Troops to move to Poland
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that Washington plans to move some troops from Germany to Poland, speaking as he hosted Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House. “We are going to be reducing our forces in Germany” from 52,000 to 25,000 troops, Trump said after an Oval Office meeting with Duda. “Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places. Poland would be one of those other places.” Duda called it a “very reasonable decision” and said he had asked Trump not to withdraw US troops from Europe “because the security of Europe is very important to me.” Asked what kind of a message the redeployment sends to Russia, Trump said: “I think it sends a very strong signal.”
Gems fetch US$3.3m
A hand-miner became an instant millionaire after selling the two of the largest tanzanite gems ever discovered to the government. The central bank paid Saniniu Laizer 7.7 billion shillings (US$3.3 million) for the stones, which weighed 9.2kg and 5.8kg. Laizer, clad in the traditional red and white checkered robes of the Maasai community, received the payment at a ceremony in the northeastern Manyara region and broadcast on national television on Wednesday. President John Magufuli said that the purchase from Laizer was vindication of reforms to the mining industry that the government has implemented since he came to power in 2015. The changes include the introduction of centers where small-scale miners can trade their finds.
Groups worry for democracy
More than 500 political and civil society leaders, Nobel laureates and rights groups, yesterday warned that some governments were using the COVID-19 pandemic to “tighten their grip on power,” undermining democracy and civil liberties. In an open letter signed by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Nobel Peace Prize laureates Shirin Ebadi, Lech Walesa and Jose Ramos-Horta, and actor Richard Gere, among others, the authors called the ongoing pandemic a “formidable global challenge to democracy.” They wrote: “Democracy is under threat, and people who care about it must summon the will, the discipline, and the solidarity to defend it.”
Fishing boat boarded
Pirates allegedly kidnapped five citizens and a Ghanaian after boarding their fishing vessel off the coast of Benin, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Maritime Bureau said yesterday. The Ghanaian-flagged Panofi Frontier with 30 crew onboard was attacked on Wednesday about 60 nautical miles (111km) south of Benin’s capital, Cotonou, they said.
Authorities have formally arrested two detained activists, relatives and fellow campaigners said yesterday. Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜) and Xu Zhiyong (許志永) attended a meeting involving lawyers and human rights advocates in December last year, many of whose attendees have since been detained. Ding, a disbarred Beijing-based lawyer previously jailed for protesting against official corruption, is accused of “inciting subversion of state power,” said his wife, Luo Shengchun (羅勝春). “My greatest hope now is that Jiaxi can meet his lawyer and to see that he is well.”
Hundreds of flights at one of China’s busiest airports were canceled yesterday as Shanghai raced to bring a local COVID-19 outbreak under control. Health officials have tested thousands of staff at Pudong International Airport since a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in the city was linked to several cargo handlers. China — where the virus first emerged late last year — has largely brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control through travel restrictions and lockdowns, but it is now battling a number of domestic outbreaks in different cities. Shanghai has reported seven local infections linked to the airport this month, with most cases found
For thousands of years, the dainty Fritillaria delavayi has grown slowly on the rocky slopes of the Hengduan mountains in China, producing a bright green flower after its fifth year. The conspicuous small plant has one deadly enemy: people, who harvest the flower for traditional Chinese medicine. As commercial harvesting has intensified, Fritillaria delavayi has vanished — by rapidly evolving to produce gray and brown leaves and flowers that cannot be so easily seen by pickers. Scientists have discovered that the color of the plant’s leaves has become more camouflaged — matching the background rocks on which they grow — in areas where
On the morning of Oct. 23, a 56-year-old employee at West Japan Railway was inspecting trains when he encountered an Asian black bear just outside Tsuruga Station in Japan’s northwestern Fukui Prefecture. He escaped with just a scratch, but about 10 minutes later, the same bear fractured the leg of a worker at a nearby construction site. Four days before the incident, a male bear entered a four-story shopping center in neighboring Ishikawa Prefecture. The 1.3m-tall bear holed up in a storage room for 13 hours, until it was shot by a local hunting group. Between April and September, wild bears were spotted 13,670
‘OCEAN OF STORMS’: The Chang’e 5 seeks to collect about 5kg of samples from a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain, known as Oceanus Procellarum China plans to launch an uncrewed spacecraft to the moon this week to bring back lunar rocks in the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth’s natural satellite since the 1970s. The Chang’e 5 probe, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, would seek to collect material that could help scientists understand the moon’s origins and formation. The mission would test China’s ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions. If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, following the US and the Soviet Union decades