english news

Fukushima: Japan approves releasing wastewater into ocean

japan

Japan has approved a plan to release more than one million tonnes of contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. The water will be treated and diluted so radiation levels are below those set for drinking water. But the local fishing industry has strongly opposed the move, as have China and South Korea. Tokyo says work to release water used to cool nuclear fuel will begin in about two years. The final approval comes after years of debate and is expected to take decades to complete. Reactor buildings at the Fukushima power plant were damaged by hydrogen explosions caused by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The tsunami knocked out cooling systems to the reactors, three of which melted down.(BBC)…[+]

Daunte Wright shooting: Dozens arrested in fresh unrest in Minnesota

unrest

About 40 people were arrested just north of Minneapolis in a second night of unrest over the police shooting of a black man. Protesters in the city of Brooklyn Center defied a curfew and threw objects at police, who responded with flash grenades and tear gas. Police said Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and died after an officer mistook her gun for a Taser during a traffic stop. The shooting came as the high-profile George Floyd murder trial continues. In a courtroom just a few miles away, ex-police officer Derek Chauvin is charged with murdering the African American man in May last year. Derek Chauvin’s defence team on Monday asked for jury members to be sequestered – separated from other people – as they might be swayed by the latest events. The judge denied the request.(BBC)…[+]

Iran Natanz nuclear site suffered major damage, official says

iran

Thousands of machines used to refine nuclear material were destroyed or damaged in an attack at a key site on Sunday, an Iranian official has said. Alireza Zakani, head of the Iranian parliament’s Research Centre, said the incident had “eliminated” Iran’s ability to carry out the process. The attack took place in a facility up to 50m (165ft) underground, another official said. Iran has blamed Israel for what it called an act of “nuclear terrorism”. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any involvement, but Israel public radio cited intelligence sources as saying it was a Mossad cyber-operation.(BBC)…[+]

Police officer who pepper-sprayed US Army soldier fired

police

A police officer in Virginia has been fired after pointing a gun at, and pepper spraying, a black US army lieutenant during a traffic stop. Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario is wearing his uniform in bodycam footage of the incident, filmed in December. “I’m honestly afraid to get out,” he tells two police officers. “Yeah, you should be,” an officer says. Police said he was stopped for failing to display number plates but temporary plates are visible in the video. Lt Nazario filed a lawsuit against the two officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, this week. In a statement, officials in the town of Windsor in Virginia said the incident had resulted in “disciplinary action, and department-wide requirements for additional training were implemented beginning in January and continue up to the present”. “Since that time, Officer Gutierrez was also terminated from his employment,” it added.(BBC)…[+]

St Vincent volcano: Eruptions likely in coming days, experts warn

volc

The Caribbean island of St Vincent is likely to see further volcanic eruptions and ash fall over the coming days, experts have warned. The La Soufrière volcano first erupted on Friday, blanketing the island in a layer of ash and forcing more than 16,000 people to evacuate their homes. Smaller explosions continued over the weekend, causing power cuts and disrupting water supplies. Emergency officials have described the landscape as a “battle zone”. “The volcano continues to erupt explosively with the production of copious amounts of ash,” the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center said. “Explosions and accompanying ash fall, of similar or larger magnitude, are likely to continue to occur over the next few days impacting St Vincent and neighbouring islands,” it warned. June Shipley, who is visiting her family on the island, told the BBC there were widespread fears a larger eruption could be imminent. “We do hear the rumblings of the volcano and we do see the smoke,” she said.(BBC)…[+]

 

France moves to ban short-haul domestic flights

france

French lawmakers have moved to ban short-haul internal flights where train alternatives exist, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions. Over the weekend, lawmakers voted in favour of a bill to end routes where the same journey could be made by train in under two-and-a-half hours. Connecting flights will not be affected, however.

The planned measures will face a further vote in the Senate before becoming law. Airlines around the world have been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with website Flightradar24 reporting that the number of flights last year were down almost 42% from 2019. The measures could affect travel between Paris and cities including Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux. But the French government had faced calls to introduce even stricter rules on domestic flights.

France’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate, which was created by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 and included 150 members of the public, had proposed scrapping plane journeys where train journeys of under four hours existed.(BBC)…[+]

New Christ statue in Brazil’s Encantado to be taller than Rio’s

new brazil statue

A new statue of Christ being built in Brazil will be taller than the famous Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Christ the Protector in the southern city of Encantado will be 43m (140 ft) high with its pedestal, making it the world’s third tallest Jesus statue. A head and outstretched arms were added to the structure last week, which was begun in 2019. The idea came from local politician Adroaldo Conzatti, who died in March with Covid-19.

The $350,000 (£255,000) project is expected to be completed later in the year, the Association of the Friends of Christ group which is organising it says. It is being funded by donations from individuals and companies, the association adds. The statue is 36m from hand to hand. An internal lift will take tourists to a viewpoint in the chest region, 40m up.(BBC)…[+]

Markus Söder joins German chancellor race

markus

The race to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel is heating up after both leaders of the two parties that make up her conservative alliance put themselves forwards. Mrs Merkel, leader since 2005, is set to stand down at September’s election. Markus Söder, who is Bavaria’s premier, said on Sunday he was prepared to be the candidate if he had the support of the conservatives elsewhere in Germany. His rival is Armin Laschet who had already said he would stand. Mr Laschet is the recently elected leader of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and current premier of Germany’s most populous state. Mr Söder heads the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU.(BBC)…[+]

Jordan royal family pictured together following ‘royal rift’

jordan royal

Jordan’s King Abdullah and his half-brother Prince Hamzah have appeared in public for the first time since claims of a royal rift. Prince Hamzah last week said he had been put under house arrest as part of a crackdown on critics. He was accused of plotting to destabilise the kingdom, which he has denied. King Abdullah expressed his “shock” at the alleged plot in a statement. The pair were seen attending a ceremony together on Sunday. They joined other members of the royal family commemorating the 100th anniversary of Jordan’s independence. Images posted to social media show members of the royal family laying wreaths at the memorial to the unknown soldier. It is the first time Prince Hamzah has been seen since the rift erupted a week ago.(BBC)…[+]

Brazil has more than 4,000 deaths in 24 hours for first time

brazil

Brazil has recorded more than 4,000 Covid-related deaths in 24 hours for the first time, as a more contagious variant fuels a surge in cases. Hospitals are overcrowded, with people dying as they wait for treatment in some cities, and the health system is on the brink of collapse in many areas. The country’s total death toll is now almost 337,000, second only to the US. But President Jair Bolsonaro continues to oppose any lockdown measures to curb the outbreak. He argues that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus itself, and has tried to reverse some of the restrictions imposed by local authorities in the courts.Speaking to supporters outside the presidential residence on Tuesday, he criticised quarantine measures and suggested without evidence that they were linked to obesity and depression. He did not comment on the 4,195 deaths recorded in the previous 24 hours.(BBC)…[+]