Video-sharing sites closed
Regulators have closed down hundreds of video-sharing Web sites in a new push to control Internet content, reports said yesterday. Several well-known Web sites were either closed down or ordered to delete all links to downloaded films or TV series in the past week, the China Business News said. Most content offered by peer-to-peer sites violates copyright and is not “above board,” the business daily said. BTChina, a popular video-sharing site, said in a notice that the State Administration of Video Film and Television ordered it to shut down because it has no license to provide audio and video content. UUbird.com, a similar site, said in a notice it would delete all links for downloading TV series and films by mid-February “to firmly support and comply with the state’s laws and regulations.” As of Nov. 30, authorities had shut down 414 video and audio Web sites this year for operating without a license or for containing pornography, copyright-violating content or other “harmful” information, the report said.
Group sets lantern record
An ecumenical group launched more than 10,000 twinkling paper lanterns into the night sky from a beach, setting a world record, officials said yesterday. The exact number of the white paper lanterns that floated gently above Carnaval Beach in Jakarta late on Saturday was to be determined later yesterday after Guinness World Records officials figured out how many each of the 7,000 participants launched, said organizer Yamal Hasmanan of Freedom Faithnet Global. However, it was apparent that the previous mark of 3,682 set in Colombia last Jan. 10 had been shattered. Officials have already presented the participants with certificates stating that a world record was set for flying the most sky lanterns simultaneously, Guinness adjudicator Lucia Sinigagliesi said. Freedom Faithnet Global said it the lantern release was a symbol of hope and prayer.
Beer comes from space
A brewer has come up with a beer that’s truly out of this world — one made with barley grown from a line of seeds that has orbited the Earth aboard the International Space Station. Sapporo Breweries said yesterday that orders had flooded in for the special edition of 250 six-packs of “Space Barley.” The company says the amber brew was made from the fourth generation of barley seeds that spent five months in space. “We have received orders from 2,000 people by Sunday,” company spokesman Yuki Hattori said. A six-pack retails at US$110, or almost US$20 per bottle.
Basescu wins re-election
President Traian Basescu won the presidential runoff, near final results showed yesterday, in an election Romanians hope will pull the country out of its worst political and economic crisis in 20 years. With 95.7 percent of the vote counted, election authorities said centrist Basescu polled 50.43 percent of the vote, while former foreign minister Mircea Geoana received 49.57 percent. Both Basescu and Geoana claimed victory late on Sunday after polls closed. There was no immediate reaction early yesterday to official results that apparently reversed the predictions of the opinion polls.
Catalonia not a ‘nation’
About 80 percent of Spaniards reject the term “nation” to describe Catalonia, an opinion poll said on Sunday, as the country’s highest court prepares to rule on the legality of the region’s statute of autonomy. To the question “Do you think Catalonia is really a nation,” 79 percent replied “no” and 18 percent “yes,” a survey released by the newspaper El Pais said. The northeastern region’s statute of autonomy, approved by parliament and endorsed by Catalan voters in a 2006 referendum, gives its government expanded powers. The debate over the statute comes as 160 Catalan towns are preparing to vote in symbolic referendums on Saturday on independence from Madrid.
King to revive circumcision
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini wants to revive the practice of circumcision among his people to help fight the spread of AIDS, Sapa news agency reported on Sunday. A number of studies have shown that circumcising men can halve their chances of contracting the HIV virus and the WHO has recommended including circumcision among anti-AIDS strategies since 2007. Zulus practised ritual circumcision until the start of the 19th century, when the legendary king Shaka put a stop to it because it deprived him of young warriors for months at a time.
Nation mourns ‘lothario’
The public yesterday mourned the death of one of its oldest and best-loved lotharios, a giant tortoise named Kiki, who died at the age of 146. Staff at the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris announced that its veteran resident had succumbed last week to an infection. They paid tribute to the zoo’s “doyen,” whose distinctive personality and “demonstrative lovemaking” had made him a favorite with the public. Marie-Claude Bomsel, a vet at the zoo, said Kiki was so vigorous in his pursuit of female tortoises that his grunts could be heard from the other end of the zoo and the Jardin des Plantes. “To be honest, from time to time I even saw him go after a wheelbarrow. You see what we were dealing with,” Bomsel told French radio. “That was one of his characteristics. We all loved him.”
Singer Liam Clancy dies
Balladeer Liam Clancy, last of the Clancy Brothers troupe whose feisty, boozy songs of old Ireland struck a sentimental chord worldwide, died on Friday in a Cork hospital. He was 74. He had suffered for years against incurable pulmonary fibrosis. Arts Minister Martin Cullen led nationwide tributes to Clancy, praising his “superb singing, warm voice and gift for communicating in a unique storytelling style.” Bob Dylan called Clancy “the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life.”
Cops commit 20% of crime
Up to one out of every five crimes in the country is perpetrated by crooked police officers, Interior Minister Tareck El Aisammi said on Sunday. The official said police officers accounted for 15 percent to 20 percent of all crimes, notably major felonies such as kidnapping and murder. President Hugo Chavez said crime was “the enemy of the revolution,” and called for special law enforcement teams to focus specifically on each type of crime. “We have to organize ourselves better. Just like in war,” Chavez said. Although the government stopped disclosing the national homicide rate months ago, an unofficial media count said 50 people are killed every weekend in Caracas, putting the capital’s murder rate at 100 per 100,000 inhabitants. The world’s average murder rate is nine per 100,000 inhabitants.
Bogota calls for arrest
A judge investigating the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group called on Sunday for the arrest of a Venezuelan politician with alleged ties to the leftist rebels, Bogota press said on Sunday. Amilcar Figueroa Salazar, a member of Venezuela’s delegation to the Latin American Parliament, should be tracked by the international policing force Interpol, said the judge, according to El Tiempo newspaper and Caracol Radio. Figueroa was detained in Panama last week — where he was attending a parliament meeting — but was released after a few hours. The arrest request comes through an ongoing court case investigating possible links between the FARC, Latin America’s longest-standing guerilla outfit, with foreign politicians and other supporting groups.
Mob beat, burn suspect
Villagers beat and burned to death a suspected murderer on Sunday, police said, continuing a spate of mob killings of suspected criminals. Residents of San Pedro Jocopilas, a town north of Guatemala City, seized 34-year-old Ronald Reynoso — accused of killing an elderly man last week — and brought him to the central plaza. The regional police chief told reporters that Reynoso was beaten, burned alive and left for dead.
Zelaya to stay in embassy
Deposed president Manuel Zelaya said on Sunday that he would stay in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital for as long as Brasilia allowed him to and that he would be willing to talk to the new president-elect. Zelaya, who was ousted by the army in a coup on June 28, slipped back into the country in September and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, from where he has been demanding his reinstatement. The US and Brazil have been pushing for Zelaya’s return to power but his fate remains uncertain after the Congress voted on Wednesday not to allow him to finish his term that ends next month.
Fifteen die in Ciudad Juarez
At least 15 people were killed overnight from Saturday to Sunday in Ciudad Juarez, local officials said. Police found a 17-year-old boy riddled with more than 60 bullet wounds and two brothers aged 15 and 19 were killed as part of a quadruple homicide. Later on Sunday more than a 1,000 people marched through the city that has been torn apart by violence related to drug-trafficking, calling for authorities to end the bloodshed. More than 2,000 people have been killed so far this year in the city.
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
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference