An Australian navy command ship will sail for the lawless and near-bankrupt Solomon Islands on Monday as the advance guard of a multi-national intervention force, Australia said yesterday. \n"The [navy ship] Manoora is being deployed to ensure it can be in place for the arrival by air of police and military elements that the government may decide to send to the Solomons," Defense Minister Robert Hill said yesterday. \nHMAS Manoora would leave the northern Australian city of Townsville on Monday for the Solomons capital Honiara, he said in a statement. Honiara is 1,750km northwest of Townsville. \nThe vessel will act as a command and logistics center for the force and will also provide medical services. \nThe 2,000-strong force of police, troops and civilian administrators, the largest military deployment in the South Pacific since World War II, has been unanimously backed by the Solomons parliament and has widespread support among the nation of 450,000 people. \nHundreds of people have died in fighting between rival ethnic militias from Guadalcanal island and neighboring Malaita since 1998 and the country has slowly spiralled toward anarchy and bankruptcy since a police-backed coup in June 2000. \nLocal media reported that the government of Prime Allan Kema-keza and police commissioner William Morrell had begun a public education program to inform Solomon Islanders about the intervention force. \n"The people of the Solomon Islands have nothing to fear from this intervention," Morrell, a Briton, told Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp radio. \nThe rest of the force, including soldiers and police from New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga is due to begin gathering in Townsville before being airlifted to Honiara. \nA spokesman for the Fiji armed forces said some of the 123 experienced peacekeepers Fiji has committed to the force would leave for Townsville later yesterday. New Zealand will contribute 105 soldiers, 35 police and four helicopters to the force. \nThe Solomons parliament passed a bill on Thursday legalizing the deployment of the force. The legislation includes the right to use reasonable force, an amnesty for handing in illegal weapons and immunity from prosecution for members of the contingent. \nThe foreign troops and police will seek to restore order in Honiara, where armed gangs roam at will, before moving to take control of outlying areas, including the Weathercoast stronghold of renegade warlord Harold Keke southwest of Honiara on Guadalcanal. \n"Restoring law and order to the Solomon Islands is essentially a policing task," Hill said. \nAustralia expects the military component of up to 500 troops, sent to protect police and administrators, would only be in the troubled country for a few months at most.
NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown. The color photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil. The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing Webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near
Malaysian police have arrested the founder of a “sugar daddy” dating Web site under anti-prostitution laws after it boasted that thousands of young students were using the service, officials said yesterday. The Web site bills itself as a place “where romance meets finance” and it aims to link up older men with younger women, with the men expected to provide financial support for their companions. However, it sparked an uproar last week after releasing statistics purportedly showing that thousands of students were using it to make money, leading one university to condemn the claims. Police said they had arrested the 34-year-old founder of
China’s military yesterday said that four of its soldiers were killed in a mountain border clash with Indian forces last year, the first time that Beijing has publicly stated that its side had casualties in the deadliest incident between the Asian giants in nearly 45 years. India at the time announced that it had lost 20 of its soldiers in the June fighting atop a ridge in the Karakoram Mountains in the Ladakh region. Soldiers used their fists, clubs, stones and other improvised weapons to avoid an out-and-out firefight. China was believed to have also sustained casualties, but did not provide any details,
Dubai’s royal family on Friday said that Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was being “cared for at home” after the UN demanded proof that she was still alive following “disturbing” footage aired this week. The UN Human Rights Office said it had asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for evidence after the BBC published video shot by the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum saying she was being held captive and feared for her life. Sheikh Mohammed is the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, of which Dubai is one of the seven