Body exhumed for DNA test
The body of a former premier of the state of South Australia has been exhumed as part of a paternity case by a brother and sister who believe they are descendants of an alleged illegitimate child. DNA testing will be carried out on the remains of Charles Cameron Kingston, who died in 1908, the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper reported yesterday. It said his remains were exhumed in late March on the approval of the attorney-general. Kingston, premier from 1893 to 1899, was known for his sexual indiscretions as well as landmark legislation including giving women the right to vote and establishing a state bank.
Naked kid pics revolt Rudd
The arts community reacted with anger and amazement yesterday to the closure of a photo exhibition of naked children and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s condemnation of the images as “revolting.” Playwright Michael Gow said the treatment of photographer Bill Henson, whose exhibition of images of naked 12 and 13-year-olds was shut down by police last week, was unacceptable. Rudd led criticism of the dark and moody photographs after complaints from the public that they were pornographic. “I find them absolutely revolting,” he said, adding that they were without artistic merit.
No record for senior climber
A 75-year-old climber reached the top of Mount Everest yesterday, a day too late to reclaim his record as the summit’s oldest conqueror. Elderly mountaineer Yuichiro Miura congratulated Nepal’s Min Bahadur Sherchan, 76, who scaled the world’s highest peak on Sunday. “Congratulations to the 76-year-old for his successful ascent!” Miura said in a statement issued on Sunday from the C5 camp near the top of Everest. His supporters later said he reached the 8,848m summit at 1:48am GMT. Miura was hoping to reclaim the record set in 2003, when he climbed Everest at the age of 70.
Fire rips through embassy
Fire ripped through part of Myanmar’s embassy in Bangkok yesterday, closing the visa section and dashing the hopes of aid workers waiting to enter the country. The blaze was extinguished in about an hour, and no injuries were reported. Fire brigade official Anupon Saengdara said the cause was under investigation, but some suspected faulty wiring. Police said foul play was not suspected. Myanmar Ambassador U Ye Win was working when the fire broke out. “I smelled smoke,” the ambassador said. “Someone shouted ‘Fire!’ then I ran.”
Official defends uniforms
An official has defended the uniform for girls at government schools, rejecting claims it is too sexy and encourages rape and premarital sex. An Islamic group last week condemned the white blouse worn with a blue skirt or pinafore, saying it was “a distraction to men.” But Education Minister Hishamuddin Tun Hussein said it was wrong to blame students or their dress for sex crimes. “From what I have seen, clothing is not the main consideration of those who commit despicable acts. Usually, there is an underlying problem, such as a disease, that makes them behave that way,” he said. National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia vice-president Munirah Bahari called for a review of the uniform policy. “It becomes a distraction to men, who are drawn to it, whether or not they like looking at it,” she said. “All this leads to babies born out of wedlock and to an extent, even prostitution.”
Bus crash kills 23
Twenty-three people died when a passenger bus and a truck collided in western Iran on Sunday, two days after a similar crash elsewhere in the country killed or injured 34 people, a news agency said yesterday. The latest collision took place in Hamedan Province on a road to the capital Tehran, the semi-official Fars News Agency said. Friday’s traffic accident also involved a bus and a truck colliding and happened on a road between the western city of Kermanshah and the southern Gulf port of Bandar Abbas, Fars said, without specifying the number of fatalities. Iran has one of the highest road accident rates in the world.
Soldier charged in murder
A Kuwaiti soldier has been charged with murdering and then raping a Filipina domestic helper whose naked body was found in the desert 10 days ago, a newspaper reported yesterday. The soldier confessed to beating the victim to death and then raping her before dumping her corpse in the desert, claiming he was under the influence of alcohol, al-Qabas daily quoted a security source as saying. The victim, named as Fatima Sagadan Maulana in earlier press reports, went missing on May 9 and her decomposing body was found a week later in the Kabad desert southwest of Kuwait City.
Chemical plant catches fire
At least 30 people were killed and 38 injured in a fire in a chemical plant near the town of Shazand in central Iran on Sunday, the state news agency IRNA said. The fire in the cosmetics and detergent-producing plant was caused by a blast during welding work in a reservoir, IRNA said.
