Courts issued prison terms — some up to 18 years — for another 74 people involved in protests last year against the government, officials said on Wednesday. Judicial authorities in Havana, Santiago and Matanzas announced sentences for 74 defendants accused of sedition, public disorder and other crimes related to the protests. Two defendants were acquitted. Of those who were sentenced, 56 got between 10 and 18 years behind bars, while the other 18 — including 12 teenagers — had their sentences commuted to “correctional labor.” Those convicted “attacked the constitutional order and stability of our socialist state,” the prosecutors’ office said. Mass protests broke out across Cuba on July 11 and 12 last year, with demonstrators demanding freedom amid economic strife, shortages of food and medicine, and growing anger at the government.
Judge faces investigation
The country’s judicial watchdog agency on Tuesday said that it is investigating a judge who stopped an 11-year-old rape victim from getting an abortion — a procedure that advocates insist is allowed in the South American nation for rape cases at any stage of a pregnancy. Santa Catarina State Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer was filmed at a hearing on May 9 asking the child whether she understood how pregnancies happen, referring to her rapist as “the father of the baby,” asking her to “hold on a little more” and even suggesting a name should be picked. The girl said that she did not want to give birth. The case, reported by The Intercept Brasil Web site last week, prompted associations of magistrates and human rights groups to request that the National Council of Justice remove Zimmer from her post.
First lady title changed
The new government is doing away with the office of the first lady in an effort to transform a role that the president and his partner have characterized as archaic. The first lady is to be known as the “sociocultural coordinator of the republic’s presidency,” the government said in a news release on Wednesday. The administration of President Gabriel Boric got to that title after having to backtrack on an effort to give the role a makeover by declaring the office once known as “the first lady’s Cabinet” would be changed to “Irina Karamanos’ Cabinet,” using the name of the president’s partner. The move, which became public on Tuesday, drew accusations from many members of the opposition that the government was trying to personalize an institutional role in the government. Camila Vallejo, a spokeswoman for the state, said that the change amounted to an “administrative error” and the reference to “Irina Karamanos’ Cabinet” was removed from the executive’s Web site on Wednesday.
Lightning kills woman
A woman and two dogs were killed on Wednesday by a lightning strike as thunderstorms pounded southern California, authorities said. The fatal lightning strike was reported at 8:50am near the San Gabriel River in Pico Rivera, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sergeant Jonathan Branham said. “It was a female Hispanic adult who had been struck by lightning and did not survive her injuries,” he said. “She was walking two dogs and the dogs were also deceased.” The woman was later identified as Antonia Mendoza Chavez, 52.
Firefighters yesterday battled a wildfire in the country’s southwest from land and air, as hopes that the blazes were contained fizzled after they spread again due to high temperatures and windy conditions. Scenes of burning woodland near the Aegean coastal resort of Marmaris sparked fears of a repeat of last year’s fires that devastated tens of thousands of hectares across the region. The cause of the fire, which began at about 8pm on Tuesday is not clear. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Vahit Kirisci said that about 150 people from 51 houses were evacuated as a precaution.
Polio virus found in sewage
Health officials on Wednesday warned parents to ensure their children have been vaccinated against polio after the virus that causes the disease was found in London sewage samples in the past few months. The Health Security Agency said it believes the virus was “vaccine-derived,” meaning it came from someone who received the live polio vaccine abroad. That person would then have passed the virus to closely linked individuals in London, who shed the virus into their feces. Authorities said that the risk to the public is “extremely low.”
City data lost after night out
A city has been left with more than a headache after yesterday admitting that a contractor lost a USB containing personal data on all 460,000 residents during a night out. The western city of Amagasaki said that a private contractor, whose name has not been disclosed, was carrying the memory stick while out for drinks after work on Tuesday evening, when the person, who was working on a COVID-19 pandemic relief program, lost a bag containing the USB. “We deeply regret that we have profoundly harmed the public’s trust in the administration of the city,” an Amagasaki official told a news conference. The encrypted information was put on the USB to transfer it to a call center in Osaka. It included the names, genders, addresses, birthdays and other personal information of all the city’s residents, as well as tax data and bank account information on some locals, the city said.
BJP picks tribal candidate
A woman representing the nation’s tribal community is likely to be the country’s next president after the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) picked Draupadi Murmu as its candidate. The presidency is a ceremonial post and the election of Murmu, 64, is a formality with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in a strong position to galvanize support for her among lawmakers representing parliament and state legislatures. The BJP chose Murmu at the party’s parliamentary board meeting on Tuesday chaired by Modi. Party president J.P. Nadda told reporters that they felt the next president should be a female tribal candidate. The vote is to be held on July 18.
Vienna tops livable city list
Vienna has made a comeback as the world’s most livable city, an annual report published yesterday in The Economist showed. The Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, was not included this year after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24, while Russian cities Moscow and St Petersburg fell in the rankings over “censorship” and the effects of Western sanctions. Vienna snatched the top spot from Auckland, which dropped to 34th place due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the report said. Europe boasted six out of the top 10 cities.
FEELING THREATENED: The first military commission under Kim Jong-un’s leadership to last longer than a day is a sign of a growing escalatory doctrine, an analyst said North Korea discussed assigning additional duties to its frontline army units at a key military meeting, state media said yesterday, suggesting that the country might deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting South Korea along the rivals’ tense border. The discussion comes as South Korean officials said North Korea has finished preparations for its first nuclear test in five years, as part of possible efforts to build a warhead to be mounted on short-range weapons capable of hitting targets in South Korea. During an ongoing meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and
TRADE TALK: Xiao Qian said that Australia had fired the ‘first shot’ in deteriorating trade relations with China, but improvements were possible if Canberra takes action China’s new ambassador to Australia chided protesters who heckled him yesterday during a speech about the future of relations between the two countries. Xiao Qian (肖千), who has only been in the role since January, had just begun his speech at the University of Technology Sydney when the first protesters interjected, calling for freedom for Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. The ambassador was repeatedly interrupted by sign-wielding protesters, some criticizing China’s treatment of the Uighur people as well as the university for inviting Xiao to speak. “People who are coming again and again to interrupt the process, that’s not expression of freedom of
China’s COVID-19 outbreak is shifting to its south coast, with a flareup in Shenzhen triggering mass testing and a lockdown of some neighborhoods, while Macau — an hour’s drive away — is racing to stop its first outbreak in eight months. The new cases come as China’s two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, look to be subduing the virus after months of strict curbs and repeated testing. Shanghai yesterday reported nine local cases, while Beijing reported five. Nationwide, China yesterday reported 34 new COVID-19 infections. Yet new clusters continue to emerge, prompting action from local officials. Borders are increasingly under pressure, with
New Zealand stargazers were left puzzled and awed by strange, spiraling light formations in the night sky on Sunday night. At about 7:25pm, Alasdair Burns, a stargazing guide on Stewart Island, also called Rakiura, received a text from a friend saying to go outside and look at the sky. He went out and saw a huge, blue spiral of light amid the darkness. “It looked like an enormous spiral galaxy, just hanging there in the sky,” Burns said. “Quite an eerie feeling.” “We quickly banged on the doors of all our neighbors to get them out as well. And so there were