Italian arrested for hoax
An Italian painter has been arrested on the Indonesian resort island of Bali for allegedly making a hoax bomb threat to a flight after his wife failed to get a seat on it, police said yesterday. Andrea Giovanni Sorteni, 48, could be charged with terrorism offenses over the bomb threat, which sparked panic and caused the flight from Yogyakarta in central Java to be delayed by several hours. The artist, who denies making the threat, became upset when his Indonesian wife was not allowed on the flight after low-cost domestic carrier Lion Air said her ticket was out of date, police said. “He was very angry knowing that his wife could not fly back home, and called Lion Air and said there were explosive materials on the flight to Bali,” police spokeswoman Ani Pudjiastuti said. Passengers waiting for the Oct. 14 flight to take off became panicky on hearing about the threat, but a police search of the plane turned up no explosives, she said. Sorteni was arrested on Oct. 17 in Denpasar, Bali, where he was living with his wife, after he was tracked down through the mobile phone he allegedly used to make the threats, police said.
Airline joins Internet age
The world’s only one-star airline, North Korea’s Air Koryo, has finally joined the Internet age with an online booking service, offering flights to and from the isolated state to Beijing and Shenyang, China, as well as Vladivostok, Russia. The Web site says it started operations in August and promises “a convenient reservation ... day and night.” Air Koryo is the only airline ranked as a one-star service by Skytrax global airline ranking, a rating that represents “very poor quality performance.” The airline uses mainly Russian-built Tupolev aircraft on its international flights, although older, Soviet-era aircraft are also still used domestically.
Badger cull postponed
The government on Tuesday postponed a plan to kill thousands of badgers after protests by animal rights groups and concern over the plan’s cost and effectiveness. Farmers had pressed for a badger cull because the creatures can spread bovine tuberculosis, a disease that can devastate herds and hurt farm revenues, but the black and white burrowers have had high-profile supporters such as Queen guitarist Brian May, who campaigned against the cull that was to take place in the southwest of England. The project is now to be put back until next year after a survey found almost twice as many badgers as previously thought — which dramatically raised the cost of the plan. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told lawmakers that the government remains committed to the idea. May welcomed the reprieve, but said the cull should be scrapped altogether. “This is a scientifically flawed, ethically reprehensible, economically unjustifiable and reckless policy that needs to be abandoned, once and for all,” he said.
Aide fired over murder
An Iowa teacher’s aide has been fired after school officials learned she was the member of an Indianapolis family who tortured and killed a girl in the basement of their home in 1965. School district superintendent Ben Petty said Paula Pace was fired by the school board on Tuesday for providing false information on her job application. The district learned last week from the county sheriff that Pace was Paula Baniszewski, who had been convicted of manslaughter for participating in the torture and murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens in 1965.
Man interrupts his own wake
A 41-year-old car washer shocked his family when he interrupted a funeral being held for him at his mother’s home in the town of Alagoinhas in the northeast, police said on Tuesday. Police inspector Roberto Lima said by telephone that on Sunday Jose Marcos Araujo identified a body at the city morgue as being that of his brother, Gilberto. Lima said that Jose Marcos took the body to his mother’s home, where a wake was held. “The confusion started when news started circulating that a car washer had been shot dead,” Jose Marcos’ wife, Ana Paula, told the UOL Internet news portal. “Police called my husband and told him that his brother had been killed and his body was at the morgue,” she said. Lima said the confusion was “understandable.” “The two men closely resembled each other and both worked as car washers,” Lima said, adding that the man whose body was in the morgue was named Genivaldo Santos Gama. He said further information on Gama was not immediately available. A few hours before the Monday burial “a friend of Gilberto’s saw him walking down the street and told him that his family was mourning him,” he said. “So he went to his mother’s home to let everyone know he was very much alive.” When Araujo showed up at his wake “some people fainted and others were so scared they ran away. It was a big shock,” family friend Maria Menezes told the G1 online news site.
Red beard raises eyebrows
Accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been tinting his beard red by rubbing it with fruit juice and crushed berries from his breakfast, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday. Mohammed first showed up for his April arraignment hearing with his long, scraggly beard tinted a rusty red, and it remained dyed the same hue when he returned last week to the courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba. That sparked a flurry of questions, since the rule book for the detention operation known as Joint Task Force Guantanamo, or JTF-GTMO, specifically prohibits prisoners from receiving hair dye because it can contain chemicals such as ammonia that could be used as a weapon. Journalists asked whether someone had been smuggling contraband henna to Mohammed, who is held at a top-security camp whose very location on the Guantanamo base is kept secret. A Pentagon spokesman, Army Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, revealed the answer on Tuesday. “I can confirm that Mr Mohammed did not avail himself of any outside-the-JTF means to dye his beard, but did craft his own natural means by which to do it,” Breasseale said, explaining the inmate used fruit juice and berries from breakfast. He said he did not know Mohammed’s reasoning.
Student sex game disbanded
Male teenage athletes at a San Francisco-area school formed what they called a “Fantasy Slut League,” awarding points for sex with female students. Piedmont High School principal Rich Kitchens says the so-called league, which had existed for up to six years, has been disbanded. School officials learned of what the athletes were doing after a date-rape awareness assembly this month. The number of students involved is being withheld. The San Francisco Chronicle says Kitchens sent a letter to parents on Friday saying officials learned that athletes earned “points for documented engagement in sexual activities” with girls who often were not aware of the game. The school is not planning to discipline the students involved.