Activist’s sentence upheld
A land rights activist will serve seven years in jail after a court rejected an appeal against his conviction for spreading anti-government propaganda, state media said yesterday. Nguyen Ngoc Cuong, 56, and his son Nguyen Ngoc Tuong Thi were convicted in October last year in southern Dong Nai Province of using an online forum “to distort the policies of the state and the party,” official media reported. “As the appeal of Nguyen Ngoc Cuong had no mitigating circumstances, the court decided to uphold his conviction of seven years imprisonment imposed in the first trial,” the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan said. However, his son’s sentence was reduced by six months to one-and-half years in prison, the daily added.
Australian teen dies
An Australian teenage boy died in a snorkeling accident near Bali, police said on Friday. Jack McCabe, 16, from the Central Coast in New South Wales, arrived in Indonesia on Thursday and was snorkeling with his family in Crystal Bay near Nusa Penida, an island about 30km east of Bali. “The boy died on Thursday at about midday,” Klungkung District police chief Tri Wahyudi said. “When the boy came to the surface, he hit his head on a moored boat and screamed. He then lost consciousness.” The boy’s father took him to a nearby clinic, but he died on the way, Wahyudi said.
Australian sentenced to jail
A court in Guangzhou has sentenced an Australian businesswoman to eight years in jail for embezzlement, her lawyer said on Friday, in a case her supporters have linked to a business dispute. Charlotte Chou was accused of embezzling funds from the private school she helped found, the South China Institute of Software Engineering, according to Australian media reports. However, her supporters said a former minority shareholder in the company had used influence with officials to have her jailed to try to gain control of the school, the Sydney Morning Herald said on its Web site. The court could not be reached for comment. Chou plans to appeal, the paper said.
Travel warning lowered
The government dropped its travel warning for Indonesia to its lowest level since before the 2002 Bali bombings, which ripped apart a bustling nightclub district, killing 202 people. Canberra still advises travelers to “exercise a high degree of caution” when in Indonesia, but has eased its overall level from the -second-highest warning, which urged people to “reconsider your need to travel.” It puts Indonesia at the same level of threat as Thailand, the Philippines and India. Indonesia had been at “reconsider your need to travel” on Australia’s four-tier advisory system since October 2005 when another deadly suicide bombing targeting foreigners took place in Bali.
Five border policemen killed
Five border policemen were killed when a roadside bomb ripped through their patrol vehicle late on Friday, an official said yesterday. The bomb struck their pick-up truck in the Dur Baba District of Nangarhar Province, near the Pakistan border, the provincial governor’s spokesman said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but roadside bombs are regularly planted by Taliban insurgents fighting a decade-long war against NATO-led foreign troops and Afghan government forces.
Johnson re-elected as mayor
Boris Johnson, re-elected as Mayor of London in the city’s Olympic year, is famed for his colorful oratory, his shock of wild, blond hair and his lack of concern for political orthodoxy. The Conservative returned to City Hall late on Friday with 51.5 percent of the vote in a closely fought runoff with Labour rival Ken Livingstone. While Johnson, 47, is known as much for his bizarre and comic behavior as for his policies, he is nevertheless seen in political circles as an ambitious operator. Some commentators even regard him as a potential threat to party leader and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Militants free inmates
Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants stormed a prison in their northeastern heartland on Friday, killing two guards and freeing the inmates, police said, in the latest in a surge of attacks blamed on the Islamist group. A police spokesman for Borno State, in the northeast of Africa’s top oil producer, said 23 suspects had since been arrested. “The BH [Boko Haram] first attacked the Banki police station, but they were repelled ... They then went to Kumshe, a nearby town, and attacked the prison lockup, killing two officials before setting all the inmates free,” he said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although Boko Haram has been blamed for several prison breaks in the past. The groups has said it is fighting to free imprisoned members and to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria — a country nearly evenly split between Muslims and Christians.
