Wolf reignites Xmas row
Naomi Wolf has reignited her row with Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, publishing a recording of a heated telephone call with his office. The US author yesterday said that she called Taylor’s parliamentary office requesting a “formal correction” to the record of his maiden speech, asking that Taylor “tell parliament please that I was not campaigning against Christmas in any way.” She published the 29-minute recording in full. “He used my name twice in ways that are completely inappropriate, totally unjustified, inaccurate,” Wolf told a staffer. “I don’t need to advocate to him about that. He has done a wrong thing and he needs to take responsibility for that.” Taylor in 2013 referred to Wolf in his maiden speech to parliament while recounting an anecdote about “political correctness,” and a dispute about a Christmas tree at the University of Oxford in 1991. When Wolf was alerted to the speech on Monday she said that she was not at Oxford in 1991 and accused the minister of “antisemitic dog whistling.” In the call with Taylor’s staffer, Wolf repeatedly requested that his office issue a public correction to say that she was not at Oxford at the same time as Taylor, and that she was not part of a group of people campaigning against Christmas.
‘Fake’ smuggler detained
The authorities have detained a man who built a fake frontier post in the woods near the border with Finland and promised to smuggle four South Asian migrant workers into the EU. The man erected mock border posts and charged the four men more than US$10,000 to take them to Finland, the Border Guard Service was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Authorities did not specify the nationalities of the would-be migrants involved in the incident which took place last week. “The man never planned to carry out his promises,” Interfax news agency reported. He installed sham fence posts purportedly marking the border, and took the group on a circuitous route by vehicle and on foot before all five were detained. Video footage showed the men bundled up in parkas and hats standing in the darkness among fir trees, their hands up in the air. A St Petersburg court on Wednesday fined the hapless four men and ordered their deportation. The man behind the smuggling scheme hailed from Central Asia and could be charged with fraud, local media reported.
Santa dives in on climate
In a change of scene, Santa Claus is donning flippers and a diving mask along with his traditional red-and-white outfit to scuba dive in at the Aquarium de Paris, as he teaches children about global warming and climate issues during the festive season. The aquatic Santa, a professional diver and biologist, can be found swimming among fish and a zebra shark every day over the holiday. The show is part of the aquarium’s activities aimed at educating children about environmental issues, including global warming, loss of biodiversity and extreme weather as a result of climate change. “Children are the future,” said Alexandre Dalloni, the aquarium’s education manager. “The planet is also here for children to inherit, so it’s those of a very young age which we can teach ... to tell them that everyone is responsible for preserving the planet for the future.” Dalloni said that swimming with the shark was safe for Santa. “The shark is an animal which isn’t going to attack a human for no reason. There are attacks, but they’re accidental,” he said. Scuba-diving Santa is to remain in residence until Jan. 5.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘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
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of