Pageant mixes up winner
The Mrs Sri Lanka beauty pageant descended into chaos on Sunday when a former title holder declared that the winner was ineligible and forcibly removed her crown. A video of the event in Colombo showed 2019 winner Caroline Jurie pulling out hairpins from Pushpika De Silva’s hair, removing the crown and placing it on the runner-up’s head, after informing the audience that the competition did not allow divorcees to enter. However, the prize was returned to De Silva at a news conference on Tuesday, after organizers confirmed that she was not divorced. They have also apologized to her.
Moon’s party defeated
President Moon Jae-in’s ruling Democratic party experienced a devastating defeat in a special election for key mayoral posts, vote counts showed yesterday. In Seoul, conservative People Power contender Oh Se-hoon secured 57.5 percent of the votes, the National Election Commission said, for a landslide victory. In Busan, People Power candidate Park Hyung-joon received 62.7 percent of the votes, soundly beating the Democratic contender. Voter turnout was 58.2 percent in Seoul and 52.7 percent in Busan, for the first time exceeding 50 percent in a snap election for local offices, the commission said.
Aid flows into flood-hit areas
Two navy ships packed with aid yesterday arrived in a cyclone-ravaged section of the archipelago. The vessels docked at Lembata and Adonara islands, with hospital ships also en route to islands in the east. The vessels are packed with food, including rice and noodles, as well as blankets and other materials for some of the region’s more than 20,000 evacuees. “Another ship will arrive later today carrying military personnel who will be deployed to help people in the aftermath of the disaster,” said Kompiang Aribawa, head of a regional naval base.
US pushes back at China
The US on Wednesday warned China against what Manila sees as increasingly aggressive moves, reminding Beijing of Washington’s obligations to its partners. “An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” US Department of State spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC [People’s Republic of China] maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef,” Price added.
NYC renters scoop up units
Even Manhattan’s longest-lingering apartment units are finding takers amid landlord discounts that sent new leases surging. Apartment contracts in Manhattan jumped 89 percent last month from a year earlier to 4,986, a report released yesterday by appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate showed. At the end of last month, there were 19,633 empty units seeking tenants, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said, adding that there were nearly 24,000 at the end of February. Median rent, after factoring in concessions, was US$2,975, but that was still 14 percent less than the median rent in March last year. “With inventory still being so elevated, I don’t see rents posting noticeable gains in the near future,” Miller said. “There’s still too much out there.”
BEIJING BAILOUT: Pyongyang’s economic woes would not lead to famine because China will not let that happen due to its fear of a pro-US unified Korea, experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for another “arduous march” to fight severe economic difficulties, for the first time comparing them to a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. Kim had previously said his nation faces its “worst-ever” situation due to several factors — including the COVID-19 pandemic, US-led sanctions and natural disasters in the summer last year — but it is the first time he has publicly drawn a parallel with the deadly famine. North Korea monitoring groups have not detected any signs of mass starvation or a humanitarian disaster, but Kim’s comments still suggest how seriously he views
The COVID-19 variant discovered in South Africa can “break through” Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study released on Saturday found, although its prevalence in the country is low and the research has not been peer reviewed. The study in Israel compared almost 400 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 days or more after they received one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated people with the disease. It matched age and gender, among other characteristics. The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to make up about 1 percent of all the COVID-19
RARE ADMISSION: A top Chinese expert was the first to publicly address the efficacy of the nation’s vaccines as it aims to inoculate 40 percent of its population by June China is considering mixing different COVID-19 vaccines to improve the relatively low efficacy of its existing options, a top health expert told a conference in Chengdu on Saturday. Authorities have to “consider ways to solve the issue that efficacy rates of existing vaccines are not high,” Chinese media outlet The Paper reported, citing Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Gao Fu (高福). His comments mark the first time a top Chinese expert has publicly alluded to the relatively low efficacy of the country’s vaccines, as China forges ahead in its mass vaccination campaign and exports its jabs around the world. China
A years-long David and Goliath fight which has seen two Australian surfers take on a Chinese-linked company over alleged damage of an idyllic Fijian island has come to its conclusion after a court handed down a guilty verdict against the developers yesterday. The case has been described by Pacific legal experts as a “watershed” moment that tested Fijian environmental laws, as well as the willingness of the nation — which presents itself as a global climate leader — to “walk the walk” on environmental issues. Freesoul, a Chinese-linked company, in 2018 began work on Malolo Island, with plans to build Fiji’s largest