Temperature hits record high
The temperature hit a record high yesterday, with the extreme summer heat killing at least 13 people across the nation this week, officials said. The mercury shot up to a record 40.9oC in Tajimi city, Gifu Prefecture, yesterday afternoon, according to the weather agency. The reading eclipsed the previous highest temperature recorded in Japan of 40.8oC set in Yamagata Prefecture in 1933. Five people have been killed since Tuesday in Saitama Prefecture just north of Tokyo, officials said. "Many of the victims are elderly people. They are hard hit by this heat wave as they are not so physically strong to begin with," a disaster-prevention official said.
Quakes shake Tokyo
A series of moderate undersea earthquakes shook the Tokyo region early yesterday, including one with a preliminary magnitude of 5.3, the Meteorological Agency said. There was no danger of a tsunami from the quakes, the agency said. The magnitude 5.3 quake struck just off the eastern coast of Chiba Prefecture at around 4:15am according to the agency. It swayed buildings in the capital for about 20 seconds. Three milder temblors followed within hours. A magnitude 5 earthquake rattled the region at 8:20am. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quakes.
Terror suspect wounded
A top Indonesian terror suspect and a Filipino militant were reportedly wounded during a fierce gunbattle with troops on Jolo island last week, military chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon said yesterday. Indonesian militant Dulmatin and Abu Sayyaf commander Umbra Jumdail were reportedly wounded during the clash near Jolo's townships of Maimbung and Indanan, Esperon said, citing reports from troops and villagers. "It's not yet confirmed, but it's very likely," Esperon said. Dulmatin and another Indonesian militant, Umar Patek, were reportedly given sanctuary on Jolo by Abu Sayyaf commanders. The two pair, believed to be key operatives of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, have long been hunted by US, Philippine and Indonesian authorities for allegedly helping mastermind the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people.
Transport budget increased
The transportation budget will be increased by 64 percent to US$1.7 billion next year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said yesterday. The money will go toward improving and building airports, especially in remote and disaster-prone areas, and toward flight safety and services, he said in a state of the union address. Funds also will be used to improve railway lines on Java and Sumatra, as well as sea transportation in 18 provinces across the country, he said. The government has been struggling to win back international confidence in its transportation system after two jetliners crashed earlier this year, killing more than 120 people.
Soup threat for dogs
If it was up to New Delhi City Councilor Mohan Prashad Bharadwaj, the city's stray dogs would find themselves in hot water -- soup to be precise. Shipping the thousands of strays to South Korea, where dog meat is widely consumed in soup, was one idea he has proposed to deal with the problem, the Hindustan Times reported yesterday. Tens of thousands of strays live in New Delhi.
■ SIERRA LEONE
Opposition lead in poll
The main opposition candidate was leading in the presidential race yesterday with about a third of votes counted. Ernest Bai Koroma had 297,206 votes, compared to 227,353 votes for the ruling party's Vice President Solomon Berewa, electoral commission chief Christiana Thorpe said late on Wednesday. The election is the first to be held in the diamond-rich African nation since UN peacekeepers withdrew two years ago.
Seal cull to continue
The government said on Wednesday it would continue culling seals after a meeting with animal rights activists failed to halt the mass killings. The ministry of fisheries and marine resources met last week with Seal Alert, which has been outspoken in opposition to the hunting of the endangered Cape Fur seal for their pelts, as well as other animal rights organizations, including the World Society for Protection of Animals and the Humane Society International for Animals UK.
Garbage men win lottery
A duo of garbage men who emerged victorious in a recent strike demanding bonus pay for handling toxic muck have now won something bigger: 440,000 euros (US$593,000) in lottery booty. Joaquin Ligero, a 56-year-old driver, and Vito Marquez, a 42-year-old trash collector, shared a ticket and won the second prize on Sunday in the EuroMillions sweepstake, the newspaper El Mundo reported. Their stroke of luck came a day after they and about 80 colleagues ended a five-day strike that left 700 tonnes of garbage rotting in the hot streets of Almunecar, a southern beach town of 24,000 that sees its population quintuple in summer.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Protest hits Biggin Hill
Environmental activists said yesterday they had chained themselves to the gates of a small English airport to protest the impact of private air traffic on climate change. The group said about 10 protesters had shut Biggin Hill airport, south of London, by blocking the only passenger entrance. The airport confirmed the protest but said Biggin Hill was operating normally. Richard George, spokesman for the demonstrators, said the action was a protest against the growth in the number of people using private jets as opposed to scheduled flights.
Farrow leads torch relay
Actress Mia Farrow joined genocide survivors in a torch-lighting ceremony on Wednesday at a school where thousands died in a 100-day frenzy of killings in 1994. Farrow is leading an Olympic-style torch relay through countries that have suffered genocide to press China, host of the 2008 games, to help end abuses in its ally Sudan's Darfur region. More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been chased from their homes in Darfur since 2003 when tribes of ethnic African farmers rebelled against the Arab-dominated central government, accusing it of neglect and discrimination. "We welcome China's recent UN vote to allow a peacekeeping force into Sudan," said Jill Savitt, director of Dream for Darfur, the group that organized the ceremony. "However, China now must continue to press Sudan to ensure that the words on paper translate into action."
■ UNITED STATES
Dead animals found in home
A rotten odor seeping from a home in an upscale Trenton, New Jersey, neighborhood led to the discovery of dozens of dogs and cats, many of them dead, inside the feces-ridden mansion, authorities said. "Behind a mansion door there's a horror house," said James Lagrosa, head of the Bergen County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. At least 80 live cats and six dogs were removed on Wednesday from the Saddle River house, although one kitten died later, he said. In the garage, authorities found 23 separate plastic bags that contained the remains of dead animals, some so decomposed it could not be determined what type of animal they were.
■ UNITED STATES
Glass eater pleads guilty
A man pleaded guilty in Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday to his role in a multistate scheme in which prosecutors say he and his wife intentionally ate glass at restaurants and collected more than US$200,000 in compensation. Prosecutors say Ronald Evano and his wife, Mary, filed fraudulent insurance claims worth more than US$200,000, collected more than US$200,000 and left a trail of unpaid medical bills totaling more than US$100,000 in several states between 1997 and 2005. Prosecutors said the two were treated at hospitals for glass ingestions at least a dozen times. They collected payments from insurance companies but never paid their hospital bills.
■ UNITED STATES
Headless walruses found
Dozens of headless walrus carcasses have washed up on Alaska beaches this summer, prompting an investigation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. While rotting, headless carcasses are not uncommon along beaches, the number of them this summer has been a cause of alarm. In late June and early last month, 79 walrus carcasses were counted along one 64.3km stretch of beach -- about twice as many as in any year in the past decade, said Steve Oberholtzer, a special agent in Anchorage. "Every one of them had the head removed," he said. The ones that investigators got a close look at had been shot.
■ UNITED STATES
Mower blows up, starts fire
A man in Georgia started more than just his lawn mower when he tugged at its pull cord -- he started a fire that destroyed his home. The mower exploded on Tuesday in hot, parched conditions. Danny Fendley was trying to start the mower in the garage of his two-story brick home in an Atlanta suburb when the machine burst into flames. Before he could extinguish the fire, it had spread through the garage. Then his wife tried to toss a can of gasoline out a window as the blaze spread, but she missed, spreading the fuel ``everywhere,'' Fendley said. The flames engulfed the house in less than a minute.
■ UNITED STATES
Woman killed over bills
A Kansas City, Missouri, man threw his seriously ill wife four stories to her death because he could no longer afford to pay for her medical care, prosecutors said in charging him with second-degree murder. According to court documents filed on Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court, Stanley Reimer walked his wife to the balcony of their apartment and kissed her before throwing her over. The body of Criste Reimer, 47, was found on Tuesday night outside the apartment building, near the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping district. Stanley Reimer, 51, was charged on Wednesday. He remained jailed on $250,000 bond.