Jobless offered cash to move
The unemployed are being offered cash by the government to move to the earthquake-damaged city of Christchurch and join in the rebuilding effort. The government announced yesterday it would pay welfare recipients NZ$3,000 (US$2,600) to move to the city if they found any kind of fulltime work there. Christchurch has been slowly rebuilding after a 2011 earthquake killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city’s downtown. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the city’s reconstruction is creating thousands of jobs, but some unemployed people do not have the resources to move to Christchurch. She said the money would help pay for moving expenses, accommodation, tools and other equipment. The scheme is initially limited to 1,000 people.
Fiery debris halts flights
An explosive engine failure on a Vietnamese airliner showered fiery debris across a runway at the nation’s second-busiest airport yesterday, preventing planes landing and taking off for 40 minutes, an official said. The malfunction happened as Vietnam Airlines flight 780 was taxiing to take off on a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said. The twin-engine Airbus A330 came to rest at the intersection of the airport’s two runways, blocking all traffic for 40 minutes until 11:30am, she said. No one was injured. “The issue also resulted in some debris from the plane causing some spot fires on the runaway and surrounding area,” Gillett said. “There are some rumors that the aircraft itself was ablaze with fire — that’s not the case.” A passenger, who identified himself only as Peter, told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio that the jet’s nose had begun lifting for takeoff when the engine failed, forcing the pilots to abort the flight.
New strain of flu detected
A new kind of avian influenza has been detected for the first time in Adelie penguins, though the virus does not seem to make them sick, researchers said yesterday. The virus is unlike any other bird flu known to science, said the report in mBio, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. “It raises a lot of unanswered questions,” said study author Aeron Hurt, senior research scientist at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia. The findings show that “avian influenza viruses can get down to Antarctica and be maintained in penguin populations,” he said. The study is the first to report on live avian flu in penguins, though previous research has found evidence of flu antibodies in penguin blood.
Jobless mom drowns sons
An unemployed woman whose husband had just lost his job drowned her two sons, aged two and six, in the bathtub due to distress over their future, a prosecutor said. “She was upset by the dire financial situation and said it was the only solution she could find to avoid her children being unhappy when they grew up,” Philippe Dulieu, public prosecutor in the city of Namur, told Belga news agency. The woman, who was born in 1987, gave the two boys sleeping pills once her husband had left the house on Saturday, before drowning them and putting them to bed, the prosecutor said. When the husband returned “she told him the children were already in bed. They spent the evening together, watching TV.” Her husband discovered they were dead on Sunday. She was charged on Monday and placed in custody.
Plane crashes into house
A small plane smashed into a Colorado home on Monday, but the pilot was able to walk away and no one else was injured, authorities said. The plane crashed into a residence “after experiencing trouble while towing a banner over Northglenn, Colorado,” a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said. “The pilot escaped from the aircraft and parachuted safely to the ground before the aircraft went down,” he said. Nobody was home at the time of the crash, district firefighters said, and the pilot was transported to hospital, but was not thought to be badly hurt.
Naked man hit by car, killed
A naked man who had been running and doing push-ups in a Portland street was struck by a car and killed early on Sunday, police said. Portland police said they received two telephone calls about the man in a street in an industrial area of north Portland, but the man was killed before they arrived at the scene.
Ex-president fled: authorities
The government suspects former president Francisco Flores has left the country, where he faces charges of embezzlement, illegal enrichment and disobedience. Public Safety Minister Ricardo Perdomo yesterday said that Flores is thought to have gone by boat or plane and illegally entered Panama. A judge has not issued an arrest warrant for Flores, who was charged last week with embezzling US$5.3 million while he was president from 1999 to 2004. He is also charged with mismanaging US$10 million that was donated a decade ago by Taiwan’s government during his presidency. Flores has denied wrongdoing. He says he turned the money over to the intended state projects, but has offered no proof of the handover. Perdomo would not say what proof authorities have that Flores left El Salvador.
US$2.3m cash man nabbed
Authorities have arrested a man found with nearly US$2.3 million in cash hidden in a compartment in his van, officials said on Monday. Flavio Rojas, 48, was picked up on Sunday night on a highway 10km north of the capital. An estimated half of the country’s population is below the national poverty line. Police are investigating whether Rojas was transporting the money for an organized crime group. Mexican drug organizations like the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel have expanded their trafficking and money laundering operations in the country in recent years, sometimes in combination with local groups.
Newspapers slim down
A leading newspaper is cutting the size of its daily editions because of a newsprint shortage. El Universal says it will publish 16 pages a day as of Monday, down from its regular 24 pages. It says it can keep that up for two more weeks. Several other papers have already slimmed or shut down, blaming government currency controls. El Universal says it has had paper sitting in a port since January, but needs US dollars to release it from bond. It blames government delays in allowing it to exchange the local currency for US dollars. The government sells hard currency at low prices, but importers complain it can take months for officials to approve the exchanges, leading to shortages of imports, which result in reduced production for many goods.
THE ANSWER? The drug uses neutralizing antibodies produced by the human immune system, which the team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to a halt. A drug being tested by scientists at Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the coronavirus, researchers said. Sunney Xie (謝曉亮), director of the university’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, said that the drug had been successful in animal testing. “When we injected neutralizing antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500,” Xie said. “That means this potential drug has [a]
It was a much-anticipated milestone likely hastened by COVID-19: New Zealand has reached a population of 5 million people, after citizens and residents rushed home when borders began to close due to the pandemic. New Zealand grew from 4 million to 5 million in 17 years, the quickest rate of growth in the nation’s modern history, Statistics New Zealand said. Migration has been the chief driver for the population of the island-nation, which increased by half a million people in the past six years alone. “The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused unusual international travel and migration patterns in recent months,” Statistics New
‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’: Three US senators sent a letter to the US commerce secretary asking whether the project ‘takes into consideration national security requirements’ US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and
MOM’S LONG CAMPAIGN: Mao Yin had been brought up in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, without any idea that he was the target of a decades-long, high-profile search A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years. Mao Yin (毛寅), then two-and-a-half years old, was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday in Xian, where he was born. After Mao vanished, his mother Li Jingzhi (李靜芝) quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out more than 100,000 flyers and appearing on numerous TV shows. That long campaign helped 29 other families find their own missing children and made