Religious fanatics jailed
A court yesterday sentenced religious fanatics who killed three members of a minority Muslim sect in a frenzied mob attack to between three and six months in jail. Dani bin Misra, a 17-year-old who smashed a victim’s skull with a stone, received three months for manslaughter. Idris bin Mahdani, who led the mob of more than 1,000 Muslims in the February attack, was convicted of illegal possession of a machete and received five months and 15 days in jail. Twelve people stood trial, but none faced murder charges in what human rights activists said was a travesty of justice in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Ahmadiyah, unlike mainstream Muslims, do not believe Mohammed was the last prophet and are regarded as heretics and blasphemers by conservatives in places like Indonesia and Pakistan.
More bodies recovered
Disaster officials say more bodies have been recovered from flood waters and landslides in the north of the country. The discoveries raise the death toll from a storm to 35. Civil Defense Administrator Benito Ramos said 25 fishermen remain missing, nearly all of them from one boat that sank in the center of the country. Ramos said yesterday that among the bodies rescuers have recovered were those of two government mines bureau staffers and the two police officers with them. The weather bureau said Tropical Storm Nock-ten was heading to southern China with maximum winds of 95kph.
Smoke makes jet do U-turn
An Air Canada plane bound for Vancouver was forced to dump fuel and return to Sydney yesterday after crew reported smoke coming from an oven in the galley, the airline said. The Boeing 777 aircraft landed safely without incident, according to a Sydney Airport spokesman. Air Canada’s general manager for Australia and New Zealand Jeannie Foster was quoted by local media as saying the plane returned to Sydney as a precaution, denying earlier reports of a fire. “A crew member saw smoke come out of the oven in the galley and informed the captain. The captain took the precaution to return to Sydney ... No emergency was declared. There was no fire, only smoke,” she was quoted as saying on Sky News.
Two killed in plane crash
The pilot and co-pilot of an Asiana Airlines cargo plane were killed when the aircraft caught fire and crashed yesterday off the southern island of Jeju, officials said. Investigations were focusing on whether inflammable material in the hold of the Boeing 747-400 sparked the blaze. The plane left the country’s main international airport at Incheon at 3:05am bound for Shanghai’s Pudong airport, but about an hour after takeoff the pilot radioed Chinese air traffic controllers in Shanghai and said that a fire had broken out in the hold and that the plane had to divert to Jeju, transport ministry officials said.
Missing teen confirmed dead
A teenager missing since the shootings on Norway’s Utoeya island was confirmed yesterday to have been killed in the massacre. “It is with great sadness and pain that today we got the message we have feared would come through. Our beloved daughter Sharidyn Meegan Ngahiwi Svebakk-Bohn is confirmed dead,” her parents said in a statement. Sharidyn, 14, is believed to be the youngest victim among the 68 people killed by a gunman last week.
Workers look for high pay
Workers put pay above job satisfaction when changing jobs, in a reversal of priorities from last year, a survey showed on Wednesday. The survey of 2,000 employees by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed 54 percent of workers see pay as the main reason for wanting to change jobs, whereas last year 61 percent cited job satisfaction as their priority. In an environment of pay freezes, high inflation and slow growth, 36 percent of those surveyed reported a decline in the quality of life in the past six months, the institute said. In the survey, 18 percent said they almost or almost always run out of money before payday, and the same proportion said they find paying the bills a constant struggle, the institute said.
Drink spiller found guilty
A man was found guilty of assault on Wednesday for spilling a whiskey and water drink near President Jacob Zuma at the country’s premier horse race last year, local media reported. Charges were laid against Daryl Peense, a betting agent, after an incident at the Durban July horse race a year ago in which he allegedly spilled his drink over Zuma from a balcony. Peense was found guilty of assault on Wednesday and sentencing has been postponed to Sept. 7, SAPA news agency reported, citing a National Prosecution Authority spokeswoman. His attorney told the court earlier that Peense was drunk at the time and only a small quantity of whiskey was spilled from his glass.
