Overloaded ferry sinks
At least 17 people were missing and presumed drowned after an overloaded ferry sank in the Mekong River, officials said yesterday. The 14 women and three men were traveling to a local Buddhist temple to watch a performance in Kratie Province, about 200km from Phnom Penh, when their ferry sank in a tributary late on Saturday in strong currents.
Greenpeace paints slogan
Seven Greenpeace members were arrested yesterday after painting a protest slogan on the side of an Indonesian ship unloading palm-kernel animal feed at New Plymouth. Greenpeace says indigenous rain forests in Indonesia are being cleared to plant palms, whose kernel is used as a food supplement for cows supplying milk to New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative, the world’s biggest dairy exporter. The activists painted the 3m high words: “Fonterra climate crime” on the Ikan Juana. Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner Simon Boxer said clearing rain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia to plant palm plantations is causing “massive carbon emissions.”
Hepatitis B tests stopped
The government will stop mandatory hepatitis B tests for employees joining new companies and students enrolling in schools, state media said yesterday after a court ruled the tests were illegal discrimination. Deng Haihua (鄧海華), deputy director of the health ministry’s general office, said the government would soon issue instructions to drop the required tests, Xinhua news agency reported. “A hepatitis B disease carrier does no harm to others’ health,” Deng was quoted as telling a news conference on Saturday.
Daughter defends Berlusconi
After a dreadful week for Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister’s eldest daughter has claimed a “manhunt” is under way to overthrow him and subvert democracy. Marina Berlusconi, 43, leaped to her father’s defense in the wake of the decision by the constitutional court to remove his immunity from prosecution while in office. “In dictatorships they send tanks into the piazzas,” she told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “In a democracy like ours that someone is aiming to besiege, you jab and you use subtle means that are officially legal and therefore even more insidious. The aim is the same, to overturn the verdict of the electorate.”
Moscow, Beijing to ink deals
Moscow and Beijing will sign a range of agreements when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits China this week, including one on missile launches, the government said yesterday. Other agreements in the works include business deals and a memorandum of understanding on the “organization and development of fast and high-speed train travel on Russian territory,” it said. Putin is due to visit China from today to Wednesday, during which he is scheduled to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao (溫家寶). On Wednesday he is to attend a heads of government meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security group dominated by China and Russia that has been touted as a counterweight to Western-led institutions.
Military exercise canceled
The military says Ankara has canceled an annual air force drill in Turkey this week because of Israeli participation. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated sharply since the winter war in Gaza. Muslim Turkey was especially vocal in denouncing Tel Aviv conduct during the war. The military said in a statement that the drill was delayed “indefinitely” because of Turkey’s decision ... “not to allow the Israeli air force to take part.” The military said the exercise was to have also included US, Italian and NATO forces.
Robots to rescue satellites
Robots that rescue failing satellites and push “dead” ones into outer space should be ready in four years, reports said. Experts described the development as a crucial step in preventing a disaster in the Earth’s crowded orbit. Last year it was reported that critical levels of debris circling the Earth were threatening astronauts’ lives and the future of the satellite communications industry. Senior figures at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) said they have been given the go-ahead to tackle a crisis that will come to a head in the next five to 10 years as more orbiting objects run out of fuel. Their robots will dock with failing satellites to carry out repairs or push them into “graveyard orbits,” freeing vital space in geostationary orbit. This is the narrow band 35,000km above the Earth in which orbiting objects appear fixed at the same point. More than 200 dead satellites litter this orbit. Within 10 years that number could increase fivefold, the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety has said. Klaus Landzettel, head of space robotics at DLR, said engineering advances, including the development of machines that can withstand temperatures ranging from 200°C to minus 170°C, meant that the German robots would be “ready to be used on any satellite.
Swine flu deaths reported
Havana has acknowledged its first deaths from swine flu, saying three pregnant women succumbed to the virus and many more have been treated for symptoms. Deputy Health Minister Jose Angel Portal said a total of 2,100 pregnant women were treated for symptoms of the disease, with 110 of them seriously ill, in comments reported by the official Communist Party newspaper, Granma, on Saturday. The report does not say how many women remain hospitalized, nor make clear whether all of the 2,100 cases were confirmed to be H1N1. The communist government has expressed deep reservations about global plans to use a vaccine, saying the program will be costly and could also be ineffective, since the virus could easily mutate.
Guerilla escapes, flees
The global police agency Interpol said on Saturday it issued a top red notice in a bid to capture a leading Colombian guerilla thought to have fled to Venezuela this week after escaping from prison. Quinchia Gustavo Anibal Giraldo, known as “Pablito,” is a central figure of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerilla group. Arrested in Bogota in January last year, he is accused of homicides linked to “terrorist” activity, prosecutors said. Fellow rebels assisted his escape last week, which left one prison guard dead and another seriously wounded. A reward for his capture stands at around US$900,000.
Airlines discuss emissions
Members of the airline industry group International Air Transport Association (IATA) pledged on Saturday to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent a year until 2020, and called on governments worldwide to provide incentives to speed biofuel development. Representatives from IATA, which represents the world’s largest airlines, also agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2050 during a meeting on climate change in Montreal. IATA director Giovanni Bisignani said cooperation between states and airlines would be key to lowering emissions. He also called for “aviation access to global carbon markets to offset emissions until technology provides the ultimate solution.” The airline industry is responsible for up to 3 percent of emissions linked to climate change, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found.
Man shoots fiancee dead
A man in the state of Florida shot and killed his bride-to-be on the eve of their wedding after he mistook her for an intruder, local media reported on Saturday. John Tabbut and his fiancee Nany Dinsmore, both aged 62, had been due to walk down the aisle on Saturday. On Friday night, Tabutt grabbed his gun and fired into the darkness when he heard a suspicious noise in their home. Tabbut has not been charged for what police said appeared to be no more than a tragic accident, the reports said.
Morales defends jets
President Evo Morales denied on Saturday his country was engaged in a regional arms race, insisting the purchase of six Chinese light military aircraft would serve to fight drug trafficking. “The aircraft purchase is aimed at the fight against drug trafficking and not ... any arms race,” he said. Bolivia plans to buy the Chinese K-8 Karakorum jets at a cost of US$57.8 million after a similar order of Czech planes was blocked by the US.
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
‘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
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete