Man charged with terrorism
The man accused of shooting dead 51 Muslim worshipers in the Christchurch mosque attacks was formally charged yesterday with terrorism for the first time, police said. In addition to the terror charge, Brenton Tarrant also faces 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder over the March 15 attacks. “The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch,” police said in a statement. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has characterized the killings as a well-planned “terrorist attack” since the day that Tarrant, a self-described white supremacist, allegedly carried them out, but until now, the charges against him were less expansive, as the country’s Terrorism Suppression Act was only introduced in 2002 and is untested in the courts.
Suicide bids follow election
At least four refugees in offshore Pacific camps have attempted suicide since the conservative government’s shock re-election on Saturday, according to refugees, advocates and police. Many refugees had prayed for a more lenient policy from the Labor Party, who had been strongly tipped to win, but an unexpected victory by Scott Morrison’s center-right coalition dashed hopes and set off a wave of self-harm, including several hospitalizations. Men fleeing violence or persecution in Sudan, Iraq and Iran have attempted to hang or set fire to themselves, said Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition. “Offshore detention is slowing strangling the life out of its victims,” he added.
FM’s ‘bacon’ tweets confuse
Bemused followers of Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono were left scratching their heads yesterday after a bizarre tweet about bacon. “Ah, bacon is in fact ^%?+*.!%....” he tweeted in Japanese to his 513,000 followers, prompting confusion and many times the number of retweets and likes than he usually gets. On Sunday, he tweeted that his son had greeted him by “screaming bacon with all his might” when he returned home in the early hours. By late yesterday, his account had reverted to the more mundane, with the minister announcing his attendance at a meeting of the OECD in Paris. There was no further comment on the bacon affair.
IS fighters on border upsets
Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov is raising alarm about Islamic extremists massing on Afghanistan’s northern border. On a visit to Tajikistan yesterday, he said that about 5,000 fighters of an Islamic State (IS) group affiliate have gathered in areas bordering on former Soviet states in Central Asia. Bortnikov, in comments carried by Russian news agencies, called for tighter border control to prevent a spillover. Some experts have said that the Kremlin is exaggerating the number of extremists to justify the government’s outreach to the Taliban.
Missiles headed off in Mecca
The government on Monday said that it intercepted two missiles in the province of Mecca fired by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis, who earlier denied having targeted Islam’s holiest site. The Houthis denied that their missiles were targeting Mecca. “The Saudi regime is trying, through these allegations, to rally support for its brutal aggression against our great Yemeni people,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Facebook. Many Muslims visit the city during the holy month of Ramadan, which is underway.
Police convicted of racism
Eight police officers on Monday were convicted of confining, assaulting and insulting six African youths in a suburban Lisbon police station more than four years ago. One officer was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison for a repeat offense, while the others received suspended sentences ranging from two months to five years. Nine more were acquitted, as the tribunal rejected accusations of torture and racist motivation, judge Ester Pacheco said. Local media said it was the first time so many officers had been convicted for in such a case. “It is unprecedented, but the penalties are a joke,” said Celso Lopes, one of two victims who attended the hearing in the court in Sintra.
Eiffel Tower climber nabbed
A man who sparked an evacuation of the Eiffel Tower on Monday was grabbed after clinging to the Paris landmark for more than six hours, officials said. Firemen who had rappelled down from the tower’s third-floor observation deck to near the black-clad climber managed to “talk the individual down,” they said. Managers said the tower would reopen yesterday as usual and promised to reimburse people with reserved tickets whose visits were thwarted. The abrupt closure of the tower on Monday had frustrated visitors. “We’re really disappointed, we’re only here for a week and this messes with our whole program,” said Sylvie and Celine Forcier from Quebec, Canada.
Milkshake thrower charged
Northumbria Police yesterday charged a 32-year-old man with assault after pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage was hit with a milkshake while campaigning for the European Parliament election. Paul Crowther was charged with common assault and criminal damage over the incident in Newcastle on Monday that left Farage with milkshake dripping down his suit during a walkabout in the city. Crowther said he threw the banana-and-salted caramel Five Guys shake to protest Farage’s “bile and racism.” Milkshakes have become an unlikely political weapon during the election campaign, with other right-wing candidates targeted.
Think tank pressured to shut
One of the nation’s only independent think tanks on Monday said it would close due to pressure from what it described as powerful institutions, though it gave no details. Cuba Posible was founded in 2014 with the aim of publishing work by analysts and intellectuals who wanted gradual reform. It had been targeted by “all the mechanics and methods of powerful institutions, in Cuba, where we work, and off the island, where we’ve tried to guarantee the minimal conditions needed to allow our work,” the think tank said in a statement.
Teen dies in border custody
A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died on Monday in Border Patrol custody in Texas, officials said, making him the fifth Guatemalan minor to die after being apprehended at the border with Mexico since December last year. Carlos Hernandez was caught on Monday last week after illegally crossing the border near Hidalgo, Texas. On Sunday morning, Hernandez told staff that he was not feeling well, and he was later diagnosed with the flu, officials said. “We absolutely need pediatric health experts at the border,” Julie Linton, cochair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Immigrant Health Special Interest Group, told reporters on Monday.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and