Limited Web for Kashmir
Internet services were partly restored in Indian Kashmir from yesterday, ending a five-and-a half-month blackout in the region, but social media would remain offline, local authorities said. Internet access was to be restored to 301 government-approved Web sites that include international news publications and platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. “Access shall be limited only to the whitelisted sites and not to any social media applications,” the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department said. Mobile phone data access is also being restored, but limited to second-generation connections, the department added.
Erdogan slams Haftar
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday urged international pressure to force the head of Libya’s eastern-based forces to abide by a tentative truce and said that Ankara was determined to continue supporting Libya’s UN-backed government. He made the comments following meetings in Istanbul with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At a joint news conference with Merkel, Erdogan took aim at General Khalifa Haftar, who leads forces based in eastern Libya that are waging an offensive to take Tripoli. “This man is not trustworthy,” Erdogan said, adding that his government would not abandon Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.
‘Pound pride’ launched
With the Syrian pound hitting record lows, a nationwide symbolic campaign has been launched by merchants, barbers, supermarkets and even gyms to support it. Under the slogan “Our pound is our pride,” the campaign encourages merchants to sell any staple or service for only 1 Syrian pound (US$0.0019). The one-pound coin has been out of use for years and has no real value, but organizers say it provides a morale boost and a distraction to war-weary residents who have been hit hard by sky-rocketing prices. “This cannot help the Syrian economy, but it is a chance for some people to forget about their troubles and worries,” said Marla Khouri, general director of al-Wadi Hotel in Homs Province. She is offering two days of accommodation for customers for the price of a pound. Khouri said the offer was made basically for low-income customers and in a bid to support the pound.
Prince Charles visits tomb
Britain’s Prince Charles on Friday paid a visit to the tomb of his grandmother at the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Mary Magdalene just outside Jerusalem’s Old City. Charles was shown around the 19th-century church by Archimandrite Roman Krassovsky, the local head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The prince made no public remarks, but he had paid tribute to his grandmother on Thursday night at the World Holocaust Forum. “I have long drawn inspiration from the selfless actions of my dear grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who in 1943, in Nazi-occupied Athens, saved a Jewish family by taking them into her home and hiding them,” he said.
Alleged watch gang on trial
Fifteen people went on trial in Rabat on Friday over the theft of dozens of luxury watches belonging to King Mohammed VI. The main suspect is a 46-year-old who worked as a cleaning woman in a royal household. The woman is alleged to have stolen 36 watches, and had many of them melted down and sold to gold merchants. The 14 others, all men, are gold traders or intermediaries who said they had no knowledge of the thefts.
Six killed in shooting
Six people on Friday were killed and another two wounded in a shooting in the southwestern town of Rot am See, police said. The suspect’s parents were among the dead and the other victims were also believed to be relatives. A man called police shortly after 12:45pm and told them he had killed several people, regional police chief Reiner Moeller said at a news conference. Police kept the man on the line and, when they arrived at the scene several minutes later, arrested a 26-year-old German national as the suspect in the slayings, Moeller said. Officers found the bodies of six people — three women and three men, aged 36 to 69 — in and behind a building where a bar is located. Another two people were hurt, and one of them has life-threatening injuries, Moeller said.
Car club mulls speed limit
The nation’s biggest car club on Friday said it is shifting its position on the introduction of a general speed limit on the Autobahn to “neutral.” The ADAC, which counts about one in four Germans among its members, said it would refrain from making any recommendations “until further notice” amid growing demands for the nation to pull level with neighboring countries that restrict speeds on their highways. About 70 percent of the nation’s highway network has no speed limit. Proponents say a speed limit of 130kph or less would reduce the risk and severity of accidents, and lower carbon emissions from cars with combustion engines. Opponents say the Autobahn is safe and bigger emissions cuts can be achieved through other means.
Truck driver to be extradited
Dublin High Court Judge Donald Binchy on Friday ruled that a truck driver wanted over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found in a refrigerated container near London can be extradited to the UK. Eamonn Harrison, 23, should be sent to Britain to face charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people, Binchy said. The bodies were found on Oct. 23 in Grays, England. Police said the 31 men and eight women were all from Vietnam, and were aged between 15 and 44. Binchy said he would defer ordering the extradition until Feb. 4. Harrison’s lawyers said they would read the full judgement before deciding whether to appeal.
Kids appeal for teachers
Parents of children at the Wereldboom elementary school in Amsterdam have responded to a national teacher shortage by making a short video of their offspring asking for candidates to come forward and help make their dreams come true. In the film the children talk about their plans to be a caretaker, pilot, plumber, acrobat or director when they get older. “But that is not possible without a good teacher,” the parents wrote on the school’s Web site. Teaching unions say the teacher shortages is chronic in four out of 10 primary and secondary schools for which they blame poor salaries.
BTS mics fetch US$83,200
Seven microphones used on tour by South Korean pop band BTS have sold for US$83,200 at a pre-Grammy Awards auction for charity, more than eight times the expected starting price, Julien’s Auctions said on Friday. The autographed microphones were the first ever items to be sold at auction from BTS, Julien’s said. They were used from 2017 to 2019 on the band’s “Love Yourself” tour. The auction was held to benefit the Recording Academy’s charitable arm, MusiCares.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications