Gunmen kill 44 in mosque
Suspected Islamic militants wearing army fatigues gunned down 44 people praying at a mosque in the northeast, while another 12 civilians died in an apparently simultaneous attack, security agents said on Monday. Sunday’s attacks were the latest in a slew of violence blamed on religious extremists in the West African oil producer, where the radical Boko Haram group, which wants to oust the government and impose Islamic law, poses the greatest security threat in years. It was not immediately clear why the Islamic Boko Haram would have killed worshiping Muslims, but the group has in the past attacked mosques whose clerics have spoken out against religious extremism.
Keita wins election
Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won the presidency after his opponent conceded defeat late on Monday in an election aimed at restoring stability to a country wracked by a rebellion, a coup and an Islamic insurgency. Soumalia Cisse’s concession averts a protracted election fight, allowing the country to move ahead with establishing a democratically elected government, one of the international community’s caveats for unlocking about US$4 billion in promised aid. Keita, who is known by his initials “IBK,” had been expected to win the runoff easily, having pulled nearly 40 percent of the vote in the first round.
The country, one of the most isolated and censored societies on the planet, has unveiled what it says is a domestically produced smartphone. However, industry analysts say the “Arirang,” built around Google’s Android OS, is likely manufactured in China. The existence of the smartphone, named after a famous Korean folk song, came to light during a factory inspection by leader Kim Jong-un at the weekend. During the tour, Kim was given a detailed briefing on the “performance, quality and packing of the Arirang hand phone,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. Some analysts suggest the “Arirang” is aimed at getting the country’s citizens to use an officially approved smartphone that can be properly monitored. While Internet access is virtually non-existent in North Korea, which comes bottom of any media freedom survey, the country is not a complete IT desert. Cellphones were introduced in 2008 through a joint venture with the Egyptian telecom Orascom, which says there are now 2 million users.
Woman dies of H7N9
A woman infected with the H7N9 bird flu virus died of multiple organ failure, a Beijing hospital said, bringing the total fatalities from the disease to 45. The 61-year-old tested positive for the virus on July 20 after she fell ill in Hebei Province. She was taken to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment and died on Sunday, the hospital said in a statement. A total of 134 cases have now been confirmed in the country, including one in Guangdong Province, the first there, which was reported on Saturday. Xinhua news agency said then that 44 people had died of the disease. The virus was first reported in late March, with most cases confined to the east, and only one reported outside the country, in Taiwan. Scientists reported last week the first likely case of direct person-to-person transmission of H7N9. However, they said the virus’ transmissibility remained “limited and non-sustainable.” Cases of H7N9 have dropped significantly in recent months.
Judge rules against NYC
A federal judge upended a cornerstone of New York City policing on Monday, declaring the controversial stop-and-frisk policy a violation of the constitution that unfairly targeted blacks and Hispanics. In a 198-page ruling, Judge Shira Scheindlin said police randomly stopping individuals on the street and subjecting them to searches violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. It also runs afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, Scheindlin said, who stressed how young black and Hispanic males were most likely to be targeted, calling it “a form of racial profiling.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his administration would appeal the ruling, telling reporters that stop-and-search was a “vital deterrent” that had taken 8,000 guns off the street more than a decade.
Brain ticks on after death
There may be a scientific explanation for the vivid near-death experiences, such as seeing a shining light, that some people report after surviving a heart attack, scientists said on Monday. Apparently, the brain keeps on working for up to 30 seconds after blood flow stops, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. University of Michigan scientists did their research on nine lab rats that were anesthetized and then subjected to induced cardiac arrest as part of the experiment. In the first 30 seconds after their hearts were stopped, they all showed a surge of brain activity, observed in electroencephalograms that indicated highly aroused mental states. “We were surprised by the high levels of activity,” said senior author George Mashour, professor of anesthesiology and neurosurgery at the University of Michigan. “In fact, at near-death, many known electrical signatures of consciousness exceeded levels found in the waking state, suggesting that the brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity during the early stage of clinical death.”
Sinkhole eats resort building
Dozens of guests at a Florida resort near Walt Disney World were safely evacuated in the middle of the night on Monday when a large sinkhole opened on the property, swallowing a three-story building. “I was hearing popping noises, and I was hearing people screaming and glass breaking. The building actually twisted and separated,” Summer Bay Resort security guard Richard Shanley said. “It was like something from a movie.” Shanley was driving a golf cart on the Orlando-area resort’s main boulevard when a family hailed him to say something was wrong. Paul Caldwell, general manager of the resort, said the building collapsed almost entirely within 45 minutes, leaving only the top floor visible at ground level. He said Shanley went door-to-door to evacuate guests.
Hacker pleads not guilty
A Russian man accused of being part of a massive cybercrime ring pleaded not guilty on Monday. Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, of Moscow, entered the plea during a hearing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. His attorney said Smilianets would fight the charges and that he was looking into possible irregularities with his arrest last year in the Netherlands. Smilianets is accused of conspiring with a team of hackers from Russia and the Ukraine to steal more than 160 million credit card numbers in a series of breaches that cost victim companies more than US$300 million.