Rocket launch suspended
The country suspended the launch of its next-generation solid-fuel rocket yesterday just seconds before lift-off after engineers discovered a technical glitch, the space agency said. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) had planned to launch the Epsilon rocket from Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima, in the southwest, using just two laptop computers in a pared-down command center. However, the countdown was automatically stopped just 19 seconds before the planned blast-off “as an emergency measure due to some abnormal positioning” of the rocket, a JAXA spokeswoman said. At the control center, only eight workers were engaged in the launch operation, compared with about 150 people usually needed when JAXA launches its mainstream H2-A rocket.
Sonia Gandhi out of hospital
Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi has been discharged from a hospital after falling ill during a nine-hour debate in parliament, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said yesterday. Gandhi underwent a series of medical tests during the five hours she spent in the hospital late on Monday and was then allowed to return home, he told journalists. Gandhi, 67, had been suffering from fever for two days, but still decided to deliver Monday’s parliamentary speech in support of a landmark bill that proposes to provide cheaper grain to more than 800 million across the country.
Asylumseeker plan ‘crazy’
A senior lawmaker yesterday described as “crazy” a plan by Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott to pay Indonesians for unseaworthy boats to stem the flow of asylumseekers. “The idea is degrading and offensive to the dignity of Indonesians,” said Mahfudz Siddiq, head of the parliament’s foreign affairs commission. “Obviously he [Abbott] doesn’t understand diplomacy or bilateral cooperation.” Abbott’s A$440 million (US$400 million) scheme would include a capped government buy-back plan for the vessels and stipends for Indonesian “wardens” in 100 villages to provide information to Australia and bounty payments for information leading to successful smuggling prosecutions.
Internet attack ‘largest ever’
The nation has been hit by the “largest ever” attack on its Internet structure, crashing the country’s .cn servers, a government-linked agency said. The national domain name resolution service came under a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack for about two hours early on Sunday, the China Internet Network Information Center said in a statement. A second wave of the assault two hours later grew into “the biggest of its kind ever,” the center said, without giving any indication of who might have been responsible.
City ‘roasts’ ‘Rubber Duck’
Shanghai has served up a “roasted” version of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s giant yellow duck, complete with drumsticks and crispy brown skin. Hofman’s Rubber Duck installation gained rave reviews when a 16.5m tall version arrived in Hong Kong this summer. Hundreds of thousands of people viewed it against the backdrop of the skyscrapers that line the city’s Victoria Harbour. Not to be outdone, Shanghai has unveiled its own version on the Huangpu River, which forms its waterfront Bund District. Shanghai’s duck is actually a working ferry boat, which state media said will carry passengers and host cultural performances including poetry reading.