Tunnel rescuers change tack
Rescuers are considering opening a vertical shaft to free 41 men trapped in a collapsed tunnel after drilling at the site was paused over fears of further cave-ins and as efforts stretched into a second week. Excavators have been removing earth, concrete and rubble from the under-construction tunnel in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand since Nov. 12 after a portion of the tunnel the workers were in collapsed. Bhaskar Khulbe, a senior government official involved in the rescue operations, said that teams were considering digging an entirely new shaft, including from above. “We are exploring all options to save the workers,” Khulbe said late on Saturday. He said rescuers were looking at a time frame of “a maximum of four to five days” to free the men, without giving further details.
Jailed rapper freed on bail
Authorities have released on bail a popular rapper jailed for more than a year over supporting nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death in custody, local media have reported. Toomaj Salehi, 32, was arrested in October last year after backing the wave of demonstrations that erupted a month earlier, triggered by the death of 22-year-old Amini, who had been taken into custody over an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women. In July, Salehi was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of “corruption on Earth” — one of the country’s most serious offenses, which carries a maximum penalty of death. The musician’s lawyer, Amir Raisian, told daily Shargh late on Saturday that upon appeal, the Supreme Court had found “flaws in the initial sentence” and ordered that Salehi be “released from prison today on bail.”
Century-overdue book found
A library book that is more than a century overdue was finally returned in St Paul, Minnesota. The tome, Famous Composers, turned up while someone was sorting through a relative’s belongings. The St Paul Public Library checkout slip shows it was last borrowed in 1919, Minnesota Public Radio reported. St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter joked in a tweet on Saturday that there would be no fine. The library, like many across the country, stopped charging late fees in 2019. St Paul Public Library digital library coordinator John Larson said he doubted the book would go back into circulation because of its delicate condition, but expected the library to hang onto it. “It has reached a point where it’s not just an old book, it’s an artifact. It has a little bit of history to it,” he said. Larson said in his 25 years working for the library it was the oldest book he ever saw returned.
Swift delays show after death
American superstar Taylor Swift on Saturday postponed a show in Rio de Janeiro due to extreme heat, after a fan died at the singer’s concert the previous night. The postponement came after the heat index in the city had risen to as high as 59°C on Friday, when a 23-year-old fan in the crowd of 60,000 died during the first “Eras Tour” show in the country. “The safety and well-being of my fans, fellow performers and crew has to and always will come first,” she wrote on Instagram in announcing the postponement. The concert was moved to today. “It’s with a shattered heart that I say we lost a fan earlier tonight,” Swift said in a post on Instagram to her millions of followers earlier Saturday. “I can’t even tell you how devastated I am by this.”
Apps and Web sites that use artificial intelligence (AI) to undress women in photos are soaring in popularity, researchers said. In September alone, 24 million people visited undressing Web sites, the social network analysis company Graphika said. Many of these undressing, or “nudify,” services use popular social networks for marketing, Graphika said. For instance, since the beginning of this year, the number of links advertising undressing apps increased more than 2,400 percent on social media, including on X and Reddit, the researchers said. The services use AI to recreate an image so that the person is nude. Many of the services only
IN ABSOLUTE CONTROL: About 80 percent of Russians approve of Putin, a survey shows, but that might be misleading due to his intolerance to criticism Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday moved to prolong his repressive and unyielding grip on Russia for at least another six years, announcing his candidacy in the presidential election in March that he is all but certain to win. Putin still commands wide support after nearly a quarter-century in power, despite starting an immensely costly war in Ukraine that has taken thousands of his people’s lives, provoked repeated attacks inside Russia — including one on the Kremlin itself — and corroded its aura of invincibility. A short-lived rebellion in June by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin raised widespread speculation that Putin could be
JUMPING BAIL: The democracy advocate said made the decision after ‘considering the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, my physical and mental health’ Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow (周庭), who was jailed over her role in massive 2019 protests, on Sunday said she had moved to Canada and would not return to meet her bail conditions. Chow was one of the best-known young faces of the 2012, 2014 and 2019 protest movements against Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. She spent about seven months behind bars for her role in a protest outside Hong Kong police headquarters in 2019, when huge crowds rallied week after week in the most serious challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover. On Sunday
TAKING STOCK: It was not yet clear how damaging the espionage, dating to 1981, has been, as authorities are still assessing the situation, the State Department said A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over a 40-year span, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday, detailing a shock betrayal by a suspect who called the US “the enemy.” US Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the allegations against Victor Manuel Rocha, a onetime member of the White House’s National Security Council now accused of using his positions within the government to support Cuba’s “clandestine intelligence-gathering mission” against the US. The charges against Rocha, 73, expose “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign