iPhone maps dispute
Apple’s new iPhone 5 may have been criticized for its glitch-ridden new maps program, but it may have inadvertently provided a diplomatic solution to China and Japan’s ongoing row over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台). The new smartphone, which has dumped Google Maps in favor of its own version, has been ridiculed for misplacing major landmarks, shifting towns and even creating a new airport. However, amid a row over an outcrop of islands claimed by Tokyo and Beijing, as well as Taipei, Apple’s new iO6 software has provided a resolution of sorts. When a user searches for the islands, two sets of the islands appear alongside each other. “The map has one set of islands for each country. Is this a message from Apple that we civilians must not get engaged in a pointless dispute?” a Japanese blogger wrote.
Bridge collapse kills two
Two workers were killed and 12 others injured yesterday when the bridge they were building in the northern city of Paju collapsed, according to media reports.
A 55m-long section of the 539m-long bridge over the Imjin River collapsed, causing the workers to fall 15m down onto gravel and muddy ground, Yonhap news agency said. Most of the injured were listed as being in serious conditions in nearby hospitals. Police were investigating whether there was any breach of safety regulations, Yonhap said.
‘Secret marshals’ deployed
Plain-clothed “secret marshals” have been deployed on public transport in Manila with orders to shoot down armed robbers in a crackdown against violent crime, the city’s newly appointed police chief said on Friday. In a message to armed criminals who victimize bus and public transport users, Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said: “If you want to live longer, then stop your criminality, stop the crimes that you create, because if you give us the opportunity to [get into a firefight] with you, we will do so.” The police chief, who assumed his post two weeks ago, was speaking on a tour of police stations in the capital of 15 million people, and warned holdup men that “numerous secret marshals” had been deployed.
Pakistani papers banned
Afghanistan banned all Pakistani newspapers from entering the country on Friday in an attempt to block the Taliban from influencing public opinion via the press. The order, issued by the Ministry of Interior, adds to the mounting tension between the neighboring countries. It focuses specifically on blocking entry of the papers at Torkham, a busy border crossing, and directed border police to gather up Pakistani newspapers in the three eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan. In a statement, the ministry said the newspapers were a conduit for Taliban propaganda.
“The news is not based in reality and it is creating concerns for our countrymen in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan,” the ministry said in a statement. “Also, the newspapers are a propaganda resource of the Taliban spokesmen.” The tensions between the two countries were highlighted on Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting, when Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul called on Pakistan to stop shelling in the border province of Kunar, which he said has killed dozens of civilians.
Major gold mine deal inked
Venezuela and China signed an agreement on Friday to develop together one of the world’s biggest gold mines, with plans to exploit both the yellow metal and cooper there. President Hugo Chavez made the announcement after meeting at the Miraflores presidential palace with a delegation from China’s state-run International Trust and Investment Corp (CITIC) headed by its president, Chang Zhenming (常振明), about the deal to develop Las Cristinas mine in southern Venezuela. Last year, the Canadian firm Crystallex sought international arbitration against Venezuela after Caracas canceled its contract to develop Las Cristinas. Crystallex obtained the concession in 2002. Chavez, whose statement was carried on official VTV television, said that a second agreement was reached to produce a mineral deposits map for Venezuela, which he called a “high-caliber project” for the country’s development. Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez later said the map was a five-year project. Ramirez also said that Venezuela has contracts with CITIC to build 30,000 homes — 24,000 of which are already being built — as part of an ambitious government plan to make a dent in the country’s desperate lack of housing.