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.
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
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
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
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,