Electrocution kills 11
A freak electrocution killed at least 11 people, including two children, when their vehicle snagged overhead transmission lines and burst into flames as they rode in a religious procession, authorities said yesterday. More than a dozen people were also injured in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur District after the vehicle, a 2.7m-high structure fashioned in the form of a chariot and pulled by worshipers, hit the high-voltage lines. “I hope those injured recover soon,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter as he offered condolences to the bereaved. Some of those injured were hurt in falls following the electric shock and others, who scrambled to escape the flames, when they jumped from the chariot, which carried statues of Hindu deities in addition to the devotees. The chariot, which had been wending its way back to a nearby temple, was left a charred ruin.
Manila pulls ‘Uncharted’
Manila has pulled the plug on all domestic screenings of a Hollywood film called Uncharted over a scene showing a disputed map of the South China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The move comes shortly after Vietnam, another claimant in the South China Sea, also banned the Sony Pictures action movie, which stars Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. It was released in the Philippines on Feb. 23. A two-second frame in the movie contains an image of the so-called “nine-dash line,” which marks China’s claims in the South China Sea. The scene “is contrary to national interest,” the ministry said in a statement. The U-shaped line is a feature used on Chinese maps to illustrate its maritime territory in a region where Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines all have competing claims. Sony’s Columbia Pictures Industries Inc was ordered to stop screening the film and has complied, the ministry said.
Twitter followings fluctuate
Some Twitter users, former president Barack Obama among them, have shed thousands of followers since Elon Musk’s planned purchase of the social media platform was announced, while numbers have soared for others. Musk on Monday struck a deal to buy Twitter for US$44 billion. The news was greeted with enthusiasm by fans of Musk, who calls himself a free speech absolutist, and horror by proponents of online content moderation. Promises to leave the platform were trending under hashtags such as #LeaveTwitter. Obama, the most popular person on Twitter with more than 131 million followers, lost 300,000 of them nearly overnight, news firm NBC reported. However, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene gained nearly 100,000 to her official congressional Twitter account in just 24 hours. Greene praised the acquisition by Musk. “Prepare for blue check mark full scale meltdown after @elonmusk seals the deal and I should get my personal Twitter account restored,” she wrote, referencing the site’s system for verifying users. “It really is something how conservative accounts are getting massive follower increases today,” Representative Matt Gaetz wrote on Tuesday. Twitter told reporters that while it was monitoring the situation, the fluctuations appeared to be organic and largely due to new accounts being created and existing ones deactivated.
CALIBRATED RESPONSE: The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants to assess the situation and the risks, the transport minister said Singapore will strive to keep its borders open and stay connected to the rest of world even if a new variant of COVID-19 emerges, Singaporean Minister for Transport S. Iswaran said on Wednesday. The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants, Iswaran said in an interview with Bloomberg News. When the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 hit, Singapore did not backtrack on its reopening plans, but rather decided to wait and see how things panned out, he said, adding that the response was different versus the Delta outbreak. “We’ve all learned to adapt,” Iswaran said on the sidelines
Administrators at an elite Beijing university have backed down from plans to further tighten restrictions on students as part of China’s “zero COVID-19” strategy after a weekend protest at the school, students said on Tuesday. Graduate students at Peking University staged the protest on Sunday over the school’s decision to erect a sheet-metal wall to keep them further sequestered on campus, while allowing faculty to come and go freely. Discontent had already been simmering over regulations prohibiting them from ordering in food or having visitors, and daily COVID-19 testing. A citywide lockdown of Shanghai and expanded restrictions in Beijing in the past few
‘EATING UP SPRING’: Temperatures are 10oC to 15oC above the seasonal average and a city northwest of Madrid experienced its first ‘tropical’ May night on Friday Parts of Spain are experiencing their hottest May since records began, as a mass of hot, dry air blows in from Africa, bringing with it dusty skies and temperatures of more than 40°C. Spain’s state meteorological agency, Aemet, has warned of a weekend heat wave of an “extraordinary intensity,” with temperatures between 10°C and 15°C above the seasonal average and more akin to high summer than mid-May. “The early hours of 21 May have been extraordinarily hot for the time of year across a good part of the center and south of the peninsula,” Aemet said on Saturday. “In many places the
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Thousands of people were forcibly removed from their homes in the dead of night and all mentions of the incident were scrubbed from the Internet Thousands of COVID-19-negative Beijing residents were forcibly relocated to quarantine hotels overnight due to a handful of infections, as the Chinese capital begins to take more extreme control measures resembling virus-hit Shanghai. Beijing has been battling its worst outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 1,300 since late last month, leading city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to be closed indefinitely. China’s strategy to achieve zero COVID-19 cases includes strict border closures, lengthy quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns. More than 13,000 residents of the locked-down Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were