Verdict expected for ‘ogre’
The trial of admitted French serial killer Michel Fourniret and his wife heads for a verdict this week, with prosecutors seeking life in jail for the couple described as a “devil with two faces.” Fourniret, a 66-year-old machine operator, and Monique Olivier, a 59-year-old nurse, will be sentenced tomorrow at the end of a two-month trial exposing one of France’s most gruesome cases in recent years. Dubbed the “Ogre of the Ardennes,” the bespectacled grey-haired Fourniret has admitted to kidnapping, raping and murdering seven young girls and women between 1987 and 2001. His wife is accused of helping him trap victims including 12-year-old Elizabeth Brichet, who was kidnapped while walking home from a friend’s house in 1989, strangled and buried on the grounds of Fourniret’s chateau with a plastic bag over her head. The prosecution is seeking life imprisonment for Olivier, with no possibility of parole for 30 years. During the trial in the small town of Charleville-Mezieres in northeast France, the jury heard Fourniret admit that he had a sexual obsession with virgins. “I remain an extremely dangerous individual,” Fourniret told the court.
Power fails at hydro plants
A nationwide power outage hit Kenya on Sunday as a result of a transmission fault from its hydroelectric plants, officials said, sparking panic in the east African nation. The blackout started at 5:45pm and power began to be restored in phases after three hours, local media reported. The hydroelectric plants’ owners, official power generator KenGen, produces about 80 percent of electricity consumed in the country, using hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind resources.
Eleven killed in quake
The Red Cross in Bogota said on Sunday the death toll from a powerful earthquake in central Colombia has risen to 11, as aftershocks shook the region. Walter Cote, director of the country’s aid organization, told reporters that 54 people were seriously injured as a result of Saturday’s magnitude 5.5 quake, which also badly damaged about 400 homes. Among the dead were five people killed on the road between Bogota and the city of Villavicencio, capital of the Meta department. Three of the five were members of the same family — a father, mother and son — whose car was struck by falling rocks.
E-mail warns of bloodbath
Streets, nightclubs and restaurants were largely deserted this weekend in a city across from Texas where a widely circulated e-mail warned of a bloodbath. But violence did not appear to be worse than usual in Ciudad Juarez, home base of the powerful Juarez drug cartel and one of the hardest-hit cities in a surge of homicides across the country. Security officials reported at least six homicides since Saturday, including two municipal police officers who were riddled with machine-gun fire as they were getting into a car. Several businesses were set on fire, but nobody was hurt.
■ UNITED STATES
College inherits everything
A California radiologist left everything to his alma mater in western Pennsylvania. Absolutely everything. After the death of Larry Johnson, 68, from an apparent heart attack last year, Juniata College found itself the owner of possessions including his US$1.3 million condominium overlooking Monterey Bay, extensive music collection, Lexus, .38 caliber handgun, his cat named Princess and other items. Juniata officials said the donation, valued at US$6.5 million, is the largest ever for the 1,460-student school located about 160km east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It includes all of Johnson’s personal property, retirement assets and investment accounts.
■ UNITED STATES
Eight die in tornadoes
At least eight people were killed in the midwestern US on Sunday as a series of tornadoes swept through the region leaving behind a wake of destruction, CNN television reported. The network said seven people were found dead in northcentral Iowa, in the towns of Parkersburg and New Hartford when a tornado passed at about 6pm. Marble-sized hail also fell over Waterloo, where authorities reported significant damage to homes, trees and power lines, the report said. Iowa Governor Chet Culver declared a state of disaster in three counties. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, a separate twister killed a two-year-old child and seriously injured nine other people in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, CNN said.
Station’s return demanded
Opponents of President Hugo Chavez are marching to demand the return of an opposition-sided television station that was booted off public airwaves this week last year. Many are still upset by Chavez’s decision not to renew the broadcast license of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which had been critical of his government. Chavez replaced the network with a state-run channel that regularly transmits pro-government propaganda. RCTV now only airs on cable. Several thousand people marched through Venezuela’s capital on Sunday, shouting anti-Chavez slogans and demanding that RCTV’s broadcast license be returned. Chavez had repeatedly accused RCTV of violating broadcasting laws.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big