Strong earthquake strikes
A strong magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit a mountainous area of the country early yesterday, the US Geological Survey (USGA) and Tajik authorities said, adding there were no initial reports of damage. The epicenter of the tremor, which occurred at 7:45am, was located 106km southwest of the city of Karakul, near the country’s border with China, USGS said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. “For the moment we have no information about any victims,” a spokesman for the Tajik emergency situations ministry said. “The epicenter was located at 362km south of Dushanbe, the capital. The magnitude was 6 there and 3 in Dushanbe,” an official from the Tajik seismic center said.
Asylum seekers sought help
A boatload of desperate asylum seekers called police for help after their vessel escaped detection until just before it hit jagged cliffs, killing about 48 people, a report found yesterday. An internal Customs investigation urged the installation of land-based radar at remote Christmas Island, after finding that authorities had no advance warning of the rickety wooden fishing boat’s approach. Believed to have set off from Indonesia carrying about 90 Iranian, Iraqi and Kurdish refugees, the vessel shattered against the island’s limestone cliffs in wild, seas, tossing dozens to their deaths. Rescuers saved 41 survivors, while one man scrabbled to the shore himself and 30 bodies were retrieved. Customs chief Michael Carmody said the boat was first spotted just one hour before it foundered on the rocks, about 600m offshore, and no “firm intelligence” before that time had suggested a vessel was approaching. Conditions were treacherous, forcing two border patrol ships on duty in the area to take shelter on the other side of the island. One, the HMAS Pirie, had only just started making its way to the struggling refugee ship following the initial sighting, when its terrified passengers called to request assistance from police, reporting an engine fire. The wooden boat splintered on the rocks 25 minutes before the first rescue boats from the Pirie reached the scene. The report found that Customs had no prior intelligence to suggest the ship was making its way to Australia. It recommended the trial of a land-based radar system at Christmas Island “as a priority.”
Torture soldiers sentenced
Three soldiers captured on video torturing two men from the restive eastern region of Papua have been sentenced for the relatively minor offense of disobeying orders. Footage posted on YouTube last year showed the men burning the genitals of one suspected separatist during an interrogation and running a knife across the neck of another. Their trial on the charges of disobeying orders wrapped yesterday. The military tribunal’s presiding judge said the soldiers were guilty, but had shown adequate remorse. He sentenced them to jail terms of between eight and 10 months. Human rights activists slammed the sentences as too lenient.
Singing legend dies
Legendary singer Bhimsen Joshi, who was best known for promoting classical Indian music to audiences around the world, died yesterday at the age of 89. Joshi died at a hospital in Pune after battling a prolonged illness. He built a reputation for singing Khayal, a modern form of traditional Hindustani music. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2008.
Change in kilogram mulled
Since 1889, all measurements of weight have been defined in relation to a lump of metal sitting in Paris, but now experts want to get rid of it. Scientists were to meet at the Royal Society in London yesterday to discuss how to bring the kilogram into the 21st century, by defining this basic unit of measurement in terms of the fundamental constants of nature, rather than a physical object. One problem with using a lump of metal to define such a basic quantity as the kilogram is that it is liable to change over time. Measurements over the past century have shown that the international prototype has lost around 50 micrograms, around the weight of a grain of sand. Instead, experts want to link the kilogram to a fundamental unit of measurement in quantum physics, the Planck constant.
Drug may lower lung cancer
Tamoxifen, a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer, may also help reduce the risk of death from lung cancer, a study published in the journal Cancer yesterday said. Tamoxifen works by blocking estrogen. Based on the hypothesis that blocking estrogen might also cut lung cancer death risk, researchers examined data from 6,655 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1980 and 2003 in Switzerland’s Geneva Cancer Registry. Close to half of those women, 3,066 (46 percent), were given anti-estrogen drugs. The registry’s Elisabetta Rapiti, lead author of the study in Cancer, followed all those subjects until December 2007. Rapiti found that among those taking anti-estrogen drugs, there were 87 percent fewer deaths from lung cancer compared with the general population.
Dad jailed in ‘honor killing’
A man was sentenced on Sunday to 10 years in prison for killing his daughter in 2007 over a love affair with a man she later married, a court official said. An initial sentence of 15 years handed to the 60-year-old father, who was not identified, was immediately cut by a third after the court found “mitigating circumstances,” the official said. The 25-year-old daughter was pregnant when her boyfriend asked her father for her hand in marriage, he said. The father agreed but kept pushing his daughter to abort the fetus, the official said. The father “became enraged, especially after her husband said he wanted to hold a wedding party,” the official added. “He went to their home when she was alone and shot her six times in the chest, head and stomach.” Murder is punishable by death in the country, but in so-called “honor killings” courts can commute or reduce sentences, particularly if the victim’s family or relatives ask for leniency.
DJs good at picking hits
Music disc jockeys (DJs) are well placed to select potential big music hits thanks to their audiences whose reaction to new songs and remixed music pieces signal give a clear signal about their chances of becoming a hit, top DJ David Guetta said. “I still make my music by thinking about how to get people dancing at night and at a certain moment you can really read the audience,” Geutta said in an interview on the first day of MIDEM, the world’s biggest music industry show, that opened in Cannes on Sunday. “I’m very blessed as I have a live panel of 10,000 people every two or three days because I have tested a new recording on a club’s audience,” he said. However, his recording label has often disagreed with his choice of a new single on the basis that it hadn’t tested well on radio, he said. “But I know if the album is going to be a hit because I’ve played it [to audiences],” he said.
Diaz opens can of worms
Cameron Diaz’s recent claim that she bought cannabis from Snoop Dogg at school hasn’t just put an indelible stain on Snoop’s otherwise flawless reputation — it has uncovered the seedy world of celebrities encouraging fellow celebrities to take drugs. Some notorious couplings are listed below, but can you spot the odd one out? In August 1964, Bob Dylan sat the Beatles down and made them smoke marijuana for the first time. In summary, the world has Dylan to thank for Yellow Submarine. We owe him a great debt. In a 2009 interview with Access Hollywood, Cybill Shepherd claimed that her brief relationship with Elvis Presley ended because he offered her drugs. “I flushed them down the toilet,” she said. Three years later, he was dead. Two decades later, she made a rubbish sitcom. Draw your own conclusions. In her wild student days, Samantha Cameron, wife of the UK prime minister, may have played a few games of pool with notorious pothead rapper Tricky and, yes, people around them may have been smoking joints and wolfing down mushrooms at the time, but that doesn’t mean that she actually ingested any drugs herself. So this is the odd one out, probably.
Police arrest gang members
Federal police have arrested seven drug gang members in the Pacific port of Acapulco, including the man behind the murders of 22 people at the resort this month, the government said on Sunday. The group is a splinter faction of the Beltran Leyva cartel, which has fragmented since Mexican marines killed its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, in December 2009, the federal police said in a statement. Police said the group’s leader, Jose Lozano, was behind the 22 Acapulco murders. The police did not provide other details or explain why the arrests, which occurred on Thursday, were not announced until Sunday. Clashes between rival gangs seeking to control the flow of drugs through Acapulco have alarmed business leaders who worry the escalating violence will strangle the tourism industry.
Bombs kill 12, wound 150
Three car bombs ripped through crowds near Karbala yesterday, killing 12 people and wounding scores more in fresh attacks on pilgrims arriving for religious rituals. “There were three car bomb explosions, two at 8:30am and another 30 minutes later,” provincial vice chief Nusayef Jassem said. “Twelve people were killed and 150 wounded in the attack.” The first two bombs exploded at a bus terminal in the Al-Ibrahimi area, 20km east of Karbala, Jassem said. The third exploded in the Al-Hindiya district, about 3km from the site of the earlier blasts. Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims are in city for Arbaeen ceremonies, held to mark 40 days since the anniversary of the death of the 7th century Imam Hussein, which climax today.
Manning backers riled
Two backers of a jailed army private suspected of passing classified documents to the WikiLeaks Web site say their car was towed after they arrived at a Marine base to visit him. David House and blogger Jane Hamsher say in a statement they had not had problems previously driving onto the Quantico base, but they say they were detained and unable to visit Private Bradley Manning on Sunday. Quantico spokesman Colonel Thomas Johnson says the car was towed after the pair could not provide proof of insurance and guards found the vehicle’s license plates had expired. He says neither was detained.
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