Booze kills more than 50
More than 50 people have died in Libya since Saturday after drinking cheap homemade alcohol and hundreds have been poisoned, the health ministry said on Monday, as authorities in the Muslim country vowed a crackdown on booze trafficking. The ministry said 38 people died in Tripoli hospitals, while 13 others perished on their way to neighboring Tunisia, where their families were hoping they could be treated. At least 378 people were poisoned after drinking the homemade brew, known locally as Boukha, that was tainted with methanol, the ministry added, while urging Libyans to stop consuming any form of alcohol. A security official, asking to remain anonymous, said the authorities were preparing to crack down on suppliers and traffickers of alcohol, whose sale and consumption is prohibited, although it can be found on the black market.
Wardens sacked over video
The authorities have sacked three prison wardens over an online video that appears to show officials beating and torturing two men, the prisons department said yesterday. The graphic video, posted on YouTube last week, attracted condemnation from the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International. Apparently shot using a mobile phone, it shows one handcuffed man being savagely beaten with batons and metal bars, and another being set upon by a dog as the animal’s handler urges it on. “I can confirm that three prison officers have been sacked in relation to the video that was posted on the Internet last week,” Prisons and Corrections Service spokeswoman Ana Tudrau Tamani said.
Giant snail seized, destroyed
A baseball-sized snail with an insatiable appetite for hundreds of plants, including cocoa and papaya, has been seized and destroyed by officials, who said it posed a huge threat to local agriculture. The animal was found creeping across a Brisbane shipping container yard and was identified as a giant African snail, an East African pest capable of growing up to 30cm long and 1kg in weight. It is known to eat 500 different species of crops, fruits, plants and even other giant African snails, according to an Australian government Web site. The snail can lay 1,200 eggs a year, tolerates extreme temperatures and has few natural enemies in Australia. It also carries parasites that can infect humans with meningitis, which can in some cases be fatal. The last major outbreak of the snail was in 1977, when 300 were exterminated in Queensland in an eight-month campaign.
Spreadsheet sparks furor
Students at a high school were in an uproar on Monday after a teacher mistakenly sent them an e-mail that spelled out what faculty members really thought about them. “Not too bright,” “Liar,” “Tactless,” “Big Baby,” “Anti-social,” “Has a thing for boys” and “Sick-o” were some of the descriptions on an Excel spreadsheet that landed in students’ inboxes. Protesting outside the Yitzhak Rabin High School in Kfar Saba, students pinned some of the descriptions on their shirts and demanded an apology, which the school’s principal made. “We will draw conclusions about our behavior and the way we express ourselves,” the principal, Ruth Lazar, was quoted as saying by the YNet news site. The list was compiled by teachers as a guide to potential misbehavior by the teens due to take part in a school visit to Holocaust sites in Poland. One of the teachers inadvertently copied the list to students who signed up for the trip, the school said.