Two soldiers die in attack
Two British soldiers were killed on Friday in a Taliban attack on their base in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said. The two, from the Royal Logistic Corps, died in a mortar or artillery attack in the northern part of Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand Province, the ministry added. “The soldiers were serving as part of Combined Force Burma when they were killed in an indirect fire attack on Forward Operating Base Ouellette,” it said in a statement. “It was Taliban fire,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman said. The families of the soldiers, who had been attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh Battlegroup, have been informed, the ministry said. Their deaths bring the number of British personnel killed in the Afghan war to 412, after a British soldier was shot dead in Helmand on April 27.
Nuclear physicist gets jail
A Paris court sentenced a Franco-Algerian nuclear physicist to four years in jail on Friday after he was convicted of plotting with al-Qaeda’s north African branch to carry out terror attacks. Police arrested Adlene Hicheur, a researcher studying the Big Bang at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), in October 2009 after intercepting e-mails to an alleged contact in al-Qaeda. Hicheur, 35, who has been behind bars since his arrest, admitted at the start of his trial in late March that he was going through a “turbulent” time when he wrote the e-mails, but denied he intended to carry out any attacks. His lawyer said the verdict was “a legal scandal” because his client had been convicted merely on “words exchanged on the Internet.” Hicheur’s trial began a week after police shot dead Franco-Algerian gunman Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people in and around the city of Toulouse.
Hiker ‘spies’ to marry
Two of the US hikers imprisoned in Iran on spying charges after straying across the border in July 2009 are set to marry over the weekend. Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd became engaged during their time in captivity with a ring Bauer made from the threads of his shirt. The two will marry in a private ceremony with only friends and family present. “I want the same freedom for everyone held unjustly and under barbaric conditions, in Iran and throughout the world,” Shourd said in a statement. Bauer, Shourd and Josh Fattal were arrested near Iran’s mountainous border with Iraq on July 31, 2009. All three maintained they were not spies and had simply strayed across the border into the Islamic republic.
Beastie Boy dies of cancer
Adam Yauch, a founding member of pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 47. In July 2009, Yauch disclosed that he had been diagnosed with a tumor in his left salivary gland and lymph node, and he later underwent surgery and sought medical treatment in Tibet, among other places. In October of that year, he said he was “feeling healthy, strong and hopeful” that he had beaten the disease. However, last month it was apparent the Beastie Boys’ bassist was very ill as he was forced to miss his group’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In a music genre that was dominated by African American acts, the Beastie Boys stood out for their ethnicity — three white Jewish kids from Brooklyn, New York.
Medic dies talking to wife
The wife of an army medic serving in Afghanistan witnessed his death as the two video chatted online via Skype, his family said on Friday. The circumstances of Captain Bruce Kevin Clark’s death were not immediately available. The Pentagon said the death of the 43-year-old officer was under investigation. “Bruce’s wife tragically witnessed her husband’s death during one of their regular Skype video chats on Monday,” brother-in-law Taber-Thomas said in a prepared statement. “At the time of the incident, the family was hoping for a rescue and miracle, but later learned that it was not to be,” Taber-Tomas added in his statement. Clark, an Army chief nurse, was deployed in March and is survived by his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 9. His body was returned home on Thursday, Taber-Tomas said.
Soldier dies of rabies
An army soldier died of rabies after being bitten by a dog in Afghanistan, health authorities said on Thursday. The 24-year-old male first complained in mid-August 2011 of symptoms including shoulder and neck pain, odd sensations in his hands and fainting. “He was lucid and described having received a dog bite on the right hand during January last year while deployed to Afghanistan,” said the report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Tests confirmed he had a type of canine rabies associated with dogs in Afghanistan, the CDC report said. The soldier’s condition swiftly deteriorated after he was hospitalized on August 19. He suffered a severe brain hemorrhage and after consulting with doctors the family withdrew life support. The soldier, whose name was withheld by the CDC, died on Aug. 31.