Porn triggers resignations
Three government ministers accused of watching a pornographic video in a state assembly in southern India have resigned. The governor of Karnataka State accepted the ministers’ resignations yesterday. Local TV channels filmed one of the ministers watching the allegedly pornographic video clip on his mobile phone. He then passed the phone to his colleague, who also watched the clip while assembly proceedings were going on. The mobile phone belonged to the third minister. The three leaders belong to the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party that rules the state. They have denied that they were watching pornography, but said they were resigning to save their party from embarrassment.
Huge baby born
A mother in central China has given birth to a 7.04kg baby, possibly the largest newborn on record since 1949. The state-run Tianjin Post said on Tuesday that the 29-year-old mother in Henan Province gave birth to the boy on Saturday by ceasarean section. It said delivery took just 20 minutes and both mother and the baby, named Chun Chun, are doing fine. The paper said Chun Chun’s parents are average size and there was nothing unusual about his mother’s pregnancy or diet. Guinness World Records says the heaviest newborn ever recorded was born to an Ohio woman in 1879 and weighed 10.77kg.
Mourning activist arrested
A South Korean activist, 53, was arrested yesterday for trying to set up an altar to mourn North Korean leader Kim Jong-il after his death in December, police said. The pro-reunification activist identified only as Yoon is also accused of producing and distributing pro-Pyongyang leaflets and uploading writing praising the communist North, they said. The South’s tough National Security Law bans South Koreans from praising or supporting the North. A court which issued the arrest warrant for Yoon rejected a similar application to arrest a fellow activist, saying his offense was not grave enough to warrant incarceration.
Man stabs two students
Police in eastern China are hunting for a knife-wielding man who broke into a middle school yesterday and stabbed two students before fleeing, local officials said. The victims were not seriously wounded and no motive was given for the attack, which echoes a string of such assaults against schoolchildren in early 2010 that killed nearly 20 and wounded more than 50. The latest attack happened just before 7am when students had arrived at the No. 1 Middle School in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. The man attacked a female first-year student, who escaped after being wounded, and then assaulted a second-year male student. A statement said the two, aged about 13 and 14, were taken to a hospital but were not seriously wounded.
Uttar Pradesh voting starts
Residents in India’s largest state have begun voting in a month-long local election with repercussions for the nation as a whole. A large victory for Chief Minister Mayawati could project her regional, caste-based party onto the national stage. A strong showing for the Congress Party could make it a kingmaker in the state and help it shore up its national coalition. The state of Uttar Pradesh is so large, with 200 million people, that voting is spread over seven phases and will last until March 3. Results will be declared on March 6.
Police arrest Syrian ‘spies’
German police on Tuesday arrested two men on allegations they were spying on Syrian opposition groups in Germany, prosecutors said. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he summoned the Syrian ambassador to tell him that Germany cannot tolerate such activities “against Syrian opposition figures.” About 70 police officers searched the suspects’ apartments and those of six alleged accomplices who are also under investigation, the Federal Prosecutors’ Office said. They say a 34-year-old Syrian, identified only as Akram O, and a 47-year-old German-Lebanese double national, Mahmoud El A, are suspected of “having spied over several years on Syrian opposition figures in Germany,” according to prosecutors.
Famous historian turns thief
US presidential historian Barry Landau, known for his huge collection of memorabilia, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy and theft of dozens of historical documents, US officials said. Barry Landau, 63, admitted he and his 24-year-old assistant, Jason Savedoff, swiped items from museums in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, and sold selected documents for profit, according to a Department of Justice statement. The pair face up to five years in prison for their conspiracy and 10 years for the theft. Savedoff previously pleaded guilty to the same charges. In Landau’s New York apartment, authorities uncovered over 4,000 items traced as being stolen from libraries and museums throughout the US — include documents signed by George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, Karl Marx, and Sir Isaac Newton, among others.
