Aftershocks rock Malukus
The Maluku Islands yesterday were hit by scores of aftershocks after an earthquake on Sunday killed at least two people. Rescue teams were struggling to reach parts of the area hit by the magnitude 7.2 quake, due to its remote location, warning that the death toll could rise. The quake hit at a shallow depth of 10km on the southern part of Halmahera in the North Malukus. About 2,000 people had been displaced, while at least 58 houses had been damaged, Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo told reporters in Jakarta. As of yesterday afternoon, 66 aftershocks had been recorded, he said.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Security being boosted
Authorities have boosted security to prevent a further escalation of tribal violence, after at least 24 people were killed last week in Hela Province, officials said yesterday. The killings of women and children marked a deadly departure from a cycle of killing in which the vulnerable are usually off limits. Police Minister Bryan Kramer said immediate intervention was needed in Hela to prevent the latest bout of violence becoming the new norm. He said the massacre of women and children was “the worst pay back killing in our country’s history.” A defence force platoon and a mobile police squad had been stationed at a local primary school “to provide around the clock security, to prevent any further escalation of violence,” and authorities would use “drone technology and satellite surveillance” to track down the perpetrators, he added.
Humanitarian aid drying up
A leading advocacy group for refugees yesterday that with half of the year gone, humanitarian organizations have received only 27 percent of the money needed to provide relief to people affected by crises worldwide this year. Norwegian Refugee Council secretary-general Jan Egeland said “the current lack of funding is alarming.” Egeland said a total of US$26 billion is required this year to provide relief for about 94 million people in need. However, donor countries have contributed only US$7 billion, or US$2 billion less than for the same period last year, he said, citing the UN’s financial tracking service. “Let’s not be fooled into believing that the amount needed is too high or the job too difficult. It is a question of priorities,” Egeland said. The world’s total military expenditure last year increased to “a whopping $1.8 trillion,” citing figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. “The cost of closing the humanitarian funding gap and providing people with basic support equals to just about 1 percent of this,” he said.
Student’s body found
The body of a man, believed to be the missing Indian student Poshik Sharma, was found yesterday morning in regional Victoria. Sharma, 21, was reported missing after he left the Duck Inn about 4:30pm on Thursday. Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious. Meanwhile, New South Wales police announced that human bones discovered last month near Port Macquarie belonged to Erwan Ferrieux, a 21-year-old French national who went missing along with his British friend Hugo Palmer in February. “We believe from the DNA comparisons that it belongs to Erwan Ferrieux,” Superintendent Paul Fehon said. Another human bone was discovered in the same area on Sunday, but police said it was too early to say whether it belonged to either Ferrieux or Palmer.
Court blocks border meeting
The Constitutional Court late on Sunday granted an injunction blocking President Jimmy Morales from signing a migration deal with the US that would oblige it to offer asylum to migrants heading to the US border. Morales, who was under pressure at home not to seal the deal, earlier on Sunday called off White House talks with US President Donald Trump with just a day to spare, his office announced. The meeting scheduled for yesterday in Washington was pushed back due to “speculation” about the signing of a possible deal and to await the decision of the court on legal actions filed over it, the government said in a statement. The court said any such agreement should first be approved by Congress.
May boogies to ABBA
Prime Minister Theresa May boogied away one of her last weekends as prime minister, showing off some of her famously awkward dance moves to ABBA hits such as Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia at a festival. In a video clip, she is shown dancing at the Henley Festival as her husband and other men in black tie swing their arms to the tunes.
Hundreds arrested in unrest
A total of 282 people were arrested on Sunday evening after unrest following the Algerian soccer team’s qualification for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. Riotous celebrations erupted across the nation after Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1 in the semi-final. Unruly scenes erupted in Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Fifty people were arrested in Paris and there were incidents between soccer fans and police on the Champs-Elysees avenue. Dozens of cars were torched overnight in Lyon. Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner yesterday congratulated police and firefighters for their “speedy reaction and professionalism which contained the violence and to the perpetrators” being apprehended.
Groups protest telescope
Native Hawaiian groups vowed to protect Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, from an attempt to resume construction yesterday of a giant telescope. The road to the summit was to be closed yesterday morning as trucks carrying construction equipment start to make their way to the peak. The planned building site is considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians. State officials said anyone breaking the law would be arrested. Protests in 2015 ended in arrests and crews pulling back. However, Hawaii’s Supreme Court has ruled the construction is legal, permits are in place and the state has given the company behind the telescope a green light to resume its efforts.
Chess player suspended
The International Chess Federation on Friday said it has suspended a player at a tournament after the man was “caught red-handed using his phone during a game.” The federation said on Twitter that all the evidence in the case of Igors Rausis had been sent to its ethics committee and that it was “determined to fight cheating in chess.” Rausis is a 58-year-old Latvian-Czech player who won the grandmaster title in 1992 and has over the years represented Latvia, Bangladesh and the Czech Republic. Federation director-general Emil Sutovsky wrote on Facebook that Rausis had long been under suspicion for cheating and that catching him was “merely the first shot” in a years-long battle against cheating.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
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
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a