Cracks found at plant
Nuclear regulators have found microscopic cracks in tunnels that guide control rods at a nuclear plant under maintenance, government officials said yesterday, raising new concerns over the country’s nuclear power sector. The discovery of the cracks comes after the state utility shut down two reactors at the same Yeonggwang plant to replace parts that had been provided with forged certificates. “There are cracks in six tunnels. The reactor has been halted since Oct. 18 for regular maintenance and now the process has been extended by a further 47 days for repair of the cracks,” a spokeswoman of the Korea Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said.
Prisoners tunnel out of jail
Officials say a dozen inmates, including Indian and Bangladeshi nationals, dug a tunnel and escaped from a prison in the southeast. Police officer Chatra Karki says the inmates escaped on Thursday night from a prison about 400km southeast of Kathmandu. Police are searching the area for the escaped prisoners. The inmates dug a 12m-long tunnel out of the prison walls using common tools that were available inside the prison. The escapees were convicted of crimes ranging from theft to kidnapping and murder.
Woman chief for Interpol
Interpol on Thursday elected a French police commissioner known for her drive against organized crime in Bordeaux and Corsica as its first female president at its general assembly in Rome. “Mireille Ballestrazzi of France becomes first woman to be elected president of Interpol,” the association said on Twitter. Ballestrazzi, 58, became a police commissioner in 1975 and was already vice president for Europe on Interpol’s executive committee. She is particularly well known for her time as director of judicial police in Corsica in the 1990s at a time of fierce turf wars on the island.
Australian woman freed
An Australian nurse who faced the death penalty after being accused of drug trafficking was freed yesterday by a court after prosecutors dropped the charges. Emma L’Aiguille, 34, was charged in a Kuala Lumpur court in July along with a Nigerian man, Anthony Esikalam Ndidi, after police arrested them for allegedly possessing 1kg of methamphetamines. Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence in the country. L’Aiguille was in a car with Ndidi when police swooped and found drugs in the vehicle. The defense had argued that L’Aiguille had no knowledge of the drugs in the vehicle. She was freed on the condition that she remain in the country and obtains prior permission to travel abroad because prosecutors may require further evidence from her.
SEALs punished over game
Seven Navy SEALs, part of an elite team of soldiers, have been reprimanded for divulging secret information for a video game, officials said. The seven were sanctioned for dereliction of duty, disclosure of classified material, use of command gear and violating orders while serving as consultants for the development of the Medal of Honor: Warfighter video game. “They received a punitive letter of reprimand and forfeiture of a half month’s pay for two months,” a navy official said late on Thursday on condition of anonymity.
Picasso sells for US$41.5m
An erotically charged Picasso oil painting of his mistress alongside tulips and fruit sold on Thursday for US$41.5 million on an otherwise anemic night for high-end art in New York. Nature Morte Aux Tulipes, painted in 1932, was the star of Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art sale in Manhattan. The pre-sale estimate for the work had been between US$35 million and US$50 million. The painting depicts the head of Marie-Therese Walter, who was Picasso’s lover and famous muse, poised over a suggestive flower arrangement. Its sale was one of the few bright spots for Sotheby’s, with 30 percent of lots failing to sell and the total haul of the evening amounting to US$163 million — below the low end of the overall estimate of between US$169 million and US$245 million. It followed a similar performance at the Christie’s auction on Wednesday.
Cuba arrests famed blogger
A dissident blogger was arrested on Thursday in Havana with several activists who were seeking information about opponents of the island’s communist regime thought to have been detained a day earlier. Yoani Sanchez, whose Generation Y blog is read in 20 languages around the world, was among people arrested in front of a police station in the capital’s La Vibora district, according to pro-government blog Yohandry Fontana. It said Elizardo Sanchez, a spokesman for the officially banned Cuban Commission for Human Rights, and dissident Guillermo Farinas, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize in 2010, were arrested half an hour after Sanchez. The Inter American Press Association, meanwhile, named Sanchez its vice chair for Cuba.
Killer’s veins ‘inaccessible’
A condemned killer fighting his execution because of his extreme weight does not have accessible veins in his arms or hands and could not receive a lethal injection in his legs because he is so obese, a doctor said in a court filing. Death row inmate Ronald Post wants a federal judge to stop his January execution on the grounds his weight could cause him to suffer severe pain during the procedure. The state opposes the request. Post, 53, is scheduled to die on Jan. 16 for the 1983 shooting death of Helen Vantz in Elyria. Vantz’s son, Bill Vantz, has called Post’s arguments “laughable.”
Putin replaces top general
President Vladimir Putin yesterday replaced the country’s top general with a veteran commander from the second Chechnya war, as part of a new shake-up in the armed forces after the sacking of the defense minister. Army Chief of Staff Nikolai Makarov is to be replaced by General Valery Gerasimov, a commander of the North Caucasus military district in the second Chechnya war, Putin announced days after the sacking of former defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov in a graft scandal.