‘Thunderbirds’ creator dies
Gerry Anderson, the creator of television show Thunderbirds, died on Wednesday at age 83 after a long battle with mixed dementia, his son said on his blog. The puppeteer started his career in the 1950s, creating a string of popular British shows including 1964’s Stingray. His company, AP Films, pioneered the “supermarionation” puppetry technique with the fusion of marionette figures and small-scale models to create live action-style shows. Anderson’s most notable production was 1965 series Thunderbirds, about a secret organization that performs rescue missions using high-tech tools and vehicles. The show became a cult favorite and was adapted for the big screen, most recently in the 2004 film Thunderbirds.
Chavez delegates duties
Ailing President Hugo Chavez, who is still in Cuba recovering from his latest cancer surgery, has delegated several economic duties to Vice President Nicolas Maduro. According to a decree signed by Chavez and published on Wednesday in the country’s government gazette, Maduro is now responsible for making certain decisions related to the national budget and expropriations. Chavez, 58, is scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 10, but his health has raised concerns over the future of his leftist movement. Officials have never disclosed the type or severity of Chavez’s cancer and he only designated a successor — Maduro — earlier this month.
Storm grounds planes
A powerful winter storm forced the cancelation of about 200 flights yesterday, as heavy snow and high winds pummeled the northeastern US. The National Weather Service forecast 30.5cm to 46cm of snow for northern New England as the storm moved northeast out of the lower Great Lakes, where it dumped more than 30.5cm of snow in Michigan. The storm front was accompanied by freezing rain and sleet. The Ohio River Valley and the Northeast were under blizzard and winter storm warnings. Snow will fall in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire at up to 5cm an hour, the weather agency said.
EU mission head appointed
Authorities have named the general who will lead a EU mission to the Sahel region, a move seen as intended to speed up military intervention against al-Qaeda-linked forces occupying northern Mali. The European Training Mission will be headed by General Francois Lecointre, 50, a marine infantryman who has served in Djibouti, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Gabon and Bosnia. The announcement came after al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb on Christmas Day issued a four-minute video in which one of the group’s leaders, Abou Zeid, criticized France for “not deigning to respond to our offer of dialogue” over four Frenchmen kidnapped in Niger in September 2010.
Bush’s health deteriorates
After more than a month in a Texas hospital battling bronchitis, former US president George H.W. Bush has taken a turn for the worse and was transferred to intensive care on Sunday with a “stubborn fever,” spokesman Jim McGrath said on Wednesday. The 88-year-old was first admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston on Nov. 7 for bronchitis and released on Nov. 19, but then readmitted four days later. McGrath said doctors were “cautiously optimistic,” but that there was no talk yet of a discharge date.