Papers see opposition win
Major local newspapers are projecting that the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will win a majority of seats in elections on Sunday next week. The projections by the Asahi and Yomiuri newspapers published yesterday were based on telephone polls and their own reporting, analysis and prediction methods. A survey by Asahi estimated that the LDP, which ruled the nation for most of the post-World War II era, could win 257 to 285 seats in the 480-seat lower house, while the ruling Democratic Party of Japan could capture about 80 seats. However, Asahi said about 40 to 50 percent of voters were undecided, meaning the actual results could be quite different.
Beer is good for you: study
Consuming large quantities of a key ingredient in beer can protect against winter sniffles and even some serious illnesses in small children, Sapporo Breweries said, citing a scientific study. A chemical compound in hops, the plant brewers use to give beer its bitter taste, provides an effective guard against a virus that can cause severe forms of pneumonia and bronchitis in youngsters, Sapporo Breweries said on Wednesday. In research with scientists at Sapporo Medical University, the compound — humulone — was found to be effective in curbing the respiratory syncytial virus, the firm said.However, beer contains such small quantities of humulone that one would have to drink about 30 350ml cans for it to have any virus-fighting effect, said Jun Fuchimoto, a researcher at the company.
Schools shut after attacks
Teachers in the restive southern region yesterday suspended lessons at hundreds of schools after gun attacks on two educators this week, in the second recent class stoppage in the region over security fears. The local teaching association in Narathiwat, one of three insurgency-plagued provinces, said it had called for all state schools in the area to close for two days after a teacher was shot dead on Monday. “We demand effective security measures for teachers. State agencies should take responsibility for this incident,” chairman Sanguan Intarak said, adding the group would reassess the situation before schools reopen early next week.
Jazz legend Brubeck dies
Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, whose choice of novel rhythms, classical structures and brilliant sidemen made him a towering figure in modern jazz, has died at the age of 91, his longtime manager and producer Russell Gloyd said on Wednesday. Brubeck died of heart failure on his way to a regular medical exam at a hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut, Gloyd said. His Dave Brubeck Quartet put out one of the biggest-selling jazz songs of all time: Take Five. Like many of the group’s works, it had an unusual beat — 5/4 time as opposed to the usual 4/4. “We play it differently every time we play it,” Brubeck told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2005. “So I never get tired of playing it. That’s the beauty of jazz.”
Beijing to allow free transit
China will allow transit passengers from 45 countries and areas, including the US, Canada and the EU, to spend up to 72 hours in Beijing without a visa starting on Jan. 1, authorities said. The policy only applies to travelers in transit to a third country, and not for return flights to the capital. Travelers would “face punishment” if they left the capital and lawbreakers would be banned for life, a city official said.
Thieves steal plane engines
Thieves have made off with several US-made engines for F-16 warplanes worth millions of dollars from an airbase in central Israel, army radio reported yesterday. Walla Internet site said preliminary findings after an investigation by military police indicated there may have been collusion between the thieves and personnel at the base. It said the military police suspect the engines may have been stolen to be sold as scrap metal. It is not known when the thefts took place. Army radio said a military spokesman had refused any comment on the incident, except to say that an official report on the inquiry would be sent to the military prosecutor. Last year, the military police launched an investigation after parts for F-15 and F-16 warplanes from the Tel Nof airbase near Tel Aviv were discovered when police searched a warehouse used by scrap metal merchants.
Arrest made in subway case
A New York man was charged with murder and denied bail on Wednesday for pushing a subway rider onto the tracks ahead of an oncoming train in a tragedy that has traumatized witnesses and raised questions about why nobody rushed to the victim’s aid. Naeem Davis, 30, was charged with one count of second degree murder and one count of second-degree murder with depraved indifference, New York City police said. Monday’s incident — captured in dramatic photographs with the train bearing down on the hapless victim — has struck a nerve among riders of the subway used by over 5 million riders a day who are often jostled by strangers on crowded platforms. Davis was accused of pushing Ki-suck Han, 58, onto the tracks as a southbound train pulled into the 49th Street station.
PM warns of doomsday
Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday weighed in on the debate about whether the world will end on Dec. 21 under the Mayan calendar in a spoof video about Korean pop and flesh-eating zombies. In a video address recorded for the youth radio station Triple J, a sombre-looking Gillard says the pending apocalypse is at hand despite there being no proof. “My dear remaining fellow Australians, the end of the world is coming,” she says, tongue in cheek. “Whether the final blow comes from flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell-beasts or from the total triumph of K-pop, if you know one thing about me it is this — I will always fight for you to the very end.” The prime minister said there is a bright side to Armageddon, which she said had not come as a result of the much-hyped Y2K millennium computer bug in the year 2000 or due to the country’s corporate pollution tax. Dec. 21 represents the end of a cycle in the Mayan long count calendar that began in the year 3114 BC.
BBC broadcaster charged
An 82-year-old BBC broadcaster has been charged with three counts of indecent assault over alleged incidents in the 1970s and 1980s, British police said on Wednesday. Stuart Hall, a well-known sports broadcaster and game show presenter, was detained at his home in the northwest England city of Cheshire by police on suspicion of “historic” cases of rape and indecent assault. He was later charged with the indecent assaults of three girls. Police said the girls were between the ages of 9 and 16 when the incidents allegedly occurred between the years 1974 and 1984.