WWII bomb kills seven
Seven people died when a bomb from World War II exploded in the west of the country, officials said yesterday. “They were killed accidentally in the blast while trying to remove a bomb that appeared at the sea shore near their village. They seemed to have no idea what it was,” said a government official who asked not to be named. The accident took place on Wednesday near the port town of Sittwe. The victims were all men. “We think the old bomb was left over from World War II. We have no idea how many of them are left buried around the country,” a second official said.
Nation drills for quake
The country yesterday conducted its first national earthquake drill since the March 11 disasters that left 20,000 dead or missing and triggered a nuclear crisis. Police supervised traffic at about 100 points in central Tokyo while passengers were guided to safe zones from train stations in a simulation of a post-quake scenario in which all rail and subway services are suspended. Disaster Prevention Day is an annual drill to train for a potentially deadly magnitude 7.3 earthquake scenario in Tokyo and is held to commemorate the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which killed more than 140,000. Throughout Japan, about 517,000 people were scheduled to take part in disaster drills yesterday. However, many areas hit by the March disaster, including Fukushima, canceled their participation with residents still struggling to recover from the March calamity.
Aquino’s love life like Coke
The bachelor president is lamenting that his love life is like Coke — it’s gone from regular to zero. Fifty-one-year-old President Benigno Aquino III poked fun at himself while addressing members of the Philippine community in Beijing during his state visit to China. Like a standup comedian, he opened up by broaching one of the most mundane questions people often ask him. Aquino said on Wednesday: “Someone asked me: ‘How is your love life?’ So I said: ‘It’s like Coca-Cola ... Before, it was regular, then it became light, now it’s zero.’” The audience then burst into laughter. Since taking office last year, Aquino has broken up with several women, often blaming journalists’ prying eyes for ruining his romances.
Carrier passes sea trial
The country says its first aircraft carrier attained all its set objectives in its initial sea trial last month. According to yesterday’s official Global Times newspaper, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun (楊宇軍) says the refurbished ex-Soviet carrier will continue to undergo testing. He gave no further details. The government says the ship is intended for research and training, pointing to plans to build up to three additional clones of the carrier.
Sterilizer blamed for deaths
A sterilizing agent for home humidifiers probably caused the mysterious deaths of four pregnant women, an official with a health agency said yesterday. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began investigating after 28 cases of lung disease with unknown causes were reported since 2004, many of them this year and involving pregnant women. Four of the pregnant patients died earlier this year. The agency said tests showed that a harmful substance in a sterilizer — used by all the patients in their humidifiers — could seriously damage lung cells.
Hamas leader rearrested
The government has rearrested a top leader of the Hamas movement in the West Bank, just weeks after releasing him from jail, the military and Hamas sources said yesterday. Hassan Yusef was detained on Wednesday night as he tried to cross a checkpoint between the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Nablus, a Hamas source said. The military confirmed it had detained Yusef, who was released from prison after serving a six-year term for “membership of a terrorist organization,” but declined to give details. Yusef was freed on Aug. 4 as part of a mass release of Israeli and Palestinian prisoners due to overcrowding. He had six weeks left of his sentence.
Floods kill 102: Red Cross
At least 102 people were killed when a dam burst in torrential rain and flooding in the southwest, Umar Mairiga, disaster management coordinator for the Nigerian Red Cross Society, said on Wednesday. He said the Eleyele dam collapsed and several bridges were swept away at the weekend after heavy rains fell for more than seven hours around the university town of Ibadan, 150km north of Lagos. Residents were swept away by the water after their homes crumbled in the flood waters, while others tried to scramble to safety, Mairiga said. An official at the National Emergency Management Agency said the drains in the town were blocked by rubbish which meant the water could not escape normally.
Vandals have defaced a monument in the town of Jedwabne that commemorates a World War II massacre of between 300 and 400 Jews on July 10, 1941. About 40 Poles hunted down Jews, closed them in a barn and burned alive. The vandals used green paint to spray a swastika and “SS” on the monument, as well as the phrases “I don’t apologize for Jedwabne” and “they were flammable.” Police discovered the desecration on Wednesday during a patrol and are trying to find the culprits.
