President Cristina Fernandez will go on a four-nation trip in a rented British airplane for fear that her official aircraft would be impounded in a debt dispute, the government said on Monday. Despite a bitter war of words with London over the Falkland Islands, Fernandez’s government is paying British air charter firm Chapman Freeborn US$880,000 for the trip to Cuba, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Vietnam. The government’s concern is very real: Last year, a court in Ghana impounded the Argentine Navy ship Libertad for two months following a request from NML Capital, a Cayman Islands-based investment firm. The company, denounced by the government as a “vulture” fund,” says Buenos Aires owes it US$370 million stemming from the nation’s debt default a decade ago.
Shooter unfit for trial
A judge declared a Korean-American man mentally unfit on Monday to stand trial over a shooting rampage that left seven dead at a religious college in California, reports said. Former nursing student One Goh had pleaded not guilty to murdering seven and wounding three execution-style in April last year shootings at Oikos University, a small Christian school in Oakland. Two court-appointed psychiatrists found Goh incompetent due to paranoid schizophrenia, according to Goh’s attorney, David Klaus, cited by the San Francisco Chronicle. The 44-year-old appeared in Alameda County Superior Court before Judge Carrie Panetta, who ordered Goh to return in three weeks for placement in an institution.
Oil rig reaches safe harbor
A Shell oil drilling rig that ran aground last week reached a safe harbor on Monday, where it will be examined to assess its seaworthiness after a week on the rocks near an Alaskan island. Stormy weather had wrestled the Kulluk from towing ships a week ago, and tossed it to the shore of Sitkalidak Island. On Sunday night, it was refloated ahead of the 48km tow, before dropping anchor just past noon on Monday in Kiliuda Bay, which was previously designated a refuge for disabled vessels. The fortunes of the saucer-shaped drillship, which worked in the Beaufort Sea late last year, face particular scrutiny because it was a major part of Royal Dutch Shell’s controversial and error-prone Arctic drilling program last year.
Berlusconi in deal with party
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced a deal on Monday with the Northern League — his fractious coalition partner in three governments — to jointly run in national elections next month, a move that could give fresh impetus to the center-right and extend the Berlusconi era. While leaving open the question of whether he will run himself, Berlusconi underlined his ambitions for the deal reached overnight at his villa near Milan by saying: “Habemus Papum,” — the Latin phrase for “We have a pope.”
Missoni seach ongoing
Hundreds of rescuers searched for a fourth day in planes, helicopters and boats on Monday, looking for a missing plane carrying Italian fashion executive Vittorio Missoni and five other people. Italian Ambassador Paolo Serpi flew over the area and met in Los Roques with officials who are coordinating the search. Speaking on TV, he thanked the government for “a great effort” so far by military, civil aviation and disaster management officials.