Animals killed in zoo fire
A large fire at London Zoo on Saturday killed an aardvark and four meerkats, while several staff were treated for smoke inhalation. It took 72 firefighters more than three hours to bring the fire under control, after it broke out in the Animal Adventure cafe and spread quickly to an adjacent shop. “Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha. There are also four meerkats still unaccounted for, but we are now presuming these have also died,” a statement from the zoo said.
Snowden releases app
The former National Security Agency contractor who exposed government surveillance programs by disclosing classified material in 2013 has a new job: app developer. Edward Snowden in a video message on Friday unveiled a new smartphone app he helped create, called Haven, that aims to protect laptops from physical tampering. Snowden has said it is an open-source tool designed for human rights advocates and other people at risk, and it uses an Android smartphone’s sensors to detect changes in a room. The software was developed with the Freedom of Press Foundation and the Guardian Project.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Christmas flights delayed
Thick fog yesterday disrupted flights at major airports in the country as thousands of foreign residents rushed to travel home for Christmas and the New Year. Dozens of flights were canceled, diverted or delayed at the three main airports in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. At the Dubai airport, one of the busiest in the world, at least 17 flights were canceled, as visibility dropped to just 100m in some areas of the emirate. At least another 100 incoming flights were either diverted to nearby airports or delayed, according to the flight schedule at the airport. Dubai airport is a major transit hub and thousands of tourists are expected to visit the emirates for the end-of-year festivities.
Pageant leadership resigns
The top leadership of the Miss America Organization, implicated in an e-mail scandal that targeted past pageant winners for abuse based on their appearance, intellect and sex lives, resigned on Saturday, with the outgoing president apologizing to a winner whose weight he ridiculed. Josh Randle told reporters that his comment responding to an e-mail to his private account about the physical appearance of 2013 winner Mallory Hagan came months before he started working for the organization in 2015. However, he said it was wrong. “I apologize to Mallory for my lapse in judgment,” Randle said on Saturday. “It does not reflect my values or the values I worked to promote at the Miss America Organization.”
Thousands more sacked
The government has sacked 2,756 more people from its public service sector for alleged links to terror groups as it presses ahead with purges launched following last year’s failed military coup. According to two government decrees published yesterday in the Official Gazette, those dismissed in the new wave of purges include 637 military personnel, 360 gendarmerie force members and 150 academics or other university personnel. Turkey blames the July last year coup attempt on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. About 50,000 people have been arrested and more than 110,000 civil servants have been dismissed for alleged links to Gulen or militant groups since then.
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures