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World news snapshot: New Zealand deals with aftermath of cyclone and San Francisco mourns the death of a homeless man

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New Zealand Herald

Electricity crews are working to restore power to tens of thousands of homes around the country almost 24 hours after Cyclone Dovi knocked down trees and caused havoc in the North Island.

Hundreds of thousands of people were without power yesterday (Sunday) and many are still without running water and electricity while repairs continue.


In Auckland, 6,000 Vector customers still had no power yesterday morning including 1,000 on island communities such as Kawau and Waiheke, and those in the north and west of Auckland including areas such as Riverhead, Stillwater and Piha.

As of yesterday morning, there were 1,900 properties still without power and some privately owned service lines could remain down overnight.

San Francisco Chronicle

The Chronicle on Saturday focused on the death of a local homeless man.


It says: “We start with a memorial barbecue in an-out-of-the way San Francisco park for Pepe Vic Morales, who slipped through the cracks of city life to live and die in a vehicle parked on a dead-end street on the city’s bayfront. He was 54 when he died on January 19. A dozen or so of his friends came to celebrate his life last Sunday at Warm Water Cove Park, just south of the Dogpatch neighbourhood.


“Pepe was the leader of the community of people who live and work around the area of Warm Water Cove, a two-acre park on the edge of San Francisco Bay. “He was the spirit of the place,” said Tegue McCormack, who helped organise the event and also lives near the cove. “He was my friend.”

“He was a magical person with a huge heart and a megawatt smile,” said Victoria Lewis, who came to know Pepe when she began helping to feed and care for the feral cats and other wildlife, including possums and even a blind skunk, that live around the cove. Pepe watched out for the animals and the park. “An ambassador,” McCormack called him.

“Though there was a lot of talk about Pepe and what he was like, no-one seemed to know much about his life, except that he was born in San Francisco and lived in the city much of his life. “He talked and talked,” Lewis said, “but his life was a puzzle. He was like a lot of people down here. Everybody has a story.”

“Pepe’s story included books and fishing. He loved books – he collected them and sold them. His vehicle, an old sport utility vehicle, was crammed with books. He was an expert fisherman.

“How Pepe had come to live on the street was not clear, even to his family. His two brothers came to the memorial and were touched to see that he had so many friends.

“He was homeless, and we had no contact with him for years,” his younger brother said, “until we got a call from the medical examiner”. Pepe had been in poor health, and one day, on one of her visits to the cove, Lewis found him in his vehicle, slumped over. “It looked like he was asleep,” she said.

“The memorial was sombre, but not sad – there were sausages and beef and beer and soft drinks. Dianne Boate baked cupcakes. Somebody brought flowers. People in the cove have their own world, just out of sight. “You might say it’s a bastion of individualism,” McCormack said. Pepe, who lived for a while in a plywood shack, and didn’t seek city help. He didn’t like bureaucracy. “He didn’t drop out of life,” McCormack said. “He just gave it up.”

The Mainichi, Japan

Japan is considering easing its entry ban on non-resident foreigners to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in March, amid growing criticism from academic and business circles, a source familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

The publication reports that current border restrictions introduced at the end of November will end on February 28 as scheduled, and the government is preparing to announce details of the relaxed steps this week at the earliest, according to the source.

A quarantine period of seven days is required after arrival for non-resident entrants allowed in under special conditions at present. But the government is looking at shortening the period to three or five days as long as certificates of a negative Covid-19 test result or a third coronavirus vaccine dose are presented. Some government officials are calling for even terminating the quarantine period.

The government is also considering easing the cap on the number of daily new entrants from overseas from the current 3,500, the source said. Until November, up to 5,000 were allowed in each day.

Romania Journal

The publication reports that the highest salaries in Romania are no longer those of IT professionals, but workers in the field of coke production and crude oil processing products.

It says that this includes mainly employees in the area of oil refineries, who took net salaries of more than 10,000 lei (£1,700) in December, followed by those who work in oil extraction, with salaries of about 9,400 lei net. IT specialists were down in third place, with a little over 9,000 lei net.

At the bottom of the ranking there are salaries in the hospitality sector (hotels and restaurants), below 2,000 lei net, and those in the field of clothing manufacturing, says the latest report by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).

According to the report, in December 2021, the average gross nominal earnings were 6,327 lei, 383 lei (plus 6.4 per cent) higher than the one registered in November 2021.

Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany

DW reports that German chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday (Sunday) urged Moscow to de-escalate the Ukraine standoff and warned that Russia faces sanctions “immediately” if it invades its neighbour.

Mr Scholz was speaking on the eve of a trip to Kyiv and Moscow for talks as the prospect of military conflict “looms large”.

It said the Der Spiegel news magazine reported on Friday that the Russian military, which has more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, could invade on Wednesday, citing intelligence sources. US officials yesterday said they could not confirm the report.

Russia denies having any plans to invade and says its actions are a response to aggression by Nato countries.

Mr Scholz is quoted as saying: “In the event of a military aggression against Ukraine that threatens its territorial integrity and sovereignty, there will be tough sanctions that we have carefully prepared and which we can immediately put into force, together with our allies in Nato and Europe”.

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