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.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to
Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Thursday resigned following a protest over a hospital’s treatment of a new mother who tested positive for COVID-19. Khurelsukh, whose Mongolian People’s Party holds a strong majority in the parliament known as the State Great Khural, stepped down after accusing Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of the Democratic Party of orchestrating a political crisis. A small protest broke out in the capital, Ulan Bator, on Wednesday after TV footage appeared of a woman who had just given birth being escorted in slippers and a thin robe from the maternity ward to a special wing for COVID-19 patients