Five candidates squared off yesterday in an election for the presidency of Abkhazia, all sharing a commitment to keep their breakaway region from submitting to Georgian rule. \nPrime Minister Raul Khadzhimba, backed by outgoing President Vladislav Ardzinba and by neighboring Russia, was the front-runner, but opposition candidate Sergei Bagapsh posed a strong challenge. \nPolls opened at 8am and were scheduled to close at 8pm. \nYesterday's vote was the first time Abkhazians cast ballots since Ardzinba, 59, took the helm of the Black Sea region more than 15 years ago -- when Abkhazia and Georgia were still part of the Soviet Union. Ardzinba was legally prohibited from seeking another term. \nThe election underscored tensions with Tbilisi, which, under President Mikhail Saakashvili's leadership, has sought to rein in renegade regions. \nAbkhazia's languishing economy -- crippled by sanctions from Tbilisi and a lack of international recognition -- has been the focus for much of the candidates' campaigning. Most Abkhazians are unemployed. \nBagapsh, head of the Chernomorenergo state energy company and leader of the United Abkhazia opposition movement, has campaigned on promises of raising the average wage and combatting rampant crime. \nGeorgian media have ignored the election, which Georgian officials insist is illegal. \n"What's to be said about the situation? Foremost that there is no justice. They threw us out of our homes there," said Lado Adamiya.
LIFE GOES ON: After a strict lockdown that left millions on the brink of starvation, Indians embrace work to avoid starvation and get ready for several major festivals India is on course to top the world in COVID-19 cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work — and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on. Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalized this year in excruciating pain after catching the novel coronavirus. However, after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had
A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday. More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25,
From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the COVID-19-fueled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings. As masks become the norm worldwide, tech companies and researchers are rolling out weird and wonderful models to guard against infection and cash in on a growing trend. One of the wackiest comes from Japan, where start-up Donut Robotics has created a face covering that helps users adhere to social distancing and also acts as a translator. The “C-Face” mask works by transmitting a wearer’s speech to a smartphone via an app, and allows
JAPAN Deer-edible bags invented The deer that roam Nara no longer face discomfort — or far worse — after local firms developed a safe alternative to the plastic packaging discarded by tourists that often ended up in the animals’ stomachs. Last year, several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the ancient capital’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers. Firms collaborated to develop bags that pass safely through the animals’ complex digestive system. The bags are made with recycled pulp from milk cartons and rice bran, one of the main ingredients of the shika senbei savory