Aquino charged over raid
The Office of the Ombudsman yesterday filed criminal charges against former president Benigno Aquino III for mishandling a botched anti-militant raid that resulted in the death of 44 police commandos in 2015. The police officers’ deaths at the hands of an overwhelming number of rebel gunmen contributed to the stalling of peace efforts with Muslim separatists and was the biggest crisis of Aquino’s presidency. The office said it had charged Aquino with usurpation of authority, as well as graft and corruption, following preliminary investigations. The agency said Aquino allowed a suspended police chief to be involved in the planning and execution of the January 2015 raid in Mamasapano and kept the interior minister and police officer in charge out of the loop.
‘First cat’ run over by car
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday was mourning the loss of the nation’s “first cat,” Paddles, after her pet tabby was run over by a car in Auckland. The prime minister’s office confirmed that the ginger and white rescue cat, also described by Ardern as the PM (Prime Moggy), died in an accident on Tuesday. “To anyone who has ever lost a pet, you’ll know how sad we feel,” the 37-year-old leader posted on Facebook, urging people to donate to an animal rescue charity. “Paddles was much loved and not just by us. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts.” Paddles proved a popular member of the prime ministerial household after Ardern won office last month, with a Twitter account set up in her name attracting more than 11,000 followers.
VR tours of Pyramid on offer
A team of scientists from France’s HIP Institute who last week announced the discovery of a large void inside the Great Pyramid of Giza have created a virtual-reality (VR) tour that allows users to “teleport” themselves inside the structure and explore its architecture. Using 3D technology, the Scan Pyramids Project allows visitors wearing headsets to take a guided tour inside the Grand Gallery, the Queen’s Chamber and other ancient rooms not normally accessible to the public, without leaving Paris.
Nutella to reduce hazelnuts
Nutella aficionados are up-in-arms after discovering that the recipe has been secretly changed, with more sugar and fat, but fewer hazelnuts. Ferrero, Nutella’s manufacturer, said it had carried out “fine-tuning,” but added that the nutritional value of the new version was similar to its predecessor. The recipe tweaks had been spotted by the Hamburg Consumer Protection Centre in Germany and revealed on its Facebook page. It claims the recipe has increased the content of powdered skimmed milk from 7.5 to 8.7 percent, and sugar from 55.9 to 56.3 percent. Furious fans took to Twitter to criticize the changes, using the hashtag #boycottNutella.
‘Evil’ palace official fired
The Royal Household Bureau has dismissed a top official for “extremely evil behavior,” a note said yesterday, in what appears to be the latest shake-up under King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The removal of Grand Chamberlain Distorn Vajarodaya, whose role was to manage the royal household, was announced by the palace in a document dated on Monday, media reported. The document listed things that Distorn allegedly did, including falsifying a 25 million baht (US$754,831) charity receipt for royal honors and tax evasion in the name of the crown.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around