Penguin search widened
Keepers looking for a runaway penguin widened their search yesterday, asking birdwatchers on Tokyo’s rivers for help in tracking down the escapee, five days after it broke out of an aquarium. Staff at Tokyo Sea Life Park said they believed the penguin was alive and well and somewhere in the capital after receiving reports it had successfully fed itself. “We haven’t given up hope,” Satoshi Toda of the park said. “We have received information that indicates the penguin caught some fish and ate them, so we are hopeful that the bird is still alive.” Keepers believe the 60cm bird made its break for freedom after being startled into climbing over a rock twice its size, in an escape that has been compared to the exploits of animals in the animated film Madagascar.
Whale catch below target
The country ended this season’s whale hunt in the Antarctic Ocean having caught less than one-third of its original target, the Fisheries Agency said yesterday. Whalers killed 266 minke whales and one fin whale, the agency said, well below the approximately 900 they had been aiming for when they left the country in December last year. The whalers had left the southern waters by Thursday “as scheduled,” the agency said. It made no reference to the frequent high-seas confrontations with anti-whaling activists.
Quakes strike the northwest
Officials said two moderately strong earthquakes hit the northwest with no damage reported so far. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the magnitude 5.3 quake before dawn yesterday was centered 17km southwest of Looc township on Lubang island in Mindoro Occidental province. It was felt in Manila, about 130km northeast. Hours earlier, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck the same area, causing no damage.
Rinehart spat spills out
Lawyers for mining magnate Gina Rinehart, one of the world’s wealthiest people, told her estranged children yesterday to “go out and earn for themselves” after she lost a legal challenge to keep details of a family dispute out of the media. Rinehart, identified by Forbes magazine the world’s 29th-richest person with a fortune of US$18 billion, has been battling her three eldest children, who want her ousted as trustee of the multibillion-dollar family trust. The children want to be appointed trustees in her place and they have made allegations of “serious misconduct.” “The plaintiff’s children have seen fit not to follow sound advice from family friends that if they are not happy they should go out and earn for themselves,” Rinehart’s law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth said in a statement.
N Koreans repatriated
Beijing has repatriated all 31 North Korean refugees it arrested last month despite international pressure against the move, activists said yesterday, warning they could face severe punishment. Campaigners fear the refugees could suffer abuse or even face execution for fleeing the country during the mourning period for late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died late last year. Do Hee-yun, head of the Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees, said the group of 31 people had been in three separate groups and were arrested in different places in China. “They were returned to the North clandestinely over the past two weeks,” Do said.
Topless protesters detained
Police detained four Ukrainian feminists who staged a topless protest in one of the busiest spots of Istanbul on Thursday, an Agence France-Presse photographer said. Four members of the Femen group chanted slogans and unfurled banners outside the Hagia Sophia church, now a museum, to protest domestic violence and to express solidarity with female victims of acid attacks. Shortly after the group’s protest marking International Women’s Day, police rushed to the scene and dragged the activists into a police vehicle. Femen, a small but feisty feminist group based in Ukraine, operates under the slogan: “I came, I stripped, I won,” and is known for protests that frequently see its members strip to the waist in public places.
Woman’s torso found: police
Police searching for a missing former soap-opera actress have pulled a woman’s torso from a London canal. They said the headless and limbless body was found on Tuesday in Regent’s Canal, near east London’s hip Broadway Market area, after a passer-by spotted something in the water. London police said on Wednesday that detectives believe they know the identity of the victim, but are awaiting forensic confirmation. Local media said detectives suspect the remains are those of Gemma McCluskie, who has been missing since last week. McCluskie starred in the popular soap EastEnders in 2001. Police said a 35-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the inquiry.
