Storms disrupt trains, flights
High winds and rain generated by two low-pressure systems disrupted train and flight operations over wide areas of the country for a second day yesterday, with further storms forecast. Some flights departing from Sapporo were canceled, All Nippon Airways Co said on its Web site. Operations on parts of eight rail lines on Hokkaido were canceled or delayed, Hokkaido Railway Co said. The north and east of the country will experience strong winds through today with some areas receiving heavy rain, the Japan Meteorological Agency said yesterday. One low-pressure system in the Japan Sea and another in the Tokyo region were expected to merge near Hokkaido by this morning, the agency said. Winds as strong as 126kph may hit the north, with some areas of Hokkaido seeing up to 50mm of rain per hour, the agency said.
Elevator ‘toilets’ arouse ire
Elevators in public-housing blocks are still sometimes being used as toilets, infuriating residents, despite the government’s long campaign to eradicate the habit, the Sunday Times said yesterday. The Tampines Town Council has put up notices showing a bare-bottomed woman apparently urinating in an elevator and a man smoking in another, the paper said. The images from closed-circuit cameras were published blurred as a warning. The council said that if similar “anti-social” acts continue, it will publish clear pictures of offenders and submit them as evidence for prosecution under the Environmental Public Health Act. The paper said the smell of urine and cigarette smoke is the most persistent problem in elevators, but it can get worse. “Sometimes there’s feces as well,” housewife Jo Neo, 40, said. “What happened to civic-mindedness?”
Insulting ad to be withdrawn
An e-ticket ad will be withdrawn from television after managing to insult both the country’s truckers and its gay community, Ta Nea daily said on Saturday. In the ad that aired this past month, a hitchhiker boards a trailer truck hoping to reach Turin, Italy. As soon as the door shuts behind him, the driver flicks a switch, a neon-lit pink divan with cuddly bears and pillows appears in the recess of the cabin, and he blows the passenger a suggestive kiss. “Do you want to travel cheaply, and end up paying for it dearly?” the ad says. “You have ridiculed truckers brutally and without provocation,” the haulers’ association said in a complaint filed against the e-ticket company, airfasttickets. Meanwhile, the main association representing homosexuals also complained that the ad typecast gay men. “Gay men are presented as devious and sex-obsessed people trying to seduce unsuspecting youths,” the OLKE association said.
Lawsuit over teen’s death
The parents of slain black teenager Trayvon Martin have settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the homeowners association of the Florida neighborhood where he was shot, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Martin, 17, was killed on a rainy night in February last year by George Zimmerman, 29, a volunteer night watchman. Zimmerman had followed Martin into a gated community in Sanford, in central Florida, and said he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense following an altercation. The newspaper, citing court documents, said Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, and the homeowner’s association had agreed to keep the settlement amount confidential. Under the terms of the settlement, the homeowner’s association did not admit wrongdoing or liability, saying: “The monies being paid hereunder is consideration for avoiding litigation, the uncertainties stemming from litigation as well as to protect and secure the good name and good will of the released parties.”
Army suspends operations
The army has suspended operations in the country’s southwest, a military source said on Saturday, in a move reports said was meant to allow Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Pablo Catatumbo to exit the country to attend peace talks in Cuba. “Yes, military operations have been suspended,” one military official said, without providing details, other than to confirm that the interruption in fighting had been ordered by top government officials. The government and the rebels are one week into a three-week break in their negotiations, although technical teams for both sides are continuing to hold talks. Reports said military operations were interrupted from Friday through yesterday in a large area between the provinces of Valle and Cauca.
Filmmaker’s death probed
Police are investigating the death of a young filmmaker who was sleeping rough while making a documentary about the homeless, they said on Saturday. The body of Lee Halpin, 26, was found in a derelict building in Newcastle on Wednesday, just three days after he began the project. Police said they had arrested two men, aged 26 and 30, in connection with his death. Both were later bailed. A postmortem into the cause of his death is due to be carried out tomorrow. Speaking on a YouTube video the night before he began sleeping rough on March 31, Halpin said he wanted to “interact with as many homeless people as possible and immerse myself in that lifestyle as deeply as I can.”