■ PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Dog team exhausts search
An Australian search and rescue team sent to a mining exploration camp hit by a devastating landslide had found no more dead bodies after the initial 10 dead, a government aid official said yesterday. All the local people affected by the landslide in Eastern Highlands Province in the vicinity of a gold mine had been accounted for, the official, who did not want to be named, said. Dozens of people were earlier feared to have been trapped after the landslide struck on Thursday. The Australia Broadcasting Corp quoted an AusAid spokesman a saying that headcounts done in nearby villages had indicated everyone was accounted for. The emergency team of around five, including dog handlers with search dogs, was sent in on Saturday at the request of the government in Port Moresby.
Court sentences swindler
A court has given a suspended death sentence to a man accused of swindling investors out of 98 million yuan (US$14 million) through a get-rich-quick clover-growing scheme, state media reported on Saturday. Xi Hongyu was the mastermind behind the Fengtian Ecological Agriculture Technology Development Co, which from 2005 took money from thousands of people eager for a slice of the fast-growing economy, Xinhua news agency reported. Xi’s sentence, passed by a court the city of Shijiazhuang, means he faces a long prison sentence and could be executed if he misbehaves in the next two years. Ten of his associates were sentenced to jail terms of up to 15 years. Clover is a commercial crop used for livestock feed and healthcare products.
Surveillance beefed up
Authorities plan to increase surveillance of northern waters to catch human traffickers after a boat carrying 47 people was intercepted off the coast yesterday, a minister said. The boat with three crew and 44 passengers was intercepted by a navy warship in waters off the northwest coast, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said in a statement. It is the sixth boatload of suspected asylum seekers to enter territorial waters in two months. Most people who arrive in local waters this way are asylum seekers. But Debus said he did not yet know the nationalities of the latest arrivals nor whether they intended to apply for refugee visas. Debus said an additional navy patrol boat and surveillance plane will be deployed to the north because people smuggling is becoming more prevalent. The additions will bring the border protection force to 13 aircraft and 17 patrol boats. The latest arrivals will be taken to an immigration detention camp on Christmas Island.
Amsterdam plans cleanup
Amsterdam unveiled plans on Saturday to close brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes in its ancient city center as part of a major effort to drive organized crime out of the tourist haven. The city is targeting businesses that “generate criminality,” including gambling parlors and “coffeeshops” where marijuana is sold openly. Also targeted are peep shows, massage parlors and souvenir shops used by drug dealers for money-laundering. “I think that the new reality will be more in line with our image as a tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals” said Lodewijk Asscher, a city council member. The measures announced on Saturday would affect about 36 coffee shops in the center itself — a little less than 20 percent of the city total. Asscher underlined that the city center will remain true to its freewheeling reputation. It’ll be a place with 200 windows [for prostitutes] and 30 coffee shops, which you can’t find anywhere else in the world — very exciting, but also with cultural attractions,” Asscher said. “And you won’t have to be embarrassed to say you came.”