Judge drops Twitter suit
A California judge has dismissed a Twitter lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in which the social platform accused the Republican of using his office to retaliate against Twitter for banning the account of former president Donald Trump. Paxton announced an investigation into Twitter and four other major technology firms for what he called “the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President.” Twitter on March 8 responded with the federal lawsuit. In her ruling, Senior District Judge Maxine Chesney of San Francisco ruled that Paxton’s administrative summonses were not “self-executing,” meaning that Twitter was not bound to comply with them absent a court order, so she dismissed the social media firm’s suit.
Internet subsidies begin
Americans could yesterday begin applying for US$50 off their monthly Internet bill as part of an emergency government program to keep people connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The US$3.2 billion program is part of December last year’s US$900 billion pandemic-relief package. The government is increasing spending on broadband as the pandemic meant that millions of Americans did not have access to and could not afford broadband when jobs, school and healthcare were moving online. It is unclear how long the money would last, but it is expected to be several months. Tens of millions of people are eligible.
Bear’s bold antics surprise
Residents of an Arizona border city were left in disbelief by a surprise visit from a bear. The Arizona Game and Fish Department said the bear appeared on Sunday in downtown Douglas. Bolder than your average bear, the animal climbed up two utility poles and even sat on the wires at one point. State wildlife officials, Douglas police, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and Border Patrol closed off Highway 191 and tried to get the bear to leave. Authorities said that the seemingly unfazed bear eventually climbed down and scampered off, sending about two dozen onlookers scattering.
Huge telescope set for space
The world’s largest and most powerful space telescope on Tuesday unfolded its giant golden mirror for the last time on Earth, a key milestone before the US$10 billion observatory is launched in to space later this year. The James Webb Space Telescope’s 6.5m mirror was commanded to fully expand and lock itself into place, NASA said — a final test to ensure it will survive its 1.6 million kilometer journey and is ready to discover the origins of the Universe. “It’s like building a Swiss watch at 40 feet-tall [12m] ... and getting it ready for this journey that we take into the vacuum at minus-240°C, four times further than the moon,” said Scott Willoughby of lead contractor Northrop Grumman.
Basquiat sells for US$93.1m
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting In this Case on Tuesday sold for US$93.1 million in an auction at Christie’s in New York, the second-highest price paid for a work by the late artist. The 1983 painting, which depicts a skull on a red background, sold for US$81 million, but with fees and commissions the final price came to US$93.1 million, well above the estimate of US$50 million. In a sign of Basquiat’s growing status in the art world, the same canvas was sold in November 2002 for just US$999,500, barely more than one-100th of the price paid on Tuesday.
Putin ally indicted
Kiev on Tuesday indicted Viktor Medvedchuk, a top opposition figure who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with treason and attempts to steal natural resources from Russia-annexed Crimea. Along with the indictment, security service agents also searched Medvedchuk’s house. Prosecutor-General Irina Venediktova said that charges under several articles were brought against Medvedchuk’s business partner Taras Kozak. The charges carry potential sentences of up to 15 years. Medvedchuk is accused of transferring oil and gas production licenses from one of the fields in Crimea to Russian authorities. “Medvedchuk, as the organizer of illegal activities, having strong ties with the top leadership of the Russian Federation, began subversive activities against Ukraine, including in the economic sphere,” Venediktova said at a briefing. Medvedchuk is also charged with disclosing secret data on the deployment of Ukrainian military units last year.
Election integrity urged
UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on Tuesday urged voters to uphold the integrity of “all-important national elections” in October, saying that the world will be watching to see that voting is free and transparent without political pressure or interference. Hennis-Plasschaert told the UN Security Council that Iraqis demanded these elections during demonstrations in which some paid with their lives and “now is not the time to let them down.” She said: “For elections to be trusted, disinformation must be combated with facts, and intimidation must be replaced with accountability. The failure to hold credible elections would cause significant, lasting, widespread anger and disillusionment, which in turn could further destabilize the country at a time where strength and unity are desperately needed.”
Suez Canal to be widened
Cairo on Tuesday announced plans to widen and deepen the southern part of the Suez Canal where a hulking vessel ran aground and closed off the crucial waterway in March. The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Lieutenant General Osama Rabie, announced details of the plan in a televised ceremony in the canal’s city of Ismailia. President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and top government officials attended the ceremony. The plan includes widening the canal’s southernmost stretch by about 40m to the east, on the side of the Sinai Peninsula, Rabie said. That segment would also be deepened to 21.9m from the current 20.1m. That part of the canal is 30km long. The plan also includes a 10km extension of a second lane of the waterway that opened in 2015. That would bring the double-lane stretch of the canal to 82km, allowing more vessels to use the canal at the same time.
Tombs found in Sohag
Archeologists have discovered about 250 tombs in the country’s southern province of Sohag, dating back about 4,200 years, the Ministry of Antiquities said on Tuesday. The graves “include some with a well or several burial wells, and other cemeteries with a sloping corridor that ends with a burial room,” the ministry said in a statement. Supreme Council of Antiquities Secretary-General Mostafa Waziri said that one tomb dating back to the Old Kingdom had faint remains of hieroglyphic inscriptions and a chamber for “sacrifices.”
Offering Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines to the public in Singapore for the first time since Friday, several private clinics reported overwhelming demand for the Chinese-made shot, despite already available rival vaccines having far higher efficacy. Singapore has vaccinated almost half its 5.7 million population with at least one dose of the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both have shown efficacy rates of well over 90 percent against symptomatic disease in clinical trials, compared with Sinovac’s 51 percent. Earlier this week, officials in Indonesia said that more than 350 medical workers have caught COVID-19, despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been
CROWDED HOSPITALS: Deaths have begun to pick up as the COVID-19 hospitalization rate exceed 70 percent in 87 cities across the country, government data showed Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases are nearing 2 million, with hospitals starting to fill up as the country grapples with the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus. The government confirmed 13,737 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 1.99 million. Deaths have begun to pick up as the COVID-19 hospitalization rate exceed 70 percent in 87 cities across the country, with 371 people dying from the disease on Sunday — the worst since April, government data showed. “Because this is concentrated in certain regencies and cities, we can still mobilize resources from other areas,” Indonesian National Nurses Association chairman Harif Fadhillah said. “If
A Singaporean woman who starved, assaulted and ultimately killed her domestic worker was yesterday sentenced to 30 years in prison, with the judge describing the case as “among the worst types of culpable homicide.” The abuse inflicted on Burmese national Piang Ngaih Don, 24, was particularly awful and captured on closed-circuit television installed in the family’s home. The domestic worker was stamped on, strangled, choked, battered with brooms and burnt with an iron, court documents showed. The domestic worker died in July 2016, after her employer, Gaiyathiri Murugayan, repeatedly assaulted her over several hours. Gaiyathiri, 41, pleaded guilty in February to 28 charges, including
‘CONSPIRACY’: Three environmentalists of advocacy group Mother Nature were arrested for documenting waste drainage into Phnom Penh’s Tonle Sap River A Cambodian court has charged four environmental advocates with insulting the king and plotting against the government, an official said on Monday, after three of them were arrested for documenting waste run-off into a river. Use of royal defamation laws in Cambodia is a relatively new phenomenon, with the legislation only enacted in 2018. The three environmentalists — Sun Ratha, Ly Chandaravuth and Yim Leanghy of advocacy group Mother Nature — were on Wednesday arrested for documenting the draining of waste into Phnom Penh’s Tonle Sap River. Over the weekend, they were “charged with conspiracy to plot and for insulting the king,” Phnom