Seized arms ‘legitimate’
The government said on Wednesday that Cuban arms seized from a Pyongyang-flagged ship near the Panama Canal were part of a legitimate deal, amid concerns UN sanctions may have been violated. Havana said the arms, discovered on the ship among tonnes of sugar, were “obsolete” Soviet-era missiles and parts, which were being sent to North Korea for repair — an account backed up by its allies in Pyongyang. “This cargo is nothing but aging weapons which are to be sent back to Cuba after overhauling them according to a legitimate contract,” Korea Central News Agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying. “The Panamanian authorities should take a step to let the apprehended crewmen and ship leave without delay.”
Nuclear plant steaming
Steam or vapors appeared to be coming from a damaged reactor building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant yesterday, but the plant operator said radiation levels were steady. The video images showed a small amount of vapor or steam, but the origin was not clear. It was detected in the morning and was continuing in the afternoon. The reactor’s spent fuel pool was stable and measurements of the temperatures and pressure have not changed significantly, Tokyo Electric Power Co said.
Enforcers kill fruit vendor
Urban enforcers beat to death a roadside fruit seller in a dispute, reports said yesterday, highlighting abuses by the units and provoking outrage online. Images posted online showed Deng Zhengjia (鄧正加), who sold watermelons at a street stall in Hunan Province, lying motionless on the ground after being beaten by local regulation enforcers known as chengguan. They kicked and punched Deng and one used a metal measuring weight to smash his head, the Beijing Times quoted Deng’s wife, Huang Sujun (黃素君), as saying. Local officials have promised to investigate the death, the report said, without giving details of what triggered the row.
Losers given ‘weight in gold’
Shedding weight is being rewarded in gold under a new initiative by the municipality of the Gulf emirate aimed at fighting obesity, local newspapers reported on Wednesday. “Your Weight in Gold” is the title of a campaign promising 1g of gold for every kilogram shed, provided a minimum of 2kg of weight are lost by Aug. 16. The three campaign-winning losers will each receive a gold coin worth 20,000 dirhams (US$5,449) through a lucky draw. Other weight losers will share gold coins worth 200,000 dirhams.
‘Anti-shark’ wetsuits sold
A research firm yesterday launched what is being touted as the world’s first anti-shark wetsuit, using new discoveries about the predators’ eyesight to stave off or evade an attack. Working in conjunction with the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) Oceans Institute, entrepreneurs Hamish Jolly and Craig Anderson have developed two lines of wetsuit designed to protect divers and surfers from sharks. The blue-and-white “Elude” for divers and snorkellers uses research about sharks’ perceptions of light and color blindness to essentially “hide you in the water column,” Anderson said. The “Diverter” — mainly for surfers — is based on what sharks perceive as danger signs in nature, with a bold black and white banding patten to imitate an “unpalatable food item,” UWA researcher Shaun Collin said.
Web site owner charged
Police have charged the owner and operator of a Web site that hosted a gruesome video of a murder and dismemberment in May. Edmonton homicide detectives said on Wednesday that they have charged Mark Marek, 38, with corrupting morals. Luka Magnotta is accused of killing his Chinese lover Lin Jun (林俊) in May and filming a video that shows him stabbing and having sex with the dismembered corpse. He has pleaded not guilty in the slaying of Lin. Staff Sergeant Bill Clark says Marek allegedly posted the video sent to him by Magnotta online knowing that it depicted a real murder.
Wildfire forces evacuations
People fled from thousands of homes as a wildfire pushed toward Southern California mountain communities. Evacuation orders affected about 2,200 homes and 6,000 residents and visitors, Forest Service spokeswoman Carol Jandrall said, because winds that were moving the fire into wilderness were beginning to change direction. Very hot and dry conditions were forecast for the next two days, said Tina Rose, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Youths challenge law
Three immigrant activists who were brought to the country illegally as children plan to challenge immigration laws by traveling to Mexico and then trying to return. Under law, all three are in the country illegally even though they grew up there. All are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, and they want to draw attention to the huge increase in deportations carried out under President Barack Obama’s administration — and reaffirm their attachment to the country where they were raised. “I know you’re going to think that I’m crazy for doing this… for coming to Mexico, but to be honest, I think it is crazier that I had to wait 15 years to see my family,” Lizbeth Mateo, one of the activists, said on the Alliance’s Facebook page.
Rampage in Hollywood
Los Angeles authorities say packs of young people rampaged through Hollywood, knocked down people and stole cellphones before a police sweep halted the marauding. Lieutenant Ray Valois says 12 people were arrested — 11 of them under 18. Valois says calls began coming in at about 8:30pm on Wednesday that youths were robbing people and stealing T-shirts and other items from businesses, mainly on Hollywood Boulevard. He says groups of youths would split off and re-form. Valois says it appears the attackers were loosely organized through social media, including some Web messages urging people to gather in Hollywood “to riot.”
Kennedy turtle rescue illegal
Officials say two members of the Kennedy family who thought they were doing a good deed by freeing an entangled sea turtle actually violated federal law. John Bullard of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Division of Fisheries says he has spoken to brothers Max and Robert Kennedy Jr about their rescue of an estimated 230kg turtle in Nantucket Sound over the July Fourth weekend. The Kennedys freed the leatherback turtle from a buoy line wrapped around its head and fins. Bullard told the Cape Cod Times that the rescue was a violation of the Endangered Species Act.