Second missing hiker found
A second person missing in the outback for two weeks after going hiking has been found near Alice Springs, police said yesterday. Phu Tran, 40, was found by a farmer at a cattle station near Alice Springs. He survived soaring temperatures by drinking water meant for livestock, and was basically in good condition, although slightly disoriented, police said. Tran was found three days after his friend Tamra McBeath-Riley was found. The third member of the group, Claire Hockridge, is still missing.
Parliament suspension set
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has suspended parliament for a month ahead of snap elections he wants to call in March to consolidate his landslide victory in last month’s presidential elections. He issued a proclamation overnight proroguing the legislature and said a new session would begin from Jan. 3. The official announcement of a fresh session of the legislature will give his minority government more control over parliamentary oversight committees.
Nuisance calls bring arrest
A pensioner has been arrested after ringing a telephone company 24,000 times to complain they had violated his contract, Tokyo police and media reported yesterday. Akitoshi Okamoto, 71, was taken into custody last week after he made hundreds of toll-free calls over eight days to KDDI’s customer service section. However, media outlets reported that he made thousands more calls from public pay phones to voice his displeasure with the company and insult customer service staff. He has been arrested on suspicion of “fraudulent obstruction of business,” a police spokesman said.
NASA spots crashed lander
NASA has found the Vikram lander that crashed in September while attempting to land near the moon’s south pole. The agency released images showing an impact site and debris from the lander, which disappeared with a rover minutes before a scheduled touchdown that would have made the country just the fourth nation to achieve a soft landing on the moon. Local mechanical engineer Shanmuga Subramanian contacted NASA after studying images of the site released by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team on Sept. 26. He identified the debris and the team confirmed the finding after checking images acquired in the following months, NASA said.
WFP sending food aid
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday announced it was procuring 240,000 tonnes of food assistance to deliver to 4.1 million people in the nation, where food shortages are being exacerbated by runaway inflation and drought induced by climate change. “We are very much concerned as the situation continues to deteriorate,” WFP country director Eddie Rowe said in Harare. “We believe if we do not reach out and assist these people then the situation would blow up into a major crisis.”
Mugabe’s estate listed
Former president Robert Mugabe left behind US$10 million in the bank and four houses in the capital, but there is no will naming his beneficiaries, a list of his estate published by state-owned Herald newspaper showed yesterday. The list included a farm, 10 cars and 11 hectares of land and the orchard where he is buried, but does not mention any overseas assets.
Blogger registration passed
President Vladimir Putin yesterday signed a bill into law that gives the government the right to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents. The law can apply to anyone who distributes content produced by media firms registered as foreign agents and receives payments from abroad. Individuals registered as foreign agents will be subject to additional government scrutiny.
Murder charge recommended
Investigators yesterday said that two sisters who killed their father after years of abuse should face murder charges. Three sisters — Krestina, Angelina and Maria Khachaturyan — stabbed their father, Mikhail, to death in July last year after years of alleged beatings and sexual assault. They were 17, 18 and 19 at the time of the killing. The Investigate Committee said in a statement that it was recommending charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder against the two older sisters, Krestina and Angelina. The probe pointed to “mitigating circumstances,” but said the two older sisters were of sound mind and aware of their actions at the time of the attack. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Investigators recommended that the youngest sister, Maria, should enter mandatory psychiatric care.
Word of year announced
Climate change, gun violence, the very nature of democracy and an angsty little movie star called Forky helped propel “existential” to Dictionary.com’s word of the year. “In our data, it speaks to this sense of grappling with our survival, both literally and figuratively, that defined so much of the discourse,” John Kelly, senior research editor for the site, said on Monday. The word earned awareness in searches on the Web site in the aftermath of wildfires and Hurricane Dorian, and mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas. It also reared itself in presidential politics and pop culture, including Forky the white plastic spork in Toy Story 4. Oxford Dictionaries picked “climate emergency” as its word of the year.
PG&E blamed for fire
California power producer PG&E Corp did not properly inspect and replace transmission lines before a faulty wire sparked a wildfire that killed more than 80 people last year, a probe by a state regulator has concluded. The Caribou-Palermo transmission line was identified as the cause of the Camp Fire last year, which virtually incinerated the northern town of Paradise and stands as the state’s most lethal blaze. “PG&E failed to maintain an effective inspection and maintenance program to identify and correct hazardous conditions on its transmission lines ... as are necessary to promote the safety and health of its patrons and the public,” a 700-page report by the California Public Utilities Commission said.
Drone postal deliveries start
La Poste’s subsidiary DPD has begun using drones to make parcel deliveries to a remote Alpine village. DPD says flying packages by remote control is more reliable, quicker and safer than driving a van up narrow mountain roads in winter when they are often icy or blocked by snow. Launched during a normal postal delivery round, drones are guided to a “secure terminal” near the village where they release the package to be collected by the customer using a code.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative