ENTER THE PIG
BEIJING (AP) — Asia is welcoming the lunar year of the pig with visits to temples, family banquets and the world’s biggest travel spree.
The streets of Beijing and other major Chinese cities were quiet and empty Tuesday after millions of people left to visit relatives or travel abroad during the year’s biggest family holiday.
Families gathered at home for multigenerational banquets. Shops, companies and government offices closed for the week.
In Hong Kong, worshippers stood in line for hours at the Wong Tai Sin Temple to welcome the lunar new year by lighting incense.
China’s railway ministry forecast mainland travelers would make 413 million trips during the three-week period around the holiday.
ASO APOLOGIZES FOR GAFFE
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso has reluctantly apologized for saying childless people are to blame for the country’s rising social security costs and its aging and declining population.
Aso said Tuesday that he apologized if some people found his remarks “unpleasant.”
The gaffe-prone Aso, who is 78, is among conservative lawmakers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government who have at times blamed the elderly or childless for long-term demographic trends.
Abe himself has acknowledged that lack of access to affordable child care, excessively long working hours, elder care and other realities of life, especially in Japan’s biggest cities, are major factors behind the country’s low birthrate. But promised labor and other reforms to help alleviate the burden on families that discourage couples from having more children have made limited headway.
PREDATOR BECOMES PREY
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — A man is recovering after he fought off and killed a mountain lion that attacked him during a trail run in northern Colorado.
Rebecca Ferrell, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, tells The Coloradoan the man was running alone at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins when he was attacked from behind Monday afternoon. The runner, whose name has not been released, fought off the cougar, hiked out of the area and drove himself to a hospital.
He suffered facial cuts, wrist injuries and puncture wounds to his arms, legs and back.
Wildlife officers searching the trail found the juvenile mountain lion’s body near several of the runner’s possessions.
The last mountain lion attack in Colorado was reported in June 2016 in Pitkin County.
MOVIES FOR GROWNUPS
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Have you got a grown-up state of mind? If so, the AARP has some film awards just for you.
For the 18th year, the organization for retired persons and its AARP, The Magazine, have awarded their “Movies for Grownups.” The ceremony was held Monday night and will be broadcast Feb. 15 on PBS.
Shirley MacLaine was honored for career achievement and “Green Book” was named best picture/best movie for grown-ups. Glenn Close earned best actress for “The Wife” and Viggo Mortensen best actor for “Green Book.”
In addition to recognizing 2018′s standout films with unique appeal to “movie lovers with a grown-up state of mind,” the awards recognize the “inspiring artists who make them,” according to a statement.
Best supporting actress went to Judi Dench for her role as William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, in “All is True,” a Shakespeare biopic directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh.
The awards, co-produced by the public television series “Great Performances,” was hosted by Martin Short.
Other winners include: Richard E. Grant for best supporting actor in “Can You Ever Forgive me?” and Spike Lee as best director for “BlacKkKlansman.”