Quake hits Tokyo area
A strong earthquake shook the capital and surrounding areas on Sunday, halting trains and a professional baseball game, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. There was no threat of a tsunami from the quake, which was centered at a depth of 303km in the Izu islands off the eastern coast, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The USGS measured the quake at magnitude 7.1, while the Japan Meteorological Agency put it at 6.9. The quake, which rattled furniture and walls in Tokyo homes, hit at 7:56pm and shook the capital region, including Ibaraki, Saitama, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures, the agency said.
Torrential rains kill 12
At least 12 people have been killed in torrential rains, while typhoons also caused casualties and destruction in other parts of Asia, media reports said yesterday. Typhoon Etau has brought heavy rainfall, causing flooding and landslides that have destroyed homes. In the hardest-hit prefectures, Hyogo and Okayama, 12 people were killed and several remained missing, local news reports said. Rescuers continue to search for victims. At least 2,000 people sought shelter in schools and other public buildings. Houses were destroyed by mudslides and the authorities had to close some roads. In Tokyo, morning traffic was obstructed by the rain.
Morakot hits southeast
Tropical Storm Morakot wreaked havoc on property and crops in southeastern parts of the country, local media reported. In Xiapu, Fujian Province, where the storm made landfall late on Sunday, at least 136,000 people suffered property losses, Xinhua news agency reported. The storm swept ashore with wind speeds of up to 118kph, it said. Direct losses to the region’s agriculture and fisheries were estimated at 200 million yuan (US$29 million), Zhang Changjian, director of the area’s flood control and drought relief headquarters, was quoted as saying. Yesterday afternoon, rescuers were trying to reach eight sailors stranded after gale-force winds blew their cargo vessel onto a reef near Fujian, the Shanghai Daily said. The storm claimed the life of a four-year-old boy who was buried beneath the debris of a flood-damaged house on Sunday.
Chui new chief in Macau
Fernando Chui (崔世安) was officially appointed the new chief executive of Macau following his unopposed election last month by the gambling hub’s mainly pro-Beijing electoral committee, state media said. The State Council, or Cabinet, made the appointment at a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), Xinhua news agency reported. A former culture minister of Macau, Chui pledged to diversify the region’s economy and rid it of corruption after being named the new chief executive on July 26. Chui, 52, succeeds Edmund Ho (何厚鏵), who led the Macau government since 1999.
PM’s office fired on
Gunmen sprayed bullets at a Bangkok office of the party of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday, police said, underscoring the kingdom’s continuing political tensions. There were no injuries in the pre-dawn incident at the Democrat Party office in the Klong Toey area of the capital but the gunfire damaged the front door, they said. The attackers were believed to be traveling by motorcycle, police said.
HRW slams detentions
The Saudi General Directorate for Investigations, or mabahith, ignores the country’s own laws to hold suspects for years without charges and ignores court orders to release detainees, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. The security police are believed to hold several thousand people allegedly involved in seditious or terror activities, many arrested during the 2003-2006 al-Qaeda campaign of violence across the country. It also holds a number of pro-democracy reform advocates. But even after years in the secret mabahith prisons, few are ever charged and tried, Human Rights Watch said in a new report in which it cited former detainees and families of prisoners.
Three die in shootout
Two policemen and a militant were killed in a shootout in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan yesterday, Itar-Tass news agency reported. Three gunmen opened fire on policemen who stopped their car in a rural area to check documents, the agency quoted a police source as saying. Analysts say deep-rooted corruption and widespread poverty push many young men to join the ranks of insurgents.
Surprise donation for school
Hebrew University has received a surprise donation of more than US$100,000 from an unexpected benefactor — a Jewish woman who survived the Nazi Holocaust and appeared to be destitute, a university official said on Sunday. Upon her death two years ago, a homeless Holocaust survivor living on the streets of New York City willed the gift to the university. The woman lived out of a shopping cart in Manhattan and had no known relatives, said Yefet Ozery, Hebrew University’s director of development and public relations. “She lived as a very poor woman. And when she died at the age of 92, it was discovered she had accumulated close to $300,000,” Ozery said. Her donation will be used to fund scholarships for medical research students, according to the woman’s wishes, Ozery said.
Pirates free tugboat crew
An Italian tugboat and its crew of 16, seized by pirates off the Gulf of Aden in April, have been released, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Sunday. He told Sky Italia TV he had been given the news by the Somali prime minister. The ship’s release was the result of “exceptional work” on the part of Somali authorities and the Italian intelligence service, he said. The pirates hijacked the Buccaneer on April 11 with a crew of 10 Italians, five Romanians and one Croatian and took it to a point close to Las Qoray, Somalia. The ship is now on its way to the port of Djibouti, escorted by naval vessels. Officials said no ransom was paid for the boat and its crew.
Mayor’s car stoned
Ultra-Orthodox Jews stoned the car of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Sunday, police said, amid an ongoing controversy over the opening of a parking lot in the city on Saturdays. Barkat was not injured in the incident but his car was damaged. The mayor said he had no intention of “giving way to violence” in the dispute over the private parking lot located near the Old City. Ultra-Orthodox protestors consider opening the lot on Saturdays to be “profaning” the Sabbath and fear it will encourage more traffic and lead to the opening of Jewish stores on the holy day of rest.
Nearly 80 migrants nabbed
Seventy-nine undocumented migrants from Asia and Africa were arrested in a port off the Caribbean Sea, police said on Sunday. The migrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Nepal said they had arrived by boat at the eastern port of Bluefields, where their handlers led them to a hotel, telling them to wait there for a train. But there are no trains in Nicaragua. “We suppose they were brought from Colombia to the island of San Andres” and were then transferred to Bluefields, “from which they had hoped to continue their journey to the United States to pursue the American dream,” Deputy Commissioner Rolando Coulson told reporters.
Tehran confirms arrest
Iran has officially confirmed that it has arrested three Americans who hiked into its territory from Iraq, White House national security adviser Jim Jones said on Sunday. “The government has officially acknowledged they have them in their custody. That is of this morning that we have that confirmation,” retired general Jim Jones, the national security adviser, said on NBC television. The three — Shane Bauer, Sara Shourd and Joshua Fattal — were widely reported to have been arrested by Iranian authorities on July 31 after setting out from the Kurdish region.
Man blames cat for porn
Florida investigators say a man accused of downloading child pornography is blaming his cat. Keith Griffin is charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography after detectives found more than 1,000 images on his home computer. According to a sheriff’s report on Friday, Griffin told investigators that his cat jumped on the computer keyboard while he was downloading music. He said he had left the room and found “strange things” on his computer when he returned. Griffin is being held on US$250,000 bond in the Martin County jail. It is unclear if he has an attorney.
Castro dictionary out
Cubans accustomed to hours-long speeches, thousand-word essays and lengthy interviews can now get Fidel Castro at a glance, thanks to a new dictionary of El Comandante’s teachings. “Unemployment” and “History” are among the myriad words for which the 339-page paperback provides definitions — based on snippets of speeches, columns and statements dispensed by Castro during the 49 years he governed the communist-run island. The publication, which the government says is meant to provide guidance to Cuban thinkers, calls to mind the Little Red Book of the late Chinese leader, Mao Zedong (毛澤東). Unlike Mao’s book, however, the Cuban dictionary with the reddish-brown cover and the photo of an elderly Castro in suit and tie is not small enough to stuff into one’s back pocket.
US troops felled by flu
Fifty-one US troops in Iraq have been diagnosed with and treated for swine flu, while another 71 soldiers remain in isolation suspected of contracting the potentially deadly virus, the US military said on Sunday. The figures were released as Iraqi health officials confirmed Sunday the country’s first swine flu death. A woman in the southern holy Shiite city of Najaf died of the disease, raising fears about a possible outbreak among worshippers making pilgrimages to the revered sites. All the 51 US troops diagnosed with the flu have fully recovered, while the 71 suspect cases are in isolation, said Colonel Michael Eisenhauer, the chief of clinical operations in Iraq.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable