Iran strikes deal with UN nuclear watchdog as Tehran prepares to cut inspections



The UN nuclear watchdog said on Sunday it had struck a deal with Iran to cushion the blow of steps Tehran plans to take this week that include ending snap inspections, with both sides agreeing to keep “necessary” monitoring for up to three months.The announcement by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, made at Vienna airport after a weekend trip to Iran, confirmed that Tehran would go ahead with its plan to slash cooperation with the agency on Tuesday.Iran has been gradually…

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Powerful Earthquake Strikes Japan – The New York Times


TOKYO — A large earthquake shook a broad area across eastern Japan late Saturday night, with its epicenter off the coast of Fukushima, near where three nuclear reactors melted down after a quake and tsunami nearly 10 years ago.

The earthquake left nearly a million households without power across the Fukushima region and forced the closure of roads and suspension of train services. While rattled residents braced for aftershocks, a landslide cut off a chunk of a main artery through Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan’s meteorological service reported the quake’s magnitude as 7.3, up from the initial assessment of 7.1, but said there was no danger of a tsunami.

Coming a little less than a month before the 10th anniversary of what is known as the Great East Japan earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster, the quake rattled an area that stretched as far north as Hokkaido to the Chugoku region in western Japan.

The greater Tokyo area felt the quake for about 30 seconds starting at 11:08 p.m., but the shaking was felt most powerfully in Fukushima and Miyagi.

The strong quake was an unnerving reminder of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011, killing more than 16,000 people. After the subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima, 164,000 people fled or were evacuated from around the plant.

Saturday’s quake struck as Tokyo and nine other large prefectures are under a state of emergency to contain the coronavirus. Residents are encouraged to work from home and avoid going out at night, while restaurants and bars are closed at 8 each night.

Japan is also preparing to host the summer Olympics, postponed by a year from 2020. The Games are scheduled to open on July 23.

The prime minister’s office immediately set up a crisis management office and the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, which operates the nuclear plants, said it was checking its monitoring posts in Fukushima to ensure that there were no radiation leaks.

Shortly after midnight, the public broadcaster NHK reported that Tepco had detected “no major abnormalities” at any of the Dai-ichi reactors where the meltdowns occurred in 2011 or at the Dai-ni plant a few miles away in Fukushima.

There was no immediate information about the hundreds of tanks filled with contaminated water stored on the Dai-ichi site. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant on the west coast had suffered no damage, NHK reported.

According to Katsunobu Kato, chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, about 950,000 households were left without power across the affected areas. He said that two thermal power plants in Fukushima Prefecture had been taken offline. Several bullet train lines were suspended. People in dozens of households were evacuated to shelters in several cities in Fukushima.

In brief comments to reporters just before 2 a.m., Mr. Suga advised residents not to go outside and to brace for aftershocks.

Aftershocks: What the hours and days ahead may hold.

Speaking on NHK, Takashi Furumura, a professor at the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo, warned that a quake of this size could be followed within two or three days by another of similar scale.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake’s epicenter was about 60 kilometers — or about 37 miles — off the coast of Fukushima and about 34 miles deep. On land, the strongest magnitude felt was 6-plus.

Speaking at a news conference, Noriko Kamaya, an official for the meteorological agency, said residents should be prepared for aftershocks as strong as magnitude 6 in the coming days. He described Saturday night’s earthquake as itself an aftershock of the 2011 quake.

In Minami Soma, one of the Fukushima villages evacuated after the nuclear disaster in 2011, NHK reported that severe shaking lasted for about 30 seconds on Saturday.

Yu Miri, the author of “Tokyo Ueno Station,” winner of the National Book Award for translated literature, posted photos on Twitter showing bookshelves in her nearby home downed and the floors strewn with books.

Kyodo News reported that 30 people had been injured in the Fukushima and Miyagi regions, both on Japan’s east coast.

Japan has endured a history of devastating earthquakes.

Roughly a dozen powerful earthquakes have struck Japan in the past decade, several of them triggering tsunamis and landslides that have shaken parts of the country and destroyed countless buildings.

