Abe visits Iwo Jima
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iwo Jima yesterday to review efforts to recover the remains of those killed in fierce fighting on the Pacific island during World War II. He attended a memorial service to remember those who perished in the final months of the war. About 22,000 Japanese soldiers are thought to have died on the island, which is officially known as Iwoto, but the remains of most of them have yet to be recovered. In 2010, Tokyo launched a three-year project to recover more remains, saying it was a question of national duty to bring them back and lay them to rest.
TV talk show record set
Presenter Rabi Lamichhane has set the world record for the longest television talk show by staying on air for 62 hours and 12 minutes, organizers said yesterday. Lamichhane, a 36-year-old based in the US, returned to Kathmandu to stage the Lord Buddha Was Born in Nepal program, which took the Guinness world record late on Saturday night. “Our campaign was aimed to spread the message to the world that the Buddha was born in Nepal,” said Anil Joshi, chairman of News24, the television station broadcasting the program said, adding that the program also promoted tourism destinations. One hundred guests, ranging from former Maoist rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal to local TV celebrities and ordinary people joined Lamichhane during the program. According to Guinness World Records rules, Lamichhane was allowed five minutes every hour for a break. Organizers said he ate some meals while interviewing guests, banked several of the slots for a longer rest period and otherwise survived on energy drinks. The show was live-streamed on the channel’s Web site and several partner Web sites.
Hackers deface Web site
Suspected Chinese hackers defaced the Web site of the Philippines News Agency (PNA) yesterday, officials said, a possible repeat of cyber attacks last year also blamed on China during a territorial row. The state-run agency’s Web site temporarily displayed the Chinese flag and the text: “China Hacker EvilShadow Team, We are evil shadow. We are the team. We have our own dignity China Hacker Lxxker.” Asked if Chinese hackers were behind the attack, presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said an investigation was pending, but added: “The note left on the site tends to invite that conclusion.” Another government spokesman, Herminio Coloma, said the hackers group shared news of the attack via Facebook. “The site is working again now,” Coloma told reporters, but did not say how long it had been down. He added authorities were attempting to track down the group and had beefed up cybersecurity in the wake of the attack. The hacking came days after authorities arrested 12 suspected Chinese poachers whose boat ran aground in a protected coral reef in the Sulu Sea.
Teens among bus crash dead
At least five people died and several were injured when a bus carrying Ukrainian and Russian teenagers crashed in the north, news media reported yesterday. Television stations RTL and RTBF said the Polish-registered bus was carrying about 40 Ukrainians and Russians aged between 15 and 17 years old. Three adolescents died as well as the driver and a chaperone, according to local media. Pictures showed the bus lying on its side below a bridge and then being righted by a crane. The accident occurred on a highway heading toward Antwerp at about 6:30am, police told the Belga news agency. Reports said no other vehicle was involved and the bus apparently swerved off the road through a guard rail and then ran down the embankment by the bridge. The immediate cause of the crash was unknown.
Emigration on the increase
The number of young adults going abroad has swelled 14 percent in the past four years, many of them seeking better opportunities as economic malaise grips their nation, according to government figures picked up by the newspaper Le Figaro. There are now 155,266 emigres aged 18 to 25, the newspaper said. A sampling survey carried out in January by the Deloitte and Ifop firms found that 27 percent of young people who obtained a university degree in the past three years saw their professional future outside France — up from 13 percent last year. “With an unemployment rate reaching 25 percent [in their age group], young people naturally want to go abroad to avoid the bad start they would feel for several years” of their working lives, Stephane Carcillo, a professor at the Sciences-Po university in Paris, told the daily. Overall unemployment tops 10 percent and the country has seen thousands laid off in recent months.
Machinegun killer beheaded
Authorities yesterday beheaded a man in Medina after he was convicted of shooting dead another man, the Ministry of the Interior said. Sultan bin Rashid al-Mutairi had been found guilty of using a machinegun to kill Mused bin Nayer al-Mutairi after a dispute between the pair, the ministry said in a statement carried by the SPA news agency. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death in the nation.
‘Prophet’s’ followers jailed
A court has sentenced 182 followers of a Catholic prophet, who claims to see visions of the Virgin Mary, to up to five years in jail for defying police orders, a court spokesman said on Saturday. The disciples of the 30-year-old prophet, Zebiya, were arrested on Tuesday morning after defying a ban to gather on a hilltop that has become a place of pilgrimage. Zebiya has reportedly seen visions on the hill on the 12th day of every month. “Fifteen adults thought to be the leaders of the group were sentenced to five years each,” said Elie Ntunwanayo, the Supreme Court spokesman. Court documents showed 182 people had been sentenced, with jail terms varying between three years and six months. Twenty children under 14 years old were released by the court. The trial took just over five hours, with a verdict reached at about midnight on Friday. Last month, police clashed with Zebiya’s followers, leaving at least six people dead and 35 wounded. Violence broke out after hundreds of her followers were blocked by police as they tried to gather at her hilltop shrine.
Smoke shuts down airport
The main airport for the capital was closed for several hours on Saturday because smoke from forest fires reduced visibility. Civil aviation agency spokesman Ezequiel Oliva says visibility fell to about 3.2km during the closure. The Toncontin International Airport outside Tegucigalpa was closed for about four hours, affecting about 500 passengers. Almost a hundred fires burned in the pine-covered hills around the capital last week. Four such closures have affected Toncontin and two other airports in the space of a month.
Marchers protest cheese ban
About 40 protesters took to the streets of New York City on Saturday to demonstrate against a ban on Mimolette that has angered lovers of the distinctive French cheese. Since last month, several hundred pounds of the bright orange cheese have been held up by customs because of a warning by the Food and Drug Administration that it contained microscopic cheese mites. The mites are a critical part of the process to produce Mimolette, giving it its distinctive grayish crust. The decision has angered importers and consumers, who have even set up a Facebook page titled “Save the Mimolette.” Protesters in Greenwich Village — many dressed in orange — handed out bite-sized samples of the cheese to passersby to raise awareness of the ban. “We had eight balls of 3kg, so we decided to educate people a little,” said Benoit de Vitton, an importer of the cheese. De Vitton said he was baffled by the recent blockade, saying he has imported Mimolette for two decades without a problem.
Swallowed ring recovered
New Hampshire police say they have got the US$3,200 engagement ring a man allegedly swallowed during an attempted jewelry store theft. Authorities charged 52-year-old Ronald Perley with theft and falsifying physical evidence after they say X-rays showed the 14-karat white-gold ring with princess-cut diamonds inside him. WMUR-TV reports that police had recovered the ring as of Saturday. Perley allegedly went into a shop on Thursday asking about engagement rings. Workers said he grabbed a ring, then swallowed it after being confronted. Police say surveillance footage shows Perley taking the ring and putting his hand to his mouth.
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500