Emperor has heart exam
Emperor Akihito underwent an examination at a hospital yesterday after showing symptoms of restricted blood flow to his heart, amid increasing worries about his health. The 78-year-old monarch, accompanied by Empress Michiko, was admitted to the University of Tokyo Hospital in the morning and had an hour-long scan of his coronary arteries at midday, the Imperial Household Agency said. He was scheduled to stay at the hospital overnight for observation. In November, the emperor spent 19 days in hospital suffering from mild pneumonia. Akihito’s second son Prince Akishino in November suggested there needed to be a discussion about setting a retirement age for the titular head of state.
‘Rubber eggs’ cause scare
Authorities are investigating eggs that bounce after being boiled and could make men sterile, state media reported on Friday, in the latest food safety scare to hit the country. The eggs, being referred to in media and on the Internet as “rubber eggs” or “ping pong eggs,” are too hard to eat, raising suspicion they are fake, after appearing in “small numbers” in markets nationwide, Xinhua news agency said. “The investigation is designed to appease consumers’ concerns, after some suspected they bought artificial eggs made by traders seeking profits,” it reported. However, the eggs’ hardness could be natural, caused by hens consuming large amounts of food enriched with a compound called gossypol, which binds to protein in egg yolks, Xinhua said. “While gossypol normally exists in the residue of cotton seeds added to chicken feed as an extra protein source, large doses of the compound suppress sperm activity, as gossypol has been tested for use in male contraceptive pills,” it said.
Quake deaths rise to 39
The official death toll from an earthquake this week on the central island of Negros rose to 39 on Friday, with dozens feared dead, a disaster official said. Rescuers recovered five bodies in landslide-hit Negros four days after it was rattled by a magnitude 6.7 quake. The bodies were recovered from Guihulngan City and the nearby town of La Libertad, some of the worst affected areas. “We’re still looking for 66 people,” National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council head Benito Ramos said as he updated the official death toll to 39. Most of the missing are feared buried in landslides, he said. The death toll is expected to rise as hopes of recovering more people alive are fading even as about 2,000 soldiers intensify search operations. The council said it was providing food and other assistance to more than 88,000 quake survivors, including most of the 33,000 who have lost their homes and taken shelter at government-run evacuation centers.
Bus slams cars, 13 dead
A packed passenger bus slammed into several vehicles, killing more than a dozen people. El-Shinta radio said the bus driver appeared to have lost control when the brakes failed on Friday evening in the hilly region of Cisarua in West Java. The station quoted witnesses as saying that the bus hit eight cars plus a number of motorcycles and an electricity pole before plunging into a ravine. At least 13 bodies were recovered and more than 20 injured people were rushed to a nearby hospital, while residents working in the dark evacuated others who were wedged under the bus.
No plot to kill Pope
The Vatican on Friday dismissed as “delirious” an Italian newspaper report that said Pope Benedict XVI would be assassinated within 12 months. “This is obviously delirious raving that cannot be taken seriously in any way,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman. The newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano ran a front-page story, picked up by Italian state TV, that said a cardinal wrote a secret note to a superior in the Vatican that he had heard about a plot to kill the pope within a year. The paper also said the same cardinal had predicted that the next pope would be an Italian. Benedict, who was elected in 2005, is German.
11 people die as boat sinks
The UN says that at least 11 people drowned and 34 are missing after a boat crewed by human traffickers overturned this week in the Gulf of Aden. Friday’s press release from the UN refugee agency says that survivors said they set sail for Yemen last Saturday but their boat, carrying 58 passengers, broke down. Survivors say that the smugglers forced 22 people overboard after the engine failed. The rest of the passengers were adrift for five days before the boat capsized on Wednesday in rough seas and bad weather. Thirteen survivors washed up in the northern region of Puntland and 11 bodies have been recovered so far.
Jihadist gets life sentence
A court handed down a life sentence on Friday to a man who has confessed to killing two US soldiers at Frankfurt airport in what has been called the country’s first deadly jihadist attack. Arid Uka, 22, from Kosovo, was convicted of killing two soldiers and wounding two others when he opened fire outside the airport on March 2 last year on a group of US soldiers on their way to serve in Afghanistan, the higher regional court in Frankfurt said. Presiding judge Thomas Sagebiel told the court: “The accused has been convicted to a life sentence for two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.” Uka, wearing green trousers, a black jumper and a brown hooded top, appeared relaxed as the verdict was handed down, even smiling occasionally. US soldiers Nicholas Alden, 25, and Zachary Ryan Cuddeback, 21, were killed in the shooting. Two other soldiers were wounded. Sagebiel told the court: “He would have shot at a third, but the weapon jammed.” The verdict had already been postponed twice since the trial opened with Uka apologizing to his victims and their families. He said he had been influenced by “lies” and “propaganda” after seeing a video on the Internet purporting to show US soldiers in Afghanistan raping a local woman.
New evaluation for Breivik
A court has ruled that the right-wing extremist who confessed to killing 77 people in a bombing and shooting spree must undergo a second psychiatric evaluation against his will. The Oslo district court said on Friday that Anders Behring Breivik can be placed under observation for up to four weeks at the prison where he is being held in pretrial detention. Two psychiatrists who interviewed Breivik found him criminally insane, but a second evaluation was ordered amid criticism of that diagnosis. The 32-year-old has rejected the need for another analysis. He admits to the July 22 attacks in Oslo and at an island retreat for the governing Labor Party’s youth wing, but denies criminal responsibility for the deaths.
Hackers shut CIA Web site
The Web site of the CIA was briefly inaccessible on Friday after the hacker group Anonymous claimed to have knocked it offline. “CIA Tango down,” a member of Anonymous said on @YourAnonNews, a Twitter feed used by the group. “Tango down” is an expression used by the US Special Forces when they have eliminated an enemy. The Web site was restored shortly thereafter. Members of Anonymous also claimed on Friday to have hacked the Web site of Camimex, the Mexican chamber of mines, and posted e-mails taken from the site online. The camimex.org.mx site was unavailable on Friday. Anonymous last month briefly knocked the Web sites of the Justice Department and the FBI offline. Those attacks were in retaliation for the shutdown of file-sharing site Megaupload. There was no immediate explanation from Anonymous for the targeting of the CIA site.
Bus rolls over, 30 injured
The general manager of a motorcoach travel company said about 30 people were injured after a bus rolled over on a highway near Edmonton, Alberta. Red Arrow general manager John Stepovy said on Friday that the vehicle was an overflow bus on a regularly scheduled run from Fort McMurray, Alberta, to Edmonton. He said all 36 seats on the bus were full. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Patrick Webb said some people were trapped in the bus, which rolled on a highway near Redwater, about 65km northeast of Edmonton. Alberta Health spokeswoman Kerry Williamson said most of the injuries were minor, but several were serious.
Cropping dogs’ ears banned
A veterinary medical association in Manitoba announced on Friday a ban on the cosmetic cropping of dogs’ ears, but some breeders warn it could lead to torn floppy ears. The Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association passed the bylaw at its annual general meeting on Feb. 3 after all four of the country’s eastern maritime provinces enacted similar bans, but only now publicized it. Generally performed on Great Dane, Doberman, Schnauzer, boxer and miniature pinscher puppies at about three months old, the surgical procedure reshapes the ears by removing skin and cartilage. Nearly half of the entire ear is removed. The association said in a statement the cosmetic procedure was “unnecessary in the canine species, causing pain and distress to the patient without any medical benefit.”
Gamers to machinegun truck
Fans of Twisted Metal will get to welcome a long-awaited sequel of the car-battle video game with a real-world bang by blasting an ice cream truck to bits with a machine gun. Game director and self-described “alleged psychopath” David Jaffe invited the title’s cult-like fans to help destroy an ice cream truck with gunfire to celebrate the “epic return of gaming’s most sick, depraved franchise.” People can sign up at Web site shootmytruck.com for chances to remotely control a fully-automatic weapon mounted near an ice cream truck parked in a patch of the desert, Jaffe said. The vehicle targeted for ballistic destruction was modeled after a truck driven by trademark Twisted Metal killer clown Sweet Tooth in every version of the game since the franchise was launched in 1995. “I’m going to let you fire this gun at that truck remotely from your computer and all you’ve got to do is hit a button,” Jaffe said in an online video message laced with billingsgate and demonstration shots.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications