Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 3rd 2014 Contents FRIDAY,
LOS ANGELES---US actor
James Avery, most famous as
Uncle Phil in hit 1990s sitcom
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,
died on New Year s Eve aged
68, his publicist said.
With a deep baritone voice,
Avery regularly played judges,
professors or doctors in TV
shows in the 1980s and 90s,
as well as extensive voice
work, including on animated
His first big-screen role
was an uncredited part in
1980s classic The Blues
Brothers, but the role most
people will remember him for
is as Philip Banks on the
1990s NBC series, who
played a role model to the
young Will Smith s character,
a fictionalised rapper version
Avery died late Tuesday in
hospital in Glendale, "due to
complications from open
heart surgery," his publicist
Cynthia Snyder told AFP in
an e-mail. (AFP)
AUSTRALIA---A helicopter rescued all 52
passengers from a research ship that has
been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christ-
mas Eve after weather conditions finally
cleared enough for the operation yester-
The Chinese helicopter carried the sci-
entists and tourists from the Russian ship
MV Akademik Shokalskiy in groups of 12
to an Australian icebreaker, said the Aus-
tralian Maritime Safety Authority s Rescue
Co-ordination Centre, which oversaw the
rescue. The Aurora Australis will now take
the passengers to the Australian island state
of Tasmania, a journey expected to last two
"I think everyone is relieved and excited
to be going on to the Australian icebreaker
and then home," expedition leader Chris
Turney told The Associated Press by satellite
phone from the Antarctic.
All 22 crew members stayed with the ice-
bound vessel, which is not in danger of
sinking and has weeks worth of supplies
on board. They will wait until the ice that
surrounds the ship breaks up.
The eagerly anticipated rescue came after
days of failed attempts to reach the vessel.
Blinding snow, strong winds, fog and thick
sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time
Three icebreakers were dispatched to try
and crack their way through the ice sur-
rounding the ship, but all failed. The Aurora
came within 12 miles of the ship Monday,
but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat
to open water.
Yesterday, it appeared the weather had
thwarted yet another rescue attempt. The
helicopter was originally going to airlift the
passengers to the Chinese icebreaker on
which it is based, with a barge then ferrying
them to the Aurora.
But sea ice prevented the barge from
reaching the Snow Dragon icebreaker, and
the maritime authority said the operation
would have to be delayed.
A last-minute change in plans allowed
the rescue to go ahead. The passengers were
instead flown to an ice floe next to the
Aurora and then taken by a small boat to
the Australian ship, Turney said.
The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New
Zealand on November 28, got stuck after a
blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship,
freezing it in place 1,700 miles south of
The scientific team on board had been
recreating Australian explorer Douglas Maw-
son s 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica. (AP)
Japan's population logs
record drop in 2013
TOKYO---Japan's population fell by a record
244,000 in 2013, according to health ministry
estimates released on Wednesday, highlighting
concerns over an ever-dwindling workforce
supporting a growing number of pensioners.
An estimated 1,031,000 babies were born in
2013, down about 6,000 from a year earlier, the
On the other hand, around 1,275,000 people
died---up about 19,000 from the previous year,
the highest annual rise since World War II. As a
result, the natural population decline came to a
record 244,000, the ministry said, beating the
previous highest fall of 219,000 in 2012.
Japan's population totalled 126,393,679 as of
March 31, down 0.21 per cent from a year
earlier, according to a government figure. (AFP)
Uganda president 'won't be
pressured' to sign anti-gay law
Uganda's parliament adopted the bill on
December 20. It will see repeat offenders jailed
for life, sparking an international outcry as
lawmakers hailed it as a victory against "evil."
"There has been pressure from religious
leaders and parliament to sign the bill into law,"
presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi told
AFP, adding that Museveni "won't rush to
assent the bill before he studies it" fully.
"President Museveni is a practical president,
he takes decisions based on analysis and not on
how many support or are against it," he added.
Deputies voted overwhelmingly in favour of
the text, which has been condemned by rights
activists and world leaders---with US President
Barack Obama describing it as "odious" and
Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu comparing
it to apartheid.
But gay rights activists in Uganda say the
legislation has widespread support in the
fiercely homophobic nation. (AP)
The condition of
Israel's former Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon---
who has been in a coma
since 2006---is now
critical, "with some
danger to life," his doctors have said.
Sharon, 85, is suffering from a malfunction of
several organs including the kidneys, they said.
He became prime minister in 2001 and
suffered a mild stroke in 2005.
After a second, major stroke in 2006, he went
into a coma and has been in a persistent
vegetative state ever since.
Giving the first official medical statement on
the current situation, Professor Zeev Rotstein of
Tel Hashomer hospital, said: "I am no prophet,
but the feeling of his doctors and his sons...is
that there has been a change for the worse.
"We are defining his condition as critical, and
there is definitely a threat to his life. The feeling
of everyone...is that this decline is very serious."
Sharon's family is at his bedside. (AP)
Fresh Prince actor James Avery dies, aged 68 James
In this Tuesday image passengers from the
Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy link
arms and stamp out a helicopter landing site
on the ice near the trapped ship 1,500 nautical
miles south of Hobart, Australia. AP PHOTO
52 rescued from
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