Smoking in all enclosed workspaces, including bars, restaurants and pubs, is to be banned in Ireland from Monday under new legislation aimed at reducing the 7,000 deaths linked to cigarettes each year. \nOn the other side of the Atlantic, Santa Monica would become the third -- and largest -- California community to ban smoking on its beaches under an ordinance tentatively approved by the City Council. \nThe Irish ban, the first of its kind in the EU, has been harshly criticized by the hospitality industry, which fears a loss of business if smokers turn away from Ireland's famous pub culture in favor of the freedom to light up at home. \nSome bar owners say they will refuse to implement the legislation, despite fines of up to US3,600 dollars for allowing smoking on their premises, while others fear a surge in public order offences as late-night customers react angrily to requests to stub out their cigarettes. \nHealth Minister Micheal Martin, the architect of the ban, says the majority of people in Ireland are behind it. \n"This important tobacco-free initiative has the support of the majority of people in Ireland, smokers and non-smokers alike," he told reporters during a final press briefing in advance of the ban. \n"This is a positive, progressive health and safety measure, which will bestow positive benefits to workers and to the general public alike," Martin added, reiterating that despite the focus on how the new measures will affect pubs, the initiative is aimed at all indoor workplaces. \nMeanwhile, some of the finer details of the ban remain clouded in confusion. Operators of in-pub vending machines are set to offer non-tobacco herbal cigarettes, at present exempt from the ban, in an effort to halt a drastic decline in profits. \nMartin has dismissed the "herbal" option out of hand, while publicans are again incensed that they may be obliged to check whether customers' cigarettes are of the herbal or non-herbal variety. \nPub owners have been advised to remove all ashtrays from their premises. \nThe ban also covers vehicles regarded as an extension of the workplace, such as delivery vans, long-distance trucks and company cars, although health officials admit that policing the ban in this area may well prove impossible. \nAmong the few workplaces deemed exempt from the legislation are prisons, psychiatric homes and hotel and guesthouse bedrooms. \nCharged with policing the ban from midnight on Sunday are a team of 41 Environmental Health Officers dedicated to tobacco control in the hospitality industry, backed by up to 400 colleagues with wider duties. \nSanta Monica councilors voted 4 to 2 in favor of the no-smoking ordinance late on Tuesday, but must approve it in a second vote in about two weeks before it can become a rule. The ban would prohibit smoking along a 21km stretch of beach, on the city's pier except in designated areas and at bus stops. \nMayor Richard Bloom said the ban would improve public health and reduce pollution. \n"We know that cigarette butts not only litter our community, but also leach out toxins into the sand, into the water, and that affects marine life," he said. \nResident Rena Alvarez spoke against the ordinance, suggesting the City Council establish smoking zones in beach areas rather than a complete ban. \n"I think that it's a really touchy subject, telling people who have a Constitutional right that they can't do what they want," she said.
‘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