City denies manhole threat
Mumbai officials are upset by a US warning about the risks of falling into manholes during the monsoon season. An item posted on the US consulate Web site said that workers in Mumbai sometimes open manholes at times of flooding and then leave them unmarked. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation rejected the statement, and said it had e-mailed the US consulate on Wednesday. Jairaj Phatak, the municipal commissioner, estimates that 10 people or fewer have died in such a manner in recent years.
Aussie jailed for drugs
An Australian man has been jailed for 22 years after he was found guilty of storing and trafficking ecstasy, the Vietnam News said yesterday. Nguyen Tuan Khanh, 49, an Australian of Vietnamese origin, and six Vietnamese were charged and convicted at a court in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday. According to the court verdict, the group supplied bars and dance clubs with 3,700 amphetamine pills and more than 45g of ketamine from October 2006 to March last year.
Police arrest lawmakers
Three members of parliament from opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim’s party were arrested outside the royal palace yesterday and held briefly, they said. The gathering was organized by ethnic Indian rights group Hindraf, which is seeking the release of its leaders who enraged the government in November by mounting a rally alleging discrimination. The arrests came a day after 2,000 protesters marched in the largest of a series of demonstrations against last week’s steep fuel price hike. The lawmakers were freed after about three hours of questioning.
‘Cowcam’ keeps out pests
Facial recognition systems are already being used on humans and now it is the turn of animals to have their muzzles and snouts identified for security purposes. Scientists have launched technology that uses video cameras to differentiate between species. They say the “cowcam” will keep unwanted animals out of remote watering and feed points in the outback and allow farmers to monitor their stock from home or office. “We use the unique side profile that every animal has and a software program similar to facial recognition technology that allows us to identify animals to a species level,” said Neal Finch, the joint inventor of the product and a researcher at the University of Queensland. “The camera can tell the difference between sheep and cattle and feral pests such as goats, horses, pigs, kangaroos, camels and emus.” When animals come to feed they will be forced to pass through a lane with the camera. “You could have a cattle station that has feral populations of horses or camels. The watering points are there for the cattle, so the camera would let the cattle through, but if a goat or a pig tried to get in the gate would shut against it,” he said.
Dolls, dogs can’t beat cops
Drivers in Auckland are turning to inflatable passengers to try to beat transit lane rules. Blow-up dolls, shop mannequins and dogs dressed as children have all been used to try to justify driving in lanes where vehicles are required to have at least three occupants. “There were some odd people that tried these antics,” North Shore city council traffic safety manager Andre Dannhauser said. Drivers caught trying to beat the system are fined. Enforcement officers taking pictures of offending cars in transit lanes have been treated to a wide range of excuses from caught-out motorists, Dannhauser said.
Rebels kill four soldiers
Separatist rebels killed four soldiers, including two senior officers, and their driver in an ambush in Kashmir on Friday, an army official said. “They were returning to their base camp when their vehicle was ambushed by the militants,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “All of them were killed on the spot after militants opened heavy and indiscriminate fire,” he said. No militant has claimed responsibility for the ambush. Those killed were a lieutenant colonel, a major, two soldiers and a driver, he said. An army spokesman said the attack took place 200km northeast of Jammu. Earlier on Friday, suspected separatist militants threw a grenade near a crowded market in Baramulla town to the north of Srinagar. At least 12 people were wounded, police said, adding the grenade was aimed at an army patrol.
Troops kill three rebels
Three communist rebels were killed yesterday in a clash with government troops in a southern province, a military report said. Three soldiers were wounded in the fighting that erupted when government troops raided before dawn a large guerrilla camp in Quezon town in Bukidnon Province, 900km south of Manila. The fighting lasted for more than three hours before the soldiers overran the camp and forced the guerrillas to escape into the jungle. Troops recovered three assault rifles, eight land mines, three sacks of bomb-making materials, one heavy-duty power generator, one computer printer and one laptop computer left behind by the fleeing rebels. More troops have been dispatched to the area to conduct pursuit operations.
Judge jails Islamic suspects
A judge on Friday jailed six Algerians on provisional charges of aiding terror groups linked to al-Qaeda in North Africa. Judge Baltasar Garzon said the six helped recruit people, raise money and provide logistical support for a group called al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb. The six were charged with membership in a terrorist group. Garzon said one of the six, Abdelghani Himmouri, had two timers ready to be used in bombs. The judge also issued international arrest orders for four others. Three other Algerians detained in police raids on Tuesday have been released. The nine men were arrested in the provinces of Barcelona, Navarra in the north and Castellon in the east on orders from the National Court, the Madrid-based tribunal that handles the nation’s terrorism cases.
Police kill traffickers: report
Police killed three armed Afghan drug traffickers and arrested three of their accomplices in the town of Khaf in the eastern province of Khorassan Razavi, Khaf police chief colonel Ali Asghar Mokhtari said on the state TV’s Web site on Friday. He did not elaborate on the nationality of those arrested, but added that police confiscated around 102kg of opium, a military rifle and a satellite phone.
Bruni song riles Colombia
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s knack for metaphors and publicity has made her new album notorious in South America even before anybody has heard it. The French president’s model-turned-singer wife has angered Colombia’s government with lyrics that reportedly appear on an album scheduled for release on July 21. Le Figaro daily reported that a song included the lines: “You are my drug/ More deadly than Afghan heroin/ More dangerous than white Colombian.” Whether this was a reference to her husband Nicolas Sarkozy or a former lover was unclear — but it was enough to rile Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo, who felt cocaine was an inappropriate metaphor for ardor given the mayhem the narcotic breeds. The Afghan government has not commented on the lyrics. There was no immediate response from Bruni-Sarkozy.