In 2016, more than 40 people died after two earthquakes rocked the southern island of Kyushu. The largest of the two registered a magnitude of 7.0, close to the intensity of the quake felt on Saturday, and several died in fires and landslides in the mountainous region.

In 2018, dozens died and millions lost power in their homes after a powerful quake in the northern island of Hokkaido triggered landslides. The quake that summer came just days after the largest typhoon recorded in 25 years struck Japan.

Makiko Inoue, Hisako Ueno, Hikari Hida and Elian Peltier contributed reporting.



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Star Wars: The Blacklist Strikes Back


The Hollywood blacklist is back, baby. Actress Gina Carano lost her role this week as a co-star of the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.” Her crime? Ill-considered social-media posts, including one that compared hatred of conservatives to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. Online mobs had previously targeted her for outré comments on mask wearing, the “preferred pronoun” fad, and fraud in the 2020 election. #FireGinaCarano trended and Lucasfilm Ltd., the Disney subsidiary that produces the “Star Wars” spinoff, predictably obliged. In the now-standard model of scorched-earth personal destruction, the United Talent Agency dumped Ms. Carano as well.

The film and television industry has come a long way on the subject of blacklists. During the McCarthy era, the director Elia Kazan gave the House Un-American Activities Committee the names of show-business colleagues he knew to be members of the Communist Party. Others, who refused to name names, were blacklisted by the studios and denied work.

For decades, the Hollywood bien-pensant viewed the blacklist as an unforgivable stain on the industry. In 1999 some of the biggest stars in the business sat on their hands when Kazan was awarded an honorary Oscar. “Trumbo” director Jay Roach lamented in 2015 that those who’d been blacklisted “were somehow seen as traitors because they had different political views.”

In his review of “Guilty By Suspicion,” a 1991 film about the blacklist starring Robert De Niro, Roger Ebert wrote: “History has vindicated those who refused to betray their principles, but how would any of us have responded at the time—when to defy [HUAC] meant virtual unemployment in show business?”

Good question. I’m not defending Gina Carano’s posts, although they are probably defensible. I’m defending the principle. If it’s wrong for someone to lose his job because he’s a Communist, it’s wrong for someone to lose her job because she’s a conservative.

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Canberra man facing driving and fraud charges allegedly strikes journalist outside court


A Canberra man accused of defrauding an elderly woman of nearly $280,000 allegedly hit a journalist in the face and threw another’s bag across the road as he left court today.

James Lawrence Michael Raftery was last month charged with dishonestly obtaining $278,459.20 from an 89-year-old Yarralumla woman over a four-month period in 2019.

After being granted bail, he left the court through an emergency exit, setting off an alarm.

Today, Mr Raftery faced the ACT Magistrates Court again, where he was further charged with three driving offences allegedly committed in July last year.

Witnesses say Mr Raftery grabbed a reporter’s camera bag and threw it across the road as he left the building, before lunging at an ABC journalist and striking another reporter in the face.

Police were called and took statements from several witnesses soon after Mr Raftery left the scene.

Mr Raftery has not yet entered pleas to the 22 fraud charges, or the additional driving offences.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

A supporter of Mr Raftery’s called reporters outside court “parasites” for covering his case and said no one knew “the real story”.

Before the alleged altercation, Mr Raftery told Magistrate Beth Campbell that he was still waiting for a legal aid lawyer to take up his case.

Magistrate Campbell replied: “It’s vital that you get representation … you need some good quality advice”.

The detail of Raftery’s alleged offending is yet to be revealed in court, and he has not yet entered pleas to the 22 fraud charges, or the additional driving offences.

Mr Raftery’s bail was continued, and he will face court next month.

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Nicolai Muller strikes late against macho Central Coast Mariners to lift Western Sydney Wanderers to summit


Their long-suffering supporters are on board too, filling Central Coast Stadium to its allowed 25 per cent of capacity while booing former favourite Ziggy Gordon – who walked out on the club barely a month after signing a contract extension – every time he touched the ball.

