Weapons-laden plane seized
Airport authority and security officials say they have seized an aircraft loaded with at least one military helicopter and heavy weapons that made an unscheduled landing at Kano airport. Security agents said they detained five Ukrainian crew members who said the plane was flying from Bangui in Central African Republic, to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. Kano is far northwest of that air route. The airport authority confirmed yesterday that a Russian-made Antonov transport plane was seized on Saturday. The official PR Nigeria news agency said the plane carried one helicopter, but security officers said the cargo included two helicopters, rocket launchers and machine guns. They spoke anonymously because of the topic’s sensitivity.
Breastfeeding protest held
Several dozen breastfeeding women have protested outside a luxury London hotel where a mother was asked to cover up with a napkin as she fed her baby. Louise Burns said she felt humiliated by staff at Claridge’s in the incident last week. The group Free to Feed organized the “nurse-in” on Saturday outside the hotel in the upmarket Mayfair District. The group’s founder, Emily Slough, said such incidents discourage women from breastfeeding. “We’re here to challenge that stigma and show women it’s normal and natural,” she said. Claridge’s has said it embraces breastfeeding, but requests that women are “discreet” toward other guests. Nigel Farage, leader of the Euro-skeptic party UKIP, drew criticism after he said on Friday that hotels had the right to ask breastfeeding women to “perhaps sit in the corner.”
New war probes opened
The military says it has opened eight new criminal investigations into cases involving Palestinian civilian casualties in this summer’s war in the Gaza Strip. Saturday night’s announcement appears to be a further attempt to head off international investigations into the military’s conduct during the 50-day conflict. More than 2,100 Palestinians — mostly civilians — were killed in the fighting, according to Palestinian and UN estimates.
Author thought slain
Acclaimed author Menis Koumandareas was found apparently murdered on Saturday in his central Athens home, authorities said. He was 83. Though his cause of death was not yet determined, police said the author had wounds to his neck and face, and showed evidence of asphyxiation. Investigators believe Koumandareas went with friends to a cafe in his neighborhood on Friday evening. According to media reports, he excused himself at one point, saying he had to return to his apartment. Koumandareas wrote about 20 novels, short-story collections and essays starting in the 1960s, and he twice won the state prize for novels. “The tragic death of Menis Koumandareas deprives Greek literature of one of its greatest authors,” Minister of Culture Kostas Tasoulas said in a statement. “Over the past half-century, Koumandareas has expressed with his unparalleled sensitivity and personal style the hopes of contemporary man and society.” Known also for translating Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Koumandareas drew sober portraits in his works Koula and the Glass Factory of post-war Greek society with a focus on Athens’ middle class and shopkeepers.
Sao Paulo hit by protests
About 5,000 demonstrators on Saturday marched through downtown Sao Paulo against government corruption and the recent re-election of President Dilma Rousseff. The march, widely championed by opposition supporters, is the fifth of its kind in the weeks following Rousseff’s Oct. 26 re-election to a second four-year term. Demonstrators carrying signs calling for a coup broke away from the main march and took an alternate path after several minutes of tension, according to police, who said the group totaled about 400 people. One of the march’s organizers, the group VemPraRua, translated in English as “come down to the streets,” had sent out a call for a peaceful protest after supporters in favor of a return to the country’s former military regime showed up in previous marches. Protesters, who numbered about 5,000 according to police, had the support of defeated former presidential candidate Aecio Neves, who posted a video urging participation. “We’ve already said the Petrobras scandal was the biggest corruption case in the history of Brazil, but the list is growing and we are learning it was not only at Petrobras,” Neves said. Rousseff’s government is mired in a huge corruption scandal at state-owned oil giant Petrobras that has already led to the arrests of top businessmen amid claims that dozens of politicians, chiefly Rousseff allies, received massive kickbacks on contracts.
Probe begins Pluto study
After nine years and a journey of 4.8 billion kilometers, NASA’s New Horizons robotic probe awoke from hibernation on Saturday to begin an unprecedented mission to study the icy dwarf planet Pluto and other worlds in the Kuiper Belt. A pre-set alarm roused New Horizons at 3pm on Saturday, though ground control teams did not receive confirmation until just after 9:30pm. New Horizons is now so far away that radio signals traveling at the speed of light take four hours and 25 minutes to reach Earth. The scientific observation of Pluto, its entourage of moons and other bodies begins on Jan. 15, program managers said. The closest approach is expected on July 14. Pluto lies in the Kuiper Belt, a region of icy mini-planets orbiting the sun beyond Neptune that are believed to be leftover remains from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. It is the last unexplored region of the solar system. Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has been a mystery. Scientists struggled to explain why a planet with a radius of just 1,190km — about half the width of the US — could come to exist beyond the giant worlds of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
‘Batmobile’ sold at auction
The original “Batmobile” fetched US$137,000 at auction on Saturday, a small fraction of the US$4.2 million that a buyer paid last year for another version built for the television show that aired during the 1960s. It was the first time that the 1963 Batmobile, a replica of the sleek black ride used by the DC Comics superhero, was up for auction since it was cast off and forgotten decades ago, according to Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which handled the sale. Information about the buyer was not immediately available. “This is a great piece of lost pop culture and Americana,” Heritage Auctions director of entertainment and music Margaret Barrett said. “There is a lot of interest in it.” The car was put up for auction by Toy Car Exchange LLC, an online marketplace for collectible cars, which bought it and had it restored to pristine condition, Barrett said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year