iPad 2 craze leads to ruckus
Four people were taken to hospital and a glass door smashed as a near-riot broke out at Beijing’s top Apple store among crowds rushing to snap up the iPad 2 tablet computer, state press said yesterday. Angry consumers began rushing the store on Saturday afternoon after a “foreign” Apple employee allegedly stepped into the crowd to push and beat people suspected of jumping the line, the Beijing News said. After the employee retreated back into the store, a crowd of consumers smashed the glass front door and shoved security guards as they surged forward in anger over the alleged beatings, the report said. Consumers had lined up for hours at Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai since the iPad 2 went on sale on Friday.
Storm leaves nine dead
Tropical Storm Aere slammed into the eastern seaboard yesterday, bringing heavy rains and landslides that have so far killed nine people and left more than 4,000 stranded, officials said. The state weather bureau said Aere made landfall over the island of Catanduanes before noon and was expected to take a northeasterly path for the rest of the day. Three people were killed when heavy rains triggered a landslide in the province of Camarines Sur in the eastern Bicol region and buried a house. More than 100,000 villagers have fled farming towns threatened by landslides. Aere, the first major weather disturbance of the year, hit Catanduanes with maximum winds of 85kph at its center and gusts of up to 100kph. Storm alert warnings had been raised over at least 12 provinces in the main island of Luzon and the eastern Bicol, the civil defense office in Manila said.
Official touts nuclear power
A top official said the country would maintain atomic power as part of its energy policy despite the ongoing nuclear crisis. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said yesterday that the government would “stick to nuclear power as a national energy policy.” He made the comment on a talk show on public broadcaster NHK. Sengoku also said the government had no plans to halt nuclear reactors other than three at the Hamaoka power plant. On Friday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he had asked the plant to suspend operations at the reactors until a seawall is built and backup systems are improved.
Refugee boat runs aground
A boat carrying 500 refugees from Libya ran aground as it neared a port yesterday, forcing many of those on board to jump into the sea, officials said after all were successfully rescued. The boat hit some rocks on the approach to the island of Lampedusa in the south, sparking panic among those on board — most of them migrant workers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia who had been living in Libya. Coast guards immediately intervened, plucking dozens from the water, including women and children, and rescuing those still on board. Television images showed chaotic scenes as refugees clung on to ropes cast between the shoreline and the fishing boat and officers dived in to help. “It was a difficult situation. Our patrol boats couldn’t come close because of the shallow water,” Antonio Morana, a coast guard spokesman, said after the pre-dawn incident. A few of the refugees suffered slight injuries and have been hospitalized.
Mass wedding held
About 350 couples have been married according to Indian customs and traditions in a colorful Andean mass wedding with President Evo Morales presiding as best man. Saturday’s ceremony was held at a stadium in La Paz that was adorned with large white flowers and indigenous banners. Several bands serenaded the couples. Indian religious leaders presided over the wedding as did, symbolically, Pachamama — the earth deity of the Aymara and Quechua races of the nation’s highlands Indians. Morales gave a speech to the couples, who crowded the arena’s floor wearing multicolored ponchos and hats. Before the ceremony, each couple married in a civil ceremony.
Lady Di’s dresses auctioned
Two dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, have sold for a record US$276,000 at an auction in Beverly Hills. Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, said on Saturday that a black crepe evening gown Diana wore during a state visit in 1992 fetched the higher price of US$144,000. A light blue strapless gown with accompanying stole that sold for US$132,000 had been worn on three occasions, including at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. The auction attracted bidders from around the world, and organizers believe the recent royal wedding helped boost the sale price of the dresses, which were designed by Catherine Walker.
An official said former president Laurent Gbagbo has been questioned for the first time over human rights abuses committed while he was in power. Prosecutor Simplice Kouadio Koffi said Gbagbo was questioned on Saturday by judicial officials and that his French lawyers were not present. He says Gbagbo’s lawyers were turned away on Friday for not having proper visas. He said Gbagbo’s wife was to be questioned yesterday. Internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara took his oath of office on Friday.
Church volunteer charged
A volunteer at a Texas church home to the largest congregation in the US has been charged with sexually abusing an autistic child. Alvaro Daniel Guzman, 25, was charged with indecency with a child over a incident in February last year at a Lakewood Church activities program for special needs children, according to media reports in Houston. Lakewood is a Protestant “megachurch” run by pastor Joel Osteen, whose weekend services draw more than 40,000 people. Guzman allegedly fondled an eight-year-old autistic boy while he helped him climb into a play structure. Another adult volunteer allegedly witnessed the event and reported it to church officials and authorities.
Ben Ali relative convicted
A court convicted on Saturday a nephew of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s wife on charges of drug use and sentenced him to two years in jail, the official TAP news agency said. Imed Trabelsi was arrested in January after Ben Ali and his wife Leila fled the North African country to Saudi Arabia following a popular uprising over poverty, corruption and political repression. TAP said Trabelsi admitted to the charge, but told the court he had stopped using drugs in 2000. He was fined 2000 dinar (US$1,450). The nation’s caretaker authorities, in an apparent attempt to assert their authority and gain legitimacy in the eyes of protesters, have cracked down on vestiges of Ben Ali’s long rule.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday