Country braces for typhoon
The Japanese mainland braced for Typhoon Jelawat yesterday amid warnings of landslides, floods and monster waves, a day after it injured scores of people on Okinawa. The powerful typhoon was expected to hit the western region of the main island Honshu and move towards central areas, including Tokyo, later in the day, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Jelawat, about 60km south-southwest of the southern tip of Wakayama Prefecture at 2pm, was moving northeast, packing winds of up to 216kph, the agency said. It warned high waves up to 10m could hit islands and the pacific coast near the capital, while rainfall of 40cm was expected in some areas in. At least 101 people were injured in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures after the typhoon hit the area on Saturday with winds strong enough to flip cars, broadcaster NHK said.
George Michael cancels tour
British pop singer George Michael canceled his tour of the nation yesterday revealing that he was battling “major anxiety” after a severe bout of pneumonia that he says almost killed him. The 49-year-old said he was heartbroken to have to cancel the Australian leg of his current Symphonica tour, which was postponed last year due to his pneumonia and was due to kick off in Perth on Nov. 10. “Since last year’s illness I have tried in vain to work my way through the trauma that the doctors who saved my life warned me I would experience,” Michael said in a statement from his promoters. Michael said doctors had recommended complete rest and counseling but he had “believed wrongly that making music and getting out there to perform for the audiences ... would be therapy enough in itself.”
UK witness gunned down
Friends of a British man gunned down as he was set to give evidence against a group of men accused of kidnapping him paid tribute to a “courageous” man on Saturday. Malik Iqbal, 55, was shot dead in Rawalpindi on Friday as he waited to testify against kidnappers who held him for a month last year, only releasing him when his family paid a ￡15,000 (US$24,000) ransom. Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday confirmed the death of a British national and said it was providing consular assistance. Iqbal, a father of four, was chained to a bed and blindfolded for 20 days during his kidnap ordeal. Friend Riaz Ahmed — a former councilor in Iqbal’s home city of Bradford in northern England — called the dead man “a determined and brave man.” “He was very, very determined to go through with this,” he said of Iqbal’s attempts to seek justice.
Convicts go ‘gangnam’
Convicts who became famous for dancing to Michael Jackson’s hits have added South Korean spice to their repertoire, with a performance of the popular Gangnam Style rap. A video posted by prison authorities in the central city of Cebu on YouTube showed about 1,000 inmates clad in orange uniforms doing the horse-riding dance made famous by South Korean rapper Psy. The inmates performed in the prison court yard for visitors at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center amid heavy rain, and the four-minute clip was uploaded to Youtube on Saturday. GMA television said more than 1,000 visitors watched the dance, the inmates’ first public performance since February when authorities stopped the shows due to violence at the jail.
Ex-NY Times man dies
Former New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger has died aged 86. The newspaper reports that his family says Sulzberger died on Saturday at his home in Southampton, New York, after a long illness. He had retired in 1992 after three decades at the paper’s helm and was succeeded by his son, Arthur Jr. Sulzberger’s family has controlled the newspaper since his grandfather Adolph Ochs acquired it in 1896. The company has struggled in recent years, but during Sulzberger’s tenure it reached new levels of influence and profit. The paper received more than 30 Pulitzer Prizes and won a historic 1964 legal ruling that strengthened First Amendment protections for the press.
Former AP executive dies
Jack Koehler, who fled advancing Soviets as a boy in Germany during World War II, grew up to report from there for The Associated Press and served briefly in former president Ronald Reagan’s White House, has died at 82. Koehler died months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, said Anne Cron, who was his closest friend. Born in Dresden, Germany, Koehler served as an interpreter for a US army unit as a teen after fleeing Soviet forces during the war. After the war, he spent time in Canada before moving to the US in 1954, where he served in the army. Koehler was a news correspondent in Berlin and Bonn before returning to the US to become chief of bureau in Newark, New Jersey, and work in New York. Koehler was friends with Reagan and served briefly in his administration, when it became public that Koehler had belonged to a Nazi youth group at age 10 he resigned after just a week on the job as White House communications director in 1987, but insisted he did not leave because of publicity over his involvement in the Jungvolk.
Troops deployed for election
The defense ministry says troops are to be used to ensure peaceful voting and campaigning in Rio de Janeiro ahead of this week’s municipal elections. The ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site that army and marine troops are to be deployed from today in crime-ridden slums in the city’s north and west. Voters in 5,565 cities and towns across Latin America’s biggest country are to elect mayors and municipal councilmen on Sunday.
TV suicide victim identified
A man who stole a car at gunpoint, shot at Phoenix police officers and then led them on a chase that ended with his suicide broadcast on national television was identified on Saturday as a wanted felon with a long criminal history. Jodon Romero, 33, was wanted for violating his parole for a weapons conviction and had numerous other violent crimes in his background, police spokesman Sergeant Tommy Thompson said. At the end of an hour-long pursuit on Phoenix road on Friday, Romero pulled into the desert and an officer shot at him, although it appears he missed, Thompson said. Romero then walked off the dirt road, put a gun to his head and killed himself. Fox News was covering the chase that began about midday Friday using a live helicopter shot from Phoenix affiliate KSAZ-TV. Anchor Shepard Smith told viewers that the video was supposed to be on a delay so it could be cut off if something went awry.