China enters Taiwan air defense zone a day after military budget boost

China enters Taiwan air defense zone a day after military budget boost
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, center, speaks with military personnel near aircraft parked on a highway in Jiadong, Taiwan, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 18 September 2021

China enters Taiwan air defense zone a day after military budget boost

China enters Taiwan air defense zone a day after military budget boost
  • Speaking on Friday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government had to take the threat from China seriously

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s air force scrambled on Friday to warn away 10 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defense zone, Taiwan’s defense ministry said, the day after the island announced a $9 billion boost to military spending to counter the threat from China.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
The latest Chinese mission involved 6 J-16 and 2 J-11 fighters plus one anti-submarine and one reconnaissance aircraft, the Taiwan ministry said.
Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.
The Chinese fighters flew in an area close to the Pratas, while the anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft flew into the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines, according to a map that the ministry issued.
Warships, early warning aircraft and bombers were deployed on Friday in patrols and drills aimed at improving the joint combat capabilities of China’s military in the area, a spokesman for China’s Eastern Theater Command said in a statement on Saturday.
The incident came a day after Taiwan proposed boosting military spending by $8.7 billion over the next five years, including on new missiles, warning of an urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of a “severe threat” from China.
The Chinese patrols and drills also coincided a transit by a US destroyer in the Taiwan Strait on Friday, which the US Navy called a “routine” passage through international waters.
The Eastern Theater Command, which overseas Chinese military in eastern China, said on Saturday in a separate statement that the USS Barry was monitored on its entire course.
Speaking on Friday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government had to take the threat from China seriously.
“The Chinese Communists plot against us constantly,” he said.
Taiwan’s defense spending “is based on safeguarding national sovereignty, national security, and national security. We must not relax. We must have the best preparations so that no war will occur,” he added.
China’s government, for its part, criticized Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Friday for comments this week in which he said Taiwan was a “sea fortress” blocking China’s expansion into the Pacific.
Wu’s “aim is to deceive public opinion, to rope in and collude with anti-China foreign forces,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement.


One dead, two missing after building collapses in France

One dead, two missing after building collapses in France
Updated 56 min 56 sec ago

One dead, two missing after building collapses in France

One dead, two missing after building collapses in France
  • Two adjacent buildings were also heavily damaged in the blast that occurred in the port at Sanary

SANARY-SUR-MER,France: French rescue workers on Tuesday recovered a man’s body from the rubble of a residential building destroyed overnight in a suspected gas explosion, and were scrambling to find two other people still missing after extracting a woman and a baby alive.
The woman and baby as well as three others were injured in the blast in the Mediterranean coastal city of Sanary-sur-Mer, which was heard from as far as eight kilometers (five miles) away.
“It’s very likely that the victim is the father of the baby,” Houda Vernhet, director of the government’s regional authority for the Var region, told AFP.
He was unconscious when located and declared dead after rescue workers spent more than two hours removing him from the unsteady wreckage of the three-story building.
The two people still missing “are a mother, an elderly woman, and her son” who lived on the ground floor, Vernhet said.
“For now, we haven’t yet found any signs of life from the rubble, but we didn’t hear the baby right away, either,” said Col. Eric Grohin, director of the fire service for the Var department.
Authorities said rescue workers smelled gas when they arrived at the site.
“The causes aren’t known for now. There was smell of gas, but we can’t say anything more while the police inquiry is underway,” the regional authorities said in a statement.
Two adjacent buildings were also heavily damaged in the blast that occurred in the port at Sanary, a city of around 15,000 people southeast of Marseille.


Hedge fund founder Steinhardt will return looted antiquities

Hedge fund founder Steinhardt will return looted antiquities
Updated 18 min 32 sec ago

Hedge fund founder Steinhardt will return looted antiquities

Hedge fund founder Steinhardt will return looted antiquities
  • Among the billionaire's collection were items from Egypt, Turkey and Iraq

NEW YORK: Billionaire hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt has agreed to turn over $70 million worth of stolen antiquities and will be subject to an unprecedented lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities, the Manhattan district attorney announced Monday.
In return, Steinhardt, a philanthropist who is chair of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and co-founder of Birthright Israel, an organization that sends young Jews on free trips to Israel, will not face criminal charges for acquiring pieces that were illegally smuggled out of 11 countries including Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Syria and Turkey, prosecutors said.
“For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a news release. “His pursuit of ‘new’ additions to showcase and sell knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as reflected in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to expand his collection."
Steinhardt said in a prepared statement issued by his attorneys that he was "pleased that the District Attorney’s years-long investigation has concluded without any charges, and that items wrongfully taken by others will be returned to their native countries.”
Attorneys Andrew J. Levander and Theodore V. Wells Jr. said that many of the dealers from whom Steinhardt bought the items “made specific representations as to the dealers’ lawful title to the items, and to their alleged provenance.”
According to prosecutors, while complaining about a subpoena requesting documentation for an antiquity in May 2017, Steinhardt pointed to a small chest from Greece and said to an investigator, “You see this piece? There’s no provenance for it. If I see a piece and I like it, then I buy it.”
Many of the pieces Steinhardt acquired were removed from their countries of origin during times of war or civil unrest, prosecutors said.
Steinhardt, who turns 81 on Tuesday, founded the hedge fund Steinhardt Partners in 1967 and closed it in 1995. He came out of retirement in 2004 to head Wisdom Tree Investments.
New York University named its Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development after Steinhardt in recognition of two $10 million donations.
Manhattan prosecutors began investigating Steinhardt's collection of ancient artifacts in 2017 and raided his office and his Manhattan home in 2018, seizing several artworks that investigators said had been looted.
The items surrendered by Steinhardt include a stag’s head in the form of a ceremonial vessel for libations, dating from to 400 B.C., which prosecutors say appeared without provenance on the international market after rampant looting in Milas, Turkey. The stag's head is valued at $3.5 million, the district attorney said.
There was also the chest for human remains from the Greek Island of Crete, called a larnax and dating from around 1300 B.C., which prosecutors said was purchased from a known antiquities trafficker.


