Lawmaker guilty of bribery
A once-influential Japanese lawmaker from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling party was handed a two-year jail term and fined ?11 million (US$104,000) yesterday on bribery and perjury charges. Muneo Suzuki, formerly a heavyweight in the most powerful faction of Koizumi's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was arrested in June 2002. Tokyo District Court judge Shoichi Yagi found Suzuki guilty on two counts of bribery, one count of hiding political donations and one count of perjury, court spokesman Hideaki Wada said.
Quake survivor released
A two-year-old Japanese boy who had survived four days under rubble and became a symbol of the suffering of a killer earthquake was released Friday from hospital and declared in good health. With toy animals in his hands, Yuta Minagawa waved to waiting cameras as he buoyantly left Nagaoka Red Cross Hospital in central Niigata prefecture after nine days of treatment. But experts believe Yuta could be psychologically scarred for life by his ordeal. The toddler spent four nights in a space 50 centimeters wide and 1m underneath a wrecked mini-van, which had been carrying Yuta and his mother and sister who both died.
Aborigines lose voice
Australia's Aborigines have lost their only voice in parliament. Although 23 indigenous candidates ran in Australia's Oct. 9 national elections, none was successful and the only sitting black senator, Aden Ridgeway, lost his seat, electoral officials announced this week. The loss of a black political voice comes on top of the strained relationship between Aborigines and Prime Minister John Howard's conservative government, which has refused to apologise for historical injustices against Aborigines. The failure of Aborigines at the ballot box has prompted calls for race-based seats for Aborigines to give a parliamentary voice to one of the most disadvantaged groups in Australia.
Doctors yesterday urged that a TV program set to show a man eating live centipedes and cockroaches be canceled, saying it might endanger the lives of copycat youngsters. Wek Srikhaimook -- nicknamed "Wek Cockroach" -- plans to eat the insects during a show which is to be aired on Monday. Wek says he's been eating the creatures for more than 10 years and claims that he's experienced no ill effects, but several experts disagree. "Human beings should not eat live cockroaches and centipedes because the insects carry poison and bacteria which will cause damage to the liver in the long run," a veterinarian, told a local radio station.
Sleep and SM don't mix
A man whose slumber was interrupted by noises from
a nearby sadomasochism parlour inflicted his own punishment on a patron
by shooting him with a
gas pistol in a bid for peace
and quiet, police said on Thursday. "He couldn't take it any more and decided to take the law into his own hands -- at 1:45am," a spokesman for police in the southern city of Nuremberg said. Police said the man, 22, entered the neighboring club to complain about the noise and attacked the 37-year-old client with the gas-firing pistol after finding the dominatrices absent. The victim suffered a cut lip and impaired hearing.
■ The Netherlands
Group suspected of murder
A letter left on the body of
a filmmaker murdered in Amsterdam contained death threats against a Dutch politician and appears to have been written by an unknown organization, Justice Minister Piet