Kuroda vows to fix economy
The government’s candidate for the Bank of Japan governorship yesterday vowed to do “everything possible” to reverse years of growth-sapping deflation and criticized previous bank management for not doing enough to fix the problem. Haruhiko Kuroda, a finance veteran who announced his resignation as head of the Asian Development Bank, is widely expected to be confirmed by parliament as the nation’s top central banker in the coming weeks. The 68-year-old has long criticized the central bank for doing too little to lift the economy and is likely to lead a fresh drive for more spending and aggressive monetary easing.
Yunnan homes hit by quake
A magnitude 5.5 earthquake collapsed hundreds of homes and injured at least 30 people in Yunnan Province on Sunday. The provincial earthquake bureau said three of the injured were in serious condition. Xinhua news agency said the quake damaged 2,500 houses and caused 700 others to collapse. About 55,000 people were affected by the quake, Xinhua said, citing Yunnan’s Department of Civil Affairs.
Call Kim, Obama: Rodman
Flamboyant ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman on Sunday defended his trip to North Korea last week, saying that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un does not seek war, but does want one thing: a call from President Barack Obama. Rodman is now the highest-profile American to have met Kim. The visit by Rodman and members of the Harlem Globetrotters came at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, following the North’s nuclear test last month. When asked about Kim’s human rights record, Rodman said he himself was “not a diplomat” and told ABC television: “I’m not apologizing for him ... I don’t condone what he does.” However, he reiterated that Kim was now a “friend” and said that Kim told him: “I don’t want to do war.”
Park sorry about deadlock
President Park Geun-hye yesterday apologized publicly for a political deadlock blocking the formation of her government. Since being sworn in a week ago, Park has had to work without a functioning Cabinet because opposition to her government restructuring plans has affected parliamentary confirmation of her ministerial nominees. “I’m very sorry for causing anxiety to the people,” Park said in a live television address, citing “serious” and “unprecedented” delays to the running of state affairs.
US man denies murder
A US man accused of strangling an Irish exchange student in Tokyo yesterday told a court he had no intention of killing the woman, but acknowledged he was with her the night she died. As his trial began, 19-year-old Richard Hinds of Memphis, Tennessee, denied intentionally suffocating Nicola Furlong on May 24 last year. He acknowledged that he and Furlong, 21, were in a hotel and said he lightly pressed her neck while the two had sex. Furlong traveled to Tokyo with a friend to see a concert the night she died. After the concert, the two met Hinds and another man, James Blackston, and went to a bar. Prosecutors allege that Hinds and Blackston got the women drunk and may have drugged them before taking them to a hotel, where they borrowed wheelchairs to get the unconscious women to their rooms.
Queen Elizabeth II, 86, spent Sunday night in hospital after being admitted for the first time in 10 years as a precautionary measure against the symptoms of gastroenteritis. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the monarch’s planned visit to Rome this week had been called off. The queen has not made an overseas trip since October 2011. Known for her robust health and devotion to duty, the queen rarely misses engagements. “The queen is being assessed at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. As a precaution, all official engagements this week will be either postponed or canceled,” the palace spokesman said, adding that the monarch was in “good spirits” and was otherwise in “good health.” Broadcasters reported the queen would remain in hospital under observation for about two days, and would likely be placed on a drip to combat dehydration.
Cardinal sorry over conduct
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned on Feb. 25 as head of the church in Scotland, apologized on Sunday for sexual conduct which he said had “fallen below the standards expected of me.” O’Brien was the nation’s most senior Catholic cleric until he resigned last month and said he would not take part in the conclave to elect a new pope. The announcement followed newspaper allegations of inappropriate behavior with priests. “To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland,” he said in a statement posted on the Scottish Catholic media office Web site on Sunday.
Rio police occupy slums
Security forces seized control of two crime-ridden slums near Rio de Janeiro’s international airport and seaport on Sunday, in a new bid to drive out drug traffickers ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympics. More than 1,500 police and navy commandos backed by armored vehicles punched their way into the narrow streets of the Caju complex in a dawn operation that lasted about 25 minutes and went off without a hitch. About 200 civilian police officers simultaneously occupied the Barreira do Vasco shantytown, the public security secretariat said. Police said they encountered no resistance and no shots were fired in the two shantytowns, which have a combined population of about 20,000. Twelve people were arrested and quantities of weapons and drugs were seized.
Sinkhole home partly razed
A wrecking crew on Sunday partly razed a Florida house where a sinkhole had swallowed up a man as he slept, but the demolition team went about its job as carefully as possible to preserve the home’s contents for survivors. Rescue workers had given up the search for Jeff Bush, 37, on Saturday. He was officially declared “presumed dead” by county officials after disappearing into the hole, which opened up under his bedroom on Thursday night. With a few dozen family members and others watching, a boom crane clawed at the one-story home in suburban Tampa for about two hours, demolishing about half of it. The job was due to be completed yesterday. Jeremy Bush, Jeff’s brother, who had jumped into the sinkhole in a futile attempt to save him, said the family was discussing plans for a memorial service and a possible marker at the site.