Second band member dies
A second member of the band Ladies’ Code has died from injuries sustained from a car accident. Kwon Ri-sae, 23, died yesterday morning at a hospital in Suwon, just south of Seoul, the band’s management agency said. She had been unconscious after undergoing hours of emergency brain surgery following Wednesday’s accident. Fellow band member Go Eun-bi died shortly after a van carrying the group crashed into a guard rail on a rain-drenched highway near Seoul. Police suspect that the van driver might have been speeding on the wet road to meet a tight schedule.
The Union Election Commission said yesterday it is canceling by-elections that were scheduled for later this year to fill 35 empty parliamentary seats. Commission chairman Tin Aye made the surprise announcement at a news conference in Yangon. Reasons he gave included preparations for next year’s general election, the government hosting the annual ASEAN summit in November and an election law that political parties field at least three candidates or cease to exist, a requirement he described as burdensome for the country’s 67 political parties.
Activist’s detention extended
A court on Saturday ordered human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja to remain in detention for 10 more days as authorities continue to investigate her case, which stems from her decision to return home to visit her jailed father. Al-Khawaja was detained after arriving on a flight a week ago. Authorities have charged her with assaulting police after she refused to hand over her mobile phone during questioning at the airport. She denies the charge. Al-Khawaja has dual Danish and Bahraini citizenship. Lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi provided details of the court order following a hearing. He said a Danish embassy representative also attended the hearing.
Navy hunts missing sailor
The Royal Australian Navy said yesterday it had launched a search for a Pakistani sailor believed to have disappeared overboard during a multinational military exercise in the north of the country. The navy said the sailor, who was not named, went missing earlier in the day while the Pakistani Navy ship Nasr was anchored at Darwin Harbor during the biennial Kakadu military exercises. A police spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corp the sailor might have deliberately jumped into the water to swim to the mainland. “A backpack was found in the water, which would indicate that the person leaving the ship did know what he was doing at the time,” Superintendent Rob Burgoyne said. “He was described as skulking in the bushes [on the mainland], so one can work out from that, probably he didn’t want to be found.”
Machete accused in court
A man appeared in court on Saturday charged with the murder of an 82-year-old woman reportedly found beheaded with a machete in her suburban London garden. Palmira Silva, a grandmother who worked at her family’s cafe, was attacked in her garden in Edmonton on Thursday. Nicholas Salvador, 25, appeared at the court in Highbury with his hands cuffed behind his back and escorted by four police officers. He is also charged with assaulting a police officer and was remanded in custody ahead of another court appearance set for tomorrow.
Firm tries to smuggle fossil
Federal prosecutors say a 65-million-year-old dinosaur skull was smuggled into the US by a French company that tried to pass the fossil off as a cheap replica. Prosecutors say the skull of the Alioramus dinosaur arrived in New York in January with paperwork saying it was a cast worth about US$3,400. However, Customs and Border Protection officials and Homeland Security investigators say the company later admitted it was a genuine fossil from Mongolia worth at least US$250,000. The dinosaur is a relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex. The company, Geofossiles, on Friday denied the fossil was smuggled.
Hawaii lava flow slows
Residents in a sparsely populated neighborhood near Hawaii’s active volcano are still on alert while officials say a dangerous lava flow has slowed its advance. The Hawaii Civil Defense Agency said on Saturday that an inspection made by helicopter of the area shows the lava had flowed about 50m since Friday. The agency reported the flow advanced about 150m between Thursday and Friday. The flow was moving at almost 300m a day earlier in the week. Officials said no residents have been asked to evacuate and that the flow does not pose an immediate threat.
Wildfires rage on
An evacuation order for 300 homes near Yosemite National Park remained in effect on Saturday as firefighters battled a wildfire scorching about 120 hectares in central California. The fire broke out on Friday afternoon. Later on Friday a second blaze broke out 24km to the south in the community of Oakhurst. Nearly 300 alert calls telling residents to evacuate were sent out, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department said, but they were canceled when the blaze’s progress was stopped at 2 hectares. Meanwhile in far northern California, a blaze that broke out nearly four weeks ago grew to nearly 337km2.
Former leader eyes return
President Dilma Rousseff, chasing re-election on Oct. 5, is keeping her Workers Party seat warm for former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to return in 2018, the party chairman said on Saturday at a meeting. Rousseff had been expected to triumph in this year’s poll. However, recent weeks have seen her stunningly overtaken by former minister of the environment Marina Silva, standing on the Socialist ticket. Veja magazine reported on its Web site that Sao Paulo regional party head Emidio de Souza had told the meeting: “The shortest and best way for Lula to return as president is for Dilma to be re-elected.”
Protection system panned
The UN Appeals Tribunal in New York City has overturned a ruling in favor of a whistleblower who accused senior colleagues of retaliating after he alleged corruption in the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. James Wasserstrom was the lead anti-corruption officer at the Kosovo Mission in 2007. He says the decision issued last weekend demonstrates that neither UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon nor the Ethics Office have “a credible interest beyond words in protecting the brave individuals who come forward after witnessing wrongdoing.” The organization’s Staff Union in Geneva said the tribunal’s 2-1 decision exposes the shortcomings of the UN’s whistleblower protection system.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and