x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Devastation and neglect

Search teams recover bodies from flight 447, lorries faced inspections and Phil Spector suffered further humiliation.

A man sorts through debris in the car park of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar, where suicide bombers detonated a lorry full of explosives.
A man sorts through debris in the car park of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar, where suicide bombers detonated a lorry full of explosives.

A suicide bomb attack on a luxury hotel in Peshawar killed at least 18 people and injured dozens more. Officials in Pakistan blamed the Taliban for the attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel, used by many Westerners. A group of gunmen forced their way past security guards then detonated a van packed with explosives in the hotel car park. The attack is believed to be in response to a military campaign against militants in the Swat valley.

Two American journalists were sentenced to 12 years' hard labour by a court in North Korea. Euna Lee and Laura Ling were sent to a labour camp after being detained while filming on the border with China in March. Families of the two women said they were "devastated" by the harshness of the sentences, while Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said the American government was "pursuing every possible approach" to win their freedom.

Against several predictions, the Lebanese elections saw the pro-western coalition hang on to its parliamentary majority. The March 14 coalition, headed by Saad Hariri, captured 71 out of 128 seats, one more than four years ago. Hizbollah, the Islamist party, backed by Syria and Iran, accepted the result. Hassan Fadlallah, a senior MP, said: "Whatever the results are, it won't change the sensitive equilibrium. Lebanon's only choice is consensus." The result is also seen as a victory for Barack Obama, coming less than a week after the US president's landmark speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.

A surprise inspection of lorries found more than half had dangerously worn tyres. Police stopped about 100 drivers at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi as part of a campaign to improve road safety. They discovered 53 lorries had seriously cracked and damaged rims and treads, issuing drivers with fines of up to Dh200 (US$54).

Search teams recovered the first bodies and debris from Air France flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic several hundred miles off the coast of Brazil. Among the sections of the aircraft pulled from the sea was a large part of the tail fin still bearing the Air France colours. The cause of the accident, which killed all 228 passengers and crew, is still unknown, with speculation that malfunctioning speed sensors may have sent the Airbus into an unrecoverable stall.

A remote island in the Pacific will become the home for 17 detainees from the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay. The nation of Palau said it would resettle the Chinese Muslims, all members of the country's Uighur minority, as a humanitarian gesture. Palau is 500 miles from the Philippines and consists of eight main population centres and more than 200 smaller islands. The Pentagon has ruled that the Uighurs are not enemy combatants, but the US says it is not safe to repatriate them to China because of fear of persecution.

A London pub found itself serving fish and chips to the first lady of the United States. Michelle Obama took her two daughters to the UK for a surprise holiday after her husband attended the 65th anniversary of the D-Day Landings in France. After visiting the Houses of Parliament in London, the family headed to the Audley pub in Mayfair, where Malia and Sasha enjoyed a plate of fish and chips for £7.95 (Dh48) while Mrs Obama ate a steak. The family also attended a performance of the Lion King and visited the set of the latest Harry Potter film.

Emirati women will now have compulsory scans for breast cancer as a condition of their health insurance. The new requirement from the Abu Dhabi Health Authority will require women between the age of 40 and 69 to have an annual mammogram. The move is an attempt to cut breast cancer rates in the emirate, currently 22.8 per cent of all cancer cases. The disease is fatal in 44 per cent of Emirati women, who often leave it too late to for treatment to be successful. By contrast, women in the United States who are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease have a 98 per cent five-year survival rate.

English passed the one million word mark, according to the Global Language Monitor. The organisation, based in Texas, said it had recorded Web 2.0 ? meaning the technical name for the next generation of the internet ? ahead of slumdog and jai ho, both made popular by the hit film Slumdog Millionaire. The Global Language Monitor says it registers a new word after recording its use at least 25,000 times in media outlets. The average person has a vocabulary of around 14,000 words.

Phil Spector, the music producer, suffered the additional humiliation of having his wig confiscated after being sentenced to 19 years in prison for the murder of an actress at his home in California. Photos released by the authorities at North Kern State Prison show a balding elderly man, in stark contrast to the extravagant shock wig worn by Spector during his murder trial.

The world record for a football transfer fee was smashed twice in a single week by the same club. Real Madrid first paid AC Milan 67.5 million euros (Dh345 million) for Kaka, the Brazilian midfielder. Days later, Manchester United accepted a bid of £80 million (Dh420 million) for Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese international. Real also held the previous world record fee of 54 million euros for the French star Zinedine Zidane in 2001. The man behind the spending spree is Florentino Perez, the returning club chairman, who led Real Madrid in the Galacticos era from 2000 to 2006.

The failure of the UAE to qualify for next year's World Cup in South Africa was blamed on a diet of too much fast food. According to Saleh Obaid, a defender with the national team, players regularly gorged themselves on burgers and fries before crucial games. The UAE's campaign formally ended on Wednesday with a 1-0 defeat by Iran, but the country had already been eliminated after a string of disappointing results.

Obaid said: "You know what we eat for dinner and lunch? We eat from McDonald's. Everyone eats from McDonald's. No good food." jlangton@thenational.ae