Lack of towels at nude swim
A towel shortage yesterday morning added an extra chill to a nude midwinter swim in Sandy Bay in Hobart, Tasmania. More than 1,000 people turned up at dawn to mark the winter solstice with a quick dip in the Derwent River as part of the Dark Mofo arts festival. The water temperature was a cool 14?C, but the air was 7?C. The event requires preregistration and supplies towels, but the unprecedented number of attendees meant that the towels quickly ran out.
Official sacked over spill
The director of the Environment Protection Management Department has been fired for negligence over a toxic waste dump that killed tonnes of fish in a major crisis last year, according to officials and state media. Luong Duy Hanh is the latest official to be punished over the toxic leak, which was blamed on the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp plant, a unit of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp. State media yesterday reported that Hanh was sacked because he failed to properly oversee the steel plant project. He was blamed for not “consulting and supervising the implementation of the environmental protection unit during the construction and pilot operation” of the plant, according to the state-controlled Thanh Nien daily.
Anti-terror laws tightened
The government has drafted a law allowing authorities to jail for up to 15 years citizens coming home after joining militant groups abroad, lawmakers said yesterday. “The new criminal code adopts the principle of universality, which means that wherever an Indonesian citizen commits a crime, they can be legally processed in Indonesia,” lawmaker Arsul Sani said.
The legislation is likely to be approved in September.
No ‘sticking point’ in talks
There is no one sticking point in talks between Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, but a deal to support May’s minority government could take some time, her deputy said yesterday. “There’s no individual sticking point. Talks are progressing,” First Secretary of State Damian Green, who is effectively May’s deputy, told the BBC. “So we have a lot in common, but we are two different parties and so it will take some time to reach a deal.”
Castile footage released
The release of dashboard camera video of a black motorist’s fatal shooting by a Minnesota police officer is renewing the pain of the event for many people. Investigators on Tuesday released the video from police officer Jeronimo Yanez’s squad car. It was part of their investigation into 32-year-old Philando Castile’s death. The footage was made public just days after Yanez was acquitted in the case. Castile was shot in July last year in the St Paul, Minnesota, suburb of Falcon Heights after informing Yanez he had a gun. Minneapolis Urban League president Steven Belton said the video showed “a 21st century lynching.” Yanez testified that Castile ignored his commands not to pull out his gun and he feared for his life. The video does not show what happened inside the car.
Fernandez launches party
Former president Cristina Fernandez has returned to the nation’s political stage, launching a new party and promising to fight the economic policies of her conservative successor. The woman who governed Argentina from 2007 to 2015 told a rally in Buenos Aires on Tuesday that the party would be called Citizens Unity and would compete in October’s midterm elections. President Mauricio Macri was elected on a platform to clean up corruption and regenerate the economy with a pro-business government that would reverse some of the policies of left-leaning Fernandez.
Sheeran to lead fundraising
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed former UN World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran as his special envoy for Haiti, with a mandate to raise money for a trust fund to help victims of a cholera outbreak that has afflicted more than 800,000 people. Guterres on Tuesday announced that Sheeran, who heads the Asia Society, would be “fully engaged” in fundraising for nation, which she visited for the World Food Programme and as US undersecretary of state. The UN is seeking US$400 million to aid affected communities and help eradicate cholera in the country, but as of late last month only US$2.67 million had been contributed to the fund.
Sapp to gift brain to science
Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp is donating his brain for medical research. Sapp on Tuesday announced on social media that his brain would go to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after his death. The 44-year-old said in a statement that he has started to feel the effects of the many hits he took during his 13-year NFL career. He said he has specifically become concerned about his memory. Sapp said he hopes his donation can help prevent concussions and permanent brain damage for future football players. Sapp played defensive tackle from 1995 to 2003 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big