Cyclone kills three
Cyclone Mick unleashed flooding and triggered power outages across the island country and forced the evacuation of thousands on Monday, authorities said yesterday. Many resorts lay in the path of the region’s first cyclone of the southern summer. Extensive flooding still affected many parts of the most populated island of Viti Levu yesterday as the weakening cyclone moved away to the Lau group of islands to the southeast. Officials said more than 3,800 people fled their homes on Monday night as Mick slammed into Viti Levu with gusts of up to 150kph. The cyclone was heading toward Tonga, where it could bring strong gales today, meteorologists said.
US base decision delayed
The government delayed a decision yesterday on where to move a controversial US military air base from Okinawa, drawing out a festering three-month-long row with Washington. The Kyodo News agency said the Cabinet would not reach a decision on the issue until next year. The base was due to be moved from a city area to a coastal region of Okinawa by 2014. Since coming to power in September, the government led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan has angered US officials by saying it would review the 2006 base relocation pact. Hatoyama has said the base could be moved off the island or even out of the country.
Mayon stirs evacuation
Authorities moved thousands of villagers from harm’s way near the Mayon volcano yesterday after it oozed lava and shot plumes of ash, and said they probably will spend a bleak Christmas in an evacuation center. State volcanologists raised the alert level on the cone-shaped, 2,460m volcano overnight to two steps below eruption after ash explosions and dark orange lava fragments glowing in the dark trickled down the mountain slope. Nearly 50,000 people live in a 8km radius around the mountain. “Whatever the volcano does, our target is zero casualty,” Albay provincial Governor Joey Salceda said. “It’s 10 days before Christmas. Most likely people will be in evacuation centers, and if Mayon’s activity won’t ease down we will not allow them to return to their homes,” he said. “It’s difficult and sad, especially for children.”
Manila car blast kills one
A car exploded in an upscale district of Manila yesterday, killing one person, police said. “We have a report that one person was killed in the car blast,” police spokesman Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said, adding the cause of the explosion near a high-end shopping mall was not immediately clear. The car had just entered the basement car park of a plush high-rise apartment in Taguig district when it blew up, police and witnesses said. Iinitial investigations showed the victim was a businessman who owned one of the shops at the mall opposite the building.
Thai bombmakers arrested
Police arrested three Thais who allegedly produced homemade explosives and are investigating whether they have links to a Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand, an official and a news report said yesterday. Authorities detained the three suspects and seized devices believed to be homemade explosives from a house in northern Kelantan state, near the border with Thailand, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.
Burglar beater jailed
A businessman who fought off knife-wielding burglars who were threatening to kill his family was jailed for 30 months on Monday in a case that has reignited the debate on how far householders can go to protect themselves and their property. Munir Hussain, 53, discovered three masked men in his house when his family returned from their local mosque during Ramadan in September last year. The burglars tied up and threatened to kill Hussain and his family but a teenage son managed to escape and alert Hussain’s brother, Tokeer. The intruders fled when help arrived at the house in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, but the brothers chased and caught one, Walid Salem, a criminal with more than 50 previous convictions. Salem was left with a permanent brain injury after the brothers struck him so hard with a cricket bat that it broke into three pieces. The revenge attack was self-defense that went too far, the court was told.
Navy rescues Australian
The Israeli navy rescued an Australian mariner on Monday after he got into difficulties in the eastern Mediterranean on the first leg of a solo voyage home from Cyprus, a statement said. A naval patrol vessel picked up the man who had apparently been “stranded in distress for a number of days, and was not capable of calling for help,” the navy said in a statement. A storm reportedly snapped the mast of his boat.
Foreign judges to stay
Despite vigorous resistance from Serbs who want more independence, Bosnia’s top international official said Monday he has extended the mandate of foreign judges and prosecutors at the top court for three more years.
Eleven guilty in terror case
A court has found 11 men guilty of belonging to a terrorist organization that was plotting to stage what would have been the country’s first suicide attacks, judges said in a statement on Monday. They were sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. They were accused of planning attacks in Barcelona on orders from the Pakistan Taliban.
Teen earns master’s
A high school diploma at 15 and a bachelor’s degree at 16: precocious teenager Marian Kogler has now become the country’s youngest master’s graduate at the age of 17. Vienna’s University of Technology announced on Monday that the young man had completed his master’s degree in computational intelligence. The son of a writer and an administrative assistant, also holds a bachelor’s degree in software and information engineering, and has now embarked on a doctorate in computer science at the school.
Marriage is good for you
A study of nearly 34,500 people in 15 countries found married people are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse, clinical psychologist Kate Scott of the University of Otago said yesterday. Being separated, divorced, or widowed is associated with increased risk of mental health disorders in both men and women, particularly with depression in men and drugs and alcohol abuse in women. “It has been asserted that marriage is better for men than for women in terms of mental health. This study does not agree,” Scott said. “Compared to never getting married, getting married is good for both men and women in terms of most mental health disorders.”
Four dead in prison riot
A riot on Monday at a prison north of Buenos Aires left four detainees dead and three police officers injured, the authorities said. When guards discovered inmates working on a tunnel, prisoners started burning mattresses, sheets and clothing, setting off a riot and deadly clashes, police commissioner of Buenos Aires province General Salvador Baratta said. “We have four of the inmates deceased and three police injured, two of them seriously,” Baratta said, adding that an investigation had been launched to find out how the prisoners died.
Hoax upsets Ottawa
Ottawa condemned on Monday a series of elaborate hoax e-mails and a fake Web site story that claimed the country would cut emissions of greenhouse gases by a much greater amount than previously announced. Officials said they believed environmental activists were responsible for the hoax. The initial e-mail, purporting to come from the federal environment ministry, said Ottawa would set binding emissions reductions targets of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80 percent by 2050. A second e-mail, also supposedly from the environment ministry, apologized for the hoax and linked to a fake Wall Street Journal story based on the first e-mail and a fake UN site.
Bird caught in escalator
Every so often in the Washington Metro subway system, a foot gets caught in an escalator. Usually, the culprit is a shoe lace or a sandal. On Monday, it was a bird’s talon. Fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said rescuers were called to a station on Monday. A large bird of prey had its foot stuck in the moving staircase. Metro employees shut off the power, and a passer-by held the bird to keep it from injuring itself more. Firefighters removed a portion of the escalator to free the bird. Piringer said the bird flew away.
Terror case concludes
A judge sentenced two Pakistani-Americans on Monday to 17 and 13 years in prison for conspiring to support terror groups by videotaping US landmarks and sending the tapes abroad. Judge Willam Duffey was scathing in his final remarks in the courtroom in Atlanta, Georgia. Sadequee, 23, refused to stand when Duffey asked him several times to do so. The judge allowed him almost 45 minutes to explain why a harsh sentence should not be imposed, but he used the time to explain his religious beliefs.
North Face not amused
North Face Apparel is suing a parody company called The South Butt and the teenager who started it. The lawsuit filed last week in federal court in St. Louis seeks unspecified damages and asks the court to prohibit The South Butt from marketing and selling its parody product line. The North Face says it does not comment on pending litigation.
Hotel relocates guests
A boutique hotel in Miami has relocated its guests after health officials determined that a water filter removed too much chlorine, possibly allowing the spread of a bacteria that killed one guest at the Epic hotel and made two others sick. The Miami-Dade County Health Department said there was no cause for widespread alarm because Legionella is not spread from person to person.
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