Home' Greymouth Star : September 18th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Friday, September 18, 2015
Japan draws tourists with cat ’s eye view
Tourism bosses in a Japanese
prefecture have come up with
what they hope will draw more
feline-loving visitors: a Google-
style street view for cats.
Billed as a world’s first, officials
this week launched an on-line
map that explores the streets of
port city Onomichi from the
purr-spective of a four-pawed
“ We decided to focus on cats
because they know everything
about the city, including the back
streets,” a tourism spokesman for
western Hiroshima prefecture
He added the city of about
150,000 people is known for its
many felines and has a street
known as “cat lane”.
The map is based on the
perspective of Lala, a fluffy kitty
with emerald-coloured eyes,
who lives with a local hair salon
So far, the map covers just two
streets, but plans to expand its
reach are in the works using a
camera attached to a stick that
hovers 20cm above the ground.
Viewers can trace what Lala
appointed the head of the
prefecture’s “ back street tourism”
division — sees from her low-
The unlikely feline-focused
tourism bid is not Japan’s first.
prefecture drew thousands of
tourists to its regional train
station where a cat ser ved as
was credited with single-pawedly
saving the provincial Kishigawa
Line after being appointed as
master of the tiny Kishi station.
With the regional railway
losing money, the station lost its
last human employee in April
2006, passing on the mantle
to Tama, which delighted in
strolling around its own office
wearing the formal uniform cap
of Wakayama Electric Railway.
After Tama’s death in June, a
new cat took over the position.
A man who won over a million dollars
in China’s national lottery divorced his
wife before picking up his winnings the
Liu Xiang won 4.6 million yuan ($1.13
million) in the lottery in February. He
then initiated the divorce with his wife,
Yuan Li, without telling her about his
winnings, it was reported.
His ex-wife then sued him for half and
a court ordered him to pay her a quarter
of his winnings.
Liu and his wife’s relationship started
to break down in June 2013, South
China Morning Post reported.
She granted him the divorce after Liu
offered to pay off their debts.
Yuan found out about her ex-husband’s
winnings from a friend who phoned her
to congratulate the couple, according to
the Chongqing Morning Post. — AP
Emergency talks over crisis disarray
It is the closest scientists have
come yet to recreating Harry
Potter’s invisibility cloak.
An ultra-thin flexible material
has been developed that can
wrap around an object and make
skin” has been tested only at
microscopic scales, scientists
believe it should be possible
to create larger versions in the
The 80 nanometre thick film is
made from gold “nanoantenna”
blocks that interfere with the
normal scattering of light waves.
In the test, the “cloak” was
wrapped around a tiny lumpy
and dented “bump” measuring
36 micrometres square — about
the size of a few living cells.
Once activated by switching the
polarisation of the nanoantennae,
it made the object invisible.
Lead researcher Dr Xiang
Zhang, from the US Department
of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory, said: “ This
is the first time a 3D object of
arbitrary shape has been cloaked
from visible light.
“O ur ultra-thin cloak now
looks like a coat. It is easy to
design and implement, and is
potentially scalable for hiding
In the Harry Potter stories,
the boy wizard hides from his
enemies using a cloak that renders
the wearer invisible. It works
by magic rather than the light-
channelling “metamaterials” used
Metamaterials have features
smaller in size than the
wavelength of light, allowing
them to re-route incoming light
Previous invisibility experi-
ments have produced bulky, rigid
designs that cannot be adapted
to different environments.
The technology, described
in the journal Science, holds
promise for applications such
as high resolution microscopes,
super-fast optical computers, and
However, the material is still
a long way from providing
the perfect camouflage for
soldiers and military vehicles, or
allowing spies to creep around
Any movement by the object
being hidden currently breaks
the invisibility “spell”. Also, the
“c loak” only works over a limited
range of light wavelengths.
Scientists claim invisibility breakthrough
Rattled Chileans have recounted a
night of terrifying aftershocks after a
powerful quake struck offshore, killing
at least 11 and triggering tsunami waves
that ravaged stretches of the coast.
The 8.3-magnitude earthquake on
Wednesday evening (yesterday morning
NZT) was the sixth most powerful in
the history of geologically volatile Chile
and the strongest anywhere in the world
this year, officials said.
Close to one million people were
evacuated from Pacific coastal areas as a
precaution as Chile sounded a tsunami
alert, with warnings issued as far away as
Japan and New Zealand.
Residents took refuge on high ground
as aftershocks jolted the regio.
“ It was a nightmare,” Maria Ramirez
said as she swept up debris outside her
house in the badly-hit coastal town of
“ We felt the tremors for a long time,
too long. And then all the aftershocks —
it was terrible,” she said.
“ I couldn’t stay standing, but luckily we
made it out alive.”
The quake occurred at a shallow depth,
and the epicentre was located 228km
north of the capital Santiago, a city of
6.6 million people, where there were
scenes of pandemonium as thousands
fled swaying buildings.
In the hours that followed, tsunami
waves of up to 4.5m came crashing
onshore in the region of Coquimbo,
causing extensive damage to the port
The fishing village of Tongoy was
among the worst-hit, with television
footage showing entire seafront areas
President Michelle Bachelet headed
to the quake-hit area to assess the relief
“ We know this is a very difficult
situation,” Bachelet said after meeting
with a group of local fishermen in
“ But we wish to salute the enormous
co-operation of the population which
ensured that — despite the scale of this
earthquake — there are thankfully few
The most recent toll from the quake
stood at 11 dead, with nine others injured,
according to National Emergency Office
director Ricardo Toro.
