Firms bid for MH370 search
Three companies have offered to resume the search for flight MH370, but no decision has been reached on whether to take up any of the proposals, Minister of Transportation Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday. US seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity, Dutch company Fugro and a Malaysian company have made offers, Liow said. The head of the Department of Civil Aviation was negotiating with the companies and the offers would also be discussed with Australia and China, he said. Ocean Infinity, which has made a “no find, no fee” offer, was said to be the favorite.
Six missing off coast
Fears were growing yesterday for six fishermen missing after their ship capsized in wild seas off the northeast coast, with severe weather hampering rescue efforts. Authorities were alerted to the lost men out of “sheer luck” early yesterday, about 12 hours after the trawler overturned, when crew on a passing yacht heard the screams of a seventh crew member and plucked him out of the water. Air and sea rescue efforts off the Bundaberg coast in Queensland have been hampered by heavy rain and rough seas, with up to 4m swells. The rescued man miraculously survived a night in the “treacherous seas” clinging to the hull of the 17m capsized trawler for hours before it sank.
Revenge porn portal opens
The nation has launched an online portal to report “revenge porn” after research showed that women were having intimate images shared without their permission on a “mass scale.” The “world-first” initiative will offer support and advice, while working with Web sites and search engines to help take down offending posts. Only Victoria and South Australia have laws that criminalize the distribution of intimate or invasive images without consent.
Charges in cannon death
Former Seoul police chief Goo Eun-soo and three other officers were yesterday charged over the death of a protester hit by a water cannon during an anti-government protest two years ago. Baek Nam-ki, a 69-year-old farmer, was knocked over by the jet of water during a huge protest against Seoul’s labor policies in November 2015, and fell into a coma. He died 10 months later. His plight sparked widespread outrage, with police coming under fire for what critics described as excessive force during public rallies.
Congo gets UN rights seat
The US and human rights groups sharply criticized Monday’s UN election for 15 new members of the Human Rights Council, singling out conflict-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DR Congo) victory despite accusations of serious rights abuses and an investigation by the UN’s top human rights body. DR Congo got the lowest number of votes of four African candidates — 151. The low total shows that President Joseph Kabila’s DR Congo “is fast becoming a pariah state. If there had been competition, it probably would have lost,” Human Rights Watch’s UN director Louis Charbonneau said. UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer singled out three of the winners — Congo, Qatar and Pakistan — saying for the UN to elect them “as a world judge on human rights is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief.” The only contested slate was in Asia, where six countries vied for four seats. Nepal topped the vote, followed by Qatar and Pakistan.
Crackdown on hate crimest
Courts are passing increasingly harsh sentences for attacks on gay or transgender people amid a wider crackdown on hate crimes, which have a “corrosive effect” on society, the kingdom’s top prosecutor said yesterday. In hate crime cases, prosecutors are allowed to ask the courts for an increased punishment, known as a sentence uplift, to reflect the aggravating circumstances. Nearly 1,470 homophobic or transphobic cases were prosecuted between April last year and April this year, with more than four-fifths resulting in a conviction, the Crown Prosecution Service said. Courts increased sentences in 579 cases — nearly half of successful prosecutions — up from 461 cases the previous year. Ten years ago, sentences were boosted in just six cases, or less than 1 percent of successful prosecutions.
Bergdahl pleads guilty
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured and held by the Taliban for five years after walking away from his post in Afghanistan, on Monday pleaded guilty to desertion and endangering his comrades — charges that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life. “I understand that leaving was against the law,” said Bergdahl, who admitted guilt without striking a deal with prosecutors, meaning his punishment is up to a military judge when he is sentenced later this month. At his sentencing, set to begin on Monday next week, his years in captivity could be factored in, but the hearing is also likely to feature damning testimony from fellow service members.
Self-driving cars studied
A new study inspired by Boston’s early experiments with self-driving cars found that the technology could ease congestion, but might also lead to more cars on the road and further encourage urban sprawl. The report, released yesterday by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum, is a mostly optimistic take on how autonomous vehicles could change cities. Three companies are now testing self-driving cars in Boston’s Seaport District. One of them, NuTonomy, has also partnered with ride-hailing service Lyft to research how passengers book and route a self-driving car.
State of emergency declared
Citing past clashes and protests, Florida Governor Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency in advance of a speech white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to give at the University of Florida. The governor warned in an executive order that a “threat of a potential emergency is imminent” in Alachua County. Spencer is scheduled to speak at the campus tomorrow and his pending appearance has already sparked protests in the university town.
Horse stays at motel
A Canadian horse has had the opportunity to watch television for the first time at a pet-friendly Kentucky motel. Lindsey Partridge of Ontario told the Lexington Herald-Leader she stopped to check in Oct. 4 at the Super 8 in Georgetown on her way to compete in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover competition. Partridge said she received approval when she jokingly inquired of the clerk if the motel’s pet-friendly policy would apply to her horse. Partridge made a video of Blizz watching TV. Partridge says she then took Blizz and her two other horses to Kentucky Horse Park, the local equine motel of choice.
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
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
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