Pair jailed for raping orphans
A Kathmandu court has jailed two men who worked at a prominent orphanage for repeatedly raping three autistic girls in their care, an official said on Tuesday. A judge at the capital’s district court found the pair guilty of rape on Monday in a fast-track ruling. “Justice Pashupati Acharya has sentenced Rabin Shrestha and Rabin Chalise to 16-and-a-half years of imprisonment each,” court spokesman Shree Prasad Sanjel said. “He also ordered both of them to give 100,000 rupees (US$1,000) as compensation to each of the victims.” Shrestha, 43, worked as head of adoptions at Bal Mandir orphanage, where Chalise volunteered as a fund-raiser. The girls, aged 13, 14 and 15, complained to a rights group, which alerted police in June. The defendants’ lawyer, Ganesh Adhikari, said he is to appeal.
Plan to film teachers panned
A plan by Guizhou Province’s education department to install CCTV cameras in university classrooms have come under fire from lawyers, who say the move will curb academic freedom, state-run media said yesterday. Guizhou has declared that all higher education institutions should set up cameras to “monitor teachers,” the Global Times reported. Four local lawyers called for an explanation and are demanding that the department “justify its move,” saying they will consider legal action if it does not do so, the report said. Guizhou University professor An Heping told the Global Times that “teachers should have nothing to fear if they say the right thing.”
Vagina kayak artist arrested
An artist who made a kayak modelled on her vagina was arrested yesterday, police said, sparking accusations of censorship. Megumi Igarashi was arrested in July for trying to raise funds online to pay for the construction of the kayak using a 3D printer. She was released days later following a legal appeal and after thousands of people signed a petition demanding her freedom. However, she was rearrested yesterday on suspicion of sending a link “that shows her plan to create a boat using three-dimensional obscene data to a large number of people,” a Tokyo police spokeswoman said. Igarashi “tried to have those people who were willing to finance her plan download the 3D obscene data” in October last year, the spokeswoman said. Igarashi also allegedly sold CD-ROMS containing similar data at a May exhibition in Tokyo. “I don’t believe my vagina is anything obscene,” Igarashi said in a July press conference after her release.
American stabbed to death
Abu Dhabi police are investigating the death of a US woman stabbed in a shopping center bathroom by a suspect wearing a Muslim veil, official media reported yesterday. The motive for Monday’s attack in Boutik Mall was unclear. Witnesses said the 37-year-old American, who worked at a nursery school, was stabbed by a person wearing a black robe, black gloves and a hijab. “The victim was stabbed with a sharp object following an argument in the ladies toilets,” the head of Abu Dhabi’s police criminal investigations department, Colonel Rashid Bourscheid, was quoted as saying by the National daily. The American died after being taken to hospital. The stabbing took place the same day that a recording attributed to Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani urged Muslims to attack Westerners by any means. The United Arab Emirates is part of a US-led coalition against the extremist group.
100 brains missing in Texas
The University of Texas at Austin is missing about 100 brains — about half of the specimens the university had in a collection of brains preserved in jars of formaldehyde. One of the missing brains is believed to have belonged to clock tower sniper Charles Whitman. “We think somebody may have taken the brains, but we don’t know at all for sure,” psychology professor Tim Schallert, co-curator of the collection, told the Austin American-Statesman. His co-curator, psychology professor Lawrence Cormack, said: “It’s entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks.” The Austin State Hospital had transferred the brains to the university about 28 years ago under a “temporary possession” agreement.
AI rise a threat: Hawking
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) could mean the end of humanity. In an interview with the BBC, Hawking said such technology could rapidly evolve and overtake humankind, a scenario like that envisaged in the Terminator movies. “The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have have proved very useful, but I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking said in an interview aired on Tuesday. “Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded,” Hawking said. Although keen to take advantage of modern communications technology, he said the Internet had brought dangers as well as benefits, citing a warning from the new head of electronic spying agency GCHQ that it had become a command center for criminals and terrorists.
Ex-mayor of Rome arrested
Police on Tuesday raided the home of an ex-mayor of Rome in an anti-mafia sweep that also snared a one-eyed mobster who is one of the most notorious figures in recent history. Former mayor Gianni Alemanno and the city’s current anti-corruption chief, Italo Walter Politano, were among a group of about 100 people named as being under investigation in a probe into a criminal network that police said had become very powerful in the capital. They believe it was run by Massimo Carminati, who was given a 10-year prison term in 1998 for being part of the Magliana gang that wielded enormous influence in Rome in the 1970s and 1980s. Carminati, who lost an eye in a shootout with police, has been described by local media as the “black soul” of the Roman underworld. Of the 100 people under investigation, 37 were arrested on Tuesday, with 29 detained in custody. The suspects include businessmen and politicians suspected of mafia links, corruption and extortion.
Man guilty of art fraud
A New York man has pleaded guilty to defrauding art collectors out of US$2.5 million by selling fake works he said were by US artists Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. During a nine-year scam, 54-year-old John Re of East Hampton used the proceeds to buy a submarine in Texas. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud before US District Judge Kevin Castel on Monday and is due to be sentenced on April 10 next year. He admitted to selling dozens of paintings, sketches and pastels to art collectors for thousands of dollars.
‘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
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
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy