People protest for privacy
Some 7,500 people demonstrated on Saturday in Berlin to express their concerns about personal data privacy as the government and private companies amass giant databases, organizers said. Called out by numerous civic organizations and political parties under the banner of “Liberty Instead of Fear!,” the protesters denounced a government database that will collect information on wages, taxes and social payments. They also protested against electronic passports, electronic health insurance cards and an accord allowing the US to access EU banking information as part of anti-terror efforts. Personal and data privacy are sensitive issues for many Germans given their experiences under Nazi and communist dictatorships. Google’s Streetview, which lets users view panoramic street scenes, ran into strong opposition in the country, where many found it too intrusive. Eventually the company allowed people to block publication of images of their residences, the only country out of more than 30 where the service is available where users have such an option.
East German activist dies
Baerbel Bohley, a prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement that helped end communist rule in the former East Germany, has died. She was 65. The Robert Havemann Society — a group set up by the New Forum movement that Bohley cofounded — said she died of cancer on Saturday. Bohley, a painter who endured harassment by East Germany’s secret police, and several others set up New Forum in September 1989. The group sought greater openness in East German society and meaningful elections. East Germany opened its heavily fortified border on Nov. 9, 1989, after mounting peaceful protests helped undermine the communist government. The two Germanys were reunited in October 1990.
Serbs, Albanians fight
Serbs and ethnic Albanians clashed late on Saturday in Kosovo’s flashpoint city of Mitrovica, stoning each other over the victory of Turkey against Serbia at the World Basketball Championship, an official said. The stoning lasted around 20 minutes and “there were no casualties reported so far.” Police spokesman Besim Hoti added that local and European police reacted promptly by placing themselves between the two sides in the ethnically divided city and “putting the situation under control.” The conflict broke out as a group of youngsters from the south and ethnic Albanian majority part of the city began celebrating the victory of Turkey against Serbia in the semi-final at the World Basketball Championship in Istanbul.
Sex bishop goes into hiding
The former bishop at the center of a child sexual abuse scandal announced on Saturday that he would leave the Trappist monastery where he had been living and go into hiding to contemplate his future. The former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned in April after admitting he abused a boy, later revealed to be his nephew. The publicity surrounding the case prompted more than 200 people to come forward in a matter of days with accounts of abuse by priests, with cases stretching back several decades. In a statement released on Saturday, Vangheluwe again admitted guilt and asked for forgiveness. He said he would reflect on his future “somewhere hidden, outside the diocese of Bruges.”
Igor becomes hurricane
Tropical Storm Igor strengthened into a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday and was expected to gain power as it moved west, but posed no immediate threat to land or energy interests. The National Hurricane Center said Igor, the fourth hurricane of this year’s Atlantic season, had top sustained winds of 120kph, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. Computer models projected Igor would stay in the Atlantic for the coming days and not enter the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas operations are clustered.
Military to ‘redouble’ effort
President Juan Manuel Santos said on Saturday he would “redouble” the military’s offensive against leftist guerillas after an attack killed 40 police and military officers. Rebel groups have launched a string of deadly attacks in recent weeks following the inauguration of Santos, a former defense minister who has promised to keep pressure on the insurgents. “We have decided to intensify the offensive ... so that these criminals do not have time to plan their operations,” Santos said. Eight police officers were killed on Friday near the border with Ecuador in a shootout with members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia which tried to take over San Miguel town in Putumayo Province. Santos has rejected a rebel offer of peace talks, calling for them to first free hostages and stop recruiting minors.
Governor mulls expo bid
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said during a visit yesterday to the Shanghai Expo that his state would bid to host the 2020 World Expo in Silicon Valley. “As the hub of innovation, Silicon Valley is the most natural place to hold the expo, which will promote the international exchange of ideas, create jobs and increase revenues in our state,” Schwarzenegger said. A formal hosting application will be submitted next year, with a decision expected in 2012. The governor is traveling with a delegation of nearly 100 leaders from sectors including technology, tourism and entertainment. He vowed before the trip to act as a “salesman-in-chief” for California in a bid to better tap growing Asian markets like China.
‘Jaws’ crowned burrito king
Competitive eater Joey Chestnut is now king of the burrito. Chestnut, also known as “Jaws,” downed 47 burritos in 10 minutes at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque on Saturday, beating the previous record of 33, for a cash prize of US$1,500. The burritos in the Garcia’s World Burrito Eating Championship were stuffed with beef, beans and the state’s famous green chili. The event is sanctioned by the Major League Eating International Federation of Competitive Eating, the world body that oversees all international professional eating contests.
Workers saved from slavery
Authorities say they have rescued nearly 100 workers who were allegedly living in slave-like conditions in sugarcane fields in the country’s southeast. The official Agencia Brasil news service says the workers in Rio de Janeiro state were not registered and did not have access to drinking water, protective gear or appropriate eating facilities. The news service’s report on Friday said 50 other workers at a strawberry farm in Minas Gerais state were also rescued from the same conditions. The employers will be fined.
MORE RESOURCES: The prime minister announced an extra A$1.1bn in health-related spending, of which A$150m would be spent on domestic violence support services Australia yesterday announced a nearly US$100 million boost in funding to tackle domestic violence after support services reported a spike in coronavirus-related family abuse. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there had been a 75 percent surge in Google searches for help during the ongoing nationwide shutdown of non-essential services to curb the spread of COVID-19. Women’s Safety, a domestic violence charity in Australia’s most populous New South Wales state, has reported that more than 40 percent of workers had seen an increase in client numbers, with more than one-third of cases directly linked to the virus outbreak. In neighboring Victoria, women’s support
BOMA ARMY BASE: An official said military vehicles were destroyed and captured munitions were carried off in speedboats in the surprise early-morning attack Boko Haram has killed 92 troops in a seven-hour attack on an island army base, the group’s deadliest assault yet on Chad’s armed forces. Chadian President Idriss Deby told local television that he traveled to the scene of the attack on Tuesday to pay tribute to the 92 dead troops, saying it was the first time so many troops had been lost. The attack early on Monday in Boma is part of an expanding militant campaign in the vast, marshy Lake Chad area, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge. Boko Haram launched an insurgency in Nigeria in 2009, before
The Great Barrier Reef has experienced a third mass coral bleaching event in five years, according to Terry Hughes, the scientist carrying out aerial surveys over hundreds of individual reefs. With three days of a nine-day survey to go, “we know this is a mass bleaching event and it’s a severe one,” Hughes told reporters. It follows the worst outbreaks of mass bleaching on record killing about half the shallow water corals on the world’s biggest reef system in 2016 and 2017. Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and one of
WAITING FOR JUSTICE: Robert Levinson’s family said that those responsible would face justice, including those in the US government who had ‘left him behind’ The US government has concluded that retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished more than a decade ago, died while in the custody of Iran, his family and administration officials said on Wednesday. The circumstances and timing of Levinson’s death was unclear, but US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that the US believes Levinson “may have passed away some time ago.” Hours earlier, his family said information that US officials had received had led them to conclude that he was dead, though it did not describe the nature of the information. The family said in a statement announcing Levinson’s death that it