Japan shifts 2m away
The massive earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan has shifted the country more than 2m away from the neighboring Korean Peninsula, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute said yesterday. The Korean Peninsula moved east up to 5cm, while Japan shifted about 2.4m east, it said. The disputed Dokdo islands, also claimed by Japan, where they are known as Takeshima, relocated furthest, moving 5cm east, as the islands in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) are relatively closer to the epicenter. The southwestern port of Mokpo drifted 1.21cm.
Japan warned of crisis
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned Japan two years ago that a strong earthquake could pose a “serious problem” for its nuclear power stations, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday. An IAEA expert expressed concern that the Japanese reactors were only designed to withstand magnitude 7.0 tremors, according to a December 2008 US diplomatic cable obtained by the WikiLeaks Website, the newspaper said. The IAEA official told a meeting of the G8’s Nuclear Safety and Security Group in Tokyo in 2008 that Japan’s safety guidelines were outdated, the cable said. “He [the IAEA official] explained that safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years,” it said, adding that “the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants.”
Iodide tablets out of stock
The main US manufacturer of potassium iodide tablets has run out of stock after a massive demand generated by the Japanese nuclear crisis, the company’s head said on Wednesday. Anbex was flooded with thousands of orders for its Iosat drug after Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. “The spike is enormous ... we were out of stock by Friday night,” Anbex president Alan Morris said. “The demand mostly is coming from the west coast of the US, but there are a significant number of inquiries, requests, orders coming from Japan, Korea, all over the Far East.” Morris said manufacturers hoped to have new stocks of the drug — which protects against radiation leak — ready to ship in about two weeks’ time.
Road rage disrupts hearing
A parliamentary hearing called to discuss the worsening nuclear crisis in Japan was suspended in uproar on Wednesday — in a spat over a parked car. As ministers outlined France’s response to what the government has called a potential disaster on the scale of Chernobyl, independent MP Maxime Gremetz stormed into a committee room to complain his car was blocked. “That’s enough! This is unworthy,” science committee chairman Claude Birraux protested, amid shouts from MPs enraged by the timing of the interruption. After disrupting the hearing on live television for a second time, Gremetz was ordered to get the car registration number. “With Japanese people risking their lives today, don’t come here and be a pain in the neck with your story about badly parked cars,” Birraux said before suspending the session. Immigration Minister Eric Besson said he was sure the offending vehicle did not belong to him or Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. “If it was either of our cars, I am sure the chauffeurs would be sitting in the front,” he told the committee.
Surgery saves woman’s arm
A woman attacked by a shark north of Sydney has had surgery to save her arm, as officials said yesterday that a great white was responsible. Lisa Mondy, 24, was attacked while wakeboarding off Jimmy’s Beach at Nelson Bay, about 150km northeast of Sydney on Wednesday, suffering serious injuries to her upper left arm and neck. Mondy’s employer, tour operator Frank Future, said doctors had been working to save her arm since she was rushed to the John Hunter Hospital still conscious. “After six or seven hours of operation that have basically re-attached quite a number of bits and pieces of her left arm, which is the one that the shoulder apparently took most of the attack,” he told ABC Radio. “They hadn’t even began patching up her neck or her face. So they’re hoping that today they’ll work on other bits of her, but yeah, it was a very savage attack.” A biologist from the New South Wales State Government’s Shark Attack Response Plan, who studied Mondy’s life jacket and wounds, said in a statement that the damage was consistent with a great white shark attack.
Model mistaken for bomb
An eccentric inventor sparked a security scare in parliament yesterday when a model of his contraption was mistaken for a bomb, police said. The distinctive parliament building in central Wellington, known as the “Beehive,” was evacuated as the bomb squad used a remote-controlled robot to check the device, which a member of the public had delivered to the mail room. Police spokesman Scott Miller said parliamentary staff raised the alarm after putting the package through standard security procedures. “The X-ray machine showed wires and coils which led staff to treat it with caution,” he said. Miller said the box actually contained a scale model of a “hydrogen energy converter,” which the man said could be used to transform water into energy.
Lady Gaga track censored
Radio stations are concerned that some lyrics in Lady Gaga’s gay anthem, Born This Way, are on the wrong track, baby. The stations are refusing to play lyrics in the hit song that encourage public acceptance of gays. The main private radio operator in the Muslim-majority country says it’s being cautious because the government forbids potentially offensive content. Broadcasters that have played Born This Way have used indecipherable garble to replace the lyrics: “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby.” AMP Radio Networks said that those lyrics “may be considered as offensive when viewed against Malaysia’s social and religious observances.”
Leopard kills TV woman
A leopard not previously thought to be dangerous has killed a member of a German TV crew making an episode in Namibia of a popular series, production company ndF said on Wednesday. “The animal was thought to be completely docile,” a spokeswoman said after last Friday’s deadly incident outside Windhoek. The 46-year-old victim, who has not been named, was part of a team shooting an episode of Um Himmels Willen (“For Heaven’s Sake”), a light-hearted and long-running series set in and around a Bavarian nunnery. “He completely unexpectedly went for her throat,” Ulf Tubbesing, a TV vet who owns the farm where the tragedy took place, told the Bild daily. “I immediately ordered my farm manager to shoot the animal.” The woman died of her wounds at the scene.
Bunga bunga pizza big hit
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has inspired a local restaurant to create a “bunga bunga” pizza — a concoction as spicy and wild as the Italian leader’s alleged sex parties. Topped with anchovies, figs, prosciutto, garlic and a lot of black pepper, the pizza at the Warsaw pizzeria, A Modo Mio, has been a hot seller since owner Walter Busalacchi put in on the menu several weeks ago. The Italian prime minister goes on trial in Milan next month on charges he paid for sex with a minor. Italian prosecutors say that Berlusconi hosted sex-fueled parties at one of his villas. Berlusconi has denied wrongdoing and maintained his parties were dignified.
Court bans condoms
A court has banned a company set up by a descendant of King Louis XIV from selling luxury condoms described as coming from the southwestern town of Condom, the town’s lawyer said on Wednesday. The court in the nearby city of Bordeaux banned “the continued sale of condoms under the brand ‘The Original Condom from Condom, France,’” said Caroline Lampre, lawyer for the picturesque town of 7,500. “It is clear that the use of the name, the image and the renown of the town of Condom, without its knowledge, for entirely commercial ends [is] manifestly illicit,” the judge’s ruling said. Royal descendant Charles-Emmanuel de Bourbon Parme and count Gil de Bizemont have been selling their “luxury eco-friendly” prophylactics mainly in the US since 2009. The company is headquartered in the medieval town, although the contraceptives themselves are manufactured in rubber-rich Malaysia. “Condoms protect everyone from disease, ours protect from tackiness,” Bizemont says on the site. The town brought the case after Condom Mayor Bernard Gallado learned about the condoms from media reports.
Bolshoi head steps down
The director of the Bolshoi Theatre ballet company has stepped down after erotic photographs of him appeared on the Internet in a suspected dirty tricks campaign to force him from his job. Gennady Yanin left his post last week after an e-mail, containing a link to a Web site with the erotic photographs, was sent to thousands of addresses across the country and abroad. The Bolshoi’s long-time soloist, 37-year-old Yan Godovsky, was named as Yanin’s replacement this week. He is due to hold the position until the end of the this year, when his contract comes up for renewal.
“The current situation is not seen as critical inside the theatre,” spokeswoman Yekaterina Novikova told the state-run news agency RIA-Novosti. “The entire repertoire is set, as is the tour schedule.”
Robber caught on bus
Police in Ohio say a man robbed a bank and then tried to flee on board a public bus, where officers eventually caught up with him. Dayton police Sergeant Moe Perez told the Dayton Daily News the suspect got away with cash from a downtown KeyBank branch at around 10am on Wednesday. Police were told by witnesses that they saw the man catch a bus about two blocks away. Officers followed the route of the bus and pulled it over less than a 1.6km away, near the campus of Sinclair Community College. Perez said the suspect was arrested without incident and the money was recovered. Police have not said how much was stolen.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
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
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big