Six arrested over drug haul
Police arrested six people allegedly linked to a US-based syndicate after what authorities on Friday said was the largest single seizure of methamphetamine in the US and the biggest drug haul bound for Australia. US Customs and Border Protection said 1,728kg of the drug were seized last month at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, along with smaller amounts of cocaine and heroin. The drugs were hidden in metal boxes labeled as loudspeakers. Authorities in Melbourne said the shipment was bound for Australia and would have provided about 17 million hits of the substance also known as ice.
New swine fever outbreak
Officials in Beijing have reported a new outbreak of African swine fever that is threatening the country’s vital pork industry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Friday reported that the disease had been detected on a farm in Yongzhou in Hunan Province, where 4,600 pigs were being raised. Although just 171 of the pigs had died and 270 were found sick, ministry regulations require all pigs on an affected farm must be culled and disposed of, and the area quarantined and decontaminated.
Google deletes banned links
News reports say that Google has agreed with authorities to delete links to Web sites banned in the nation. The daily Vedomosti on Thursday reported that Google has reached an agreement with state media oversight agency Roskomnadzor to regularly receive updated lists of banned sites and delete links to them upon review. The newspaper said that Google has already removed about 70 percent of the banned Web sites from its search results. The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Roskomnadzor as saying it has established a “constructive dialogue” with Google. In December last year, Roskomnadzor fined Google 500,000 rubles (US$7,643 at the current exchange rate) for failing to delete links to the banned sites. It threatened to cut access to Google if it failed to comply with the demand. “We’re committed to enabling access to information for the benefit of our users in Russia and around the world,’” Google spokesman Nu Wexler said.
Methanol in liquor kills 39
Police said 39 people have died and another 27 have fallen sick from drinking spurious liquor containing toxic methanol in several villages. Senior police officer Ashok Kumar said 26 died in two separate incidents in Uttar Pradesh State, while 13 others died in the neighboring state of Uttarakhand. Victims consumed liquor during a customary feast, Kumar said. Police have arrested eight suspected bootleggers, while the provincial governments have suspended 35 officials, including 12 police.
Hilter paintings up for sale
Five paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler were to be auctioned off yesterday in Nuremberg, sparking anger that the Nazi memorabilia market is alive and well. Nuremberg Mayor Ulrich Maly told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the sale was “in bad taste.” Among the items to go under the hammer were a mountain lake view with a starting price of 45,000 euro (US$51,010) and a wicker armchair with a swastika presumed to have belonged to Hitler.
Trains collide head-on
Two passenger trains on Friday evening rammed head-on into each other on a track near Barcelona, killing one person and injuring about 100 others, most of them slightly, authorities said. The commuter trains collided between the towns of Sant Vicenc de Castellet and Manresa, northwest of Barcelona, Catalan emergency services said in a tweet. Three of the injured passengers were in serious condition, but about 100 others escaped injury, officials said.
Tiger killed by new mate
For 10 days, the London Zoo kept its newly arrived male Sumatran tiger Asim in a separate enclosure from Melati, the female tiger who was supposed to become his mate. Zoologists gave them time to get used to each other’s presence and smells, and waited for what they felt would be the right time to let them get together. On Friday, they put the two tigers into the same enclosure, and Asim killed Melati as shocked handlers tried in vain to intervene. It was a tragic end to hopes that the two would eventually breed as part of a Europe-wide tiger conservation program for the endangered Sumatran subspecies. “Everyone here at ZSL London Zoo is devastated by the loss of Melati and we are heartbroken by this turn of events,’’ the zoo said in a statement. Contingency plans called for handlers to use loud noises, flares and alarms to try to distract the tigers, but that did not work. They did manage to put seven-year-old Asim back in a separate paddock, but by that time Melati, 10, was already dead.
Khashoggi deadline skipped
President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday signaled it was unlikely to meet a deadline to report to Congress on whether it intends to impose sanctions on those responsible for the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, prompting an angry backlash on Capitol Hill. Republican and Democratic lawmakers triggered a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act in October last year, giving the administration 120 days to report on who was responsible for the death of Khashoggi and whether the US would impose sanctions on that person or persons. Congressional aides said they still hoped to receive a report from the White House by early next week, but the administration said Trump did not feel the need to send one. “The president maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate,” a senior administration official said in an e-mailed statement.
Mosque attacker gets life
A 29-year-old who shot dead six worshipers at a Quebec mosque in the worst anti-Muslim attack in the West was given life in prison on Friday. Alexandre Bissonnette would have to wait 40 years — longer than usual — before he can apply for parole. Judge Francois Huot rejected a prosecution request for a 150-year sentence, which would have been the longest ever in the country, saying this would be a cruel and unusual punishment, but he also noted the killer’s “visceral hatred of Muslim immigrants” in his decision. Ahmed Cheddadi, who was wounded in the attack, said the sentence was appropriate in that he found it unlikely that Bissonnette would ever be released. On the evening of Jan. 29, 2017, Bissonnette burst into the mosque and unleashed a hail of bullets on the 40 men and four children who were there. Six men were killed and five were seriously injured.
‘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
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big