The last known victim was a man killed
in Coquimbo. — AFP
11 dead in
Croatia is threatening to close its border with
Serbia as migrants fled from over whelmed
police, trekked through fields and tried to
steal into Slovenia by train in a desperate
march westwards that is sowing discord and
recrimination in Europe.
The European Union’s newest member said
some 8000 migrants had trudged across its
border from Serbia in one day, driven from
trying to enter through Hungary by a metal
fence, teargas and water cannon.
Amid desperate scenes at a railway station on
Croatia’s eastern frontier, where thousands were
left stranded overnight under open skies, the
European Union called an emergency summit
next week to try to overcome disarray in the
Croatia said it may have to use the army to
stop thousands of migrants criss-crossing the
western Balkans in their quest for sanctuary in
the wealthy 28-nation bloc. It shuttled some to
reception centres near Zagreb, but many simply
slipped the net of over whelmed authorities and
set off for the Slovenian border, just 30km from
the Croatian capital.
There, Slovenian police halted a train carrying
some 150 migrants at Dobova train station on
Slovenia’s side of the border and said they would
be sent back. A Reuters tv crew said some tried
to leave the train but were stopped by police.
Some refused water in protest.
Slovenia later stopped all train traffic on the
main line from Croatia through the border
point and police stepped up checks in the area
with helicopter and land patrols.
“ We will return them (the migrants) to
Croatia in the shortest time possible,” local
police official Anton Stubljar said.
The stalled train threatens to become the latest
symbol of an EU deeply divided over how to
handle the influx of hundreds of thousands of
people mostly fleeing war and poverty in Syria,
Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Croatian Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said
the country would close its border with Serbia
if another 8000 were to pour over the border in
Macedonia tried a similar tactic last month
ago, lobbing teargas and stun grenades to keep
back crowds, but was eventually over whelmed.
Hungary did it with a 3.5m fence built the
length of its frontier with Serbia and a raft of
immigration laws that rights groups say break
Hungary’s crackdown has shifted pressure on
to Croatia, Slovenia and Romania.
At the eastern border town of Tovarnik,
scuffles broke out as Croatian police tried to get
women and children to board the buses bound
for reception centres near Zagreb. Women
screamed and children cried in desperate scenes.
An Iraqi from Baghdad who gave his name as
Riad said he had been separated from his wife
and child. “Only women and children are now
allowed on to buses. My wife and child are gone
and they (police) do not allow me to join them.
My phone does not work.”
Groups of migrants broke away from the
police and set off on foot down railway lines and
“They want to take us to the camps, but we
don’t want that,” said one man as he set off,
without giving his name.
Croatia’s president met the army chief of staff
and asked the military to be ready, if necessary, to
protect national borders from illegal migration,
State news agency Hina reported.
Police also took up position in a suburb of the
capital Zagreb around a hotel housing hundreds
of migrants, some of them on balconies shouting
“Freedom! Freedom!” Others threw rolls of
toilet paper from the balconies and windows.
European Council president Donald Tusk
summoned EU leaders to a summit next
Wednesday to discuss how to better manage
external EU borders and help Turkey, through
which many of the migrants are passing, as well
as other States in the region that are housing
The bloc’s interior ministers failed to agree on
Monday on a mandatory quota system designed
to spread the burden of this year’s huge influx.
A record 300,000 people have fled to
Europe via Greece this year, according to the
International Organisation of Migration. More
than 116,000 more have arrived in Italy.
The Syrian military has recently started
using new types of air and ground weapons
supplied by Russia, a Syrian military source
said overnight, underlining growing Russian
support for Damascus that is alarming the
“The weapons are highly effective and very
accurate, and hit targets precisely,” the source
said in response to a question about Russian
support. “ We can say they are all types of
weapons, be it air or ground.”
The source said the army had been trained in
the use of the weapons in recent months and
was now deploying them, declining to give
further details other than saying they were “new
Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem
said overnight Russia had provided new
weapons and trained Syrian troops how to
use them, without saying when or naming any
He told State television the government
would be prepared to go further and ask Russian
forces to fight alongside its troops if needed —
although he said there were no such soldiers
The Russian government said its military
support for Damascus was aimed at fighting
terrorism, safeguarding Syria’s statehood and
preventing a “total catastrophe” in the region.
It includes a larger Russian military presence
on the ground in Syria, where President Bashar
al-Assad has faced increased pressure this year
from rebels fighting to topple him, but its full
scope and intentions remain unclear.
In a possible sign of a newly assertive posture
by Assad, the Syrian air force launched heavy
air strikes on the Islamic State-held city of
Raqqa, an important base of operations for IS
in Syria often targeted by the United States-led
The British-based Syrian Obser vatory for
Human Rights said at least 18 people were
killed in the raids that hit several areas in the
city and its outskirts.
The strikes hit close to at least four Islamic
State offices, including one used by its self-
appointed religious police force, an activist in
Raqqa said. — Reuters
Syrians using new Russian weaponr y
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