Help offered to ill toddler
A top private hospital in New Dehli has offered to treat an 18-month girl whose head has swollen to more than double its normal size because of hydrocephalus. Roona Begum, whose parents are too poor to pay for her treatment, was discovered last week living in remote Tripura State. The publication of pictures taken by an Agence France-Presse photographer on Friday last week led numerous well-wishers to offer donations, while a Web site has been set up to collect money for her. Sandeep Vaishya, who is the head of neurosurgery at a hospital for the private Fortis Healthcare group, has promised to examine the girl and see if surgery was possible.
Anti-protest bill attacked
Rights groups and conservationists yesterday condemned a move to ban protests at sea, accusing the government of pandering to the interests of oil companies. A planned new law allows the military to arrest protesters in the nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and ramps up the penalties facing demonstrators to include jail terms of up to a year and fines reaching NZ$100,000 (US$84,000). Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel said Resources Minister Simon Bridges was trying to silence opposition to plans to exploit the EEZ, which is believed to contain significant oil reserves. More than a dozen group, including Amnesty International, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and the World Wildlife Fund, have also signed a joint letter slamming the law as “a sledgehammer designed to attack peaceful protest at sea.”
The moon affects sharks
The moon and water temperature affect the diving behavior of sharks, researchers said yesterday, in a discovery that could help prevent fishermen from inadvertently catching the marine predators. A team from the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute and the Australian Institute of Marine Science spent nearly three years monitoring gray reef sharks off Palau in the Pacific Ocean. They found the sharks stayed in deep water on full-moon nights, but rose to the shallows with the new moon. The study also said it may be an anti-predator response where reef sharks seek to avoid increased light nearer the surface that may aid the hunting abilities of larger sharks.
An election tribunal on Monday disqualified former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from contesting next month’s general elections over graft allegations, an official said. Ashraf, a candidate for the Pakistan People’s Party, was prevented last week from standing in his native Gojar Khan district in Punjab Province after his opponent accused him of corruption. He filed an appeal, but both high court judges on the tribunal rejected the appeal and disqualified him.
Mubarak stays in jail
Former president Hosni Mubarak will remain in custody on new corruption charges, despite a court order to release him before his retrial over the killing of protesters in the uprising against him. The order on Monday by the Cairo Criminal Court followed Mubarak’s request to be released after two years in detention without a final verdict. The court said Mubarak could be released on bail if he was not wanted for any other court cases, but prosecutors then pointed out that Mubarak has three other cases pending. The 84-year-old Mubarak has been in detention since April 2011.
Group sues over spy tech
A human rights group is suing the government over the export of sophisticated surveillance technology that has been used to spy on dissidents in Bahrain and elsewhere. Privacy International said yesterday it had filed a lawsuit before London’s High Court over the government’s refusal to say whether it was investigating Gamma International, whose FinFisher software has been linked to use in more than two dozen countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. Privacy International argues that the export of FinFisher software may be illegal and has demanded officials investigate.
Let women drive: prince
Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah, has thrown his support behind allowing women to drive, saying it makes economic sense. Women are barred from driving in the kingdom — leaving them reliant on mostly foreign drivers. “[The question of] women driving will result in dispensing with at least 500,000 foreign drivers, and that has an economic and social impact for the country,” the prince said on his Twitter account on Sunday.
Regime issues amnesty
President Bashar al-Assad has issued a general amnesty for crimes committed in the war-torn country prior to yesterday, state news agency SANA reported. Under the decree, “the death penalty will be replaced with a life sentence of hard labor,” the agency said. Al-Assad has issued several amnesty decrees since an uprising against his regime erupted in March 2011. The latest will not apply to people found guilty of smuggling weapons or drug-related crimes.
School claims tsunami boat
A small boat that washed up in northern California after the massive 2011 tsunami that hit Japan has been claimed by a city that was devastated in the disaster. The Triplicate newspaper in Crescent City, California, reports that officials in the Japanese city of Rikuzentakata are in a “giddy state of shock” and would love to get the boat back. Rikuzentakata spokeswoman Amya Miller says hours after photographs of the 6m boat were posted to Crescent City’s Facebook page, a teacher from a Japanese high school’s marine sciences program said the vessel was theirs. Humboldt State University geologist Lori Dengler says she posted the photographs recently after a university librarian translated the name of the high school from the boat.
Police jailed for spying
An Alaska-based military policeman was sentenced to 16 years in prison and will receive a dishonorable discharge for selling military secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian spy, a military panel decided. A panel of eight military members from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage recommended a 19-year sentence for Specialist William Colton Millay, but that was dropped to 16 years because of a pretrial agreement. He will receive credit for the 535 days he has been jailed since his Oct. 28, 2011, arrest. The panel also reduced him in rank to private and he will forfeit all pay and allowances. The 24-year-old Millay pleaded guilty last month to attempted espionage and other counts. Military prosecutors painted Millay as a white supremacist who was fed up with the army and the country, and was willing to sell secrets to an enemy agent, even if that would cost his fellow soldiers their lives.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big