Dogfighting ring busted
An animal rights group yesterday said it helped police bust a South Korean syndicate operating a massive dogfighting ring and rescued 300 pitbulls. Two South Korean nationals and several Filipinos were arrested in the Friday raid at a 2 hectare farm in the city of San Pablo, just south of Manila, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) said. Many of the dogs were severely injured, with ripped ears and tongues, including 20 that needed to be euthanized, it said. “This appears to be a large operation and these South Koreans need to be punished,” PAWS program director Anna Cabrera said.
Jade seal auctioned
A carved jade seal used by the Chinese emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) was sold on Saturday at an auction in Toulouse for almost 700,000 euros (US$934,000), the auction house said. The seal is carved with dragons and four characters in the style of stamps from the Han era signifying “graceful trees providing pleasant shade,” according to the Saint Aubin auction house in the southwestern city. The 6.7cm2 seal appeared to be unique, it added. Also under the hammer was an 1807 letter from Josephine de Beauharnais, wife of former emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, addressed to the great diplomat and foreign minister Talleyrand, in which she confided concerns over her marriage. “I no longer have the courage that I had previously, what little that I still have diminishes every day and I foresee that I will be very unhappy this summer if I must go far from the emperor,” she wrote in the two-page letter that sold for 17,700 euros. Talleyrand had earlier organized a ball in Warsaw, where Napoleon met Maria Walewska, with whom he had a liaison.
Tsunami projections revised
A 35m tsunami could hit the coast in the wake of a massive earthquake, an expert panel has said after revising its worst case scenario projections following last year’s disaster. If a magnitude 9 earthquake struck in the Nankai Trough off the country’s central to western regions, huge swathes of the Pacific coastline could be inundated, with 20m-plus waves hitting areas from Tokyo down to the southwestern island of Kyushu. At the town of Kuroshio, in southwestern Kochi Prefecture, the tsunami could reach 34.4m — the highest level projected under the scenario, the Cabinet Office panel said late on Saturday. At the now offline Hamaoka nuclear power plant in central Shizuoka Prefecture, the tsunami could be as high as 21m, breaching the 18m breakwater that operators are currently constructing, the panel said.
Mafia boss arrested
Police have arrested a wanted Italian Mafia boss after he flew to Bangkok airport, Italian media said on Saturday. Vito Roberto Palazzolo, from Terrasini near the Sicilian capital Palermo and considered to be a leading member of the Cosa Nostra Sicilian Mafia for whom he laundered money, was arrested on Friday. He was sentenced in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 to nine years in jail for association with the Mafia and had been living in South Africa under the name Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko. South African authorities had declined to extradite the 64-year-old. Italian media reported that Thailand had agreed to his extradition to Italy, but that his lawyers said he was a South African national, even though he had assumed it under another identity.