The Wanderers were backing up just three days after their 1-1 derby draw with Sydney FC and looked a tad lethargic. But they grew into the match in the second half and will be delighted to have snatched the win, which lifts them to the top of the ladder.

They now have two wins and a draw from Carl Robinson’s first four games in charge.

Teenager Mark Natta was handed a debut start by Robinson as a replacement for Wanderers skipper Dylan McGowan, who strained his ankle in the derby but played through it and will now miss several weeks.

Natta, 18, acquitted himself well in the face of a physical onslaught from the Mariners, which was unsurprisingly spearheaded by Matt Simon across an utterly absorbing first half.

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Simon was subbed off after an hour but with a less tolerant referee than Kurt Arms in charge, the 34-year-old Mariners legend’s night would have ended much sooner.

Just after the 30-minute mark, Simon gave a serve to ex-teammate Gordon, pointing and shouting in the Scotsman’s face as he lay prone on the turf after the pair competed for an aerial contest. There were suspicions Simon may have stuck a boot into Gordon’s stomach but the VAR saw no reason to intervene.

Three minutes later, Simon was yellow-carded after throwing his arm back at Keanu Baccus as he attempted to shield the ball, catching the Wanderers midfielder in the face.

Baccus played for the send-off, and Simon was fortunate Ams wasn’t interested – and even luckier he got away with an earlier lunge on Baccus without a booking.

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Australia vs India LIVE updates: Cummins strikes early in Indian innings



After Australia were all out for 369, it was the world’s best bowler that delivered the early breakthrough the home side were after.

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Biden urged to give up sole power to launch nuke strikes



A former US defence secretary has called on president-elect Joe Biden to reform the system that gives sole control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal to the president, calling it “outdated, unnecessary and extremely dangerous”.

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Boeing strikes $US2.5bn settlement with US over 737 Max debacle


“Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candour by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception,” David Burns, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in a statement.

“This resolution holds Boeing accountable for its employees’ criminal misconduct, addresses the financial impact to Boeing’s airline customers, and hopefully provides some measure of compensation to the crash-victims’ families and beneficiaries.”

Family members of crash victims holding up photographs of their loved ones at a US Senate hearing last year.Credit:Bloomberg

As part of Thursday’s agreement, $US500 million will be set aside to compensate the families of those who died. Boeing will also pay the government a penalty of nearly $US244 million and pay $US1.77 billion in compensation to its airline customers who were unable to use or take deliveries of the Max, which remains grounded in some parts of the world. Flights aboard the plane in the United States resumed last week, after the FAA lifted its ban on the plane in November.

“I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do — a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations,” David Calhoun, Boeing’s CEO, said in a note to employees. “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

The settlement will not affect the criminal investigation into whether at least two Boeing employees broke the law in connection with knowingly misleading the FAA while the company was seeking approval for the Max, about changes made to software known as MCAS.

Their actions led the FAA to leave information about the software out of a final report, which in turn resulted in its omission from airplane and pilot training materials, according to the Justice Department. The software was implicated in both crashes.

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That investigation appeared to have some momentum about a year ago as prosecutors had summoned several Boeing employees in front of a federal grand jury. But the speed of the investigation slowed in the months after the pandemic struck in March.

Prosecutors were examining whether a top pilot for the company, Mark Forkner, had intentionally lied to the regulator about the nature of new flight control software.

The software, which could push down the nose of the plane, played a role in the two deadly crashes.

Lawyers for Forkner have previously said that he did not mislead regulators and would never put the safety of pilots or passengers at risk.

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McAndrew strikes twice in an over!



Big Bash: Nathan McAndrew helped the Sydney Thunder get off to a great start as he claimed two wickets in an over against the Hobart Hurricanes.

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Strong Thunderstorm Strikes Sydney



A thunderstorm with hail, heavy rain, and strong winds affected the Sydney area Monday, January 4. Nine News reported one woman was injured by a falling tree as the storm moved east across New South Wales. By late January 4, a severe thunderstorm warning remained in place for several areas of New South Wales. “Damaging winds, heavy rainfall and large hailstones” could be expected, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Credit: @faheelaalmas_official via Storyful

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