Thai PM on state visit
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived in Colombo yesterday for a two-day official visit aimed at strengthening bilateral relations. A government statement says Yingluck will meet with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for bilateral discussions and will also address parliament. During her visit, four bilateral agreements on tourism, science and technology are expected to be signed.
Jewel thief recaptured
A German jewel thief who managed to flee his Australian guards while transiting through Bangkok was arrested in the capital on Thursday after two weeks on the run, police said. Carlo Konstantin Kohl, 25, was being extradited to Germany via Thailand when bad weather forced an extended stopover at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and his two Australian guards took him to a transit lounge. During the overnight layover Kohl — convicted in Australia of stealing opals and drug trafficking, and wanted for skipping parole in Germany — managed to give his escorts the slip and escape. He was arrested near the German embassy in Bangkok, according to an immigration police official who did not want to be named. A Thai court on Thursday handed Kohl a two-year suspended jail term for illegal entry and a 6,000 baht (US$200) fine. He is expected to be handed over to German authorities next week. Australian immigration chiefs have denied Thai media reports that the two guards, from a private firm that runs Australia’s immigration security, were asleep when he got away.
Mayor escapes censure
The mayor of the nation’s second-largest city survived a censure motion on Thursday over his comments about Japan’s wartime sex slavery, remarks that sparked an international uproar. The Osaka City Assembly voted down the motion, which said Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s comments earlier this month about so-called “comfort women” created confusion and tarnished the city’s image. Hashimoto said he would stay on as mayor. He said he took the motion seriously, but had no intention to retract his remarks or apologize over them. “I believe what I’m saying is right,” Hashimoto said, referring to his comments about the wartime practice that forced many Asian women into prostitution for Japanese soldiers. The outspoken mayor sparked controversy after he said on May 13 that the use of “comfort women” before and during World War II was necessary for military discipline and providing rest for troops. He sought later to clarify his comments, saying he meant that military authorities during that time must have deemed the practice necessary.
Complaint leads to charges
A woman has been charged with prostitution in Connecticut after calling police to complain about how she was being treated by a pimp. Police say they did not find the pimp when they arrived at a Super 8 Motel in West Haven on Sunday, but they did find 35-year-old Jennifer Lowery with a man they describe as a customer. Police charged Lowery with prostitution and 60-year-old Richard Burford of New Haven with patronizing a prostitute. Police said Lowery told them she thought it would take police longer to show up, so she decided to conduct some business while waiting.
Boy spells his way to glory
The US-born son of immigrants from India overcame his dread of German-derived words on Thursday to win the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee. Confetti rained on a suddenly speechless Arvind Mahankali, 13, from New York City, after he correctly spelled knaidel, a type of dumpling perhaps better known as a matzah ball. He becomes the sixth youth of south Asian heritage to win the coveted title in the past six years, and also the first male champion since 2008. Mahankali, the eldest son of an IT consultant father and a physician mother, had placed ninth in 2010, then third in 2011 and last year. More often than not, it was obscure English words of Germanic origin that denied him victory. Earlier in the evening, Mahankali aced such words as tokonoma (an alcove in a Japanese living room), kaumographer (someone who prints a design onto cloth with a hot iron), and galere (a group of people who have something in common).