Man tells of mutilation
A man on trial for chopping off a love rival’s penis gave a detailed account on Thursday of his act and of the uneasy silence that followed as they awaited an ambulance. Blaise Fragione, 38, admitted that in October 2008 he knocked out the victim, named only as “F,” with a blow to the head, severed most of his penis with a razor and flushed it down the toilet. Fragione, from Marseille, said that he “lost it” after F. came to brag to him that he was having a relationship with “Mado,” his partner of 14 years and mother of his two children. “Everything that I’d refused to believe, everything came to the surface and I lost it,” Fragione, a smaller but muscular man, told the court. “When I came back from the toilet I came back to earth,” he said. He called the emergency services while his wounded rival “was prostrate in a corner” applying pressure to staunch the bleeding from his mutilated groin. The victim’s lawyer, Gregoire Ladouari, said the victim, now aged 36, has “spent the last three years living in the hope of reconstructive surgery.” The woman has returned to her original partner, the accused, with whom she has had a third child. They plan to marry. Fragione faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of “aggravated assault accompanied by mutilation.”
A Royal Navy submariner appeared in court on Thursday, charged with leaking official secrets that could aid an enemy of the state. Petty Officer Edward Devenney, 29, is charged with communicating information that could be “directly or indirectly useful to the enemy,” in breach of the Official Secrets Act. Devenney, from Northern Ireland, was arrested on Tuesday in the English port of Plymouth, home to a large naval base. Devenney spoke only to confirm his name and age during a short hearing at London’s City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. He did not enter a plea.
Dolphin rescue goes viral
A dramatic video showing 30 beached dolphins being rescued by beachgoers has become an Internet sensation. The video shows dolphins suddenly beaching en masse on the Rio de Janeiro state coastline on Monday. They were apparently caught in a strong ocean current. Stunned beachgoers in swimming trunks at first look on as the dolphins’ high-pitched squeals are heard, but within seconds, people quickly race into the surf to help the dolphins. Dozens of people are seen swimming into the ocean and dragging the mammals by their tails in an effort to them back into deeper waters. The effort was apparently successful. After all the dolphins were rescued, the crowd of dolphin-savers and onlookers broke into cheers.
Bin Laden’s widows charged
Authorities have brought charges against Osama bin Laden’s three widows for illegally entering and living in the country, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday. The al-Qaeda leader was killed in a secret raid by US special forces in the garrison town of Abbottabad in May last year after a decade-long manhunt. His three wives and an undisclosed number of children were among the 16 people detained by Pakistani authorities after the raid. “They [the wives] were presented before the court. After that, they are on judicial remand and are being kept in a proper, legal manner,” Malik said. “Cases have been registered against the adults, not the children.” Two of the wives are Saudi nationals and one is from Yemen, according to the foreign ministry. Malik did not specify which court was dealing with the case, or where the women were being held. They will have to stand trial, but it was not clear what punishment they faced if convicted.
Prince Harry cuts program
Britain’s Prince Harry proved he was a top shot on Wednesday during his trip to the island nation, but he also changed his plans after learning that six fellow troops had been killed in Afghanistan. The British prince fired 16 live rounds on a 30m practice range and earned praise from a local army trainer. “Excellent shooting, a perfect grouping with perfect results,” Defense Force Sergeant Anthony Forbes said. However, the prince, who is an Apache helicopter pilot in the British Army, canceled a planned rappeling event after it emerged that the six troops had been killed in Afghanistan when a massive roadside bomb engulfed their armored vehicle. A statement said Prince Harry “did not wish to take part in a military activity which would be deemed peripheral to an Apache pilot,” following the deaths. “The focus for the British Army should be on its core professional roles and of looking after the bereaved of those tragically killed in Afghanistan,” on such a tragic day, the statement said.
Nayef in US for tests
Crown Prince Nayef has arrived in the US for medical tests, state television said yesterday. Prince Nayef arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, for “scheduled medical tests,” it said, without giving further details. King Abdullah appointed Interior Minister Prince Nayef as the new crown prince of the world’s top oil exporter in October, after former Crown Prince Sultan died of colon cancer in New York. Nayef, who is about 78 and is considered a conservative even by Saudi standards for his close ties with the austere Wahhabi sect of Islam, has been a pivotal figure and supervised the daily affairs of the kingdom in the absence of the king, who has back problems.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications