Country braces for typhoon
The Japanese mainland braced for Typhoon Jelawat yesterday amid warnings of landslides, floods and monster waves, a day after it injured scores of people on Okinawa. The powerful typhoon was expected to hit the western region of the main island Honshu and move towards central areas, including Tokyo, later in the day, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Jelawat, about 60km south-southwest of the southern tip of Wakayama Prefecture at 2pm, was moving northeast, packing winds of up to 216kph, the agency said. It warned high waves up to 10m could hit islands and the pacific coast near the capital, while rainfall of 40cm was expected in some areas in. At least 101 people were injured in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures after the typhoon hit the area on Saturday with winds strong enough to flip cars, broadcaster NHK said.
George Michael cancels tour
British pop singer George Michael canceled his tour of the nation yesterday revealing that he was battling “major anxiety” after a severe bout of pneumonia that he says almost killed him. The 49-year-old said he was heartbroken to have to cancel the Australian leg of his current Symphonica tour, which was postponed last year due to his pneumonia and was due to kick off in Perth on Nov. 10. “Since last year’s illness I have tried in vain to work my way through the trauma that the doctors who saved my life warned me I would experience,” Michael said in a statement from his promoters. Michael said doctors had recommended complete rest and counseling but he had “believed wrongly that making music and getting out there to perform for the audiences ... would be therapy enough in itself.”
UK witness gunned down
Friends of a British man gunned down as he was set to give evidence against a group of men accused of kidnapping him paid tribute to a “courageous” man on Saturday. Malik Iqbal, 55, was shot dead in Rawalpindi on Friday as he waited to testify against kidnappers who held him for a month last year, only releasing him when his family paid a ￡15,000 (US$24,000) ransom. Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday confirmed the death of a British national and said it was providing consular assistance. Iqbal, a father of four, was chained to a bed and blindfolded for 20 days during his kidnap ordeal. Friend Riaz Ahmed — a former councilor in Iqbal’s home city of Bradford in northern England — called the dead man “a determined and brave man.” “He was very, very determined to go through with this,” he said of Iqbal’s attempts to seek justice.
Convicts go ‘gangnam’
Convicts who became famous for dancing to Michael Jackson’s hits have added South Korean spice to their repertoire, with a performance of the popular Gangnam Style rap. A video posted by prison authorities in the central city of Cebu on YouTube showed about 1,000 inmates clad in orange uniforms doing the horse-riding dance made famous by South Korean rapper Psy. The inmates performed in the prison court yard for visitors at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center amid heavy rain, and the four-minute clip was uploaded to Youtube on Saturday. GMA television said more than 1,000 visitors watched the dance, the inmates’ first public performance since February when authorities stopped the shows due to violence at the jail.