Wife-carrying race held
A Finnish pair won the country’s annual wife-carrying competition for the third year in a row, organizers said on Saturday. Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen defended their title in front of 6,500 spectators who turned out to watch the celebrated event in Sonkajarvi. The 46-year-old lawyer, his partner’s legs wrapped around his head, sprinted 253m, leaping hurdles and negotiating a water pool along the way, all in a time of one minute. Less than a second behind them were Estonian rivals Alar Voogla and Kristi Viltrop, while a Lithuanian couple came third. The competition has its roots in the legend of local bandit Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen who lived in the forest at the end of the 19th century and stole food — and sometimes girls — from nearby villages.
Mayor states rail conditions
London Mayor Boris Johnson will not support a high-speed rail link between the capital and other major British cities unless the entire London section is underground, a letter published yesterday showed. While other countries, such as Japan and France, have extensive high-speed rail networks, Britain has only the short Channel Tunnel link between London and the south coast for services to Paris and Brussels. Johnson said he “cannot support” the plans unless the London section is in tunnels — which would ramp up the construction costs in the indebted country. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, which saw the letter, said Johnson’s opposition could cause long delays or even scupper plans for a high speed line up the spine of the country.
US looks to Central Asia
The US military is expanding its Central Asian supply routes to the war in Afghanistan, fearing that the routes going through Pakistan could be endangered by deteriorating US-Pakistani relations, the Washington Post reported late on Saturday. Citing unnamed Pentagon officials, the newspaper said that in 2009, the US moved 90 percent of its military surface cargo through the Pakistani port of Karachi and then through mountain passes into Afghanistan. Now almost 40 percent of surface cargo arrives in Afghanistan from the north, along a patchwork of Central Asian rail and road routes that the Pentagon calls the Northern Distribution Network, the report said. The military is pushing to raise the northern network’s share to as much as 75 percent by the end of this year, the paper said.
Murder trial to begin
The family of a British teacher killed in Japan in 2007 arrived in Tokyo yesterday to attend the first court hearing against the man charged with raping and murdering her. The trial is due to start today at the district court in Chiba, a city southeast of Tokyo, about 20 months after Tatsuya Ichihashi was arrested for the murder of Lindsay Ann Hawker. “I’m here to get justice for my daughter,” her father, William Hawker, told reporters at Narita Airport as he arrived with her mother and two sisters. Under the country’s legal system, the family will be able to question Ichihashi at the discretion of the court and give their opinion on sentencing. Hawker’s body was found in March 2007 in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of Ichihashi’s apartment just outside Tokyo. Ichihashi plans to donate royalties from a book, which he published in January about his fugitive days, to the Hawker family or for public good, according to media reports.
Headless bodies dumped
The bodies of two decapitated men were hurled on Saturday in front of the offices of two newspapers in Culiacan, prosecutors said. “We suspect that the two instances were simultaneous ... At the Noroeste newspaper, there was a decapitated male. There was an additional decapitated man thrown at the newspaper El Debate, also in Mazatlan,” an office spokesman said. Along with the bodies, messages threatening Sinaloa Governor Mario Lopez Valdez and Mazatlan Mayor Alejandro Higuera were found. Authorities said the messages were from the Zetas and Beltran Leyva brothers’ drugs cartels. The country is the world’s deadliest place for journalists, according to the UN. In the past decade, at least 66 journalists have been slain and another dozen are missing.
Lynch mob executes six
Vigilante townspeople rounded up and killed six suspected thieves in a small town, authorities in the violence-plagued Central American nation said on Saturday. The five men and a woman were killed on Friday in San Pedro Carcha, in Alta Verapaz department near the northern border. A fire brigade spokesman, who did not wish to be named out of fear of reprisals, said the six were thought to have been involved in the robbery of a shop and killing of its owner. In many isolated areas, where the reach of government authorities is limited, local people frequently take the law into their own hands. In this case, without hearing or trial, townspeople grabbed the six and took them to a cornfield, where they were blindfolded and shot dead. Their bodies were taken to a local morgue, officials said. A human rights report released last week by the Rights Prosecutor said that in the first half of this year, 25 people have been executed by “lynch mobs” in small towns and another 66 injured.
Former leader Franco dies
Ex-president Itamar Franco, who helped steer the country to stability in the wake of a major scandal, died on Saturday after losing a battle to leukemia, hospital officials said. Franco died at Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo at age 81. He arrived in power unexpectedly because of the impeachment of former president Fernando Collor de Mello following a string of corruption scandals. The Franco government served briefly from 1992 to 1994 as an institutional “bridge” to the next presidential elections, won by Franco’s finance minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso. “When [Franco] took over the presidency at a turbulent moment, he had the wisdom to dialogue with society and helped the country get on the right track,” popular ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a statement.
Immigrant law protested
Thousands rallied in Atlanta to protest Georgia’s new immigration law, which they say creates an unwelcome environment for people of color and those in search of a better life. Men, women and children converged on downtown Atlanta for Saturday’s march and rally, cheering speakers while shading themselves with umbrellas and posters. Capitol police and organizers estimated that between 8,000 and 14,000 protesters gathered. They filled the blocks around the Capitol, holding signs decrying House Bill 87 and reading “Immigration Reform Now!” Saturday’s rally follows a “day without immigrants,” when some parts of the law took effect.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
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
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
‘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