Prostitution warning urged
The country’s top prosecutor is urging the tourism ministry to advise foreign travelers not to hire prostitutes because they could face punishment. A statement on Thursday from Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito says tourists should refrain from any behavior that supports places where prostitutes work. The move is part of a broader campaign by the attorney general to combat human trafficking and sex crimes in the nation. The UN Population Fund ranks the Caribbean country fourth worldwide in the number of women who are trafficked to other nations. Prostitution itself is not illegal in the Dominican Republic. However, it is illegal to make money off the sexual services of another person or to force someone to work as a prostitute.
Walle voted ugliest mutt
A huge-headed, duck-footed mix of beagle, boxer and basset hound was the upset winner on Friday at the 25th annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. Walle (WAHL-ee), a four-year-old mutt from Chico, California, who was entered at the last minute, was judged the most unsightly of 30 dogs at the competition in Petaluma, California. “This dog looked like he’s been photoshopped with pieces from various dogs and maybe a few other animals,” judge Brian Sobel said. Walle overcame the dominance in recent years by nearly hairless Chihuahuas, Chinese cresteds, or combinations of the two. Owner Tammie Barbee got the dog when he was three months old. “People come up to me and say that dog is not right,” Barbee said, “but I love him.” Judges said they were especially impressed by Walle’s bizarre waddle of a walk.
Yoga students pack square
Thousands of New Yorkers took some time off on Friday to celebrate the first day of summer by taking part in mass outdoor yoga classes in Times Square, the Big Apple’s busiest crossroads. The summer solstice yoga festival — for everyone from beginners to the most experienced practitioners — started early in the morning and was expected to continue until sundown. Free mats were handed out to the first 1,200 at each class, and pedestrian zones in Times Square were entirely covered with the colorful rectangles and the yoga enthusiasts, most of them women in exercise attire. Participants carefully went through a series of yoga poses, following instructions from teachers, broadcast via loudspeakers. The spectacle, which delighted tourists and photographers alike, takes place each year to mark the summer solstice.
Five charged over abduction
Prosecutors have charged a woman and four men in connection with the kidnapping of a Portuguese man who was held captive in an underground bunker for nearly a year before being rescued this week. Kidnapping and armed robberies are common in the country, and President Nicolas Maduro is under pressure to reduce crime. Authorities said the kidnappers demanded a US$6.5 million ransom after they grabbed the 45-year-old victim on July 16 last year in the central state of Aragua and bundled him into a car. Local media named the victim as Joao Dos Santos Correia and published photographs of state security agents leading him to safety. “Thank God I have returned to life,” Correia told reporters. So-called “express kidnappings,” in which victims are taken to cash machines, or held for a few hours until a ransom is paid, happen often, but months-long abductions are much rarer.