her two sons in his home. “He said he didn’t expect to get a stay, he expected to be executed,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said. Skinner, 47, who is now married to a French anti-death penalty campaigner, was convicted in Texas at a 1995 jury trial for the killings of his girlfriend and her two sons in his home. The court must now decide if it will take up the case on the merits, otherwise a new execution date will be decided.
Twestival to help education
People in more than 200 cities worldwide were scheduled to participate in the second annual “Twestival” yesterday to raise funds for education. “It’s a pretty viral phenomenon that happened,” said Sarah Prevette, lead organizer for Twestival Toronto. The event is organized by thousands of volunteers globally, and local businesses fund the parties, where social-media enthusiasts dance, mingle and network. Funds raised for “Twestival,” via corporate sponsorship, ticket sales or celebrity eBay auctions, will benefit Concern Worldwide, which offers basic education programs in impoverished nations.
Doctor pleads not guilty
A Delaware pediatrician pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges that he molested more than 100 of his patients, many of them repeatedly, and videotaped the assaults. Earl Bradley said nothing during the two-minute hearing. Bradley, who was arrested in December, faces 471 counts including rape, sexual exploitation of a child, unlawful sexual contact, continuous sexual abuse of a child, assault and reckless endangering. His medical license has been permanently revoked by Delaware officials.
Warning leads to arrest
Police in Connecticut say they had ample warning of a bank robbery because the two suspects called the bank ahead of time and told an employee to get a bag of money ready. Police arrested 27-year-old Albert Bailey and an unidentified 16-year-old boy on robbery and threatening charges on Tuesday afternoon at a People’s United Bank branch in Fairfield. Sergeant James Perez says the two Bridgeport residents showed up about 10 minutes after making the call and were met by police in the parking lot. He told the Connecticut Post the suspects were “not too bright.”
Obama hacker released
Police have released a hacker who gained access to US President Barack Obama’s account in one of his attacks on Twitter, officials said on Wednesday. The unemployed 25-year-old, who lived with his parents and used the pseudonym “Hacker Croll,” was arrested on Tuesday after a joint operation with the FBI that lasted several months. He has been ordered to appear in court in Clermont-Ferrand on June 24. “He was a young man spending time on the Internet. He acted as a result of a bet, out of the defiance of the hacker. He is the sort who likes to claim responsibility for what he has done,” prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat said. If convicted, the man could face up to two years in prison.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘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
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent