Emperor calls for openness
Emperor Akihito yesterday attended a ceremony to mark the 30th year of his reign while calling for the country to embrace openness in a more globalized world. The government-sponsored ceremony at the National Theater in Tokyo was attended by Empress Michiko and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “Japan has long cultivated its own culture as an island nation, but now the world is becoming more globalized,” the 85-year-old emperor said. “I think it is now required for us to be more open to the outside world, to establish our own position with wisdom and to build relationships with other countries with sincerity.”
Donald Keene dies
Donald Keene, a longtime Columbia University professor who was a giant in the field of literature and translation, died yesterday of heart failure in Tokyo. He was 96. A prolific academic who worked well into his 90s, Keene published about 25 books in English, including translations of both classical and modern writers, and about 30 in Japanese. He move permanently to Tokyo in 2011 and became a citizen in 2012.
Presidential election begins
Voters yesterday went to the polls in an election that President Macky Sall looks confident to win in the first round after his main challengers were banned from running. Sall faces competition from four lesser-known rivals who campaigned hard against his plans for a second phase of his “Emerging Senegal” infrastructure project, which critics call a waste of taxpayers’ money and a potential debt burden.
New outbreak confirmed
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs yesterday confirmed a new outbreak of African swine fever in Hebei Province. The outbreak is on a farm in the Xushui District of Baoding, which has 5,600 hogs, some of which died because of the disease, the ministry said a statement on its Web site, without giving a death toll.
Moonshine toll rises
At least 35 more workers have died in Assam State after drinking toxic liquor, police said yesterday, taking the death toll from the latest mass alcohol poisoning beyond 130. At least 200 more people were still hospitalized across Assam. “A total of 10 people have been arrested. We have sent the samples of the liquor ... to a forensic laboratory,” Mukesh Agarwala, additional director-general of state police, said. Police said people started falling sick after consuming a batch of illegally produced liquor late on Thursday. Those affected, who include many women, worked at local tea estates in the region.
Central bank head dies
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla died on Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 60. Espenilla disclosed his medical condition in February last year as he recovered from surgery and radiation therapy for tongue cancer. Espenilla had taken intermittent medical leave since September in addition to an overseas trip for treatment last month. The Monetary Board has designated Deputy Governor Cyd Tuano-Amador as the central bank’s officer-in-charge effective immediately until President Rodrigo Duterte appoints a successor, the bank said in a statement yesterday.
Cruise missile tested
The navy yesterday successfully tested a cruise missile during naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz, state media reported. “On the third day of the ... exercises, a Ghadir-class Iranian navy submarine successfully launched a cruise missile,” the official news agency Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. More than 100 vessels were taking part in the ongoing three-day war games in an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean, state media reported. The nation’s other submarines, the Tareq and the new domestically built Fateh have the same anti-ship capability, IRNA quoted a military statement as saying.
Parliamentary elections held
Voters yesterday cast ballots in parliamentary elections that could deepen a split between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces. More than 3 million voters are eligible to elect representatives to the 101-seat legislature for a four-year term, and parties need to win 6 percent of the overall ballot to enter parliament. Opinion polls suggest the opposition Socialist party, which favors closer ties to Moscow, will win most seats, but fall short of a majority. The ruling pro-Western Democratic Party trails in second and an opposition bloc called ACUM, campaigning to fight entrenched corruption, is third.
Party complains of arrests
The Constitution Party founded by Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei on Saturday denounced what it said was a “campaign of arrests” targeting its members after it criticized a bid to extend President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s powers. Four of its members had been arrested “in the past 48 hours,” the party posted on Facebook, while others faced “security restrictions.” It called on authorities to “stop these violations and repressive practices.” Security sources said they had “no information” on the crackdown.
‘Yellow vests’ protest again
Tens of thousands of people on Saturday marched in Paris and other cities as the “yellow vest” movement staged its 15th consecutive weekend of demonstrations against the government. Dozens of people were arrested. About 46,600 people joined the protests nationwide, including 5,800 in Paris, the Ministry of the Interior said. Paris police said the march was largely peaceful, although scuffles broke out as it wound down.
Winds kill four people
Strong winds whipping through the center of the nation on Saturday killed four people, including a teen who died when his father fell off the roof and crushed him, the Fatto Quotidiano said. The 14-year-old in Capena, near Rome, was holding the ladder for his father as he attempted to fix damage to the family roof, when the latter was knocked off by a gust of wind, falling 6m and landing on his son, the daily said. Two men in their 70s were killed by a farm wall that collapsed on top of them near Frosinone, while a 45-year-old man died when a pine tree in Guidonia crushed his car, it said.
Film director Donen dies
Filmmaker Stanley Donen, a giant of the Hollywood musical who directed Singin’ in the Rain, Anchors Away, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Funny Face among other films, died on Thursday. He died in New York from heart failure, his sons Joshua and Mark Donen said on Saturday. He was 94.
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
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
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
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,