Scientist gets death reprieve
A Swedish-Iranian scientist facing execution for espionage on Wednesday has been granted a reprieve, his lawyer said. Ahmadreza Djalali had not been transferred out of Evin prison in Tehran to Raja’i Shahr jail as expected on Tuesday night, which would have been a prelude to his killing, the lawyer said. It was not immediately clear if the reprieve was temporary or arose from the intense public and diplomatic pressure placed on the Tehran authorities to re-examine his case. His wife, Vida Mehrannia, had been making media appeals for European governments to come to her husband’s aid.
Lotto players cry foul
An unusual sequence of numbers drawn by the national lottery has sparked accusations of fraud after 20 people won a share of the jackpot. The consecutive numbers 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and a “PowerBall” number of 10 were the winning combination on Tuesday night. Twenty lucky players hit the jackpot and won 5.7 million rand (US$371,812) each. Another 79 won about 6,283 rand for guessing the sequence, but missing the PowerBall. Many perplexed players on Wednesday took to social media alleging the results has been fixed, while some called for a judicial graft probe. The National Lotteries Commission said the six consecutive number combination was unprecedented and vowed to look into the draw.
Mystery object a rocket
A mysterious object temporarily orbiting Earth is a 54-year-old rocket, not an asteroid after all, astronomers confirmed on Wednesday. Observations by a telescope in Hawaii clinched its identity, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said. The object was classified as an asteroid after its discovery in September, but NASA’s top asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, quickly suspected it was the Centaur upper rocket stage from Surveyor 2, a failed 1966 moon-landing mission. Chodas was proven right after a team led by the University of Arizona’s Vishnu Reddy used an infrared telescope in Hawaii to observe not only the mystery object, but a Centaur from 1971 still orbiting Earth. The data from the images matched. The object formally known as 2020 SO entered a wide, lopsided orbit around Earth last month and, on Tuesday, made its closest approach at 50,476km. It will depart the neighborhood in March, shooting back into its own orbit around the sun. Its next return: 2036.
New monolith appears
A new mystery metal monolith has appeared atop a mountain in California, just a week after a similar structure captured the imagination of the world when it was discovered in the deserts of Utah — before being taken down. The local newspaper in the small town of Atascadero reported that the silvery column had been found atop Pine mountain where dozens of local hikers made the trip to view it — and post their pictures on the Internet. “The three-sided obelisk appeared to be made of stainless steel, 10 feet [305cm] tall and 18 inches [46cm] wide. The object was welded together at each corner, with rivets attaching the side panels to a likely steel frame inside,” the Atascadero News reported. Unlike its Utah sibling — which was firmly mounted in the rocks where it was found — the Atascadero monolith was apparently a little wobbly and the newspaper reported that it might be possible to push it over.
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
Black ticks on their foreheads marking the eye to be operated on, dozens of patients in green overalls wait in line, beneficiaries of a pioneering Indian model that is restoring sight to millions. With a highly efficient assembly line model inspired by McDonald’s, the network of hospitals of the Aravind Eye Care System performs about 500,000 surgeries a year — many for free. More than one-quarter of the world’s population, or about 2.2 billion people, have a vision impairment, and 1 billion of the cases could have been prevented, WHO data shows. There are about 10 million blind people in India, and
‘AVOIDABLE SITUATION’: After being tortured in his home country, a Sri Lankan and his family are at risk of deportation from the UK, despite his academic fellowship A scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the British Home Office. Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, his wife, Sharmila, 42, and their three children, aged 13, nine and five, went to the UK in 2018 after Muhunthan, who is working on thin-film photovoltaic devices used to generate solar power, was given a prestigious Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship. The award allowed him to reside to the UK for two years to research and develop the technology. His wife obtained a job caring for
A top global law firm is no longer representing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in seeking the removal of a Tiananmen memorial from its campus after it came under heavy criticism in the US for helping China purge dissent, the Washington Post reported. Mayer Brown is the latest international company to face pressure over how its actions in China contradict its more progressive statements in the West. The 8m high Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot has stood on HKU’s campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China. It features 50 anguished faces and tortured