Saturday 23 February 2019

In brief: Tensions rise in Far East as protesters take to streets in China and Japan

As many as 3,000 flag-waving Japanese demonstrators marched through Tokyo to protest at China's handling of a ship collision in contested waters last month, highlighting rising tensions between Asia's largest economies.

Japan's former air force chief Toshio Tamogami led the procession to the Chinese embassy. The gathering in Japan was matched by a rival protest in Chengdu in Sichuan Province, where a similar number of people chanted slogans such as "fight Japan", Xinhua reported.

North Korea threatens military surge

North Korea threatened a "1,000-fold" military build-up yesterday as the US ruled out lifting sanctions to try to coax Pyongyang into resuming talks over its nuclear weapons programmes, state-run media reported.

North Korea previously quit the nuclear disarmament talks and tested an atomic device that drew tightened UN sanctions. But the North has recently expressed willingness to rejoin the negotiations, which include the US, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

Aid agency urges UK worker's release

Save the Children yesterday called for the immediate release of a Briton abducted in Somalia. The aid agency confirmed a Somali national who was also taken from a guesthouse compound in Adado, a small town close to the border with Ethiopia, had been released unharmed.

A spokeswoman said: "The other man abducted at the same time, a British national who was born in Zimbabwe, remains captive. Save the Children is extremely concerned for his welfare and is calling for his immediate release."

Eight die, 160 flee floods in Russia

Authorities say floods in southern Russia have killed eight people and forced the evacuation of at least 160 others. Two days of heavy rains in the Krasnodar region caused a mountain river to burst its banks, sending torrents of water down the mountains on to villages.

Emergency ministry spokesman Roman Kravchenko said three of the eight killed were elderly people trapped in their houses. Two more were found dead in a sewer.

Eight killed in Mexican chopper crash

MEXICAN officials have said that a helicopter carrying oil workers has crashed in the country's south-east, killing all eight on board. Veracruz state civil protection chief Silvia Dominguez said the aircraft was travelling from Ciudad de Carmen in Campeche state toward Minatitlan, Veracruz.

On board were six mechanics employed by Compania Mexicana de Exploracion SA, a contractor for state oil company Pemex. Two pilots also died.

Carrilho hints that he MaBy smitten

Wacky Wagner Carrilho, who is favourite to be booted off the X Factor tonight, last night tried to emulate Welsh hero Sir Tom Jones.

Dannii Minogue said she could not understand his rendition of 'Just Help Yourself', but Simon Cowell said: "Like I said, embrace, enjoy the madness." He then asked Carrilho whether he was romantically involved with fellow contestant Mary Byrne. "Mary is a wonderful soul, such a noble woman of a great character," he said. Cowell replied: "I'll take that as a yes."

Jailed US businessman freed in Iran

Iran yesterday set free an American businessman jailed in Tehran for more than two years on suspicion on ties to an allegedly violent opposition group. Reza Taghavi, 71, hadn't been charged with a crime and denied knowingly supporting the organisation, known as Tondar.

"He admitted to nothing and he continues to maintain his innocence," his lawyer, Pierre Prosper said.

Iran had accused Mr Taghavi of passing $200 in cash to an Iranian man tied to Tondar. Mr Taghavi had received the money from a friend in California with instructions to pass the cash to an Iranian, according to Mr Prosper.

Fractal geometry pioneer dies at 85

Benoit Mandelbrot, a well-known mathematician, has died. He was 85. His wife, Aliette, says he died Thursday of pancreatic cancer. He lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Polish-born French mathematician founded the field of fractal geometry.

Red celery debuts on US dinner plates

Is America ready for red celery? A Florida produce company thinks so and has bet consumers will bite on the colourful crunch of its new product.

Red celery will hit supermarkets on December 1, said Dan Duda, president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, which was set to unveil the new celery at a produce industry trade show in Orlando, Florida, yesterday.

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