Volcano draws tourists
Thousands of tourists are flocking to restive Mayon volcano with many even risking their lives to get close to the spectacular flowing lava, authorities said yesterday. Albay provincial Governor Joey Salceda said 2,400 tourists a day had been pouring into the area since the volcano started oozing lava on Dec. 14, compared with about 200 a day before. “All the hotels are fully booked, even the cheapest ones,” Salceda said. He said that tourists typically only stayed overnight to view the lava oozing from the volcano’s crater in the dark. But many were also slipping by security patrols to enter the 8km danger zone around Mayon to get a close-up experience, he said. “It’s a big problem. I think the first violation of the zero casualty [record] will be a dead tourist,” Salceda said. “At the moment of the eruption, the local guides will have better chance of getting out. The hapless tourist will be left behind.”
Jackson becomes a knight
The king of Middle Earth is being made a knight. Writer and director Peter Jackson, whose widely acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy scooped 17 Oscars, has been made a knight in the New Year Honors’ list. He becomes Sir Peter Jackson for his “services to film.” The Lord of the Rings trio showcased the country’s unique natural scenery as J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy land, filled with sword-swinging warriors, elves, wizards and hairy-footed hobbits. The project broke box office records around the world, won Jackson international accolades, and prompted a spike in tourism.
Bomb kills two soldiers
A roadside bomb killed two soldiers in the south yesterday, as authorities boosted security ahead of the New Year and the sixth anniversary of an insurgency in the region, police said. The blast ripped through a truck carrying five members of the rangers force as they patrolled a route used by teachers in Pattani Province. Two soldiers died at the scene and three others were seriously wounded. Police said the bomb contained around 15kg of explosives and was detonated remotely by cellphone.
Feces leads to jail term
A court has jailed a caregiver who forced a 65-year-old dementia sufferer to eat her own feces. Chan Sau-kuen force-fed the woman her own excrement on at least two occasions as punishment for soiling herself. Jailing Chan for six months on Tuesday and fining her HK$3,000 (US$390), Magistrate Symon Wong warned her that she would “be punished by heaven” for her behavior.
Official resigns over Mladic
The head of a Serbian unit hunting indicted war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic resigned on Tuesday over his team’s failure to arrest the Bosnian Serb former military chief by the end of the year. “This is to inform you that for reasons well known to everybody ... I resign from my post” as chief of the unit, Rasim Ljajic said in a letter submitted to Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic. The unit was formed in 2006 to track down and arrest suspected war criminals from the Balkans conflicts sought by The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). But Ljajic’s unit has failed to catch Mladic.
Prisoner taunts police
An escaped prisoner is taunting police and attracting a growing fan base on his Facebook page, mocking authorities for failing to find him and openly musing about moving across the Atlantic. Police have appealed to his more than 3,800 Facebook friends to help track him down. Craig “Lazie” Lynch, 28, escaped from the minimum-security Hollesley Bay Prison in southern England three months ago. He regularly updates his Facebook page with ungrammatical digs at police. Police said Lynch had been serving a seven-year sentence for committing a burglary with a weapon, but did not go into detail. Lynch’s updates typically center on what he’s eating — pizza was recently on the menu. His profile pictures show him shirtless while holding a well-roasted turkey.
Fighting kills 38 in Bauchi
Fighting between Islamic militants and security forces left at least 38 people dead as sect members armed with spears, knives, assault rifles and arrows ransacked a neighborhood and set homes ablaze, police officials said. Mohammed Barau, a police spokesman for Bauchi state, said members of the Kata Kalo sect began fighting among themselves on Monday night and accusing each other of causing their leader to fall seriously ill. The fighting spread into the streets of a poor neighborhood near the city of Bauchi and military forces attempted to stop the violence, Barau said.
Carbon tax unconstitutional
A new carbon emission tax that was due to take effect on Friday has been ruled illegal by the constitutional court as it exempted too many polluters. The Conseil Constitutionnel struck down the tax on Tuesday as the exemptions violate “the principle of [tax] equality.” It estimated that 93 percent of industrial emissions outside of fuel use, including the emissions of more than 1,000 of the country’s most polluting industrial sites, would be exempt from the tax of US$24.40 per tonne of emissions.
McDonald’s said on Tuesday it planned to open an outlet at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie, completing the landmark’s 20-year transformation from Cold War front line to a money-making tourist hotspot. The 120-seater restaurant will be opposite the Mauermuseum dedicated to the Berlin Wall and hopes to open next year. Checkpoint Charlie was the main crossing point for foreigners between East and West Berlin. After the East German authorities erected the Berlin Wall in 1961 as an “anti-capitalist protection barrier,” the crossing point expanded to include several traffic lanes.
Rare death in line of duty
An Ottawa police officer was stabbed to death on Tuesday, the first time a policeman in the city has been killed in the line of duty since 1983. The deceased officer was 51-year-old father of four Eric Czapnik, Ottawa police chief Vern White said. Police said Czapnik’s attacker took him by surprise as he was parked outside a hospital. The alleged assailant was identified as Kevin Gregson, 43, a former member of the Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police, CBC television reported.
Diner hurt by moose head
A woman says she was struck by the decor at a New York City restaurant — when it fell on her head. Raina Kumra says in a negligence lawsuit filed last week that a 68kg stuffed moose head plummeted off a wall at the White Slab Palace on Oct. 4 and hit her. She says she suffered a concussion and other injuries.
Protest at film prison
About 300 relatives of inmates at a prison where Mel Gibson is reportedly scheduled to make a movie protested outside the facility on Tuesday, fearing their loved ones will be moved to make way for the production. The group of protesters said it would be harder to visit inmates if they are transferred out of the city of Veracruz. Earlier this month, Veracruz governor Fidel Herrera said part of the prison would be emptied next month “because a grand production will be filmed there with our friend, the actor and producer Mel Gibson.”
Hacker pleads guilty
A Florida man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to hacking into corporate computer networks and carrying out what officials have described as the largest credit card theft in US history. Albert Gonzalez pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston to two counts of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to payment card networks, the Justice Department said. Gonzalez and two co-conspirators were accused of stealing more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers from firms supporting major retail and financial organizations. Gonzalez was accused of leasing servers to other hackers who used the platforms to store malicious software known as “malware” and launch attacks against corporate victims.
Suspect draws on scandal
The TV producer accused of shaking down David Letterman to keep mum about his affairs is drawing on the Tiger Woods sex scandal to try to bolster his defense. In court papers filed on Tuesday, Robert Halderman’s lawyer cited published reports that Woods paid an alleged mistress millions of dollars to stay silent. Attorney Gerald Shargel suggested that since the woman hasn’t been charged with a crime, Halderman shouldn’t be, either.
Anthrax vaccine offered to 80
Antibiotics and vaccines are being offered to about 80 people in New Hampshire as authorities investigate the US’ first known case of gastrointestinal anthrax. Officials don’t know how the woman contracted the disease but are focusing on a drum circle gathering she attended last month. They said that vaccines and antibiotics will be available to people who attended the event. An adviser to the state’s public health division, says one theory is that the spores became airborne through vigorous drum playing, and the woman swallowed them.
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