‘Driving threatens virgins’
A rights activist says a report given to a high-level advisory group claims that women in the kingdom would have options for premarital sex if allowed to drive. The ultra-conservative stance suggests increasing pressure on Saudi King Abdullah to retain the kingdom’s male-only driving rules. Rights activist Waleed Abu Alkhair said on Saturday that the document by a well-known academic was sent to the all-male Shura Council, which advises the monarchy. The report by Kamal Subhi says that allowing women to drive would threaten the country’s traditions of virgin brides, the activist said.
Drugs boy released
A 14-year-old Australian boy has been released after serving two months in a detention center for buying drugs while vacationing with his family in Bali. The teenager wore a mask to hide his face from photographers as he walked out of the immigration detention center yesterday with his parents. The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, has promised to enter a drug rehabilitation program after returning home to Morrisset Park, just north of Sydney.
Piranha sellers arrested
Police said they have arrested five people for selling carnivorous piranhas, raising fears over what could happen if the fish got into local waterways. At least 62 live piranha fingerlings were seized from the group after a sting operation where a fisheries officer posed as a buyer late on Thursday, senior superintendent Jude Santos said. “We immediately turned them over to the Bureau of Fisheries and their expert determined they were piranhas ... I think they have killed them by now,” Santos said. The fish, known for their sharp teeth, an appetite for meat and their ability to strip flesh from a carcass, were being sold to collectors of exotic fish to be placed in aquariums, the police chief said. However, if they got into local waterways, they could breed quickly and pose a threat to local fish — and even humans, Santos said.
Chinese fishermen detained
Naval authorities detained six Chinese fishermen for alleged poaching in the country’s territorial waters, police said yesterday. The fishermen’s vessel was intercepted on Thursday off the coastal town of Balabac in Palawan, a western island facing the South China Sea where both countries have overlapping territorial claims. “Recovered from their possession and control were 11 sea turtles, fish nets and other paraphernalia,” national police spokesman chief superintendent Agrimero Cruz said. He said the six have been detained and their boat confiscated while charges against them were being prepared.
12 charged with murder
Police have charged 12 people, including a fugitive reputed gangster, over the daytime murder of a Mumbai crime reporter almost six months ago. Jyotirmoy Dey had been working as investigations editor for MiD Day newspaper when he was gunned down on June 11 in a Mumbai suburb by motorcycle-riding assailants. Police believe that reputed gang leader and fugitive Chhota Rajan ordered the hit in retaliation for several negative stories and that he allegedly paid the attackers 500,000 rupees (US$9,700). The indictment filed on Saturday in a Maharashtra state court names Rajan along with 11 other people, including the alleged gunmen and those suspected of providing cash, cellphone SIM cards and the revolver used in the killing.
Assange aims for top court
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is to seek today to have his appeal against extradition to Sweden heard by the nation’s top court, playing his final card in a lengthy legal battle. Almost a year after his arrest over claims of rape and sexual assault, the 40-year-old Australian will ask two judges at London’s High Court to decide whether his appeal can proceed to the Supreme Court. For the appeal to be heard in the highest court, the judges must rule the case raises a question of general public importance. Today’s hearing comes a month after his first appeal against a ruling that he can be sent to Sweden was rejected. If the ruling goes against Assange, the British leg of his legal battle will end and he faces extradition to Sweden within 10 days.
Old bomb to be defused
Officials in the western city of Koblenz said about 45,000 residents had to be evacuated yesterday as officials tried to defuse a World War II era bomb discovered in the Rhine River. City officials said that the massive British 1.8 tonne bomb was to be defused yesterday, requiring all residents within a 1.8km radius of the bomb site to leave their homes for the day. Officials said seven nursing homes, two hospitals and a prison were evacuated in the biggest such operation in the city since the war. The bomb was found last week after the Rhine’s water level fell because of a lack of rain.
Portland protesters arrested
Authorities say riot police moved into a downtown Portland, Oregon, park area and arrested several anti-Wall Street protesters on Saturday night after they refused to leave. Occupy Portland demonstrators set up tents in the park earlier in the day and vowed to stay through the winter, defying city officials who said overnight camping will not be allowed. Police sergeant Pete Simpson said officers began detaining protesters at 8:30pm after the park was closed 30 minutes early. He said several arrests were made, but didn’t have an exact count.
Mammoth may be cloned
Scientists from Japan and Russia believe it may be possible to clone a mammoth after finding well-preserved bone marrow in a thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia, a report said on Saturday. Teams from the Sakha Republic’s mammoth museum and Kinki University will launch joint research next year aimed at recreating the giant mammal, Kyodo News reported from Yakutsk, Russia. By replacing the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those taken from the mammoth’s marrow cells, embryos with mammoth DNA can be produced, Kyodo said, citing the researchers. The scientists will then plant the embryos into elephant wombs for delivery, as the two species are close relatives, the report said.
UN hunts Libya weapons
The UN Security Council on Friday added the hunt for rogue surface-to-air missiles and other weapons in Libya to the duties of the UN mission in the country. The 15-member council unanimously passed a resolution provisionally extending the mandate of the mission until March 16, which has mainly been giving political support to Libya’s transitional government. Growing concern over the weapons caches — particularly thousands of shoulder-fired rocket launchers — left by former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi led to the extension of the mission’s duties.
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