Friday 13th ‘not so unlucky’
Dutch statisticians have established that Friday 13th is actually safer than an average Friday. A study published on Thursday by the Dutch Center for Insurance Statistics (CVS) showed that fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays. “I find it hard to believe that it is because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home, but statistically speaking, driving is a little bit safer on Friday 13th,” CVS statistician Alex Hoen told the Verzekerd insurance magazine.
Soldiers to help fight crime
Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said on Friday that 2,500 soldiers would be deployed to some of the cities to back up police in anti-crime duties to safeguard citizen safety. After six months, the deployment’s usefulness will be evaluated. Some of the soldiers will be deployed in Naples, where they will guard plants processing mountains of garbage. Neapolitans have taken to burning garbage in the streets to protest uncollected trash in their city and have blocked the opening of dumps near their homes.
Ottawa asked to help Celil
Supporters of a Canadian imprisoned in China on terror charges say US government support for his release is beginning to outpace that of the Canadian government. World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer said on Thursday that Ottawa must immediately assign a special envoy to look after the case of Huseyin Celil. Celil was traveling on a Canadian passport when he was arrested in Uzbekistan two years ago and handed over to Chinese officials. Beijing accused him of terrorism and sentenced him to life in prison in April last year. US legislators have been backing Celil’s release.
Federal officials said they arrested 65 alleged drug and weapons traffickers in the south, following a grand jury indictment of more than 100 people. The suspects are accused of running drug distribution points at five public housing projects in the cities of Ponce and Juana Diaz since 2003. Police Chief Pedro Toledo said that 52 of those charged are responsible for 20 killings related to drug and arms trafficking. The US Attorney’s Office said the indictment late last month of 111 suspects linked to the network is the second-largest ever issued in the federal district court.
Contract killing trial begins
A former math professor at a historically black university will go on trial tomorrow, charged with arranging the contract killing of his black daughter-in-law because she was not Indian. As prosecutors prepare to try the death penalty case against Chiman Rai, their challenge will be to prove that Rai was so enraged over his son’s marriage to a black woman that he paid US$10,000 to have her killed in Georgia. Rai, a native of India, brought his family to the US in 1970. He taught math at Alcorn State University in Mississippi, later ran a supermarket and then bought a hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.
California fire burns on
Strong, erratic winds that had been complicating efforts to fight wildfires in northern California calmed down on Friday, but firefighters were still struggling to get the upper hand on one stubborn fire that scorched about 93km² and destroyed at least 50 homes. The fire was the most dangerous of northern California’s many wildfires because it was moving toward the town of Paradise, about 145km north of Sacramento, said Ruben Grijalva, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Officials ordered precautionary evacuations for 4,500 of the town’s 30,000 residents. About 9,000 resident evacuated the area a day earlier, but officials had reopened roads to some of those homes on Friday.
Pluto gets consolation prize
Pluto, demoted from planet status in 2006, got a consolation prize on Wednesday — it and other dwarf planets like it will be called plutoids. The International Astronomical Union said in a statement that its executive committee meeting in Oslo, Norway, decided on the term. Plutoids will be defined as celestial bodies in orbit around the Sun farther away than Neptune. They must have near-spherical shape and must not have swept up other, smaller objects in their orbits, said the organization, which names newly discovered planets and other celestial bodies. The two known and named plutoids are Pluto and Eris, but astronomers expect to find more.
SECONDARY OBJECTIVE: One of the researchers said the discovery would not lead to a ‘complete solution’ and that plastic should not be released into the environment A bacterium that feeds on toxic plastic has been discovered by scientists. The bug not only breaks the plastic down, but uses it as food to power the process. The bacterium, which was found at a waste site where plastic had been dumped, is the first that is known to attack polyurethane. Millions of tonnes of the plastic are produced every year to use in items such as sports shoes, diapers, kitchen sponges and as foam insulation, but it is mostly sent to landfills, because it is too tough to recycle. When broken down it can release toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, which
Tokyo and the Osaka area in western Japan hunkered down yesterday as officials urged people to stay indoors to prevent a potential emergency, but some were carrying on as normal. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s plea for the tens of millions of people in the capital and surrounding regions to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings until April 12, and particularly this weekend, followed a surge in coronavirus infections this week that she said put Tokyo on the brink of an emergency. Koike urged people to avoid the national pastime of congregating to drink and watch cherry blossoms as they hit their peak in the
IN CUSTODY: The alleged ringleader allegedly forced victims to carve ‘slave’ into their bodies and send him degrading images that were shared with scores of others A sexual blackmail ring that operated on the app Telegram and targeted dozens of women, including underage girls, has rocked South Korea and triggered demands for authorities to crack down on the rising number of sexual offences online. Police yesterday took the unusual step of naming the man who allegedly ran an online network that lured at least 58 women and 16 girls into what authorities called “virtual enslavement” by blackmailing them into sending degrading and, in some cases, violent sexual images of themselves. Cho Ju-bin faces charges of violating the Child Protection Act, the Privacy Act and the Sexual Abuse Act,
LEGISLATION PRAISED: The southern jet stream wind system appears to have stopped moving southward and might be moving back to normal, scientists said International cooperation on ozone-depleting chemicals is helping to return the southern jet stream to a normal state after decades of disruption, a study shows. Scientists say the findings prove that there is the capacity to heal damaged climate systems if governments act promptly and in coordination to deal with the causes. The southern jet stream is a powerful wind that shapes weather patterns and ocean currents in the southern hemisphere, particularly in the summer. Up until about 2000, it had been shifting from its usual course and moving southward at a rate of 1° of latitude each decade, affecting storm tracks and rainfall