Monk jailed for tobacco
A monk caught carrying US$2.50 worth of tobacco has been jailed for three years, becoming the first person punished under the country’s draconian anti-smoking law, reports said yesterday. Sonam Tshering was caught in January carrying 48 packets of chewing tobacco, which he said he had bought in India before traveling back home. The nation banned the sale of tobacco in 2005 and tightened up its law further last year to combat smuggling, requiring consumers to provide valid customs receipts for their cigarettes. An eight-page judgment from a district court in the capital, Thimphu, said that Tshering had violated the tobacco control act because he had not paid duty for the tobacco.
Official Web sites attacked
The Korea Communications Commission issued a cyber security alert as the Web sites of 29 government and other agencies came under attack yesterday. A commission spokesman said the “distributed denial of service” attacks had initially been expected to hit 40 Web sites, but only 29 were actually affected. They included those of the presidential Blue House, the US forces, the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, the ministries of foreign affairs, defense and unification, parliament and the tax office. The commission said in a statement the government was working closely with Internet security agencies and others to deal with the problem.
China warned over Spratlys
Hanoi yesterday said it had lodged a complaint against Chinese military exercises near islands claimed by both countries, accusing its neighbor of violating its sovereignty. Foreign ministry officials met Chinese embassy staff on Wednesday in response to reports of Chinese naval activity last month around the Spratly Islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan and the Philippines. “The Vietnamese side clearly stated that by conducting the drills in Truong Sa Archipelago [Vietnam’s name for the Spratlys], China had violated Vietnamese sovereignty,” a statement from the ministry said. It said officials urged China to “refrain from activities that would further complicate the situation.”
Police sound pig alert
Police said they were searching for 100 live pigs stolen from a truck by armed robbers. Police official Roslan Bek Ahmad said three men with machetes hijacked the truck on Wednesday as it was leaving a pig farm in northern Perak state. The driver was tied up and left by the roadside. Roslan said police had recovered the vehicle in central Negri Sembilan state, but it was empty. He said police believed the pigs, worth about 83,000 ringgit (US$27,000), were transferred to another truck.
Silvio’s Ruby attends ball
“Ruby,” the teenager at the heart of a sex scandal involving Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, was the star turn on Thursday at the Vienna Opera Ball. The Moroccan-born pole dancer Karima El Mahroug, nicknamed “Ruby the Heart Stealer,” joined entrepreneur Richard Lugner in his box and attracted frenzied attention. Dressed in a long embroidered gown, the 18-year-old hogged the media limelight with photographers jostling to shoot her. Opera Ball organizer Desiree Treichl-Stuergkh threatened to cancel Luge’s loge next year, saying: “This is the biggest embarrassment that Mr. Lugner has ever made. It’s sad, humiliating and disrespectful.”
Australian scientists have raised questions over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in establishing herd immunity, calling for a pause on its widespread rollout as the country recorded one new case of the virus yesterday. Opposition to the vaccine casts a cloud over Australia’s immunization plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on hand. “The question is really whether it is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don’t know how long that will take,” Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology president Stephen Turner said. Turner added
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client