Scientists plan peat batteries
Peat, plentiful in bogs in northern Europe, could be used to make sodium-ion batteries cheaply for use in electric vehicles, scientists at an Estonian university said. Sodium-ion batteries, which do not contain relatively costly lithium, cobalt or nickel, are one of the new technologies that battery makers are looking at as they seek alternatives to the dominant lithium-ion model.
Said Bouteflika sentenced
Said Bouteflika, the younger brother of deposed late president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison for “obstructing the course of justice,” the Algeria Press Service reported. The prosecution had called for seven years’ jail for Said Bouteflika, who was charged with other former officials for “abuse of office,” “inciting the falsification of official documents,” “obstruction of justice” and “contempt of court.”
Land borders to reopen
Land borders are to reopen to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the disease. Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the nation, and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel since the earliest days of the pandemic. The new rules are to allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter regardless of the reason for travel starting early next month, when a similar easing of restrictions is set to start for air travel.
Fire evacuations rise
Evacuation orders on Tuesday were expanded for a growing wildfire driven by intense winds that has shut down a southern California highway for more than a day. At least 200 firefighters battled the Alisal fire, which had scorched 31km2 along coastal Santa Barbara County. “The fire is burning in dense chaparral and is being pushed by strong winds and growing at a rapid rate,” a fire update said on Tuesday.
‘Peppa Pig’ park to open
A standalone Peppa Pig theme park at the Legoland Florida Resort is to open on Feb. 24 next year, park officials announced on Tuesday. A one-day ticket for the central Florida park is to be US$34.99 at the gate and US$30.99 online. An annual pass is to cost US$79.99. Based on the preschool animated television series, the new park is near the main Legoland theme park, but will be separately ticketed, a news release said. The Peppa Pig theme park is to feature rides, interactive attractions, themed playscapes, water play areas and live shows, mostly designed for small children and their parents, officials said.
Resistance fighter dies
Hubert Germain, the last of an elite group of decorated French Resistance fighters who helped liberate France from Nazi control in World War II, has died. He was 101. The office of President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said that Germain “embodied a century of freedom.” It did not divulge details of his death. Born in Paris on Aug. 6, 1920, Germain was taking his entry exam for France’s Naval Academy in June 1940, just after the French state capitulated to the Nazis. “Rising from his examination table, he preferred to hand in a blank paper rather than give a blank check to the France that had gone to bed, that had given in to resignation and renunciation,” the office said.
Japan’s Mount Aso erupted yesterday, spewing a giant column of ash thousands of meters into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan, which sent rocks flying in a dramatic blast captured by nearby CCTV cameras. People were warned not to approach the volcano as it ejected hot gas and ash as high as 3,500m, and sent stones tumbling down its grassy slopes. Authorities were checking if any hikers had been trapped or injured, officials told local media, as TV footage showed dozens of vehicles and tour buses
PROMPTING MOCKERY : A cryptic announcement of the pianist’s detention by Beijing police was followed by CCTV commenting on the ‘social morality’ of celebrities Concert pianist Li Yundi (李雲迪), one of China’s most famous musicians, has been detained in Beijing over prostitution allegations, state media said on Thursday, prompting some incredulity and a lot of mockery on Chinese social media. Reuters was unable to immediately reach Li or a representative for comment. Police in the Chinese capital’s Chaoyang District said they had detained a 39-year-old man surnamed Li, along with a 29-year-old female surnamed Chen, after receiving reports from the public of prostitution in a neighborhood they did not identify. Both people confessed to the illegal activity, the police said in a statement on a microblogging platform. The
Sri Lanka has barred a Chinese ship carrying desperately needed organic fertilizer that experts have found to be tainted with harmful bacteria, officials said yesterday. The ban comes as Sri Lanka battles food shortages caused by a currency crisis. Farmers have said that a ban on chemical fertilizer could ruin their crops this year. The office of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the Sri Lankan National Plant Quarantine Services had tested a sample from the unnamed Chinese vessel and “confirmed the presence of organisms, including certain types of harmful bacteria.” The Sri Lankan Commercial High Court has banned any payment to
DEMAND-DRIVEN: The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, said law enforcement has allowed palm oil plantations on UNESCO sites, parks and tiger habitats Almost one-fifth of the land used for Indonesian palm oil plantations is located in the country’s forest conservation areas, despite a law banning such activity, a study by Greenpeace has found. The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, describes a catastrophic failure of law enforcement that has permitted swathes of land — including UNESCO sites, national parks and areas mapped as habitats for orangutans and Sumatran tigers — to be cultivated as palm oil plantations. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, which is used in many everyday products and foods, from shampoo and lipstick to chocolate and frozen pizzas. However,