PNG refugee deal challenged
Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) opposition has launched a legal challenge against the government’s decision to take asylum-seekers, saying refugees are held illegally in inhumane conditions. Canberra has been sending boat people to PNG’s remote Manus Island since late last year. In a statement on Monday, Papua New Guinean opposition leader Belden Namah said his lawyers had sent Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill a summons to appear in court to defend the agreement, which he says is unconstitutional. Namah said he would “take this matter as far as necessary to ensure that the values of our nation’s constitution are upheld.”
Tribunal called for rape joke
A senior judge will face an ethics tribunal for saying rape victims enjoyed the act, an official said yesterday, after a judicial commission recommended his dismissal. The commission, which monitors judges’ conduct and professionalism, decided on Friday that High Court judge Daming Sunusi’s comments during a hearing for a Supreme Court position were “disgraceful,” spokesman Asep Rahmat Fajar said. “He will now face the ethics tribunal where he has the opportunity to defend himself,” Fajar added, saying the tribunal would be held “as soon as possible.” Sunusi made the remarks in answering a question on whether the death penalty should be introduced for convicted rapists. Sunusi has since apologized for the comment, insisting he was trying to lighten the mood of the tense interview. The House of Representatives ethics council is also considering a probe into lawmakers who reportedly laughed at Sunusi’s remarks, the Jakarta Globe newspaper reported.
Deputy prime minister dies
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Sports Chumpol Silpa-archa died yesterday of a suspected heart problem aged 72, his party said. Chumpol, the leader of the Chart Thai Pattana Party — a member of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ruling coalition — was admitted to hospital with breathing problems on Dec. 17. He was one of several deputy prime ministers serving under Yingluck.
End Kachin war: UN’s Ban
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a “serious effort” to end the conflict raging in the north, where ethnic minority Kachin rebels accused the military of breaking its ceasefire. Prime Minister Thein Sein’s reformist government announced on Friday that it was ending a military offensive against the Kachin rebels, but fresh fighting erupted over the weekend. Meanwhile, about a dozen peace activists set off yesterday on a planned 1,300km walk from Yangon to the rebel stronghold of Laiza to call for an end to the conflict.
Man kills ‘possessed’ son
A 53-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of biting his adult son to death to get rid of a “snake haunting him,” media have reported. TV Asahi said Katsumi Nagaya seriously injured his son, Takuya, on Friday at the younger man’s apartment in Anjo by head-butting and biting him after the 23-year-old began writhing around and claiming to be a serpent. Takuya was taken to hospital, but declared dead a short time later, the broadcaster said. The suspect reportedly told police he had attacked his son in order to remove the snake from his mind.
Ex-IMF chief paid maid
Disgraced former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn paid a settlement of US$1.5 million to the New York hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault, a newspaper reported on Sunday. Citing sources close to Strauss-Kahn, Le Journal du Dimanche said Nafissatou Diallo had received the payment under a confidential deal reached to settle her civil suit against him. The newspaper said Diallo went away with about 70 percent of the sum after paying her attorneys. A judge announced the deal last month, with reports at the time suggesting Strauss-Kahn had paid up to US$5 million in the settlement. Diallo also received a payout from the New York Post, which she had sued for reporting that she worked as a prostitute.
Monti calls for reforms
Prime Minister Mario Monti launched his campaign for a second term on Sunday with a speech calling for deep-rooted reforms to kick start economic growth, four weeks ahead of a parliamentary election. “Italy needs radical reforms. Radical reforms for those who are outside protected interest groups, and for young people who cannot find work because others are over-protected,” he said at the launch of his campaign for the Feb. 24-Feb. 25 vote. Monti said he would push for a “drastic reduction” of the number of parliamentarians and a rearrangement of the state to make it “less onerous.”
Bolshoi director recovering
A top doctor yesterday said Bolshoi ballet artistic director Sergei Filin would regain sight in at least one of his eyes following a brutal acid attack last week that his coworkers blamed on infighting at the great theater. “The trend is generally positive,” Larisa Mashetova, Moscow health service’s chief eyesight specialist, said in televised remarks. “He is regaining sight faster in one eye, but I think that we are going to even things out for both. Still, the recovery process will take a lot of time.” Preliminary findings released on Sunday showed Filin’s assailant used sufuric acid in the attack, which left the 42-year-old Filin with third-degree burns to his face.
Michelle Kwan marries.
The Providence Journal reports that Kwan and Clay Pell have married in Rhode Island. The 32-year-old Kwan is the most decorated figure skater in the country’s history. She won 43 championships, the silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and the bronze at the 2002 Games. Pell, a lawyer and US Coast Guard lieutenant, works on the national security staff at the White House. Kwan is a public policy envoy with the State Department
Top Kony bodyguard killed
Soldiers hunting Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony have killed one of his top bodyguards, who earned a grim reputation for the abduction of children, an army spokesman said yesterday. The rebel, known as Brigadier Binani, was killed on Friday in a clash with troops in the dense jungles of the eastern Central African Republic close to the border with South Sudan, spokesman Felix Kulayigye said. In addition to being a top Kony bodyguard, Binani was in charge of food collection and abducting children for the infamous rebel group, but may not have been recently operating close to Kony, Kulayigye said. Kony is currently thought to be hiding out close to where the borders of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Sudan meet.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”