Fire scorches Lagos slum
A massive fire tore through a waterfront slum in Lagos on Tuesday, burning down dozens of shack workshops and homes. When firefighters did not turn up, locals tried in vain to stop the blaze with buckets of water. The fire hit along the dirty shoreline of the Lagos Lagoon, an area full of sawmills that process lumber floated into the city from hundreds of kilometers away. Massive piles of sawdust and loose shavings fill the area. By Tuesday afternoon, a thick plume of smoke rose from the mills over the city’s long Third Mainland Bridge, which links the metropolis to its islands. Hours later after the sunset set, the stories-high fire still raged in the neighborhood. It was unclear if anyone was injured in the inferno.
Abe warned on Kono apology
An opposition lawmaker on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to alter a two-decade-old apology to World War II sex slaves, saying a revision would be “counterproductive.” Abe, an outspoken conservative, called before taking office for a review of the landmark apology issued in 1993 by then-top government spokesman Yohei Kono — a move that would outrage its neighbors, particularly South Korea. On a visit to Washington, Democratic Party of Japan Legislator Motohiro Oono said that views on history should be left to academics. “We would like to request Mr Abe to have a cautious attitude to revising this historical issue,” Oono said. Yoshihide Suga, the chief spokesman for Abe’s government, has said only that experts should study the Kono statement. Up to 200,000 women from South Korea, along with other Asian nations and the Netherlands, are estimated to have been kidnapped and forced to work in brothels set up for Japanese soldiers.
Aid funds returned to Dublin
The government has returned to Ireland US$5 million of aid money that was embezzled by state officials, it said on Tuesday, promising to reimburse other governments in the hope of unblocking vital payments. Major Western donors cut off aid to the nation late last year, saying that about US$13 million in aid had been stolen. By reimbursing Ireland, Uganda hopes to thaw the aid freeze which risked putting a 0.7 percent dent in economic growth. “The government of Ireland has confirmed it will not take away the money, but it will use it for the same purpose, in northern Uganda,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Keith Muhakanizi told reporters. Muhakanizi said the government had “sacrificed some few things here and there,” to raise the money to reimburse donors, but did not give more details. Donor funding accounts for up to one-quarter of the nation’s annual budget.
Rape suspect says not guilty
A third suspect accused of fatally gang-raping a 23-year-old student in a moving bus in New Delhi last month will plead not guilty to all charges, his lawyer said yesterday. Advocate M.L. Sharma said he would file the plea on behalf of Ram Singh, the driver of the bus on which the attack allegedly took place. Sharma is also representing Singh’s brother Mukesh and labourer Akshay Thakur in the case. The advocate on Tuesday said that the other two men would also plead not guilty to the string of charges including gang-rape, murder and kidnapping. “Whoever committed this heinous crime should be punished, but my clients are not the real culprits,” he said. All five men are residents of New Delhi slums aged from 19 to 35. A sixth accused, who is 17, is to be tried in a separate court for juveniles.