Whistleblower: As Afghanistan fell, UK abandoned supporters

Whistleblower: As Afghanistan fell, UK abandoned supporters
Updated 07 December 2021

Whistleblower: As Afghanistan fell, UK abandoned supporters

Whistleblower: As Afghanistan fell, UK abandoned supporters
  • Thousands of pleas for help via email were unread between Aug. 21 and Aug. 25
  • ‘These emails were desperate and urgent. I was struck by many titles including phrases such as ‘please save my children’

LONDON: Britain’s Foreign Office abandoned many of the nation’s allies in Afghanistan and left them to the mercy of the Taliban during the fall of the capital, Kabul, because of a dysfunctional and arbitrary evacuation effort, a whistleblower alleged Tuesday.
In devastating evidence to a parliamentary committee, Raphael Marshall said thousands of pleas for help via email were unread between Aug. 21 and Aug. 25. The former Foreign Office employee estimated that only 5 percent of Afghan nationals who applied to flee under one UK program received help. At one point, he was the only person monitoring the inbox.
“There were usually over 5,000 unread emails in the inbox at any given moment, including many unread emails dating from early in August,” he wrote to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. “These emails were desperate and urgent. I was struck by many titles including phrases such as ‘please save my children’.”
Former Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was moved from the Foreign Office to become Justice Secretary after his handling of the crisis, defended his actions.
“Some of the criticism seems rather dislocated from the facts on the ground, the operational pressures that with the takeover of the Taliban, unexpected around the world...” he told the BBC. “I do think that not enough recognition has been given to quite how difficult it was.”
The Taliban stormed across Afghanistan in late summer, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away. The Taliban took over Kabul on Aug. 15.
Many who had worked for Western powers or the government worried that the country could descend into chaos or the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks against them.
Many also feared the Taliban would reimpose the harsh interpretation of Islamic law that they relied on when they ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. At the time, women had to wear the all-encompassing burqa and be accompanied by a male relative whenever they went outside. The Taliban banned music, cut off the hands of thieves and stoned adulterers.


Australians to create ‘black box’ to hold world accountable for climate crisis

Australians to create ‘black box’ to hold world accountable for climate crisis
Updated 07 December 2021

Australians to create ‘black box’ to hold world accountable for climate crisis

Australians to create ‘black box’ to hold world accountable for climate crisis

MELBOURNE: Australian scientists and artists are looking to hold the world accountable for the Earth’s future by creating an “indestructible” storage device to record humanity’s handling of the climate change crisis.
Inspired by an aeroplane’s flight recorder, the “Earth’s Black Box” will be built in 2022 on the remote west coast of Tasmania, an area deemed geographically and politically stable, its creators, ranging from marketing communications company Clemenger BBDO to the University of Tasmania, said in a statement.
It comes after UN climate talks in Glasgow ended last month with a deal that kept alive hopes of capping global warming at 1.5 Celsius.
“Earth Black Box is a structure and device that will record every step that humanity takes toward or away from the impending climate catastrophe,” said Jim Curtis, the executive creative director at Clemenger BBDO, which came up with the idea for the black box.
He said not only would the box provide the world with a wealth of data on climate change, the information recorded would help hold leaders accountable and leave lessons for future generations.
“If the worst is to happen and as a civilization we crash as a result of climate change, this indestructible box will be there and will record every detail of that,” Curtis said.
“So whoever’s left, or whoever finds it afterwards, learns from our mistakes.”
The 10-meter-long steel monolith was designed to withstand natural disasters and will be powered by solar and thermal energy.
The device, which will be connected to the Internet, will use an algorithm to regularly scrape data relating to climate change using a set of 500 metrics and will store it automatically.
It will be filled with storage drives containing climate-change related data such as average temperatures and global energy consumption.


Kenyan ‘rogue’ policeman kills five in rampage – police

Kenyan ‘rogue’ policeman kills five in rampage – police
Updated 07 December 2021

Kenyan ‘rogue’ policeman kills five in rampage – police

Kenyan ‘rogue’ policeman kills five in rampage – police
  • Three of the men who were killed were mourners who had just attended preparations for a funeral

NAIROBI: A Kenyan police officer shot dead five people in a rampage through the capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday and then shot and killed himself, the police Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said.
The officer first shot and killed his wife at their home before setting off with his service-issued AK-47 rifle to shoot dead another four people, the directorate said on its Twitter account, describing the shooter as a “rogue officer.”
Three of the men who were killed were mourners who had just attended preparations for a funeral, the DCI said.
“After killing the three, the cop then turned his rifle at two boda boda (motorcycle) riders, one of whom lost his life while undergoing treatment,” police said.
Francis Wahome, the officer in charge of Nairobi’s Dagoretti area, had earlier confirmed the incident and put the number of people the officer killed at six. A police report had also put the number of dead at six.
Angry residents near where the incident took place later set fire to tires on a road in a protest against the violence, a Reuters witness said.
In a 2010 incident, a police officer in Siakago town, 120km northeast of Nairobi, shot 10 people dead including two of his colleagues.
A police spokesman said at the time the officer tried to shoot himself but had run out of ammunition, forcing him to surrender to police.