Russian consulate lights fire
Acrid, black smoke was seen pouring from a chimney at the Russian consulate in San Francisco on Friday, a day after President Donald Trump’s administration ordered its closure amid escalating tensions between the US and Russia. Firefighters who arrived at the scene were turned away by consulate officials who came from inside the building. An Associated Press reporter heard people who came from inside the building tell firefighters that there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning unidentified items in a fireplace. San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talamadge said the department received a call about the smoke and sent a crew to investigate, but determined the smoke was coming from the chimney. “They had a fire going in their fireplace,” she said.
Ohio to execute killer
Governor John Kasich on Friday said he will not spare a condemned killer who shot two people to death in back-to-back robberies over two days. Death row inmate Gary Otte is scheduled to die on Sept. 13. Kasich also said he was pushing back three executions after reviewing the schedule for putting inmates to death, to ensure all executions are carried “in a humane and professional manner.” Otte, 45, was sentenced to die for the Feb. 12, 1992, killing of Robert Wasikowski and the Feb. 13, 1992, killing of Sharon Kostura. Both slayings took place in an apartment building in Parma, in suburban Cleveland. Kasich did not explain his decision regarding Otte. He followed the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, which unanimously rejected Otte’s appeal in February, citing the heinous nature of the killings. “Otte senselessly shot two vulnerable victims in their own apartments, stole from them and callously left them alone to suffer and die on their floors,” the board said.
Mystery object found
Questions are still swirling after a mysterious object was removed from the waters off a Rhode Island beach. The circular metal object was taken out of the waters off East Beach in Westerly by an excavator on Thursday, and it’s much bigger than originally thought. East Beach Association president Peter Brockmann told The Westerly Sun he hopes someone who sees a media report about the object knows what it is. Before it was removed, the best guess was it is what is called an acoustic Doppler profiler to monitor currents. That device is about 1.37m long. However, the object removed on Thursday is about twice that size. The object was discovered last month at the beach near singer Taylor Swift’s oceanfront mansion.
Former minister in ‘Tomb’
Former minister of defense Raul Isaias Baduel, a government critic whose whereabouts have been unknown for three weeks, is being held by the intelligence service, his family said Friday. Baduel’s daughter Andreina told a press conference the family were only told of his whereabouts in a telephone call from new attorney general Tarek William Saab, and that she and her brother were taken to see him. “They have him in the SEBIN at Plaza Venezuela, known as ‘The Tomb,’” she said, referring to the intelligence service headquarters in Caracas. Baduel was “spiritually and physically” strong despite the conditions he was being held in, she said.
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
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
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