US seeks to soothe anger
The US yesterday issued its most high-level apology yet to Japan over the alleged rape of a woman in Okinawa by two servicemen. US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told an audience in Tokyo of Washington’s sorrow, the latest move to soothe anger at a time of heightened anti-US feeling on the island. The US put all 47,000 military personnel — in Okinawa and elsewhere — under an indefinite nighttime curfew in response to the alleged rape, following the arrest of two servicemen last week. The rape case came amid already high tensions in Okinawa, which has seen angry demonstrations against the US deployment to the island of the tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft, which local activists charge has a poor safety record.
UN expert asked to resign
Canada has said a UN rights expert should resign over his call for a boycott of companies taking part in Israel’s settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories. The appeal by Richard Falk, the UN special investigator on human rights in the occupied territories, also provoked a sharp response from Israel and the US, which said it would “poison the environment for peace.” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Thursday that the remarks were “both offensive and unhelpful.” Falk has “not only done a disservice to the UN, but also to the Palestinian people,” he added. Earlier this week Falk said the UN General Assembly and civil society should boycott firms that help build and maintain Israeli settlements.
Dead star earns US$210m
From beyond the grave Elizabeth Taylor has overtaken her close friend Michael Jackson to become the top- earning dead celebrity. The estate of the actor, who died last year, earned US$210 million in the past 12 months largely due to Christie’s record-setting auction of her jewelry and art collection, according to Forbes’ annual poll of the richest dead celebrities. Taylor’s auction, which included a Van Gogh that fetched US$24.6 million, helped her push Jackson into second place. Her fortunes were also boosted by sales of her perfume, “White Diamond,” which earned US$75 million last year.