Oslo considers gifting peak
The government is pondering an unusual birthday gift for neighbor Finland: an Arctic mountain peak. Mount Halti is the highest mountain in Finland, but its 1,365m summit is in Norway. To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia on Dec. 6, 1917, a group of Norwegians is urging the government to move a point on its border with Finland about 150m to the north and 198m to the east. Halti’s peak would become the highest point in Finland, surpassing a spur of the mountain that tops out at 1,324m. “There are a few formal difficulties, and I have not yet made my final decision, but we are looking into it,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told national broadcaster NRK this week. The proposed gift is the brainchild of Bjorn Geirr Harsson, a 76-year-old retired employee of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, who came up with the idea in 1972, when he was taking measurements while flying across the border.
Pope visits Auschwitz
Pope Francis on Friday walked in the footsteps of his two predecessors as he visited the former extermination camp at Auschwitz, where he paid silent homage to the more than 1 million victims, mostly Jews, who perished there during the Holocaust. Right before his visit, Francis said he “would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds.” He said he intended to go “alone, enter, pray,” adding: “And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.” The pope began his visit to Auschwitz — in what is now the Polish town known as Oswiecim, about 48.3km west of Krakow — by meeting 12 survivors of the camp. He greeted them, one by one, mostly in silence, expressing his sorrow and respect by clutching their hands, looking into their eyes and kissing them tenderly, once on each cheek.
Drones to help save vaquita
The government has launched drones to back last-ditch efforts to prevent illegal fishing activities that have led to the near extinction of the vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise. The navy and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources on Thursday unveiled three Arcturus T-20 unpiloted aerial vehicles, armed with high-resolution cameras to police the upper Gulf of California day and night. It is the latest step taken by the government to save the vaquita, a species found only in a small area of Mexico’s northwest gulf. “There is a lot left to be done and time is a decisive factor,” Secretary of the Navy Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberon said. “We can’t allow our seas to see another species disappear.”
Kilauea lava flow hits ocean
The lava flow from Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano vent has attracted thousands of visitors since it began oozing down in May and finally reached the ocean this week. Keaka Hunter, a security guard patrolling the area, said about 2,000 people visited to see the flow on Monday night last week, hours before the lava entered the ocean for the first time in nearly three years. Previous days drew an average of about 1,000 people. The US Geological Survey is warning visitors about safety risks, which include flying debris and acidic plume containing fine volcanic particles that can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs. The new land might also be unstable, because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand, which can easily be eroded by surf.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since