New Cabinet sworn in
Prime Minister Julia Gillard swore in her new Cabinet yesterday, as two major opinion polls showed her government faced likely defeat at elections in September. A poll by Sydney-based market researcher Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper yesterday found support for Labor was trailing opposition leader Tony Abbott’s conservative coalition 44 percent to 56 percent. A poll by Sydney-based Galaxy Research published in News Corp newspapers yesterday found the coalition was leading Labor 54 percent to 46 percent.
‘Shackleton’ team ashore
An exhausted British-Australian expedition recreating Ernest Shackleton’s 1916 crossing of the Southern Ocean in a small boat made landfall yesterday after a perilous 12-day journey. Led by renowned adventurer Tim Jarvis, the team of six reached Peggotty Bluff on rugged South Georgia, where they landed their vessel in the same place Shackleton and his men beached the James Caird nearly 100 years ago. The next leg will see three of the team tackle a two-day climb to 900m over the mountainous, crevassed interior of South Georgia. Jarvis said the boat trip, using only the equipment, navigational instruments and food available to Shackleton, was extremely tough, describing it as “truly about endurance — mental as much as physical. There was just no way to keep dry. The waterproofing with wax didn’t work,” he said.
‘Crazy English’ Li divorced
A Beijing court has granted a divorce to a US woman and her celebrity-entrepreneur husband in a high-profile case that highlighted the often-hidden problem of domestic violence. The case began when Kim Lee posted graphic photographs of the injuries she said came from her husband, Li Yang (李陽) on her microblog in 2011. Li Yang’s chain of English language schools, “Crazy English,” is a household name in the country. The photographs went viral. Xinhua news agency said the divorce was granted on Sunday on the grounds of domestic abuse and the court approved Lee’s request for a three-month restraining order against Li. Reports said the court ordered Li to pay his former wife 50,000 yuan (US$8,000) compensation for mental anguish, as well as child support. She will also have custody of their three daughters and receive properties worth more than 12 million yuan.
Chinese fishermen released
The coast guard has released the captain and crew of a Chinese boat who was arrested for illegal fishing southwest of islands claimed by both countries. Coast guard official Yasuhiko Oku said the captain and 12 crewmembers of the 100 tonne boat were released on Sunday after the Chinese consulate in Fukuoka guaranteed payment of a ￥4 million (US$44,000) bail.
Joint naval drill starts
The country launched a joint naval exercise with the US involving a US nuclear submarine yesterday. A defense ministry spokesman confirmed the three-day drill was underway in the Sea of Japan (known as the “East Sea” in the country), off Pohang. Although military officials said the drill was scheduled before the North threatened to detonate its third nuclear device, the presence of the submarine has been seen as a warning to Pyongyang. The USS San Francisco, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, is joined in the drill by a 9,800 tonnes Aegis destroyer, the USS Shiloh.
Malala recovers post-surgery
Doctors said on Sunday that Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban in October last year, has had successful surgery on her skull. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham said the 15-year-old had undergone two operations on Saturday to insert a titanium plate into her skull and fit an electronic device in her left ear to restore her hearing. A hospital spokeswoman said the schoolgirl’s medical team were “very pleased” with her progress following five hours of surgery.
Man tasered outside palace
A man who was shocked by police with a Taser stun gun as he waved large knives outside Buckingham Palace was charged yesterday with affray and possessing a bladed weapon in public. Talhat Rehman, 54, was seen ranting and pressing one of the knives to his chest outside the palace, just before noon on Sunday.
Crash leaves eight dead
A tour bus collided with a car and pickup truck, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens of others on Sunday night on a Southern California mountain highway, authorities said. California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez confirmed the deaths and said 38 people were taken to hospitals with injuries. He also said the bus driver reported having brake problems as it headed down the mountain on two-lane State Route 38, rear-ending a sedan then flipping over and hitting a pickup truck that was pulling a trailer. The bus was carrying a tour group from Tijuana, Mexico.
Filin heads to Germany
Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin left a Moscow hospital yesterday morning to move to a clinic in Aachen, Germany, for further treatment after he suffered serious eye damage in an acid attack. Filin, wearing dark glasses and supported by his wife, was set to have his first medical examination in Germany later yesterday. “I feel good, I would even say excellent. If only my eyes saw a bit better,” Filin told journalists outside the hospital, describing his vision as “foggy and blurred.” “I sometimes open my eyes, but what I see is only just enough to be able to sense objects or to wash, that is the maximum,” he said in televised remarks. The 42-year-old has already undergone five operations on his eyes since being rushed to hospital on Jan. 17 after being splashed in the face with sulphuric acid.
Revellers flock to Venice
About 70,000 revellers, many wearing elaborate costumes and masks, thronged Venice’s St Mark’s Square on Sunday to watch the traditional “flight of the angel,” a highlight of the annual Carnival. Marta Finotto, a 20-year-old student, had the honor of performing the stunt, gliding on a harness from the 99m belltower of Saint Mark’s Basilica to a stage below, wearing a black top hat and a red gown with matching boots. The Venice Carnival, which began on Jan. 26, winds up on Feb. 12.
Fidel Castro casts vote
Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance in Havana on Sunday to vote in parliamentary polls. The 86-year-old’s visit to the voting precinct in El Vedado neighborhood was the main event in Sunday’s elections, during which Cubans chose 612 members of the National Assembly as well as deputies of local legislatures. He had not been seen in public since Oct. 21 last year, fueling rumors that his health had worsened.