Mortars, rockets kill 12
Mortar rounds and rockets hit Somalia's capital Mogadishu early yesterday in a series of attacks that killed 12 people, including a four-year-old boy, and wounded more than 40 others, doctors and witnesses said. The violence, which erupted after mortar attacks on three Ethiopian and Somali government barracks, was among the worst since Somalia's government moved into the capital late last year. Somali troops, with the help of soldiers from neighboring Ethiopia, drove out an Islamic group who wanted to rule the country by the Koran. The presidential palace and seaport were also targeted.
Home for elderly probed
The authorities are investigating a home for elderly people and the disabled near Tokyo over allegations of abuse, a local official said yesterday, amid reports that some residents were kept in cages and handcuffed to beds. Police and Chiba prefecture authorities began investigating a facility in the city of Urayasu earlier this month over suspected violations, Chiba official Yutaka Yokoo said. Photos that appeared to back up the man's accusations ran in the Mainichi Shimbun yesterday. However, authorities have not uncovered evidence that a cage had been in use at the 26-patient home, Yokoo said.
Lightning killed paraglider
A Chinese paraglider sucked into a tornado-like thunderstorm last week was killed by lightning during the freak ordeal which a fellow flyer survived, Australian police said yesterday. They said preliminary post-mortem examination results showed that He Zhongpin, 42, had been struck after being sucked into the storm cell last Wednesday. His body was found the next day 75km from where he had taken off. German paraglider Ewa Wisnierska survived the ordeal despite being encased in ice as she was carried up to more than 9,000m while flying her parachute-like canopy. He Zhongpin was a member of the Chinese paragliding team with 10 years' experience.
Warrant issued for prince
A warrant has been issued to detain Cambodia's ousted royalist leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who has left the country and failed twice to appear in court, officials said yesterday. The besieged prince, who is in France, was summoned to court to answer allegations that he sold the Funcinpec party headquarters and pocketed US$3.6 million. After ousting him as president last year, the party filed a lawsuit over the land deal and the court charged Ranariddh with abuse of confidence. He failed to appear in court in January and again last week.
The warmest year since '51
Last year was the warmest since 1951 in China and since 1986 there have only been two winters where the weather was as cold as usual, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. Citing unidentified experts at the national meteorological bureau, Xinhua said most parts of the country had recorded an obvious spike in annual temperatures since 1950. "What is especially worthy of attention is that in 2006, of 39 monitoring stations in climate-sensitive areas like the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, 13 recorded historically high temperatures," it quoted an unnamed expert as saying. The report did not draw a direct link between the findings and climate change, but did say that scientists thought carbon dioxide was the main reason for global warming.
Police found the charred bodies of three Salvadoran representatives to the Central American parliament on a rural road on the outskirts of Guatemala City late on Monday, along with the corpse of the driver of their car, officials said. The dead included a former leader of El Salvador's ruling Nationalist Republican Alliance party, and Eduardo D'Aubuisson, the son of the party's deceased founder, Roberto D'Aubuisson, Interior Minister Carlos Vielman said. The car they were traveling in was pockmarked with bullet holes and burned. Police gave no information on the identity of the attackers or a possible motive.
■ United States
TV still playing for mummy
Police called to a Long Island man's house discovered the mummified remains of the resident, dead for more than a year, sitting in front of a blaring TV set. The 70-year-old Hampton Bays, New York, resident, identified as Vincenzo Ricardo, appeared to have died of natural causes. On Saturday, police that Ricardo's body had been discovered last Thursday when they were called to the house over a burst water pipe. The home's low humidity had preserved the body. Officials could not explain why the electricity had not been turned off, considering Ricardo had not been heard from since December 2005. Neighbors said when they had not seen Ricardo, who was diabetic and had been blind for years, they assumed he was in the hospital or a long-term care facility.
■ United States
Tiny `premie' heads home
A premature baby that doctors say spent less time in the womb than any other surviving infant was scheduled for release from a South Florida hospital yesterday. Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 24.13cm long and weighed less than 284g when she was born Oct. 24. She was delivered after just under 22 weeks of pregnancy; full-term births come after 37 to 40 weeks. Doctors say she is the first baby known to survive after a gestation period of fewer than 23 weeks. The baby has experienced respiratory problems, a very mild brain hemorrhage and some digestive problems, but none of the health concerns are expected to pose long-term problems, her doctors said. Amillia is the first child for Eddie and Sonja Taylor of Homestead, Florida. She was conceived by in vitro fertilization, which made it possible to pinpoint her exact time in the womb, and was delivered by Caesarean section. She now is between 64nm and 66cm long and weighs 2kg.
■ United States
Math anxiety saps memory
Worrying about how you'll perform on a math test may actually contribute to a lower test score, US researchers said on Saturday. Math anxiety -- feelings of dread and fear and avoiding math -- can sap the brain's limited amount of working capacity, a resource needed to compute difficult math problems, said Mark Ashcroft, a psychologist at the University of Nevada Los Vegas who studies the problem. "It turns out that math anxiety occupies a person's working memory," said Ashcroft, who spoke on a panel at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. Ashcroft said while easy math tasks such as addition require only a small fraction of working memory, harder computations require much more. Worrying about math takes up a large chunk of a person's working memory stores.
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500