Jakarta is sinking fast
The construction of high-rise buildings and the over-exploitation of groundwater has triggered Jakarta to sink by up to 1m over the past 12 years, a news report said yesterday. A joint study carried out by PT Sucsofindo and the City Mining Agency indicated the sinkage in Jakarta would undermine any efforts to mitigate the capital over the past few years, the Jakarta Post reported. According to Haris Pindratno, head of the city mining agency, the land subsidence varies from one place to another, with North Jakarta experiencing the greatest amount of sinkage.
Bird flu claims 14th victim
Health officials yesterday raised alarms about a northern province where the latest bird flu death was reported, along with another confirmed infection and two suspected cases of the disease. Officials confirmed on Sunday that a 69-year-old man from northern Thai Binh Province had died from bird flu, making him the 14th person to die from the disease in the most recent outbreak over the past nine weeks. The man had eaten chicken with his family during Lunar New Year festivities, health officials said. A 21-year-old man from the same province has tested positive for the deadly disease. He is in critical condition in a Hanoi hospital.
Man held in family murders
A man is suspected of strangling five members of his family including an 85-year-old woman and her infant great-grandchildren and then attempting suicide, newspapers reported yesterday. Taira Hara, a 57-year-old nursing home worker, was found by police near the bathtub at his home on Sunday with a kitchen knife sticking in his neck. "I did it. I ... I ...," the Mainichi Shimbun quoted him as saying before he collapsed unconscious. Hara, who lived with his mother, wife and adult son, had driven his daughter and her two infant children to his house. He later went back to his daughter's house to pick up his son-in-law. When his son-in-law entered the family's home, Hara stabbed him in the abdomen but the man was able to escape and call the police.
Rice used in Great Wall
Rice fills the bowls on many Chinese tables -- and also the cracks in its ancient buildings, and maybe even the Great Wall, Xinhua news agency reported. "The legend that ancient craftsmen used glutinous rice porridge in the mortar while building ramparts has been verified," it said in a report seen yesterday. Archaeologists researching an ancient wall around Xian were stumped by the ingredients of a resilient mortar holding bricks together. The paste reacted similarly to glutinous rice in chemical tests, Qin Jianming, a researcher with the Xian Preservation and Restoration Center of Cultural Relics, was quoted as saying.
Cellphone shoes prompt ban
Forty-six students have been banned from the military for life after they tried to cheat in an army examination by hiding mobile phones in their shoes, an army spokesman said yesterday. He said the students were found with phones in the soles of their shoes and pagers under their clothes by examiners using metal detectors before the multiple-choice entrance exam. Media reports said the students' parents had paid 10,000 to 20,000 baht (US$261 to US$522) each for the shoe contraptions.
■ United States
Apple pioneer dies
Jef Raskin, a computer technology pioneer who started the team that created the Macintosh computer, died on Saturday at his home in Pacifica, California, at age 61. The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Linda Blum. Raskin, who named the Macintosh after his favorite apple but altered the spelling for copyright reasons, played a significant role in transforming computers into friendlier machines, helping to catapult them into the commercial sphere. Raskin left Apple in 1982 after his relationship with Steve Jobs, the company's co-founder, soured.