Duchess still controls money
The Duchess of Alba, who is set to marry for a third time at 85, admits she had to overcome opposition among her children to the wedding, but insists she still controls her immense wealth. The duchess told Hola! magazine that it was not outside pressure that made her divide some of her riches among her six children before the marriage. “I made the share-out because I wanted to. Nobody pressured me,” she said. “Anyway, as long as I am alive everything remains in my hands.” Her wealth is estimated between US$867 million and US$5 billion.
Sarkozy took cash: book
Allegations that President Nicolas Sarkozy collected envelopes of cash from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt have returned to haunt the Elysee. Isabelle Prevost-Desprez, the magistrate who investigated the Bettencourt family dispute last year, told the authors of Sarko Killed Me, which was published yesterday, that a witness claimed to have seen the billionaire hand cash to Sarkozy during his 2007 presidential campaign. “Liliane Bettencourt’s nurse told my stenographer, after being questioned by me, ‘I saw cash payments to Sarkozy, but I couldn’t say it in my statement,’” Prevost-Desprez said. She said she had been struck by witnesses’ fear of mentioning Sarkozy in their statements. Sarkozy’s office denied the allegations, calling them “scandalous, unfounded and untruthful.” Socialist presidential hopeful Martine Aubry led calls for a fresh inquiry after the judge’s comments.
Quake shook nuclear plant
The earthquake that shook the east coast last week rattled huge, heavy casks holding radioactive nuclear waste at a Virginia plant, moving them as much as 11cm from their original position, the plant’s operator has said. The magnitude 5.8 quake shifted 25 casks, each 4.9m tall and weighing 115 tonnes on a concrete pad at Dominion Resources Inc’s North Anna nuclear plant in Virginia, the Richmond Times-Gazette reported on Wednesday, citing company officials. The plant, located about 19km from the quake’s epicenter has been shut down since the Aug. 23 quake as inspectors check for damage. The commission is doing a special review because of preliminary data showing that shaking from the quake exceeded the plant’s design rating.
Smuggler nabbed at airport
Never mind ants in your pants, what about snakes and tortoises? That’s what authorities at Miami’s international airport said they found inside the trousers of a passenger as he tried to board a flight for Brazil. The Transportation Security Administration said the man had seven exotic snakes and three tortoises wrapped in nylon bags that had been stuffed into his pants. He was discovered as he went through a body scanner at one of the airport’s security checkpoints yesterday and arrested by Fish and Wildlife Service officials for violating animal trafficking laws.
Clinton aide nominated
A recent top aide to former US president Bill Clinton in his work as the UN special envoy for Haiti is being nominated as prime minister, a legislative leader said on Wednesday night. Chamber of Deputies president Saurel Jacinthe said that President Michel Martelly picked Garry Conille as his third nominee for Haiti’s head of government. The decision comes more than three months after Martelly took office. The entertainer-turned-president has struggled to install a government because parliament has rejected his first two nominees for prime minister.
Body of lost girl found
The case of a missing 11-year-old girl in Argentina that shocked locals and got actors and government officials involved in the search, took a tragic turn as she was found dead, police said on Wednesday. “Oh my God, they killed my little girl,” witnesses said Carola Labrador, the mother of Candela Rodriguez, screamed on identifying her body after it was found in Hurlingham, Buenos Aires. About 1,600 police took part in the search. Prosecutor Federico Nievas Woodgrate had earlier said the body of a girl Candela’s age was found naked in a bag, with serious damage to her face. The massive police effort, after Candela went missing 10 days ago, searched about 800 homes. Candela’s mother met last week with President Cristina Kirchner.
Gibson custody case ends
Actor Mel Gibson will pay the mother of his 22-month-old daughter US$750,000 and get joint custody of the child, ending a bitter custody and financial dispute that badly damaged his Hollywood career. The Braveheart director and his former musician girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva agreed to a settlement detailed in a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing on Wednesday. “I would like to thank your honor for bringing this matter to a reasonable conclusion,” Gibson told Lichtman at Wednesday’s hearing.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘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