Volunteers rescue 900 dogs
The head of an animal rescue center says volunteers have rescued about 900 dogs that were being transported in a truck. Chen Mingcai (陳明才) of the Chongqing Small Animal Protection Association said yesterday that a citizen became suspicious of the truck and called police, who detained the truck driver on Friday night. Chen said he was later contacted by a netizen who had seen a photo of the dogs left in the truck on the entrance of an expressway in Chongqing. By Saturday afternoon, Chen said volunteers from the animal center and other animal lovers who had seen postings about the dogs on social media had arrived at the truck wanting to help the dogs. Chen said many of the dogs looked like pet dogs.
Voters head to the polls
Bangkok voters went to the polls yesterday to choose the city’s governor in an election overshadowed by political divisiveness that has wracked the country for much of the past eight years. The gubernatorial election is Bangkok’s first since the sprawling capital of 10 million was paralyzed for nine weeks by anti-government demonstrators in 2010, leaving at least 90 people dead and more than 1,700 injured. The Red Shirt protesters — mostly rural-based supporters of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra — were demanding fresh elections from then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat party. Bangkok is one of the few strongholds that the Democrats did not lose to the Pheu Thai party, led by Thaksin’s sister and current Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in the 2011 general election, thanks to the capital’s pro-establishment middle class and elite voters.
Six die following blizzards
At least six people died in a spate of snow-related incidents as blizzards swept across Hokkaido at the weekend, police and news reports said yesterday. A 40-year-old woman and her three teenaged children were found dead late on Saturday in a car buried under snow in the town of Nakashibetsu, a local police spokesman said. They are believed to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning as the car’s exhaust pipe and was blocked by snow and the windows were up, Kyodo News said, adding that snowfalls of more than 2m were recorded in the area. A 23-year-old woman who went missing in the same town was found dead yesterday in snow about 300m from her car, Jiji Press news agency said. In Yubetsu, a 53-year-old man was found dead yesterday after he and his nine-year-old daughter became buried in snow on farmland, Jiji reported.
Allied forces kill two boys
International forces accidentally killed two Afghan boys during an operation in the south of the country, the US-led coalition said on Saturday. Marine General Joseph Dunford, the commander of US and allied forces in Afghanistan, offered his “personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed” and said the coalition takes full responsibility for the deaths. A statement issued by the coalition says the boys were killed on Thursday when coalition forces fired at what they thought were insurgent forces in the Shahid-e Hasas district of Uruzgan Province. It says a joint Afghan-NATO investigation team visited the location on Saturday and met with local leaders. The killing of civilians by foreign forces has been a major source of tension with the Afghan government throughout the nearly 12-year-old war.
NASA fixing Curiosity glitch
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has been temporarily put into “safe mode,” as scientists monitoring from Earth try to fix a computer glitch, the space agency said. Scientists switched to a backup computer on Thursday so that they could troubleshoot the problem, said to be linked to a glitch in the original computer’s flash memory. “We switched computers to get to a standard state from which to begin restoring routine operations,” said Richard Cook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the project manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which built and operates the rover. A NASA statement said scientists expect to shift the powered-down computer on the Curiosity back to full operation in the coming days. The US$2.5 billion Curiosity mission, which is set to last at least two years, aims to study the Martian environment and to hunt for evidence of water in preparation for a possible future manned mission.
SpaceX’s capsule nears ISS
A privately-owned unmanned space capsule neared the International Space Station (ISS) early yesterday, preparing to dock to deliver food, scientific materials and other crucial equipment. “Dragon is scheduled to be captured Sunday at 6:31am EST by NASA Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn,” NASA said in a statement. NASA said SpaceX’s Dragon would be installed onto the Earth-facing port of the ISS’ Harmony module by ground experts at mission control in Houston, Texas, and bolted into place via commands by the ISS crew. The original plan was for Dragon to attach to the space station on Saturday and return to Earth on March 25, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. However, the capsule had trouble with its thrusters shortly after launching on Friday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, triggering the delay. SpaceX engineers found that only one of the spacecraft’s four thruster pods, which help maneuver the capsule in orbit, was working. The problems were later fixed.
Mayor says he does not read
The mayor of Trujillo, the nation’s third-largest city, inaugurated a book fair by saying he does not like to read. “People close me to know that I do not read, that I never write, but I took time last night to go over some papers and be able to explain what a book fair is,” Trujillo Mayor Cesar Acuna said. His words on Friday as reported by media drew a mixture of laughter and whispers among the shocked audience. “At the book fair, one must read,” said Acuna, who founded a university and owns a first-division soccer team. He called the book fair a “union between the people and culture.”
Club fire toll rises to 240
A 25-year-old man died on Saturday of injuries suffered in a nightclub fire, bringing the death toll in the tragedy to 240, hospital officials said. A Christ the Redeemer Hospital spokeswoman in Porto Alegre told reporters that Pedro Falcao Pinheiro died, but provided no further details. The fire broke out Jan. 27 at the Kiss nightclub in the college town of Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul State. Police have linked the blaze to an ill-fated pyrotechnic show staged by musicians using flares designed for outdoor use. The club was also overcrowded and the only way out was poorly marked. Witnesses have said that the fire extinguishers did not work.