Hashtag gets Gallic touch
The government is redefining “hashtag” with a Gallic touch. The country that has an academy devoted solely to the use of the French language has given its official seal of approval to a new word for the Twittersphere: mot-diese. Pronounced: “Mo-dee-YEZ,” it does not exactly trip off the tongue, but that is not the point. French law requires that government agencies use French terms and teachers are required to spread the word. New words are approved by the Academie Francaise and written into the lawbooks. The French word for “hashtag,” published in the official journal on Wednesday this week, follows the government’s somewhat successful redefinition of “e-mail” — courriel — and its less successful attempt to persuade people to avoid the word “weekend.”
Subway work uncovers gold
Excavation work during construction of a new subway network in the second-largest city has discovered an ancient wreath made of gold that was buried with a woman about 2,300 years ago. Archeologists say Friday’s find in Thessaloniki occurred on the site of an ancient cemetery in the west of the northern port city. A total 23,000 ancient and medieval artifacts have been found during archeological excavations connected with the construction since 2006. Archeologist Vassiliki Misailidou said the olive branch wreath made of gold was buried in a simple, box-shaped woman’s grave. It dates to the late fourth or early third century BC. Another eight golden wreaths were discovered in a single grave four years ago during subway work.
Diana image auctioned off
A previously unseen press photograph of a teenaged Princess Diana that a London tabloid deemed too hot to publish has sold for US$18,306, the auctioneers handling the sale said on Friday. The black-and-white image from the dawn of the 1980s shows Diana, possibly in a ski chalet, smiling at the camera as she lies comfortably in the lap of a like-aged, but unidentified young man reading a book. By the window stands a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky, but more intriguing are the words “not to be published” scrawled across the photo with the kind of grease pencil used by newspaper picture editors at the time. On the back, the photo is dated Feb. 26, 1981 — two days after Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince Charles and the commoner then known as Diana Spencer. The auctioneers did not identify the buyer.
Ballet star questioned
Police have questioned a star dancer as a witness over the vicious acid attack against the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet Sergei Filin, officials said on Friday. Nikolai Tsiskaridze, one of the Bolshoi’s best known male principal dancers, was questioned on Wednesday, police said in a statement. “Employees of the Bolshoi Theatre and relatives and acquaintances of Filin have also been questioned,” the statement said. Tsiskaridze, a flamboyant figure with flowing black hair who regularly appears as a judge on TV talent shows, last year lashed out at the Bolshoi’s leadership for not giving him enough lead roles. He has not been named as a suspect and on Wednesday he vehemently denied any link to the attack. “What happened [to Filin] is horrific,” Tsiskaridze told the RIA Novosti news agency while complaining of “systematic persecution” by the Bolshoi.
Dolphin dies in New York
A dolphin that lost its way and got stuck in one of New York City’s most polluted waterways died on Friday, witnesses and local media said. The dolphin was spotted in the Gowanus Canal, a notoriously hazardous stretch of water in Brooklyn, earlier on Friday. Local TV footage showed the mammal rising to breathe, then dipping back down into the gray waters of the canal. By nightfall, the animal was clearly in trouble, then quickly died, NY1 and CBS TV reported. The US Environmental Protection Agency calls the canal “one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies,” and cites coal tar, heavy metals and the results of “years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants.”
Amazon to be inventoried
The government says it is undertaking a four-year, US$33 million study of its vast Amazon rainforest to compile a detailed inventory of the plants, animals and people that live there. Environment Minister Isabella Teixeira on Friday signed an accord with the country’s national development bank, which is funding the study. The government says the inventory will help in formulating environmental policies aimed at preserving the forest and preventing deforestation. Last year, Brazil lost 4,656km2 of Amazon to deforestation.
Prison riot kills dozens
Media are reporting that dozens have been killed in a bloody prison riot, and the government says it is investigating. Vice President Nicolas Maduro called the violence tragic early yesterday on TV and said the authorities launched an investigation. He and other officials did not give a death toll from the riot at Uribana prison in Barquisimeto. The newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported on its Web site that 54 were killed. The TV channel Globovision reported about 50 killed. Both cited Central Hospital director Ruy Medina.
New ship to search for plane
The government says a specialized ship will help scan the sea floor for a plane that disappeared carrying the CEO of Italian fashion house Missoni. The BN-2 Islander plane dropped off radar screens soon after takeoff on Jan. 4 from the resort islands of Los Roques. It was carrying two crew members and four Italian tourists, including Vittorio Missoni, CEO of his family’s fashion company. Rear Admiral Elsa Gutierrez is minister of air and sea transport. She told state media on Friday that the specialized ship would arrive early next month. She said the ship would expand current search efforts by searching for the plane in deep waters off the islands. Gutierrez said Italian authorities leased the ship to contribute to the search.
No survivors in plane crash
Search helicopters have found the wreckage of a small plane that crashed, carrying three Canadians. Search crews said they were not able to land at the site, but that nobody could have survived the crash. Two helicopters reached the site late on Saturday after bad weather thwarted rescue efforts for three days. Crews said the wreckage was on a very steep slope near the summit of a mountain in the Queen Alexandra range. The propeller-driven de Havilland Twin Otter was flying from a US station near the pole to an Italian research base in Terra Nova Bay when it disappeared on Wednesday. One of the men aboard was Bob Heath from the Northwest Territories, an experienced pilot in both the Antarctic and Arctic.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s