Talking robot blasts off
The first talking humanoid robot “astronaut” has taken off in a rocket. Kirobo — derived from the Japanese words for “hope” and “robot” — was among 5 tonnes of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched yesterday for the International Space Station from Tanegashima, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. The childlike robot was designed to be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata, and will communicate with another robot on Earth, according to developers. Wakata is expected to arrive at the space station in November. Ahead of the launch, the 34cm tall Kirobo told reporters, “one small step for me, a giant leap for robots.”
Chief bans miniskirts
A chief banned women from wearing miniskirts and trousers at a two-day nomination process that got under way on Saturday to select candidates for upcoming elections. “I told the residents recently, that tomorrow they should dress properly, decently in line with our culture to show respect,” Prince Mashila of Maphalaleni, a chiefdom about 20km from the capital Mbabane. “That’s all I asked for — just respect for the chief’s residence,” he said. Another chief has also banned short skirts at his homestead in the tiny kingdom. However, Timothy Mtetwa, the governor at the residence of King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, struck a more conciliatory tone. “True we want chiefs’ residences to be respected, it is our culture, but, because of modernization, we can’t wish pants and miniskirts away. At some point we have to embrace and accommodate them,” he said. The two day process will nominate candidates for parliament and other local posts.
Crash widow left ‘destitute’
A mother, pregnant with her fourth child, said on Saturday that she cannot support her family after her husband was killed in a road crash involving a US diplomat who has since left the country. Haji Hassan Ali Lukindo, 43, was killed in a car crash in Nairobi on July 11, when the minibus he was travelling in was involved in a crash with the car of a diplomat at the US embassy. “We have been left destitute since Haji was killed,” Latifah Naiman, 38, said. “I have no means to support our three children, and have to depend entirely on a well wisher for rent, food, school fees and daily living expenses.” Police confirmed that US diplomat Joshua Walde had been involved in a crash, and that he had given a statement to them, but had diplomatic immunity. “He has left Kenya ... he is a diplomat so had immunity and was free to go,” a senior police officer said, who was not authorized to speak to the media. Naiman said she was worried about how she could support her children, especially the baby soon to be born. “I am desperate for communication from the American authorities here,” she said. There was no immediate response from the US embassy.
Russian warships pay visit
Three Russian warships led by the missile cruiser Moskva arrived on Saturday on the first such visit in four years. The ships were greeted by an artillery salute, a naval band and a few hundred onlookers as they arrived in the Bay of Havana. The government has said the ships are on a “friendly visit.” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Havana in February when he met President Raul Castro and his brother, former president Fidel Castro.