Alligator bite victim charged
A Florida airboat captain whose hand was bitten off by a 2.7m alligator faces charges of feeding the animal. Collier County Jail records show 63-year-old Wallace Weatherholt was charged on Friday with unlawful feeding of an alligator and later posted a US$1,000 bond. Weatherholt was attacked on June 12 as he was giving an Indiana family a tour of the Everglades. The family said Weatherholt hung a fish over the side of the boat and had his hand at the water’s surface when the alligator attacked. Wildlife officers tracked and euthanized the alligator. Weatherholt’s hand was found, but could not be reattached. A criminal investigation followed because feeding alligators is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Zoo has sixth panda cub
A 20-year-old giant panda, Bai Yun, has given birth at the San Diego Zoo, setting a record. Officials say it is the sixth cub born at the zoo and the most at a breeding facility outside of China. In a blog post, zoo officials said Bai Yun immediately scooped the cub into her arms and comforted the newborn. Because of Bai Yun’s advanced age, the pregnancy was considered high-risk, but zookeepers said mother and baby are doing fine. The sex of the cub will not be known for several months.
FARC release pilots
Leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas released two civilian helicopter pilots they were holding hostage to members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the group said on Sunday. The pilots, who were kidnapped on July 10, were taken to the city of Popayan, 650km southwest of Bogota, where they will meet with relatives, the ICRC said in a statement. The pilots, identified as Juan Carlos Alvarez and Alejandro de Jesus Ocampo, were handed to representatives of ICRC and a local human rights group in Cauca Province, the ICRC said. The rebels captured the pilots when their helicopter made an emergency landing in a football field in the village of El Plateado. The rebels said that the helicopter had been flying surveillance.
Site sued for underage sex
Three Washington state teenagers who say they were sold online for sex have sued the Web site Backpage.com, a popular online portal for escort services, accusing the site’s owners of enabling their exploitation. Two 13-year-old girls from Pierce County and one 15-year-old from King County, filed the lawsuit on Friday in Pierce County Superior Court, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported on Sunday. Seattle attorney Liz McDougall, who represents Backpage’s corporate owners, said the lawsuit will not pass legal muster. The lawsuit alleges that photographs of the underage girls in skimpy garb appeared on ads on the site, paid for by their pimps. It accuses the owners of doing nothing to prevent it.
Ex-PM guilty of graft
Former prime minister Laisenia Qarese was found guilty of abuse of office yesterday in a long-running corruption case dating back to the early 1990s. Qarese, who became prime minister in 2000 and was ousted in a military coup six years later, was convicted on nine charges of abuse of office and failing to discharge his duty in a case brought by the nation’s anti-corruption watchdog. Qarese, who pleaded not guilty, will be sentenced today and could face up to four years in jail. The conviction renders him ineligible to contest national elections to be held in 2014.