Firestarter gets 13 years
A woman who set at least 21 forest fires on Adelaide’s outskirts on the hottest days of 2007 was sentenced to 13 years in prison yesterday. Helen White, 45, is one of only a few women convicted of setting fire to forests. In February, forest fires outside Melbourne killed 173 people, destroyed more than 1,800 houses and left 7,500 people homeless. Unlike those fires, some of which were also caused by arson, the blazes caused by White caused little damage. Judge Michael Boylan said that without White’s guilty plea, he would have sent the mother of two young children to prison for 18 years.
Bag thief receives fine
A woman with a drug habit stole more than 1,000 bags from the luggage carousels at Perth airport, a court in the West Australian state capital was told yesterday. Asvina Dhatt, 29, got off with a fine of A$950 (US$665) and a suspended prison sentence of eight months. Dhatt was charged last year after police found the luggage among other stolen property at her Perth home.
Racism waning: researchers
Most Aborigines marry non-indigenous spouses, new research has shown. Analysis of the 2006 census reveals that 52 percent of Aboriginal men and 55 percent of Aboriginal women were married to non-Aboriginal spouses. In larger east coast cities the intermarriage rate was well above 70 percent and in Sydney as many as nine out of 10 university-educated Aborigines had a non-indigenous partner. Researchers from Melbourne’s Monash University say the growth in intermarriage is evidence that racism is waning. Bob Birrell, who led the research, said: “In the US the social divide between black and white is deep, and intermarriage rates with African-Americans is 8 percent. We don’t see any parallel here. Prejudice to intermarriage has pretty much evaporated.” He said a growing number of people identified themselves as Aboriginal — up from 250,738 in 1982 to 455,028 in 2006 — which was further evidence of declining prejudice.
Watchdog bans cosmetics
A safety watchdog said yesterday it had banned a local cosmetics company from selling five products which used raw materials contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. The products from L’Ocean cosmetics company were being taken off the shelves, the Korea Food and Drug Administration said. The products were made using talcum powder imported from China, which was found to have been contaminated with asbestos, it said in a statement.
Retiree beaten at memorial
A 75-year-old retired professor said yesterday that he was beaten for commemorating the death of a reformist communist leader ousted for sympathizing with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protesters. Sun Wenguang (孫文廣) said five men attacked him on Saturday while he was trying to pay his respects to Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽), the former general secretary of the Communist Party. The weekend marked Tomb-sweeping Festival, during which people honor the dead. Sun said he was followed by a police car on Saturday when he went to visit a memorial honoring martyrs. He was attacked when he entered the cemetery and pushed off the edge of the path, which was 2m high. He was then beaten and “kicked like a football” for more than 10 minutes. “They broke three of my ribs,” he said from Jinan hospital.
British oil worker taken