Aussie cooperation halted
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said yesterday that the nation is suspending cooperation with Canberra on people smuggling following allegations that Australian spies tried to tap his telephone and those of his inner circle. He told reporters in Jakarta that Jakarta would temporarily halt coordinated military cooperation with Australia, which includes assistance on people smuggling. “You are well aware that we are facing a joint problem of people smuggling that has been a problem for both Australia and Indonesia,” he said. He said that Canberra and Jakarta work together in an area called “coordinated military cooperation,” which involves patrols at sea. “I have asked for that to be halted until everything is clear,” he said.
Jail hunting for escapees
It is 103 and counting — that is the number of prisoners on the loose after escaping Tacloban City Jail when a super typhoon devastated the central Philippines, flooded the prison and smashed open the main gate. The prisoners had been freed from their cells so that they could seek higher ground, but while some rode the water to the safety of the warden’s second-floor office, others followed the water out the front door. “They swam through,” warden Joseph Nunez said. “We are still missing 117.” That number had come down to 103 by late on Tuesday as some inmates turned themselves in and a team of correction officers, armed with M-16 rifles and 9mm handguns, hunted down a handful of others on the streets.
Mandela charges dropped
The state prosecutor announced it had withdrawn charges of grave tampering and bigamy against Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, on Tuesday because of insufficient evidence. In July, Mandla — embroiled in a bitter family feud — was charged with tampering with the graves of his famous grandfather’s children, after he exhumed them without consent. “We have decided to drop the charges of grave violation because of insufficient evidence,” said Luxolo Tyali, a spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority. Mandla had also faced a long-standing charge of bigamy after his unceremonious separation from his first wife, Thando Mabunu, in 2008. “After studying the police docket on this matter, we also decided not to prosecute,” Tyali said. The 39-year-old is still facing a charge of pulling a gun on a motorist during a road rage incident last month.
Widow sleeps with corpse
A Brussels widow slept next to her mummified husband’s corpse for a year, her landlord said after making the macabre discovery during an eviction, a Belgian daily reported on Tuesday. La Derniere Heure published striking pictures of a shawl-wrapped, emaciated body with a long white mustache, sunken eye sockets and protruding rib-cage, covered in a film of dried skin. The newspaper said the images were of a man who had died at the age of 73 after living in the Anderlecht district of the Belgian capital for a dozen years or so with his wife. According to initial medical tests, he died of natural causes a year ago. The gruesome find emerged because the rent on their apartment had not been paid since November last year and the landlord launched eviction proceedings. “I have seen dead people before ... but never in this condition,” the landlord was quoted as saying. “The lady slept next to her husband’s body.” Neighbors said the widow had told them her husband was away “receiving treatment.”
Foreign activists get bail
A court on Tuesday granted bail to nine foreign Greenpeace protesters, the first non-Russians jailed and awaiting trial over a demonstration near a Russian oil rig to be made eligible for release. The decision came a day after the Primorsky court in St Petersburg refused to release an Australian activist and another court granted bail to three Russians, including prominent photographer Denis Sinyakov. The Primorsky court set bail at 2 million rubles (US$61,500) each for the activists from Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Finland, France, Italy, New Zealand and Poland. The court said they will be released if the bail is paid within the next four days.
Train refuses obese man
A clinically obese Frenchman stranded in the US because he was deemed too heavy to fly finally took a plane to London on Tuesday — only to be refused travel home by the Eurostar cross-channel train. Kevin Chenais, 22, who weighs 230kg, arrived at London’s Heathrow airport with his parents after Virgin Atlantic agreed to fly him back from New York. He had been in the US since May last year for treatment for a hormone imbalance and had been set to return home on British Airways last month, but the airline refused to accept him as a passenger, saying he was too heavy. Chenais praised Virgin for flying him out from New York’s JFK airport and paying for the economy-class flights for him and his parents. Chenais and his parents were met at Heathrow by French consular staff who arranged for them to try for a Paris-bound Eurostar train later on Tuesday. However, Eurostar then said that he had been refused travel because of its regulations for evacuation procedures.
Senator’s son stabs him
The son of a state senator stabbed his father in the head and chest on Tuesday before apparently killing himself with a gun, according to initial reports from police. Authorities were still piecing together a motive and the circumstances that led to the stabbing of Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds. Deeds’ 24-year-old son, Gus, died at his home of a gunshot wound. Geller said Creigh Deeds and his son were the only people at the home and police were not looking for a suspect. The senator was in fair condition in hospital. He had previously been listed as critical. After the stabbing, Deeds was able to walk away from his rural home to a nearby road and a cousin who was driving by happened to notice the senator, police said.
Anesthesiologist assaults 21
An anesthesiologist was found guilty on Tuesday of sexually assaulting 21 women while they were helplessly under anesthesia, but aware of what was happening. George Doodnaught was accused of kissing, fondling and forcing oral sex on the patients at North York General Hospital in Toronto during a four-year period that ended in 2010. The victims were aware of what was happening, but could not move, the court heard. The defense argued that the victims actually had vivid sexual dreams caused by sedatives and that Doodnaught could not have assaulted them undetected by others separated only by a surgical screen in the operating room. A researcher confirmed at trial that the drugs can cause hallucinations, but he added that it is unlikely that all of the women, who did not know each other, would come forward separately with similar accusations against the same doctor.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big