People protest for privacy
Some 7,500 people demonstrated on Saturday in Berlin to express their concerns about personal data privacy as the government and private companies amass giant databases, organizers said. Called out by numerous civic organizations and political parties under the banner of “Liberty Instead of Fear!,” the protesters denounced a government database that will collect information on wages, taxes and social payments. They also protested against electronic passports, electronic health insurance cards and an accord allowing the US to access EU banking information as part of anti-terror efforts. Personal and data privacy are sensitive issues for many Germans given their experiences under Nazi and communist dictatorships. Google’s Streetview, which lets users view panoramic street scenes, ran into strong opposition in the country, where many found it too intrusive. Eventually the company allowed people to block publication of images of their residences, the only country out of more than 30 where the service is available where users have such an option.
East German activist dies
Baerbel Bohley, a prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement that helped end communist rule in the former East Germany, has died. She was 65. The Robert Havemann Society — a group set up by the New Forum movement that Bohley cofounded — said she died of cancer on Saturday. Bohley, a painter who endured harassment by East Germany’s secret police, and several others set up New Forum in September 1989. The group sought greater openness in East German society and meaningful elections. East Germany opened its heavily fortified border on Nov. 9, 1989, after mounting peaceful protests helped undermine the communist government. The two Germanys were reunited in October 1990.
Serbs, Albanians fight
Serbs and ethnic Albanians clashed late on Saturday in Kosovo’s flashpoint city of Mitrovica, stoning each other over the victory of Turkey against Serbia at the World Basketball Championship, an official said. The stoning lasted around 20 minutes and “there were no casualties reported so far.” Police spokesman Besim Hoti added that local and European police reacted promptly by placing themselves between the two sides in the ethnically divided city and “putting the situation under control.” The conflict broke out as a group of youngsters from the south and ethnic Albanian majority part of the city began celebrating the victory of Turkey against Serbia in the semi-final at the World Basketball Championship in Istanbul.
Sex bishop goes into hiding
The former bishop at the center of a child sexual abuse scandal announced on Saturday that he would leave the Trappist monastery where he had been living and go into hiding to contemplate his future. The former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned in April after admitting he abused a boy, later revealed to be his nephew. The publicity surrounding the case prompted more than 200 people to come forward in a matter of days with accounts of abuse by priests, with cases stretching back several decades. In a statement released on Saturday, Vangheluwe again admitted guilt and asked for forgiveness. He said he would reflect on his future “somewhere hidden, outside the diocese of Bruges.”
Igor becomes hurricane
Tropical Storm Igor strengthened into a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday and was expected to gain power as it moved west, but posed no immediate threat to land or energy interests. The National Hurricane Center said Igor, the fourth hurricane of this year’s Atlantic season, had top sustained winds of 120kph, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. Computer models projected Igor would stay in the Atlantic for the coming days and not enter the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas operations are clustered.
Military to ‘redouble’ effort
President Juan Manuel Santos said on Saturday he would “redouble” the military’s offensive against leftist guerillas after an attack killed 40 police and military officers. Rebel groups have launched a string of deadly attacks in recent weeks following the inauguration of Santos, a former defense minister who has promised to keep pressure on the insurgents. “We have decided to intensify the offensive ... so that these criminals do not have time to plan their operations,” Santos said. Eight police officers were killed on Friday near the border with Ecuador in a shootout with members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia which tried to take over San Miguel town in Putumayo Province. Santos has rejected a rebel offer of peace talks, calling for them to first free hostages and stop recruiting minors.
Governor mulls expo bid
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said during a visit yesterday to the Shanghai Expo that his state would bid to host the 2020 World Expo in Silicon Valley. “As the hub of innovation, Silicon Valley is the most natural place to hold the expo, which will promote the international exchange of ideas, create jobs and increase revenues in our state,” Schwarzenegger said. A formal hosting application will be submitted next year, with a decision expected in 2012. The governor is traveling with a delegation of nearly 100 leaders from sectors including technology, tourism and entertainment. He vowed before the trip to act as a “salesman-in-chief” for California in a bid to better tap growing Asian markets like China.
‘Jaws’ crowned burrito king
Competitive eater Joey Chestnut is now king of the burrito. Chestnut, also known as “Jaws,” downed 47 burritos in 10 minutes at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque on Saturday, beating the previous record of 33, for a cash prize of US$1,500. The burritos in the Garcia’s World Burrito Eating Championship were stuffed with beef, beans and the state’s famous green chili. The event is sanctioned by the Major League Eating International Federation of Competitive Eating, the world body that oversees all international professional eating contests.
Workers saved from slavery
Authorities say they have rescued nearly 100 workers who were allegedly living in slave-like conditions in sugarcane fields in the country’s southeast. The official Agencia Brasil news service says the workers in Rio de Janeiro state were not registered and did not have access to drinking water, protective gear or appropriate eating facilities. The news service’s report on Friday said 50 other workers at a strawberry farm in Minas Gerais state were also rescued from the same conditions. The employers will be fined.
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear