Woman killed for witchcraft
A 70-year-old woman has been hacked to death in the remote east of the country by machete-wielding men who suspected her of performing witchcraft, police said on Monday. Three men attacked Nuryan Umanahu early on Sunday in the village of Buya, in the Sula Islands, after one of them became suspicious she had cast a spell on his wife. “While she was sick, the wife often felt possessed and said that the old woman had cast a spell on her,” local police official Arifin La Ode Buri said. “Her husband believed this and took his friends to search for the old woman.” The husband was accompanied by a large mob of villagers to the old lady’s house, but only three went inside and carried out the killing, Buri said. Three men have been arrested on suspicion of murder, he added. Many people still believe in black magic in the Muslim-majority nation.
Gay marriage bureau opens
An entrepreneur has set up what is claimed to be the nation’s first gay marriage bureau, seeking to arrange matches for homosexual couples. Benhur Samson, who previously helped foreign gay couples use surrogacy services, said he founded the agency in response to interest from clients. “I was surprised to see the response from the gay people whom I came in touch with while counseling them on the surrogacy issue,” Samson said. “This is how I came upon the idea of a marriage bureau for gay men and women who want to settle down with a partner.” Samson, who lives in the US, has enlisted the help of Manvendrasingh Gohil, an openly gay Indian prince, to help sort out immigration issues. “Several gay people of Indian origin wanted an arranged marriage and were looking for partners from India,” he said. “We already got over 200 inquiries and nearly two dozen people have enrolled with us. We are now in the process of identifying the right match for them.” Enrollment costs US$5,000, an unthinkably high sum for most Indians, although the fee is refundable if no match is found. The agency conducts background checks, visits prospective partners at home and at work, and provides counseling, Samson said. Gay marriage and gay sex are both illegal in the conservative nation.
SBS plans Eurovision Asia
Asia-Pacific nations could soon have the chance to compete in their own version of the Eurovision Song Contest, pitting K-pop and Bollywood talent against Mandopop stars. Australian broadcaster SBS said in a statement on Monday it had secured an exclusive option to bring the concept to the region, with an inaugural event in Australia possible as early as next year. If finalized, Eurovision Asia would bring together songwriters and performers from 20 nations and would be hosted in other competitor nations following its Australian debut. SBS Eurovision production partners Blink TV, who would help develop Eurovision Asia for broadcast, said the show could reach an Asian audience of more than 1 billion. The existing competition is watched every year by about 200 million. “Asia has an astonishing set of musical and visual cultures, and it will make for brilliant television,” Blink TV director Paul Clark said. “Imagine — the musical virtuosity of Bollywood, the cutting edge of K-pop, and the excitement of Chinese and Japanese artists — now the biggest music consumers in the world... it’s a thrilling idea.” In November last year, Australia said it would compete at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest for the second time, following its wild-card entry last year. It was shown in China for the first time last year.
Pianist’s ex-wife charged
Texas police on Monday accused the estranged wife of internationally renowned pianist Vadym Kholodenko of killing the couple’s two young daughters before stabbing herself. Sofya Tsygankova faces two counts of capital murder in the deaths of five-year-old Nika Kholodenko and one-year-old Michela Kholodenko. Police say Vadym Kholodenko arrived on Thursday at his wife’s home in Benbrook, a Fort Worth suburb, to pick up the girls and found them dead in their beds and Tsygankova in an “extreme state of distress.” Police Commander David Babcock on Monday said that Tsygankova was served with arrest warrants in the Fort Worth hospital where she is undergoing a mental health evaluation. Authorities had said earlier that she suffered knife wounds. It is not clear how the girls died. The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office said that it had not completed autopsies. Police have said the children had no visible trauma. Babcock said Tsygankova’s bond would be set at US$2 million.
Hogan gets US$25m more
Moments after a Florida jury hit Gawker Media and its founder with US$25 million in punitive damages for publishing a sex tape of Hulk Hogan, the former pro wrestler told a gaggle of reporters that he and his legal team “made history.” Hogan on Monday evening said that he thought “we’ve protected a lot of people from going through what I went through.” The smiling 62-year-old, who wore all black throughout the three-week trial, added that he has been overwhelmed with support by fans. “Everywhere I show up, people treat me like I’m still the champ,” he said. On Monday, the jury hit Gawker Media with a US$15 million judgement and its owner, Nick Denton, with US$10 million. It also assessed US$100,000 against A.J. Daulerio, the Gawker editor who decided to post the edited sex video and wrote the post that accompanied it. The punitive damages come on top of US$115 million the jury imposed on Friday after two weeks of trial.
Flight attendant on the run
A flight attendant fled when she was selected for a random screening at Los Angeles International Airport, prompting a search that turned up 30kg of cocaine in her carry-on bags, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesman said on Monday. The woman, who had arrived at the terminal on Friday for a flight, abandoned her belongings before escaping on foot, Special Agent Timothy Massino said. The DEA declined further comment on the case while an investigation was under way. A law enforcement source said that the flight attendant had been identified by investigators, but not apprehended as of Monday evening. Authorities did not say which airline she worked for and there were conflicting media reports.
Robbers blow up ATM
Robbers are suspected of blowing up the walls of a building in an apparent effort to empty an ATM, but police say they are not sure any money would have survived the blast. Regional police spokesman Calle Persson says they were alerted to the explosion in the small southern town of Genarp after 3am on Monday. They sent a bomb squad to check the site before officers began an investigation. He said no one was hurt, but the blast destroyed two walls of the red-brick building. People in neighboring houses reported they saw “a few men” at the site immediately after the explosion and heard a car pull away. It was not clear if the damaged ATM had contained any money.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘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
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
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