Indiana amends religion bill
Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence has approved changes to a new law that sparked boycotts of the state amid fears that it would allow discrimination against lesbians and gays. Pence had asked lawmakers to clarify language in the religious objections law earlier this week as businesses canceled conventions and governments banned travel to the state. The Indiana legislature approved the changes on Thursday after intense negotiations with business and community leaders, and Pence signed it late in the day. The revised legislation prohibits businesses from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations. It also bars discrimination based on factors that include race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or military service. The law will take effect on July 1.
Politician’s son arrested
A local politician said his son is one of nine Britons arrested in Turkey while allegedly trying to get to Syria. Shakil Ahmed, a Labour Party councilor in Rochdale, northwest England, said on Thursday he had believed his university student son was in Birmingham, England. Ahmed said he was “shocked, worried and extremely upset” to learn he was in Turkey. British police said the group detained in Turkey on Wednesday includes three men, two women and four children aged one to 11. They are being deported to Britain. The nine are among a spate of recent cases of British citizens trying to reach areas of Syria controlled by the Islamic State group. Several have been apprehended, but three teenage schoolgirls are believed to have reached Syria in February.
‘Groundhog Day’ coming
Groundhog Day is coming to Broadway. A musical version of the story about an arrogant weather forecaster forced to live the same day over and over is scheduled to arrive in 2017, thanks to four creators of the hit Matilda the Musical — director Matthew Warchus, composer Tim Minchin, choreographer Peter Darling, and set and costume design by Rob Howell. The story will be based on the 1993 film that starred Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot. The book will be by Danny Rubin, who cowrote the screenplay with Harold Ramis. The producers are Whistle Pig Productions, Scott Rudin and Columbia Live Stage. No casting was announced. Previews will start in January 2017.
The sweatier the better
Scientists on Thursday said they had developed the first perfume that smells better the more you sweat and reduces body odor. Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast said in a statement that the new perfume “releases more of its aroma when it comes into contact with moisture.” The fragrance uses as a delivery system an ionic liquid — salt in the form of liquid — with no smell. “The perfumed ionic liquid releases its aroma when it comes into contact with water, allowing more of the perfume’s scent to be released onto a person’s skin,” the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories said. The new perfume could also take away bad odors. “The thiol compounds that are responsible for the malodor of sweat are attracted to the ionic liquid, attaching themselves to it and losing their potency,” the scientists said. Queen’s University said it was already working with a perfume company on practical applications and project leader Nimal Gunaratne said it had “great commercial potential.”
UN condemns junta order
The UN has joined international rights groups in criticizing a decision by the military government to invoke a law that gives the junta chief near-absolute authority without any accountability. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Thursday that giving Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha unfettered authority leaves the door open to serious violations of human rights.
Overloaded boat capsizes
A passenger boat overloaded with 55 people and heavy cargo has capsized in the southern Philippines, leaving at least five dead and one missing. Coast guard spokesman William Arquero yesterday said it was unclear if more are missing, because the unregistered vessel left Jolo Island for nearby Tapul Island without inspection and clearance from authorities. Also on board were 100 bags of cement and assorted cargo. Arquero said 14 survivors rescued by three passing boats were brought to a hospital, while an unknown number of survivors were taken to Tapul.
Zunar charged with sedition
A cartoonist known for lampooning the ruling coalition has been charged with a record nine counts of sedition over a series of Twitter posts criticizing the judiciary. Lawyer Latheefa Koya said the charges filed yesterday against Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, are excessive and are aimed at silencing government critics. She says Zunar faces up to 43 years in jail if found guilty of all nine charges. A defiant Zunar posted a new cartoon on Twitter after his release on bail, vowing to “draw until the last drop of ink.”
‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’: Three US senators sent a letter to the US commerce secretary asking whether the project ‘takes into consideration national security requirements’ US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
MOM’S LONG CAMPAIGN: Mao Yin had been brought up in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, without any idea that he was the target of a decades-long, high-profile search A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years. Mao Yin (毛寅), then two-and-a-half years old, was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday in Xian, where he was born. After Mao vanished, his mother Li Jingzhi (李靜芝) quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out more than 100,000 flyers and appearing on numerous TV shows. That long campaign helped 29 other families find their own missing children and made
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for