Dust shrouds Lhasa
The country’s pollution reached new heights yesterday as the Tibetan capital of Lhasa was shrouded in a cloud of dust that halted flights and rendered one of its most-recognizable landmarks nearly invisible. Lhasa, which at 3,700m above sea level is one of the highest cities in the world, was named by the Ministry of Environmental Protection last month as one of 10 cities with the country’s best air quality. However, yesterday the picturesque city was enveloped in a thick cloud of pollution that the Hong Kong-based ifeng.com news Web site said was caused by dust that had blown in from north of the Tibetan Plateau. Visibility in some areas was reduced to 5km, flights were grounded and the city’s air quality index exceeded 500, the highest level, the report said. Photos posted online by ifeng.com showed the world-famous Potala Palace, a sprawling Buddhist complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site that previously served as the winter palace of the Dalai Lama, nearly invisible from a few kilometers away.
Woman finds semen in water
A woman is suing a deli after drinking bottled water that allegedly contained semen, lawyers said yesterday, with claims that DNA showed it matched the owner of the business. Alicia Cooper has filed a writ of summons in the District Court of Western Australia against the owner, who no longer runs the business, according to media reports that were confirmed by Slater and Gordon, the legal firm representing Cooper. Among its accusations the writ states the owner knowingly placed the sperm in the bottled water and allowed its sale. “Instantly I knew something was not right, I just knew,” Cooper, who is seeking damages and medical expenses for the stress and depression suffered from drinking the water, told Fairfax Media. After Cooper lodged a complaint about the water with the health department in the city of Stirling, a sample was collected for testing and the results revealed it contained spermatozoa, the Fairfax report said. A DNA sample was taken from the owner and testing confirmed his sample was a profile match for the sperm in the water.
Body found at US base
A human body decomposed “beyond recognition” has been found at a US military camp on the island of Okinawa, military and police officials said yesterday. The corpse was discovered on Wednesday inside a former housing area at Camp Foster, but the identity of the person, including their gender and approximate date of death, were unknown, a spokeswoman for the base said. The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service is leading a probe into the case, she added. The body was badly decomposed, but was presumed to be that of an adult, an official at Okinawa prefectural police headquarters said. It was found by Japanese workers contracted to dismantle buildings and survey the grounds in the housing area.
UN choppers to evacuate staff
The UN sent four helicopters to evacuate staff from one of its bases in the country’s Jonglei State where three UN peacekeepers were killed on Thursday in violence gripping the world’s newest nation. Fighting has spread since the attack on Sunday last week outside an army barracks in the capital, Juba, with the violence leaving as many as 500 people dead, while at least 20,000 have sought shelter at UN compounds, according to the government and UN. The government lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei State, on Wednesday to a group linked to former vice president Riek Machar, who is being hunted by security forces for staging a failed coup this week. Machar denies that accusation. The violence has heightened ethnic tensions, with Machar’s Nuer group pitted against the Dinka people of President Salva Kiir.
Crack prison sentences cut
President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people convicted of crack cocaine offenses on Thursday, saying they were punished under an unfair legal disparity that overwhelmingly hurt impoverished black communities. All of the inmates had been imprisoned for at least 15 years, including six who were sentenced to life behind bars. Most will be released by April 17. The prisoners would likely have received lighter jail terms if they had been sentenced under a law Obama signed three years ago that reduced sentencing disparities that once treated crack cocaine offenses more harshly than powder cocaine ones. Obama said the six men and two women were jailed under an “unfair system” in which someone arrested with one gram of crack cocaine received the same sentencing as someone arrested with 100 grams of powdered cocaine, a ratio that was mitigated by the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act.
Stolen cars have Tajik link
Officials say stolen cars may have ended up with people close to the family of the Tajik president. Berlin regional justice minister Thomas Heilmann’s office confirmed a report on Thursday by daily Bild that he alerted the Foreign Ministry to the issue in May after Tajikistan ignored requests for legal assistance. Heilmann wrote that some cars are in the hands of “people with business and family ties to the Tajik president’s family.” The Foreign Ministry said there had been talks with Tajikistan on fighting organized crime, but would not Bild’s report that the Tajik ambassador was summoned.
Second man gunned down
Police said the head of a fishermen’s union was shot dead yesterday, the second fatal shooting in as many days in a nation unaccustomed to gun crime. Tadayoshi Ueno, 70, was found lying in the street in the southern city of Kitakyushu after residents nearby heard what was believed to be the sound of gunfire. Police said he was confirmed dead at hospital, with reports suggesting he had been shot multiple times. Ueno, whose family runs a civil engineering company, was previously fired at in front of his house in 1997, but escaped unhurt, Jiji Press news agency said. However, his brother was shot dead the following year, a crime for which mobsters were arrested, with investigators saying they had targeted him because he refused to give favors in public works projects, Jiji said. Yesterday’s shooting came the day after the president of a well-known dumpling restaurant chain was shot dead in Kyoto.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including