Newspaper staff denied bail
Four staff members from the now-closed Apple Daily yesterday were denied bail after they were charged with colluding with foreign forces under the Hong Kong National Security Law that has intensified fears over media freedoms. Public broadcaster RTHK said that Chief Magistrate Victor So (蘇惠德) rejected their bail applications because there was not enough evidence to show the defendants “will not commit further acts endangering national security.” The case has been adjourned until Sept. 30.
Olympic director fired
The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee yesterday fired the director of the opening ceremony because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998. Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day ahead of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi had been dismissed. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.” “We deeply apologize for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony,” Hashimoto said.
Nonbinary ID option started
People obtaining a national identity document were able to mark their gender with an “X” beginning on Wednesday, under a presidential decree that puts the nation at the forefront of such issues in Latin America. The option is meant to safeguard gender identity. A decree published in the country’s official gazette stated that an “X” could signify a number of statuses ranging from “nonbinary” or “indeterminate” to “another meaning which can be used to identify a person who does not feel understood under the male/female binary.” President Alberto Fernandez celebrated the decree with a ceremony at the capital’s Bicentennial Museum. “The state should not care about the sex of its citizens,” he said.
Lawmakers seek NSO review
A parliamentary review panel might recommend changes to defense export policy over high-profile allegations that spyware sold by cyberfirm NSO Group has been abused in several countries, a senior lawmaker said yesterday. “We certainly have to look anew at this whole subject of licenses granted by” the Defense Export Controls Agency, Ram Ben-Barak, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Army Radio. Israel has appointed an interministerial team to assess reports published since Sunday following an investigation by 17 media organizations, which said that NSO’s Pegasus software had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights advocates.
Drug firms to pay US$26bn
Prosecutors from several states on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping proposed settlement under which four pharmaceutical companies accused of fueling the country’s opioid epidemic would pay up to US$26 billion to resolve thousands of claims in federal and state courts. McKesson, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen and Johnson & Johnson would pay to resolve about 4,000 claims and finance prevention and treatment programs, New York Attorney General Letitia James said. The settlement is the largest in a multiyear legal effort to hold the industry accountable for the opioids crisis, which has caused more than 500,000 deaths in the past 20 years.
Choosing a full-fledged confrontation with the US due to the loss of a megacontract for submarines for Australia, France is making a risky bet and other nations are not rushing to its defense. After Australia renounced its deal for conventional submarines in favor of US nuclear-powered ones, France took the extraordinary step of pulling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations. Bertrand Badie, an international relations professor at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, said France had put itself in a position where it can only appear to be backing down or losing face once its ambassador returns to the US,
Could delivering COVID-19 immunity directly to the nose — the area of the body via which it is mostly transmitted — help conquer the pandemic? The WHO says clinical trials are under way to evaluate eight nasal spray vaccines that target COVID-19. The most advanced effort so far by China’s Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy has completed phase 2 trials. “When the virus infects someone, it usually gets in through the nose,” said researcher Nathalie Mielcarek, who is working with the Lille Pasteur Institute to develop a nasal spray vaccine against whooping cough. “The
FREE-FOR-ALL CONTEST: Taro Kono’s popular support means that he ‘probably has the edge, but if he has a lead, it’s a very vulnerable one,’ an Asia expert said The campaign to become Japan’s next prime minister began yesterday, with four candidates vying for leadership of the ruling party in an unusually close race. In televised speeches, the candidates set out their priorities, from boosting Japan’s digital prowess to addressing the falling birthrate. Among them are two women hoping to lead a nation that has never had a female prime minister, although both are considered long shots. The race follows Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s shock announcement that he would not run for head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Whoever the party picks in a Sept. 29 vote is to contest
PLANNING TO REOPEN: Amid 1,607 new COVID-19 cases, the country is making a shift away from lockdowns, acknowledging that outbreaks will happen Australia reported 1,607 new coronavirus cases yesterday as states and territories gradually shift from trying to eliminate outbreaks to living with the virus. Victoria, home to about a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, recorded 507 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews said a weeks-long lockdown will end once 70 percent of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are new cases. Andrews said the state might reach that vaccination threshold around Oct. 26. About 43 percent of Victorians have been fully vaccinated, 46 percent nationwide. “We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place