Domestic violence rises
Domestic violence in the nation’s tsunami and atomic disaster zone has risen dramatically, a report released on Friday — International Women’s Day — said. Increased stress caused by coping with the aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami, or the fear of radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, could be to blame, the report from news agency Jiji Press said. In Fukushima, where the tsunami sparked reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks, 840 cases of domestic violence were reported to police last year, 64 percent higher than a year earlier, Jiji Press reported. In Miyagi Prefecture, where waves devoured coastal communities, 1,856 cases were reported, up a third on the previous year, the agency said. Many families from Fukushima have been divided, with men forced to stay behind because they are unable to find work near to the temporary homes to which their wives and children have fled. Experts say that mental distress could be one of the biggest health problems to emerge from the disaster.
Kerry honors Japan dead
The US on Friday mourned the “unimaginable disaster” which hit Japan two years ago when a tsunami smashed into the coast, killing some 19,000 people and triggering a nuclear calamity. However, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that while mourning the victims “we also recall that the world marveled at the resiliency and dignity of the Japanese people as they worked to overcome the tragedy.” “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who lost loved ones. While observing this sad anniversary, we also recall and renew the deep bonds of friendship that connect us across the Pacific Ocean,” he said. Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the disaster.
Women pedal for power
A group of determined women took to bikes on Friday, riding through the capital to highlight their rights and love of exercise in a culture that often treats them as second-class citizens. Some wearing helmets, others in headscarfs, dressed in jeans or in traditional dresses, the group navigated the leafy streets with colorful balloons tied to their handlebars, past baffled police and security guards. To mark International Women’s Day in a country where women are rarely seen on a bike, they set out from Kohsar market, a collection of upmarket coffee shops, to the city’s landmark Faisal Mosque set in the Margalla Hills. “The point is that women have the right to ride a bicycle. We are just having girl power here,” 30-year-old charity worker Masoora Ali said.
Yang denies hacking claims
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) has rejected accusations that the Chinese military was behind massive hacking attacks on US and other foreign targets and called for more international cooperation in policing the Internet. Yang is the highest-level Chinese official to comment on the claims in a widely endorsed report last month by US cybersecurity firm Mandiant that traced hacking attacks to a Chinese military unit based in Shanghai. Although he did not address specific accusations in his comments yesterday, Yang described the claims as a politically motivated smear campaign. Speaking at an annual news conference in Beijing during the National People’s Congress, Yang said China was a major target for hacking attacks and that it supported international regulations under the UN to keep the Internet peaceful, free and secure.
Women first in credits: star
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan said he would ensure that the names of his female co-stars precede his in the credits of his forthcoming films to help change attitudes toward women. Khan told NDTV news channel on Thursday that the change would begin with his next film, Chennai Express, which is under production. Khan, 47, is one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, and the names of male superstars, who are seen as the big draw for audiences, usually come first as a film’s credits roll. In a country where women are routinely pushed into subservience, Bollywood’s portrayal of women is no different. For the most part the female lead’s job is to pout and make the male protagonist look good.
Journalists condemn attack
Local journalists have condemned an attack on two cameramen outside the Beijing home of the wife of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波). The pair were beaten up by a group of unidentified men when they were filming an activist’s attempt to visit Liu Xia (劉霞), who is under house arrest, at her apartment building on Friday. One of the cameramen was punched in the face and pushed to the ground. The attackers also tried to snatch the camera from the other journalist and hit him in the head, TV news footage and reports said. “The violence is a serious infringement of press freedom,” the Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a statement late on Friday. While attacks on journalists are not new on the mainland, the association said the degree of violence in the latest assault showed “the situation is getting worse.” Activist Yang Kuang (楊匡), who was trying to visit Liu Xia, was taken away in a police car hours later and his whereabouts remain unknown, the South China Morning Post said yesterday.
Children taste blood
A kindergarten teacher was fired this week after she brought a vial of her own blood to class and allowed children to touch and taste it, the head teacher of the kindergarten said on Friday. The teacher in Sola, on the western coast, brought in a blood sample that was taken earlier in the day and poured it on a plate for the children, aged between three and six, to see. “The children asked if they could touch it and she allowed them,” Inger Lise Soemme Andersen said. “Then they asked: ‘How do we get it off?’ so she put her finger in her mouth and the children followed suit. The parents are mortified, shaken and shocked.” Soemme Andersen added that the teacher, a temporary employee, had been tested for HIV and hepatitis B after the incident. Results of the tests are not yet in, but authorities consider the risk of transmitting any infection very low.
Screwdriver in man’s head
Doctors say a 25-year-old man has undergone a three-hour operation to remove a screwdriver lodged about 5cm into his head. Jan Kochanowicz, one of the doctors who treated the man in the city of Bialystok, said the man apparently fell and lost consciousness, but does not remember that. When he regained consciousness he was at first aware only of pain in a hand before realizing something else was wrong. He walked to his car, looked in a mirror and noticed the screwdriver penetrating his forehead just above his right eye. Kochanowicz told the station TVN24 the man smoked a cigarette before calling a neighbor who got him to the hospital. The screwdriver did not damage the man’s eyes or brain.
Eatery makes clients sick
More than 60 customers who dined at one of the world’s top restaurants say they got viral gastroenteritis from eating there last month. The local food authority says it ordered a cleanup and safer handling of food at Noma, which has two Michelin stars and is a three-time winner of the world’s top restaurant in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The government agency said on Friday that it had investigated the restaurant in Copenhagen, after complaints from 63 customers who had eaten there during one week last month. It was not immediately clear what food had caused the infection. Restaurant manager Peter Kreiner said they were trying to track the source of the infection. The restaurant is widely known for cuisine that relies heavily on fresh, locally sourced products.
‘Dragging’ police deny guilt
Nine policemen told a court on Friday they were not guilty of murdering a Mozambican immigrant who was dragged behind a police van and then brutally beaten to death. The group are accused of killing Mido Macia, a 27-year-old taxi driver, who died in police custody on Feb. 26 after being confronted for parking his taxi on the wrong side of the road. Bystanders filmed Macia being manhandled, handcuffed to the back of the van and dragged hundreds of meters in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg. Just more than two hours later he was found dead in his cell. According to a post-mortem report, Macia suffered extensive injuries, causing his death. Police had initially claimed he was killed in a fight in his cell. According to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the police’s main watchdog, nearly 1,000 people died last year in police custody or as a result of police action.
Man fined for laughing
A man from Long Island, New York, is facing up to 30 days in jail and a US$500 fine after a neighbor complained to police he was laughing too loudly, his lawyer said on Wednesday. Police issued Robert Schiavelli, 41, two tickets for disturbing the peace for laughing out the window of his home in Rockville Center on Long Island at about 6pm on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, his lawyer said.
Bicycle bomb kills eight
An official says at least eight civilians have been killed by a suicide bomber outside the Defense Ministry as US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in the capital, saying it was meant as a warning to the US defense chief. Pentagon spokesman George Little says the secretary was in a briefing at a US-led military coalition facility in another part of the city when the explosion occurred. Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi says a bicycle bomber struck just before 9am about 30m from the ministry’s main gate. Another spokesman from the Afghan police criminal investigation division, says at least eight civilians were killed and others were wounded.
Group wins land claim case
Manitoba Metis won a historic victory on Friday, when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had failed to properly hand out land grants promised to the indigenous group 142 years ago. The 6-2 decision opens the door to claims by the Manitoba Metis Federation to 566,560 hectares of land that now includes the province’s capital, Winnipeg. The land was promised in the Manitoba Act, a law passed in 1870 to prevent a rebellion by the Metis, mixed-race descendants of First Nations indigenous people and European immigrants. It was eventually distributed via a lottery that largely benefited European settlers. “The federal Crown failed to implement the land grant provision ... in accordance with the honor of the Crown,” the Supreme Court said in its decision. “This was not a matter of occasional negligence, but of repeated mistakes and inaction that persisted for more than a decade.”
Court opposes anti-gay slang
The Supreme Court has ruled that two anti-gay words commonly used are not protected as freedom of expression under the constitution, allowing people offended by the terms to sue for moral damages. The magistrates voted 3-2 late on Wednesday in favor of a journalist from the central city of Puebla who in 2010 sued a reporter at a different newspaper who had written a column referring to him as punal and others at the plaintiff’s newspaper as maricones. Both words roughly translate as “faggot.” The majority’s opinion says the words are offensive and discriminatory. The court ruling says that “even though they are deeply rooted expressions in Mexican society, the fact is that the practices of the majority of society cannot validate the violations of basic right.”
Iommi pens Eurovison entry
Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has written the music for Armenia’s entry to the annual Eurovision Song Contest, bringing a heavy metal pioneer to an event described by the media as a “kitschfest” and a “bad taste party.” The musician, a founding member of the influential band, said the song called Lonely Planet was a “demo idea” which was eventually voted Armenia’s Eurovision contender.