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Japan To Spend $12m On Ex-PM, Shinzo Abe’s State Funeral



Pedestrians are silhouetted against a large public video screen showing an image of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in the Akihabara district of Tokyo on July 8, 2022, after he was shot and killed in the city of Nara. – Abe was pronounced dead on July 8, the hospital treating him confirmed, after he was shot at a campaign event in the city of Nara earlier in the day. (Photo by Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP)


Japan expects to spend around 1.7 billion yen ($12 million) on a state funeral for assassinated former premier Shinzo Abe, the government said Tuesday, despite controversy over the plan.

Abe was shot dead on the campaign trail in July, and the government expects dozens of current and former heads of state to pay condolences at the September 27 service in Tokyo.

But recent polls show about half of Japanese voters oppose the publicly funded event.

Security is expected to cost around 800 million yen, with another 600 million to be spent on hosting and 250 million for the ceremony, top government spokesman Hirozaku Matsuno said Tuesday.

“Delegates from more than 190 foreign (countries and regions) will likely participate,” he told reporters at a regular briefing.

The funeral will be held at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan, a venue used for concerts and sports events that also hosted Japan’s last state funeral for a former prime minister in 1967.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the domestic and international accomplishments of Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, make a state ceremony appropriate.

But state funerals for former politicians are rare in Japan, and a weekend poll published Monday by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper found that 56 percent of voters oppose the event, against 38 percent in favour.

Other recent polls have shown similar levels of opposition, and Kishida has said he is ready to answer questions on the issue in parliament.

His government’s approval ratings have taken a hit in recent weeks, in part due to the funeral decision.

Some opponents are against spending public money on an event honouring a politician, while others think a state funeral effectively forces public mourning or minimises Abe’s nationalist views and alleged links to cronyism.

Abe’s accused killer, Tetsuya Yamagami, who is in custody, targeted the former leader believing he was linked to the Unification Church.

Yamagami’s mother reportedly made large donations to the church, which her son blamed for the family’s financial difficulties.

A small private funeral for Abe was held at a temple in Tokyo shortly after his death, with thousands of people gathering outside to lay flowers and offer respects.

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Landslide In Colombia Leaves 34 Dead




Heavy rains in northwest Colombia sent a wall of earth crashing onto a winding road, swallowing up a bus and other vehicles and killing 34 people, emergency services said Monday.


The landslide Sunday evening prompted a large rescue effort, with dozens of people in hard hats using backhoes and excavators to dig through the earth looking for victims.


The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management said the fatalities included eight minors and that nine other people were injured in the disaster in the remote town of Pueblo Rico.


The bus had set out from the city of Cali with 25 passengers, and traveled 270 kilometers (170 miles) before being hit by the landslide as it passed through the Andes mountain region, civil defense officials said.


Colombian media reported that a child had survived and was pulled from the arms of its mother, who did not make it.


One survivor said the bus driver had at first managed to dodge the worst of the landslide.

“Part of it was coming down and the bus was a little bit back from that. The bus driver was backing up when it all came crashing down,” Andres Ibarguen told radio station Lloro Stereo.


The rainy season that began in August is Colombia’s worst in 40 years, according to the government, causing accidents that have left more than 270 people dead.


The country has declared a national disaster over the rains linked to the exceptionally long La Nina weather phenomenon, which cools surface temperatures and is currently causing drought and flooding around the globe.


Today, the landslide “puts this town in mourning, tomorrow it could be in another area, because we really have many unstable areas in the country, and the rainy season has not ended,” said Javier Pava of the UNGRD.


The UN’s World Meteorological Organization said last week the La Nina conditions could last until February or March 2023.


In Colombia, the phenomenon has also caused crop damage, compromising food supplies and leading to soaring prices.


In July, three children were killed in northwestern Colombia when a landslide buried a rural school. In February, 14 people died in a mudslide triggered by heavy rains in central-western Risaralda province.

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American Entrepreneur, Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison For Fraud




Fallen United States biotech star Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced Friday to 11 years and three months in prison for defrauding investors with her Silicon Valley start-up firm.


