Stranded whales get free
Sixty-six survivors of a pod of 80 pilot whales that were stranded on a beach freed themselves and swam back to sea during a high tide, rescuers said yesterday. The whales came ashore at Golden Bay north of the city of Nelson at the tip of South Island on Friday afternoon. About 100 rescuers had been unable to refloat the whales before darkness fell on Friday night. When they returned to the site of the stranding yesterday morning, they found the whales had gone, Conservation Department spokeswoman Trish Grant said. It appeared a high tide around midnight had allowed the stranded whales to free themselves.
Moscow backs Seoul’s call
Moscow said on Friday that it backed South Korea’s earlier call for the UN Security Council to debate North Korea’s uranium enrichment program. The foreign ministry said in a statement that North Korea’s reported enrichment capacities would violate existing Security Council resolutions and require further international inquiry. Moscow also renewed its call for the “urgent” resumption of the six-party talks format that also include the US, China and Japan. The talks should lead to “reliable political and legal safeguards [for] Northeast Asia” and the “normalization of state-to-state relations,” it said.
Japanese scientist honored
Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka was honored on Friday with a Spanish award worth 400,000 euros (US$544,000) for his pioneering work on cell reprogramming. Yamanaka won the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, the foundation said. The former orthopedic surgeon made his breakthrough discovery in 2006, when he succeeded in generating “induced pluripotent stem cells,” or those capable of growing into other tissues in the body. Until Yamanaka proved differently, scientists believed that this could only be achieved with stem cells harvested from embryos, the foundation said in a statement.
Pet boa constrictor found
Transit officials said a 1m long boa constrictor that slithered away from its owner on a Boston subway car a month ago was found on an adjoining car on Thursday. A commuter spotted Penelope the snake and alerted a train attendant at a Red Line station. Transit authority officials took the train out of service to search it. Finally at 8:30pm, train attendant Sharon Lynch caught the snake. Penelope’s owner, Melissa Moorhouse of Allston, had traveled around with the snake around her neck and lost it between two stations on Jan. 6.
BBC sorry over Mexico slur
The BBC on Friday apologized to Mexican Ambassador Eduardo-Mora Icaza over comments referring to Mexicans as “lazy, feckless” and “flatulent,” but defended the Top Gear motoring show presenters who made them. Icaza said the “outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults” on the BBC show on Sunday reinforced “negative stereotypes.” The BBC said it had written to Icaza apologizing if the program caused offense. However, it added in a statement that the comments may have been “rude” and “mischievous,” but not vindictive. “Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganized and overdramatic, the French arrogant and the Germans overorganized,” the BBC said.