Global Headlines to Start Your Day
(See below: Today’s Big Stories)
1. Philippines: Tourism threatening white sand beaches, coral reefs in Asia
BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines—The white sand beaches make Boracay island one of the world’s favorite tourist destinations.
However, over-development and a lack of social infrastructure are threatening to swallow up this valuable tourist asset.
The problem is clearly evident every day as tourists, who were at one point relaxing on deck chairs set out on the beach, have to hike up their shorts and dresses as tides come rolling in right up to where their hotels are located. …
Universities in Wales are offering to accept students who were close to failing their exams as institutions scramble to fill their last remaining places.
Swansea Metropolitan and the University of Wales, Trinity St David are among those accepting reduced entry requirements from prospective undergraduates this summer.
It comes as thousands of students bid to win a last minute place at university through “clearing” – the process that matches those who missed the grades they needed for their original choices with courses that have vacancies. …
Nigeria—Jessica Mathew, a 25-year-old Nigerian, from Edo State, yesterday presented an electricity generating football and skipping rope she invented to President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House in Abuja.
The presentation earned Jessica an appointment as a soccer ambassador. The soccer ball, as demonstrated by Jessica, could generate three hours of electricity after 30 minutes of play and could store power for three days.
She said, the electricity generated by the ball could be used as electricity source to power lighting points and household equipments, adding that the airless football when not in use, could last for one-and-half years before replacement. …
One out of four students in Seoul have had suicidal thoughts due mainly to academic worries and loneliness, a survey showed Monday.
According to the survey conducted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government of 1,320 students attending primary, secondary and tertiary schools in the capital city, 25.6 percent said they have felt an impulse to commit suicide. …
L’Aquila, August 23 – Sheep pursued police in central Italy Friday as officers uprooted marijuana plants growing where the flock used to live and eat.
The animals, evidently used to eating the two-meter-high foliage on a daily basis, “rebelled” when officers outside L’Aquila removed the crop, grown illegally by locals, police said. The owner of the land and sheep was reported to police.
6. Australia: Police dogs and horses to receive special protections in South Australia
The South Australian Government has announced plans to make it an offence to intentionally kill or injure a police dog or horse.
The proposal follows the stabbing of police dog Koda at Elizabeth Vale in Adelaide’s north on the weekend during a pursuit. …
FUKUOKA–Traditional Japanese swordsmiths have turned to a popular anime in hopes of revitalizing their flailing industry.
“Evangelion and Japanese Swords,” an exhibition tour devoted to replicas of weapons featured in the “Evangelion” animated series, has attracted more than 200,000 visitors since its first leg kicked off in Okayama Prefecture last summer.
The master craftsmen created swords and other blades modeled after ones in the fictitious story with the same devotion as they would for authentic Japanese swords. …
Today’s Big Stories
1. UN experts investigate chemical weapon use in Syria. The Syrian regime agreed to allow United Nations investigators to inspect the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, starting Monday, Aug. 26. A chemical weapon attack was reported there on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The United States has said there is little doubt that the regime used chemical weapons on civilians there. The regime blames rebels. Chemical weapons use in Syria constitutes crossing the red line set by U.S. President Barack Obama, likely inciting greater Western intervention in the region. Chiefs of defense from Britain and other countries will meet in Jordon on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, a British Ministry of Defense spokesman told Reuters on Saturday. The meeting had been planned before the chemical weapons reports, and is the third of its kind this year to address issues in managing risk in the region.
2. Prosecutor urges “severe” sentence for Bo Xilai. China’s most sensational trial in decades ended Monday with disgraced politician Bo Xilai hinting at a love triangle involving his wife and former right hand man—both key witnesses against him—as he made last-ditch efforts to redeem his reputation. The prosecution countered by saying Bo should be severely punished because he showed no remorse in the five-day corruption trial in this eastern China city that offered lurid glimpses into an elite Chinese family’s underhanded enrichment and sordid unraveling. Information about the trial is only available through state-run media outlets, whose coverage serves the propaganda directives of the Chinese regime, and the microblog feed set up by the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court, where the trial is being held. No video or audio record of Bo Xilai is ever released. He speaks only through transcripts, posted as image files—and reportedly sanitized of inconvenient references—on the court’s microblog.
3. Afghan President Karzai in Pakistan to talk Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on Monday to discuss restarting peace negotiations with the Taliban. Karzai wants Pakistan to play a mediating role, reports the BBC, as Pakistan has influence with the Taliban. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been shaky in part because of accusations that Afghan Taliban have received protection by elements of the Pakistani government. Karzai and Sharif made plans for trade and joint rail and road projects.
4. US Open begins, running through to September 9. When asked if Serena Williams was a shoo-in to defend her title at the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, Marion Bartoli’s answer was: “In sports, at the end of the day, you can’t write the story before it’s over.” Tom Perrotta of the Wall Street Journal sums up the difficult first-round matches many American players will face Monday: “Take Venus Williams, the former champion who has struggled with her health. She’ll play No. 12 seed Kirsten Flipkens, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals this year. Madison Keys, a promising 18-year-old from Illinois, will face No. 9 seed Jelena Jankovic. Even top seed Serena Williams, who won this tournament last year, has a trickier-than-usual first-round opponent: Francesca Schiavone, the former French Open champion. On the men’s side, 21-year-old Ryan Harrison will play No. 2 seed and tournament favorite Rafael Nadal. And the latest chapter in the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will begin. Both play on Monday and they could meet in the quarterfinals next week. It would be their first ever meeting at the U.S. Open.”
5. Convicted Fort Hood gunman begins sentencing phase. The Army psychiatrist convicted of the Fort Hood rampage that killed 13 people begins the sentencing phase of his trial Monday facing a possible death sentence for the deadliest mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation. Maj. Nidal Hasan showed no reaction after being found guilty last week by a military jury, which will now decide whether the Virginia-born Muslim who said he opened fire on unarmed American soldiers to protect insurgents abroad should be executed.
6. Red Cross president arrives in South Korea following North Korea visit, looks to discuss family reunion. Peter Maurer, president for the International Committee of the Red Cross, will arrive in South Korea Monday, Aug. 26., having spent some time in North Korea. The North has agreed to continue talks with the South about resuming reunions for family members separated by the Korean War. On Saturday, the South Korean Red Cross picked 500 candidates for the reunion, planned for Sept. 25–30. It will be the first reunion in three years. The Red Cross gave priority to elderly applicants and those with immediate family members living in the north. The names were then selected randomly by a computer, reports the Korea Herald.
7. Crews battle huge wildfire raging in Yosemite area. Hundreds of firefighters were digging trenches, clearing brush and starting back blazes to keep a wildfire raging north of Yosemite National Park out of several mountain hamlets. Inaccessible terrain, strong winds and bone-dry conditions have hampered their efforts to contain the Rim Fire, which began Aug. 17 and has grown to become one of the biggest in California history. Firefighters were hoping to advance on the flames Monday but strong winds were threatening push the blaze closer to Tuolumne City and nearby communities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.