The Theranos founder had been convicted on four felony fraud counts in January for persuading investors that she had developed a revolutionary medical device before the company flamed out after an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.


The closely watched case became an indictment of Silicon Valley, and US federal prosecutors had sought a 15-year jail term for Holmes. She was sentenced to 135 months.

US attorney Stephanie Hinds said the sentence “reflects the audacity of her massive fraud and the staggering damage she caused.”


“For almost a decade, Elizabeth Holmes fabricated and spread elaborate falsehoods to draw in a legion of capital investors, both big and small, and her deceit caused the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars,” the prosecutor said in a statement following the judge’s decision.


Holmes, who is pregnant, will not have to surrender herself until April next year, ordered US District Judge Edward Davila in a courtroom in San Jose, California.

Holmes’s lawyer indicated she would appeal her conviction.

Moments before her sentencing, a tearful Holmes told the court, “I stand before you taking responsibility for Theranos. I loved Theranos. It was my life’s work.”


She added, “I am devastated by my failings. Every day for the past years I have felt deep pain for what people went through because I failed them.”


“I gave everything I had to building our company and trying to save our company.”


– ‘Tragedy’ –

Holmes became a star of Silicon Valley when she said her now defunct start-up was perfecting an easy-to-use test kit that could carry out a wide range of medical diagnostics with just a few drops of blood.


At the time, Holmes often dressed soberly in black turtlenecks that evoked her hero, the late Apple icon Steve Jobs.


She sold investors on the idea that her invention would disrupt medical practice, replacing expensive lab tests with her cheap kits.

But prosecutors said Holmes knew her device was not producing accurate and reliable results, yet induced dozens of investors to contribute nearly one billion dollars, all without ever achieving meaningful revenue.

Holmes’s meteoric rise and fast demise has been the subject of books, movies and a TV series that framed her story as a cautionary tale on the excesses of the tech industry that blindly followed a charismatic founder.

At one point, the Theranos board included former US Defense Secretary James Mattis and former US secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz.


Sentencing Holmes on Friday, Davila said the case was a “tragedy” and “troubling on so many levels.”


He described Holmes as “a big thinker” who had fought to get into an industry dominated by “male ego.”


But he noted “significant evidence about manipulation and untruths that were being used in the negotiation of the business.”

“What is it that caused that? Was it hubris? Was it intoxication with the fame that comes from being a young entrepreneur?” he asked.


– ‘Amazing things’ –

After hearing her prison sentence, Holmes hugged her partner Billy Evans, who is the father of her 15-month-old son, and her mother, Noel Holmes.


Lawyers for Holmes, 38, had asked for leniency, presenting her as a devoted friend who cares for a young child and has a second child on the way.


This was backed up by 140 letters of support filed to the court, including from her family, friends and a US senator.


“I am confident that on the other side of this, Elizabeth will do amazing things for society with her talents and boundless passion for changing the world for the better,” said one letter.

That was in sharp contrast to descriptions given at her trial that painted her as an ambitious con artist who harassed her workers.


In a letter, Holmes’s aunt, who was an early investor in Theranos, called on the court to give her a tough sentence, The Wall Street Journal reported.


Prosecutors want Holmes to pay $800 million in restitution to investors that included the Walton family of Walmart, the Walgreens chain of pharmacies and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

A restitution hearing will be scheduled, although Holmes says she has no money to pay.

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‘Days Of Our Lives’ Star, John Aniston Dies At 89




John Aniston, star of the long-running soap opera Days of Our Lives and father of Jennifer Aniston, has died at age 89.


The Friends star posted a tribute to her father on Monday on Instagram, announcing that he had died on Friday, Veteran’s Day.


“You were one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew,” she wrote.


Photos of them together were shared with her 40 million followers.

Her tribute drew comments from many famous friends, including Friends co-star Lisa Kudrow, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, her ex-husband Justin Theroux, and more.


The official Days of Our Lives account also posted a tribute to the talented member of their television family.


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