iPad 2 craze leads to ruckus
Four people were taken to hospital and a glass door smashed as a near-riot broke out at Beijing’s top Apple store among crowds rushing to snap up the iPad 2 tablet computer, state press said yesterday. Angry consumers began rushing the store on Saturday afternoon after a “foreign” Apple employee allegedly stepped into the crowd to push and beat people suspected of jumping the line, the Beijing News said. After the employee retreated back into the store, a crowd of consumers smashed the glass front door and shoved security guards as they surged forward in anger over the alleged beatings, the report said. Consumers had lined up for hours at Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai since the iPad 2 went on sale on Friday.
Storm leaves nine dead
Tropical Storm Aere slammed into the eastern seaboard yesterday, bringing heavy rains and landslides that have so far killed nine people and left more than 4,000 stranded, officials said. The state weather bureau said Aere made landfall over the island of Catanduanes before noon and was expected to take a northeasterly path for the rest of the day. Three people were killed when heavy rains triggered a landslide in the province of Camarines Sur in the eastern Bicol region and buried a house. More than 100,000 villagers have fled farming towns threatened by landslides. Aere, the first major weather disturbance of the year, hit Catanduanes with maximum winds of 85kph at its center and gusts of up to 100kph. Storm alert warnings had been raised over at least 12 provinces in the main island of Luzon and the eastern Bicol, the civil defense office in Manila said.
Official touts nuclear power
A top official said the country would maintain atomic power as part of its energy policy despite the ongoing nuclear crisis. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said yesterday that the government would “stick to nuclear power as a national energy policy.” He made the comment on a talk show on public broadcaster NHK. Sengoku also said the government had no plans to halt nuclear reactors other than three at the Hamaoka power plant. On Friday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he had asked the plant to suspend operations at the reactors until a seawall is built and backup systems are improved.
Refugee boat runs aground
A boat carrying 500 refugees from Libya ran aground as it neared a port yesterday, forcing many of those on board to jump into the sea, officials said after all were successfully rescued. The boat hit some rocks on the approach to the island of Lampedusa in the south, sparking panic among those on board — most of them migrant workers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia who had been living in Libya. Coast guards immediately intervened, plucking dozens from the water, including women and children, and rescuing those still on board. Television images showed chaotic scenes as refugees clung on to ropes cast between the shoreline and the fishing boat and officers dived in to help. “It was a difficult situation. Our patrol boats couldn’t come close because of the shallow water,” Antonio Morana, a coast guard spokesman, said after the pre-dawn incident. A few of the refugees suffered slight injuries and have been hospitalized.
Mass wedding held
About 350 couples have been married according to Indian customs and traditions in a colorful Andean mass wedding with President Evo Morales presiding as best man. Saturday’s ceremony was held at a stadium in La Paz that was adorned with large white flowers and indigenous banners. Several bands serenaded the couples. Indian religious leaders presided over the wedding as did, symbolically, Pachamama — the earth deity of the Aymara and Quechua races of the nation’s highlands Indians. Morales gave a speech to the couples, who crowded the arena’s floor wearing multicolored ponchos and hats. Before the ceremony, each couple married in a civil ceremony.
Lady Di’s dresses auctioned
Two dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, have sold for a record US$276,000 at an auction in Beverly Hills. Darren Julien, president of Julien’s Auctions, said on Saturday that a black crepe evening gown Diana wore during a state visit in 1992 fetched the higher price of US$144,000. A light blue strapless gown with accompanying stole that sold for US$132,000 had been worn on three occasions, including at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. The auction attracted bidders from around the world, and organizers believe the recent royal wedding helped boost the sale price of the dresses, which were designed by Catherine Walker.
An official said former president Laurent Gbagbo has been questioned for the first time over human rights abuses committed while he was in power. Prosecutor Simplice Kouadio Koffi said Gbagbo was questioned on Saturday by judicial officials and that his French lawyers were not present. He says Gbagbo’s lawyers were turned away on Friday for not having proper visas. He said Gbagbo’s wife was to be questioned yesterday. Internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara took his oath of office on Friday.
Church volunteer charged
A volunteer at a Texas church home to the largest congregation in the US has been charged with sexually abusing an autistic child. Alvaro Daniel Guzman, 25, was charged with indecency with a child over a incident in February last year at a Lakewood Church activities program for special needs children, according to media reports in Houston. Lakewood is a Protestant “megachurch” run by pastor Joel Osteen, whose weekend services draw more than 40,000 people. Guzman allegedly fondled an eight-year-old autistic boy while he helped him climb into a play structure. Another adult volunteer allegedly witnessed the event and reported it to church officials and authorities.
Ben Ali relative convicted
A court convicted on Saturday a nephew of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s wife on charges of drug use and sentenced him to two years in jail, the official TAP news agency said. Imed Trabelsi was arrested in January after Ben Ali and his wife Leila fled the North African country to Saudi Arabia following a popular uprising over poverty, corruption and political repression. TAP said Trabelsi admitted to the charge, but told the court he had stopped using drugs in 2000. He was fined 2000 dinar (US$1,450). The nation’s caretaker authorities, in an apparent attempt to assert their authority and gain legitimacy in the eyes of protesters, have cracked down on vestiges of Ben Ali’s long rule.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete