Court orders jail for rapists
An appeal court yesterday overturned a judge’s ruling allowing three men and two boys who raped a 10-year-old girl in an Outback community to avoid prison time. The Queensland state Court of Appeal ordered three men and two teenagers who pleaded guilty to the rape in a remote Aboriginal community in mid-2006 to serve jail sentences. The three adults were sentenced yesterday to six years in prison. They will be eligible for parole on June 13, 2010. The two teenagers were ordered detained in juvenile detention. One is to serve 18 months and the other a year. Four other teenagers who also pleaded guilty to the crime were given three years probation.
Rebels free TV cameraman
Suspected al-Qaeda-linked militants have freed a cameraman for ABS-CBN, but his two colleagues remain captive, officials said yesterday. Popular anchor and senior reporter Ces Drilon and cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion were still being held by suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels, officials said. Isnaji Alvarez, mayor of Indanan township on troubled Jolo island and one of the negotiators, said by telephone yesterday that Angelo Valderama was freed late on Thursday. He said he turned over Valderama to authorities after the abductors were paid a “minimal amount” for the hostages’ food expenses.
Boost immigration: panel
The government should deal with a dearth of young people by boosting the number of immigrants to 10 percent of the population, said a ruling party panel report set to be presented to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda next week. The nation faces a bleak future as its population ages faster than that of any other country and is set to shrink by a third in 50 years if current trends continue. Foreigners made up less than 2 percent of the nearly 128 million population in late 2006, government statistics show, but many have expressed concern that crime could rise if more immigration was allowed. The report also called for Japan to accept more refugees. Asylum seekers are currently admitted to Japan only in very rare cases.
Police probing 'copycats'
Police said yesterday they were probing a number of Internet postings warning of copycat crimes after a stabbing spree in Tokyo’s Akihabara area on Sunday by a distraught young man who had foretold of his plans online. After a tipoff by Tokyo police, authorities in northern Yamagata Prefecture on Thursday arrested a man who had written the name of a musical instruments shop in a chatroom, saying: “I will ram into the store with a truck!” The suspect, Takuya Oki, 29, later told investigators he “sent the posting to imitate the Akihabara incident after watching it on the news.” Tokyo police received more than 100 calls about suspicious Internet postings in the four days from Monday, 10 times more than usual, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.
Jail for armpit fetish
A man with a fetish for smelling womens’ armpits has been sentenced to 14 years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane, legal officials said yesterday. A court employee confirmed the sentence, issued on Thursday, against Mohammed Ismail Ariffin, 36. Ariffin had a fixation for touching or smelling women, particularly their armpits, and was convicted of molesting 23 women, his lawyer Noor Mohamed Marican said. “He’s got this problem. Poor chap,” Noor said in a brief interview.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Couple accused of murder
A couple have been accused of murdering a man who died after he was assaulted in a supermarket in southwest London, police said yesterday. Kevin Tripp, 57, died in hospital late on Wednesday night after suffering a head injury during an incident at the Sainsbury’s store in Colliers Wood, Merton, on Tuesday evening. Media reports said Tripp had been attacked in a case of mistaken identity after a row about jumping the line. On Thursday Tony Virasami, 37, appeared at Wimbledon magistrates court charged with his murder. He was remanded in custody until Sept. 18. His partner, Antoinette Richardson, 37, has also been charged with murder and was due to appear before Sutton magistrates court later yesterday.
Rebels down helicopter
Rebel forces said on Thursday they shot down one government helicopter and hit another in a fresh offensive from the east aimed at overthrowing Chadian President Idriss Deby. The army said a helicopter made a crash landing after technical problems during training. Irish troops stationed in east Chad as part of an EU protection force for UN-run refugee camps said they had received reports of combat at Modeina near the Sudan border, 70km northeast of the Irish base at Goz-Beida. “I can confirm that a Chadian helicopter has been taken down just outside Abeche near the airfield in what appears to be a controlled crash-landing due to damage sustained from ground fire from 23mm anti-aircraft weapons,” Commandant Stephen Morgan said.
