- - Thursday, February 24, 2011


Earthquake toll: 98 dead, 226 missing

CHRISTCHURCH | Rescuers fanned out into unchecked areas of New Zealand’s quake-devastated city Thursday looking for any remaining life in the rubble as the death toll rose to 98 with “grave fears” that many of the 226 missing are dead.

Police said up to 120 bodies may lie trapped in the tangled concrete and steel that was the Canterbury Television, or CTV, building, where dozens of students from Japan, Thailand, China and other Asian countries were believed buried when an English-language school collapsed along with other offices.

Twenty-three bodies were pulled from the building Thursday but not immediately identified.

Officials appealed to families of the missing to be patient, saying the agony could be worse if they rushed identifications and came to wrong conclusions.


LinkedIn website disrupted in protest-wary China

BEIJING | Access to the networking site LinkedIn was disrupted in China on Thursday following online calls on other sites for gatherings inspired by protests against authoritarian regimes across the Middle East.

It was not immediately clear whether the blockage on domestic Chinese Internet lines of LinkedIn, one of the few foreign networking sites not previously blocked by Beijing, was because of state censorship.

The disruption, however, comes in the wake of a rash of detentions in China after an overseas Chinese-language website, Boxun, spread a call for “Jasmine Revolution” gatherings to press the Communist Party to make way for democratic change.

Attempted demonstrations in Beijing and elsewhere on Sunday were tiny and were extinguished swiftly by swarms of police.

A rash of detentions and censorship of online discussion of the Middle Eastern protests suggests Beijing remains nervous about any signs of opposition to one-party rule.


U.N. council highlights police ‘credibility’ concerns

UNITED NATIONS | The U.N. Security Council on Thursday called on East Timor to take action to strengthen the “credibility” of its police force as it extended the stay of the U.N. mission in the fledgling Asian nation.

The United Nations wants to end its peacekeeping mission in East Timor but is wary of fallout from the 2006 unrest that led to the creation of the international force, which is about 1,500 strong.

East Timor is to hold a presidential election in 2012.

More than 50 officers in the East Timorese police force face criminal or disciplinary charges but still have been allowed into the new post-independence force.


World’s first robot marathon kicks off

TOKYO | The world’s first robot marathon is under way in western Japan, with five two-legged participants racing on an indoor track.

The race kicked off Thursday with the 1-foot-tall, battery-charged robots competing around a 110-yard racetrack. They will have to cover 26 miles.

Japanese robot maker and event organizer Vstone Co. says the Robo Mara Full race in Osaka will demonstrate the machines’ durability and maneuverability.

Vstone robots took an early lead, while two entrants by Osaka University of Engineering teams got off to a shaky start. The race is expected to last through Sunday.

Vstone CEO Nobuo Yamato said he hopes the event will become international in the future.

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