Rail workers strike
Trade unions in Brussels and the south of the country have begun a 48-hour rail strike which is set to disrupt national traffic and international connections to Paris and London. Workers began walking off the job late on Tuesday to protest planned government reforms aimed at streamlining services and making the sector more efficient. The unions say the government is imposing austerity measures that will cost thousands of jobs and cut services.
Paul Bley dies, aged 83
Canadian avant-garde jazz pianist Paul Bley has died at his Florida home. He was 83. The publicist for Bley’s record label, ECM Records, on Tuesday said that Bley died of natural causes on Sunday at his Stuart home. Born on Nov. 10, 1932, in Montreal, Bley began studying music at the age of five and formed his first band at the age of 13. He studied at Julliard in the 1950s, and in the 1960s he pioneered using electric pianos and synthesizers.
Hacker gets time served
A Latvian man was spared further prison time on Tuesday for what US prosecutors said was his crucial role in a conspiracy to distribute a computer virus that infected more than 1 million computers worldwide. Deniss Calovskis, 30, spent 21 months in prison before he pleaded guilty in September and admitted to having written some of the computer code for the so-called Gozi virus. At the time, prosecutors sought additional time in custody. US District Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan called Calovskis’ conduct serious, but said “the goal of punishment has been served already.”
Men jailed over ‘rape’ video
Two young men have been arrested, charged and jailed after shocked Internet users watched a video of a suspected rape and alerted police. Lawyer Francoise Nogues said the two men, aged 18 and 22, were on Tuesday charged with “aggravated gang rape” of an 18-year-old girl and “diffusion of pornographic images.” Perpignan prosecutor Achille Kiriakides said in a statement that the young men were jailed. The prosecutor said the girl knew both men and that a barrage of analyses would help determine if the sexual encounters were “completely and freely” accepted.
Mas ‘ready’ to call elections
Catalonia’s outgoing separatist leader Artur Mas on Tuesday said that he was reluctantly “ready” to call fresh parliamentary elections, with the region’s secessionist faction unable to agree on who should lead a new government after winning September’s polls. “I’m ready — against my will, this is not what we wanted and it is not what I want — but I’m ready to sign the decree to convene elections,” he told reporters in Barcelona as Saturday’s deadline to form a new government drew dangerously close.
Mota investigation deepens
The investigation into the murder of Temixco Mayor Gisela Mota has led police to a clandestine grave containing five other bodies, authorities said on Tuesday. The burial spot was found in the community of Alpuyeca following the killing of Mota on Saturday, just one day after taking office. Three people — a 32-year-old woman, an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy — who were detained right after the mayor’s murder were formally charged with homicide on Tuesday.
Bird flu death in China
A woman in Shenzhen died last week after being infected with the highly contagious H5N6 bird flu virus, days after she was admitted to hospital, the Hong Kong Department of Health said yesterday. The department said it was also notified by the Guangdong Province health authorities on Friday last week that a 40-year-old woman from Zhaoqing was infected with H5N6 and was in a critical condition. It said health-check systems were in place at border crossings with Shenzhen and the airport.
Demand for compensation
Elderly women forced to work as comfort women by Japanese troops during World War II are calling for compensation from Tokyo after it pledged US$8.3 million for South Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during the war. Their lawyers yesterday said that they are also exploring the possibility of filing cases with UN bodies and holding President Benigno Aquino III liable for allegedly failing to support the case of the women against Japan. “Is there a difference in the rape of a South Korean and a Filipino woman?” said Harry Roque, one of the lawyers, said at a news conference in Manila. “The answer is there should be none, because rape is a crime against women and is prohibited by international humanitarian law and is recognized as an international crime.”
Lizards learn to avoid toads
Scientists yesterday said they had devised an “innovative method of conservation” through feeding giant monitor lizards small cane toads so they will not be killed by adult cane toads, which are so toxic they can kill predators that try to eat them. Researchers from the University of Sydney said they were able to teach free-ranging goannas in the Kimberley wilderness to avoid eating the toxic toads about to invade the remote floodplain. They offered small, non-lethal cane toads to the wild yellow-spotted monitors with further trials confirming “just one or two toad meals were enough to convince a goanna not to eat another toad.” “After training, giant monitor lizards, known as goannas, survived when the toads arrived, whereas untrained lizards were immediately killed,” lead researcher Georgia Ward-Fear said of the study, which was published in the Biology Letters journal.
Actress shames pirate
Bollywood star Kriti Sanon posted a series of angry tweets after a passenger sitting next to her on a flight brazenly started watching a pirated copy of one of her films. Sanon was travelling to New Delhi last week when the man seated beside her started using an iPhone projector to watch Hindi blockbuster Dilwale. The movie had only been released 10 days before. The tweets were accompanied by a picture of the passenger, who appeared to be enjoying the movie.
New CAR abuse claims
The UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic (CAR) on Tuesday said it was investigating new allegations of sexual abuse of minors by peacekeepers in the nation. It said that staff of the UN Children’s Fund based in Bangui have met with four of the alleged child victims. The statement said the head of mission was discussing with the human rights office in Geneva ways of combating sexual abuse, including through the formation of a police brigade that would identify perpetrators and deter such abuse.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable