River awash with dead fish
Authorities have scooped up about 100,000kg of dead fish they say were poisoned by ammonia from a chemical plant, environmental officials and state media said on Wednesday, in a reminder of the pollution plaguing the country. The Hubei Province Environmental Protection Department, notified of the piles of dead fish in the Fuhe River on Monday, pointed the finger at local company Hubei Shuanghuan Science and Technology Stock Co. Officials said sampling of its drain outlet showed that ammonia density far exceeded the national standard. The incident has affected the nearby fishing village of Huanghualao, where 1,600 residents make a living from fishing. The environmental department warned the public not to eat the dead fish, but said drinking water was not affected.
First robot speaks in space
A pint-sized android has uttered the first robotic words in space, showcasing Japan’s drive to combine cutting-edge technology with cuteness. The wide-eyed and bootie-wearing “Kirobo” — roughly the size of a chihuahua — broadcast a message from inside the International Space Station, greeting citizens of Earth and paying cheeky tribute to Neil Armstrong. “On Aug. 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all,” Kirobo said in a video that showed the humanoid creation drifting weightlessly onboard the pace station as it moved its legs in the air.
Tourist handed jail sentence
A 24-year-old American tourist was sentenced to nine months in prison on Wednesday for a series of sexual offenses against women at backpacker hostels. Michael Williams faced multiple charges of molesting and invading the privacy of five women between April and June this year. District Judge Eddy Tham said the stiff jail sentence took into account the fact that the offenses took place while the victims were in a “vulnerable position.” Court documents said one victim, a 23-year-old Chinese, caught Williams filming her with his mobile phone from an adjacent cubicle while she was showering. At another hostel, Williams was caught stroking the buttocks of a 29-year-old Singaporean woman while she was sleeping. In another incident, a Polish female tourist staying at a hostel felt her blanket being lifted while she was asleep on June 13 and someone gently stroking her back. Lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu said the American said he was “drunk and foolish” when he committed the offenses. He had refused legal representation because he wanted to complete his sentence and return to the Philippines where he lives with his wife, the lawyer said.
Spiritual guru denied bail
A court on Wednesday denied bail to a popular spiritual guru charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old schoolgirl at a religious retreat, officials said. Asaram Bapu, 72, a self-styled Hindu “godman” who has a large number of followers, was arrested on Sunday in Indore, Rajasthan State. The court in Jodhpur rejected his petition for bail on the grounds that the girl was under age, court officials said. Asaram has insisted the victim was like his “granddaughter” and that he had never sexually assaulted her. The alleged attack took place on Aug. 15, police said. He told the parents he needed to meet their daughter alone after being told of concerns she was possessed by evil spirits, police said. Once alone in his room, the guru allegedly sexually assaulted the girl, who told her parents two days later.