Poet Philip Levine dies
Philip Levine, a former US poet laureate whose work was vibrantly, angrily and often painfully alive with the sound, smell and sinew of heavy manual labor, died on Saturday last week at his home in Fresno, California. He was 87. The cause was pancreatic cancer. Levine served as poet laureate from 2011 to 2012. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for his collection The Simple Truth and won two National Book Awards — in 1980 for Ashes: Poems New & Old and 1991 for What Work Is. In spare, realistic free verse, Levine explored the subjects that had animated his work for decades: his gritty Detroit childhood; the soul-numbing factory jobs he held as a young person; Spain, where he lived for some time as an adult; and the Spanish anarchists of the 1930s. “A large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland” is how the poet Edward Hirsch, writing in the New York Times Book Review, described Levine in 1984.
Scorpion on a plane
A scorpion stung a woman on the hand just before her flight from Los Angeles to Portland took off. Flight 567 was taxiing on the runway on Saturday night last week when the passenger was stung, Alaska Airlines spokesman Cole Cosgrove said. The plane returned to the gate, and the woman was checked by medics. She refused additional medical treatment, but she did not get back on the plane. Meanwhile, flight attendants killed the scorpion and checked overhead compartments for any additional unwanted arachnids. Oregon State University basketball coach Wayne Tinkle told ESPN that the woman was sitting two rows in front of him. “The plane was coming from Mexico before us, and [the scorpion] was on the plane,” Tinkle said. “The woman was a real champ. She acted like it was a mosquito bite. They got it off her, but the needle was stuck.”
Being president is not all drone strikes and crisis meetings. A video released on Thursday last week shows President Barack Obama posing in front of the mirror with aviator sunglasses, playing around with a selfie stick and struggling to enunciate “February.” In a skit recorded by BuzzFeed called “things everyone does but doesn’t talk about,” Obama can also be seen blaming himself for making cookies too big to dunk in a glass of milk — “thanks Obama” — and drawing a picture of his wife, Michelle. The president is also captured pretending to score a winning basket, before being interrupted and receiving a quizzical look from comedian Andrew Ilnyckyj posing as a staffer. Obama responds “can’t I live, man?” before declaring “YOLO man” — you only live once.
CDU trounced in Hamburg
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered heavy losses in Hamburg city-state elections on Sunday, where an anti-euro party looked set to enter parliament. The center-left Social Democrats (SPD) easily won the election in their traditional northern stronghold, as expected, after an election campaign fought on local issues. The anti-euro party Alternative for Germany (AFD) won about five percent of the vote according to early exit polls which, if confirmed, would see them narrowly enter their fourth state parliament. Public broadcasters projected the CDU won only about 16 percent, its worst-ever Hamburg result and one of its lowest nationwide, against about 47 percent for the SPD.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big