Jail for war crimes lawyer
Judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal have sentenced the former legal case manager of a Bosnian Serb mass murderer to one year’s imprisonment for contempt of court. Jelena Rasic pleaded guilty last month to paying three men to provide false testimony that would have cleared Milan Lukic of involvement in the murder of a group of Muslim men shot in June 1992 next to the Drina river in the Bosnian town of Visegrad. Judges sentencing Rasic on Tuesday said she has already spent 78 days in pretrial detention and will only serve the remaining eight months of her sentence if she commits another crime in the next two years. Lukic was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to life imprisonment for a killing spree in Visegrad.
FBI eyes ‘sovereign citizens’
The FBI said Tuesday it is monitoring a growing extremist threat from “sovereign citizen” movements, and is targeting their activities to prevent a repeat of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Followers of “sovereign citizen” ideologies reject all government authority, refusing to pay taxes and to recognize US currency, and sometimes engaging in acts of violence, FBI officials told reporters. “They could be lone wolves, too,” said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, who said it was the agency’s mission to “deter and detect” potential acts of “catastrophic violence.” The worst act of domestic terrorism in US history was the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, which claimed the lives of 168 people and left a federal office building in ruins. Its main perpetrator, Timothy McVeigh, was sentenced to death and executed in 2001.
Mom pleads manslaughter
A California woman accused of killing her infant son by breastfeeding him after she used methamphetamine has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. The Times-Standard of Eureka reported that Maggie Wortman entered her plea on Monday as part of a deal with prosecutors. An autopsy on six-week-old Michael Acosta III found that the infant died of “methamphetamine toxicity” on Nov. 21, 2010. Prosecutors initially tried to charge Wortman with murder, saying she should have known the dangers of breastfeeding after smoking the drug. However, a judge threw out the charge, saying there was insufficient evidence to support it. She faces anywhere from probation to nearly 12 years in prison when she is sentenced on March 5.
Gang wants peace for pope
A drug gang warned its rivals to keep the peace when Pope Benedict XVI visits next month. The warnings, hung in banners around the central state of Guanajuato and signed by the Knights Templar gang, were quickly removed on Tuesday and came shortly after the local archdiocese made a plea to drug gangs to avoid violence during the pope’s visit. Asked about the warnings, Mexican Interior Minister Alejandro Poire on Tuesday told a news conference: “There will be security based on the rule of law in Guanajuato.” The pope is scheduled to travel to three cities of Guanajuato from March 23 to 26.
Workers die in crash
Ten migrant workers from Peru and Jamaica were killed when a truck hit a passenger van on Monday afternoon, officials said. The truck driver was also killed. The crash was the deadliest in Ontario since 1999. Three people in the van survived. Police said one was airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, and the other two were seriously injured. “On behalf of 13 million Ontarians, I want to offer our deepest condolences to those who lost a loved one and to offer our most sincere prayers for those taken to hospital,” Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a statement. No names of the victims have been released. Albert Burgers, who owns the farm where the workers were on Monday before the crash, said some had been with his crew for more than 10 years. Police told the CEO of the truck company, Speedy Transport, that the van apparently went through a stop sign and was hit by the truck. The impact sent the van hurtling across a lawn before smashing into a house.
Art thief pleads guilty in NY
A wine steward who plucked artwork off hotel and gallery walls in a bicoastal spree admitted on Tuesday to stealing a US$350,000 drawing in New York, resolving charges there after serving jail time in California. Mark Lugo, whom prosecutors described as an art-loving thief who stole to decorate his own apartment, pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the New York case. He admitted he took the pricey sketch by the Cubist painter Fernand Leger from a lobby gallery at Manhattan’s Carlyle Hotel on June 28. Besides the Leger, he was charged with stealing five works by the South Korea-born artist Mie Yim from another hotel on June 14. Lugo, 31, is set to be sentenced on Feb. 28 to one to three years in prison. His lawyer, James Montgomery, said that Lugo could get out in less than a year if he succeeds in a boot-camp-style prison program. As for the San Francisco charges, Lugo pleaded guilty in October to grand theft. He finished his 138-day sentence on Nov. 21.