Xena protests drilling
Television actress Lucy Lawless climbed aboard an oil-drilling ship yesterday, joining six Greenpeace activists to try to stop the vessel from setting off for the Arctic. Speaking from atop a 53m drilling tower aboard the Noble Discoverer in Port Taranaki, Lawless said yesterday that the wind was making it difficult to stay put, but that she and the other protesters planned to stay there for “as long as we possibly can.” Police spokesman Grant Ogilvie said early yesterday afternoon that five police officers boarded the ship. They had made contact with the protesters and were trying to determine their intentions. Lawless, 43, a native New Zealander, is best known for her title role in Xena: Warrior Princess. More recently she has starred in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Lawless said she was taking direct protest action for the first time in her life to protest oil drilling and to draw attention to climate change.
Man acquitted of murder
A man who has spent three years behind bars for allegedly murdering his model girlfriend by “spear throwing” her from a popular tourist cliff was yesterday acquitted on appeal. Gordon Wood was convicted by a jury in 2008 of killing Caroline Byrne by tossing her off Sydney’s famous The Gap, a rocky coastal outcrop long popular with suicidal jumpers, as well as tourists. Wood’s lawyer appealed on several grounds, including that the scientific evidence presented to the court, and a three-judge appeals panel found that suicide could not be excluded as the cause of death. “I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Gordon Wood murdered Caroline Byrne as charged, accordingly he must be acquitted,” Justice Peter McClellan said.
Rain to entertain soldiers
South Korean pop icon Rain will serve as an “entertainment soldier” for the remainder of his two years of compulsory military service, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday. Rain will appear in television and radio program of the Korean Forces Network, a broadcaster run by the ministry to boost morale, and take part in weekly concert tours to military units across the country. Fans from across Asia wept in October last year when the 29-year-old entertainer entered boot camp to start his mandatory military service. He was said to be adjusting well to military life, being judged a top marksman and groomed to become an assistant instructor. All eligible South Korean men must spend about two years in the military. The country has remained technically at war with North Korea since the 1950 to 1953 Korean war conflict ended without a peace treaty.
Officials fired for land grab
An official said that two local leaders have been fired and another three reprimanded after illegally evicting a fish farmer from his land. The case has captivated the nation. The official from Tien Lang district in northern Hai Phong City said former people’s committee chairman Le Van Hien and deputy Nguyen Van Khanh were fired on Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Hien approved the decision to evict farmer Doan Van Vuon last month. Six police and soldiers were wounded when they stormed the property. Vuon’s family resisted with homemade land mines and improvised shotguns. Another local official, along with the police and army chiefs, were also reprimanded for their role.