Heatwave kills at least 10
At least 10 people have died in Shanghai of heatstroke as of Friday last week, Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Leng Guangming, said, as the city grapples with its highest temperatures in at least 140 years. Much of the nation is in the grip of a summer heatwave, and the China Meteorological Association issued a high temperature warning for several eastern and central provinces, saying temperatures could reach 41°C yesterday. The temperature reached 40.6°C on Friday last week, topping a previous high of 40.2°C in 1934 and the highest since records began in 1873, Xinhua news agency said earlier.
Cadmium poisoning kills 26
At least 26 villagers have died from cadmium poisoning and hundreds more have fallen ill since 2009 near a disused factory in Hunan Province, local media said yesterday. Soil samples from Shuangqiao contained 300 times authorized cadmium levels and excess amounts were found in 500 of 3,000 villagers tested by health authorities, the China Youth Daily said. It said 26 people had died as a result of cadmium exposure in the past four years, eight of them under 60, and 20 of them from cancer, while children in the village were born with deformities. A major chemical plant operated in the village until 2009, and a “huge” industrial waste pile remains in the factory grounds, as does “an odor that will not go away,” the paper said. It described the situation as “one of the country’s 10 biggest pollution incidents.”
Troops may stay in Golan
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says he has reversed an earlier recommendation to President Benigno Aquino III and now wants about 340 Filipino peacekeepers to stay in the Golan Heights for at least six months after the UN promised to bolster their safety. Del Rosario told a news conference in Manila yesterday that UN officials assured him in a recent meeting in New York that they would fulfill three conditions laid down by Manila, including providing the peacekeepers with more self-defense weapons. Del Rosario asked Aquino in May to withdraw the peacekeepers because of escalating hostilities between Syrian rebels and government troops in the UN-patrolled buffer zone.
Debt shuts down province
An entire province has been plunged into darkness after the national power grid operator cut off supply because of accumulated debt of US$93 million. The blackout that started on Tuesday surprised residents of Albay, which has a population of 1.2 million. Health insurance company employee Cristie Recebido said the electricity operator issued no warning and that streets in the capital, Legazpi, were cloaked in darkness. Shops closed early, and hospitals and offices were running on generators. The Department of Energy says a disconnection notice had been served to the Albay Electric Cooperative because it failed to settle a debt of 4 billion pesos over 15 years.
Floods force 25,000 to leave
Nearly 25,000 people have been evacuated to makeshift camps after floods ravaged the east, an official said yesterday, as relief teams struggled to reach remote areas inundated by water. Flood waters have risen dramatically after several days of heavy rain in Karen State forcing thousands to flee to nearly 80 relief camps, Chum Hre, director of the social welfare, relief and resettlement department said.
UN gives rebels ultimatum
The UN on Tuesday gave M23 rebel forces 48 hours to disarm in the area around the city of Goma in the volatile east or face “the use of force.” A new UN intervention brigade will be used for the first time to help the army set up a “security zone” in the city, the international body said. A statement by the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) gave M23 rebels around Goma until 4pm today “to hand in their weapon to a MONUSCO base” and join a demobilization program.
Stoppard wins Pinter prize
Oscar-winning playwright Tom Stoppard has been awarded a major freedom-of-speech prize for his determination to “tell things as they are,” writers organization PEN said in a statement yesterday. The PEN/Pinter prize was established in 2009 in memory of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter. It goes jointly to a British writer seen as sharing Pinter’s” unflinching unswerving” gaze on society, and a “writer of courage” who has faced persecution, chosen by the British winner and PEN. Stoppard, who scripted Oscar-winner Shakespeare in Love, is the author of plays including Arcadia and The Real Thing. The co-winner will be announced at a ceremony at the British Library on Oct. 7, when Stoppard accepts his award.
Train driver was on phone
The driver of the train that derailed in the northwest last week, killing 79 people, was talking on the telephone with state train operator Renfe at the time of the accident, a court said on Tuesday after analyzing the train’s data recording devices. The initial reading of the so-called black boxes said driver Francisco Garzon received a call from Renfe minutes before the accident to discuss the path to Ferrol, the final destination for the high-speed train that departed from Madrid on Wednesday last week with 218 passengers aboard. The court investigating the case said that by the conversation and background noise picked up on the black boxes, the driver appeared to be consulting a map or some kind of paper document while on the telephone with Renfe staff. The train was traveling at 192kph in the minutes before it derailed in a curve where the speed limit is 80kph.
Weiner vows not to quit
New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner has released a new campaign video saying he will not quit the race. Last week, Weiner acknowledged exchanging sexually explicit messages online after similar behavior spurred his resignation from Congress in 2011. He says in the video that when “embarrassing” things in a person’s private life become public, the person should talk about it. The one-minute video was posted on his campaign’s Web site on Tuesday evening. A poll released on Monday found Weiner’s support fell from 26 percent last week to 16 percent.
Porn spoofs discontinued
The days of pornographic videos with names based on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors are over. Caballero Video has agreed to stop marketing Boston Cream Thigh, Peanut Butter D-Cup and other films spoofing the names of the venerable Vermont ice cream maker’s products. The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that the agreement settles a lawsuit Ben & Jerry’s brought against Caballero last year. According to the suit, 10 titles in Caballero’s Ben & Cherry’s series besmirched the ice cream maker’s name and infringed its trademark.