RWB slams blogger jailing
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RWB) called on the Hanoi government to halt a “dangerous” trend in “Chinese-style” censorship after a French-Vietnamese blogger was jailed for three years for attempted subversion. Pham Minh Hoang, who holds dual nationality, “should not be in prison,” the media rights group said in a statement released late on Wednesday following the conviction by a Ho Chi Minh City court. The 56-year-old, the latest peaceful democracy advocate to be convicted, was accused of “blackening the image of the country” in a series of articles under the pen name Phan Kien Quoc.
Say it with carrots
If your girlfriend’s favorite color is orange and you want to propose, maybe dressing yourself and 48 friends as giant carrots is the best way to get her to say yes. That’s what one lovestruck man in Qingdao did recently for Lovers’ Day, according to Chinese news reports and photos posted online. As bemused shoppers — and his girlfriend — looked on, the man spoke into a microphone inside his costume about their first date six months ago. He then peeled away his disguise and proposed. Shoppers shouted “marry him, marry him,” and she accepted. The reports say the proposal took him three weeks to plan and cost 100,000 yuan (US$15,000).
Top suspect flees court
One of the nation’s most wanted criminals appears to have made one of the most mundane of escapes when he slipped from police custody by walking out of a Pretoria court door along with the public. Bongani Moyo, arrested this year after a much publicized manhunt where his picture was plastered over nationwide media, was due at a hearing related to the armed robbery of nearly three dozen banks. Police would not comment on the incident, while correctional services spokesman Phumlani Ximiya said: “He was picked up by the police so he could go to court, and escaped under the nose of the police. We warned the police that this person had escaped before and therefore they should tighten their security.”
Ban urges aid for N Korea
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday said in Seoul that North Korea should be given humanitarian aid regardless of “political considerations or any other calculations.” Seoul suspended aid shipments in 2008 because of rising cross-border tensions. It fears any resumption of the aid could be diverted to the North’s 1.1 million-strong military. But Ban, a South Korean, told journalists that UN agencies had confirmed through inspections earlier this year as many as 6.1 million people faced a “serious humanitarian crisis” in the North. “The most important thing is to save human lives,” he said.
‘Sea crazy’ pilot arrested
A “sea crazy” helicopter pilot was arrested on Nauru after illegally landing on the island in search of candy and soft drinks, the Australian Broadcasting Corp said yesterday. The 24-year-old’s helicopter was impounded and he was locked up after parking on a beach near Nauru’s main supermarket, while he bought chocolates and soda, Nauru spokesman Rod Henshaw said. He had been stationed on a Taiwanese fishing vessel for more than two months and told police he was going “sea crazy,” Henshaw said. The pilot and a passenger face a maximum fine of A$100,000 (US$103,000) for unauthorized landing and an immigration breach.