Child phone addicts treated
Two children are being treated for addiction to mobile phones, in what is thought to be first case of its kind in the country. The children, 12 and 13, were admitted to a mental health clinic by their parents because they could not carry out normal activities without their phones. The children were failing at school and, behind their parents’ backs, were deceiving relatives to try to get money to pay for the phone cards. Both spent an average of six hours a day on the phone, talking, texting or playing video games. Maite Utges, director of the Child and Youth Mental Health Center in Lleida where the children are being treated, said: “It is the first time we have used a specific treatment to cure a dependence on the mobile phone. They both had serious difficulties leading normal lives.”
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Bomber's partner jailed
The partner of a failed suicide bomber was jailed for 15 years on Thursday for not telling police about his plans to carry out an attack on the London underground system. Judge Paul Worsley told Yeshi Girma, 32, that it was clear she knew of plans by her partner, Hussain Osman, to set off explosions on the transit system on July 21, 2005. The bombs failed to explode fully and no one was injured. “You could have done much more to prevent the terrorist threat to the public had you revealed what you knew,” Worsley said.
Police detain 18 after raids
Spanish police detained at least 18 people in swoops on Russian money launderers and arms traffickers yesterday, media reported. The judge who ordered the operation had issued a total of 25 arrest warrants, police sources said. The detainees reportedly included at least four ring leaders. More than 300 police participated in the swoops in Malaga, on the southern Costa del Sol, Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante and the Balearic Islands.
■ UNITED STATES
Obama, McCain condoms
An entrepreneur has decided to “have fun” with the US presidential campaign by marketing condoms featuring images of the candidates, Democrat Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain. Benjamin Sherman, who created the company Practice Safe Policy, says the Obama condom carries the slogan “Use With Good Judgment.” The McCain version says “Old But Not Expired.” McCain condoms “are battle tested, strong and durable, for those occasions when you just need to switch your position!” As for the Obama condoms, it’s certain “that without wearing one, there’s likely to be an Obama-Mama in your future.”
■ UNITED STATES
More bhang for your buck
Marijuana sold in the US today is on average more than twice as strong as it was 25 years ago, increasing the threat of serious mental impairment in users, US officials said on Thursday. The average level of THC — marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient — in seized samples is 9.6 percent, compared with just under 4 percent in 1983, the Office of National Drug Control Policy said.
Viagra for Father's Day
Men in the northern town of Escobedo are likely to have a happy Father’s Day, thanks to a mayor who is handing out free Viagra and condoms. Mayor Margarita Martinez says the handouts are part of a campaign aimed at raising awareness about male health problems. Martinez say a strong family “requires a healthy man, and a healthy sex life is part of general health.” The campaign includes four doctors and a team of nurses who give free health exams and determine which men could be given the pills, donated by pharmacies. Thursday’s handout continues through Father’s Day tomorrow. Security guard Jose Isabel Rico was among the lucky 100. “Of course I’m going to use the pills,” he said. “We’ll see what they do.”
Robbers stage bold art heist
A gang of armed robbers on Thursday stole two Picasso engravings and two Brazilian paintings from a Sao Paulo museum in a bold daylight heist, officials said. The Pablo Picasso engravings stolen Thursday were Minotaur, Drinker and Women (1933), and The Painter and the Model (1963). The two Brazilian works were Women at the Window (1926), by Emiliano Augusto Cavalcanti de Albuquerque Melo, and Couple (1919), by Lithuanian-born Brazilian artist Lasar Segall. The robbery occurred around midday on the second floor of the museum, when three men carrying firearms and wearing masks rounded up the guards.
Lawmaker sorry for remark
A Conservative lawmaker apologized on Thursday for a remark he made about Aborigines on the same day the prime minister offered an historic apology to the community. Pierre Poilievre said his comments that native people need to learn the value of hard work more than they need compensation were hurtful and wrong. “I accept responsibility for them and I apologize,” he said. Poilievre, a member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tory government, questioned the value of compensation for former students of the schools on a radio show on Wednesday, just hours before Harper delivered the apology. The Aboriginal community won a C$5 billion (about US$5 billion) class action settlement in 2006 — the largest in the country’s history — between the government, churches and 90,000 surviving students.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications