SWAT soldiers killed
At least 14 SWAT soldiers were killed on Thursday when they entered a house rigged with explosives in the western province of Anbar, where the army is engaged in a near-three month conflict with Sunni militants. Security and medical sources said more than 20 SWAT entered the house in the provincial capital, Ramadi, after gunmen left the area. The building then blew up. Security forces have been fighting insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Ramadi and another city, Fallujah, since January. The arrest of a Sunni lawmaker and the clearing of an anti-government protest camp in December prompted a tribal revolt and allowed ISIL to set up fighting positions within the cities.
Dating book wins odd award
A tongue-in-cheek book that purports to deal with an awkward but critical issue, How to Poo on a Date, yesterday scooped an award for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. The winner of the Diagram Prize, awarded annually since 1978 and based on a public vote since 2000, beat out titles including Are Trout South African? and Working-Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City. The prize, which carries no cash award, is run by The Bookseller, a British-based business magazine and Web site for the book industry. “The public have chosen wisely. Not only have they picked a title that truly captures the spirit of the prize, they have selected a manual that can help one through life’s more challenging and delicate moments,” Horace Bent, described as “custodian of the prize,” said in a press release.
Vatican digitizing library
Ancient manuscripts in the Vatican library penned from East Asia to the pre-Colombian Americas will be digitized by a Japanese company as part of a global project to make the collection available for free viewing by the public. Japan’s NTT Data will digitize 3,000 historical works and put them online over a four-year period in an initiative costing 18 million euros (US$22.6 million), the company said at a press conference in the Vatican on Thursday. The library began digitizing its books a couple of years ago and the deal with NTT Data will bring the total of manuscripts converted to 15,000 by 2018.
Pistorius selling home
Oscar Pistorius plans to sell the 5 million rand (US$459,400) house where he shot dead his girlfriend to cover spiraling legal fees for his murder trial, his lawyer said on Thursday. The Paralympian has not gone back to the house in Pretoria since he killed Reeva Steenkamp in an upstairs bathroom last year. “It has become necessary to sell Mr Pistorius’ home to raise the necessary funds to cover his increasing legal costs,” lawyer Brian Webber said. “This is due to the unexpected extension of the trial beyond the three-week period for which it was originally set down.”
No jail time for general
A general received a reprimand on Thursday from a judge, but no jail time and no discharge from the army after he pleaded guilty to mistreating a subordinate in an adulterous affair. Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair at one point had faced serious sexual assault allegations in the closely watched court-martial, but the prosecution’s case collapsed and the charges were dropped under a plea agreement. Instead, Sinclair, 51, admitted to having an affair with a female captain 17 years his junior, mistreating her, using a government credit card for expenses related to the affair and other misconduct. In a court room in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the military judge, Colonel James Pohl, ordered Sinclair to forfeit US$5,000 a month in pay for four months, but he will be permitted to keep his pension and other benefits, officials said.