ISS to be de-orbited in 2020
Moscow plans to de-orbit the mammoth International Space Station (ISS) in a controlled descent into the Pacific in 2020, a top space official said on Wednesday. Vitaly Davydov, the deputy head of Russia’s federal space agency, Roscosmos, said that the station “cannot be left in orbit” after it stops operation. He said in a Web-posted statement that the station would have to be de-orbited in a “planned crash so that there is no space junk left behind.” The colossal station that cost billions is the biggest orbiting outpost ever built and can sometimes be seen from the Earth with the naked eye. It now consists of more than a dozen modules built by the US, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency. Moscow sank its Mir space station in the Pacific in 1998 after five years in operation.
Tape sheds light on case
The recording of a phone conversation between a New York maid who has accused the former IMF chief of attempted rape and a jailed friend proves she is not after money, her lawyer said on Wednesday. Nafissatou Diallo “never said the words” attributed to her by a newspaper that Dominique Strauss-Kahn had a lot of money, her lawyer Kenneth Thompson told reporters, adding that she also had the right to pursue a civil lawsuit. “I’m telling you that certain things were said that were merged together in this quote that was given to the New York Times,” Thompson told reporters. He was speaking after Diallo, 32, and her lawyer spent eight hours with the prosecutors at the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Wednesday amid questions about her credibility. The French politician and former head of the IMF has denied seven charges of attempted rape and sexual assault arising out of the incident in his Sofitel hotel suite on May 14. Diallo went public for the first time on Sunday saying she wanted justice as the case against Strauss-Kahn, 62, appeared to crumble and also to clear her name.
Hero pooch show to air
Film star Ewan McGregor and actress and animal rights campaigner Betty White will join Whoopi Goldberg and other stars on a panel to judge a new heroic dog award show, the Hallmark Channel said on Wednesday. The American Humane Association is bringing the celebrities on board for its inaugural “Hero Dog Awards,” a TV contest which recognizes “thousands of specially trained dogs giving comfort to people every day,” the association said. The winning dogs will also get to attend their own red carpet awards gala. Canine movie star Rin Tin Tin will be given a special legacy award, presented to one of his doggie descendants.
War crimes suspect held
Ottawa on Wednesday announced the arrest of a Peruvian suspected of complicity in war crimes — the fourth such arrest since the government issued a list of 30 wanted foreign fugitives last week. Henry Pantoja Carbonel, 53, was taken into custody in the Toronto area thanks to “tips and information” provided by the public, public safety minister Vic Toews told a press conference. The minister did not explain the crimes allegedly committed by the Peruvian national, who was in custody pending extradition.
Playboy show irks watchdog
A TV watchdog group on Wednesday accused NBC of glamorizing the porn industry in its upcoming new drama series The Playboy Club and urged NBC affiliates around the US not to air it. In letters to NBC’s local TV stations, the 1.3 million member Parents Television Council said the drama “glorifies and glamorizes this insidious industry” and that pornography destroys families and exploits women. The Playboy Club, which is due to debut on Sept. 19 in the 10pm timeslot, is set in the early 1960s and centers around the lives of Playboy Bunnies and customers of the original Playboy Club in Chicago. It is described by NBC as a “provocative new drama.”
Drug threat to election
Drug traffickers pose a serious threat to general elections in September, President Alvaro Colom said in an interview published on Wednesday in Mexico. The nation has stepped up a military clampdown on drug traffickers after 27 farm workers were found decapitated in Peten Department in May in a crime blamed on Mexico’s Zetas drug gang. During the elections, drug gangs “will try to recover their influence at a local level, in parliament, in the presidency, at all levels,” Colom told Mexico’s La Jornada daily. “We’ve put more than 6,400 people with links to drug trafficking in jail ... seven out of 10 members of Guatemalan drug cartels are behind bars ... and they don’t like that.” Elections will be held on Sept. 11 for a new president and vice president.
Woman hit in face by arrow
An 80-year-old US woman who was enjoying a doughnut at her kitchen table was hit in the face by a stray arrow apparently shot by a neighbor honing his archery skills, police said on Wednesday. The woman, great-grandmother Margaret Shofner, calmly pulled the arrow out of her jaw on Tuesday morning and put it on her table. She did not require hospitalization and was not sure at first what hit her. Police found nearby resident Robert Joiner, 26, still practicing his bow and arrow shots an hour after the incident. He was charged with second-degree assault and armed criminal action, police said. He was released on US$25,000 bail.
‘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