Pussy Riot member isolated
Jailed Pussy Riot punk protester Maria Alekhina has been moved to a single-person cell for her own protection because of tension with other prisoners, her lawyer and Russia’s federal penitentiary service said on Friday. Alekhina, 24, is serving a two-year sentence for a raucous protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral. Prison authorities said Alekhina was moved at her own request. A federal prison service spokeswoman dismissed Russian media reports Alekhina argued with inmates over religion at the Ural Mountains prison about 1,150km northeast of Moscow. Pussy Riot’s protest offended many members of Russia’s Orthodox Church. The spokeswoman also said she had no information regarding a report on the tabloid-style Life News Web site that Alekhina had received violent threats from cellmates.
Airstrike kills seven
An official said Sudan carried out aerial bombardments of the northern part of South Sudan in the past three days, killing seven people and wounding more than a dozen. Military spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer said on Friday that Sudanese Antonov planes dropped more than 27 bombs in a disputed region near the village of Kiir Adem in northern Bahr el Ghazal State. Aguer said the attack was in violation of a security agreement signed between the two countries 54 days ago to end hostilities. The country is also accusing Sudan of frustrating its efforts to resume oil production.
Koroma promises more jobs
President Ernest Koroma vowed to transform the fortunes of the war-scarred nation with more jobs and development after his convincing re-election victory. Koroma swept to a second term with 58 percent of votes in a poll last week that observers praised as peaceful and transparent, triumphing over his main rival, Julius Maada Bio, who trailed with 37.4 percent. By winning more than 55 percent of the vote, the incumbent managed to avoid a second round of voting. Koroma was sworn in on Friday immediately after the results were announced. He called on all Sierra Leoneans, including the opposition, to unite in moving the country forward. The US swiftly congratulated Koroma on his re-election, noting the democratic progress the west African country has made since the end of a civil war a decade ago.
Jailed scientist walks free
Scientist Valentin Danilov walked free on parole yesterday after serving eight years of a 14-year sentence on charges of spying for China during President Vladimir Putin’s first term. Danilov, 66, said shortly after his release in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk that he had regarded himself as a political prisoner, because the information he passed on was declassified. “I would really appreciate it if somebody finally told me what state secret I sold,” he said. Danilov smiled, joked and laughed with reporters. Asked about his health, the physicist said: “I’m fine. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” Human rights activists saw Danilov’s case as an example of the Kremlin’s use of the courts against opponents, although Putin has denied influencing the courts. Danilov was sentenced in 2004, but had already been held in detention before and during his trial. A Krasnoyarsk court granted him parole earlier this month.
Restaurant blast kills 14
An explosion at a restaurant in northern China has killed 14 people and injured 47. The government of Shouyang County, Shanxi Province, said that a gas leak caused the blast triggering a fire on Friday evening at the Xinyangyang hotpot restaurant. The official Xinhua news agency said six people were killed at the scene and eight died in hospital. Seventeen others were severely injured. Xinhua said the explosion was so powerful that it shattered the windows of the two-story building that houses the restaurant and shops.
Bomb at procession kills 7
A roadside bomb killed at least seven people and wounded 30 at a Shiite Muslim procession yesterday, police said, as minority Shiites prepared to observe the holy day of Ashoura. Police official Rashid Khan said the bomb struck the procession in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, which is near the South Waziristan tribal region. The dead included three children, he said. Khan said about 100 Shiites were passing through the city to join a main procession when the bomb went off. No one claimed responsibility, but the suspicion fell on Pakistani Taliban who often carry out such attacks. Today, Shiites in Pakistan will celebrate Ashoura, which commemorates the seventh century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson. The Sunni-Shiite schism over Mohammed’s rightful heir dates back to that time.
Manga ‘geeks’ seek love
Self-confessed geeks in Japan who might be too shy to ask someone on a date are trying a new kind of matchmaking: wearing cartoon character masks. In a small town north of Tokyo, 30 men and women donned masks of Doraemon, Mickey Mouse and other fictional creations to try to find a date on Friday. “I feel this is an easier way to talk to people,” said a 27-year-old woman wearing a rabbit mask, who introduced herself as Jet-Black Wings. As well as giving participants’ bravery a boost, the masked meet also ensured that people with similar, albeit rather particular, interests were able to meet each other. The event was organized by the local chamber of commerce, who realized the power of the otaku-yen when their otherwise unremarkable town became a pilgrimage site for fans of the Raki Suta (Lucky Star) cartoon in 2007, clamoring to see the place in which it was set.
Ancient tombs discovered
Italian archeologists say they have discovered a cemetery revealing complex funeral rites dating back more than 3,000 years in the Swat valley, recently controlled by the Taliban. The Italian mission began digging in the 1950s at Udegram, a site of Buddhist treasures in Swat. Archeologists were aware of a pre-Buddhist grave site in Udegram, but only recently discovered the collection of almost 30 graves, tightly clustered and partially overlapping. Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian mission, said that the tombs point to the culture that predates the Buddhist Gandhara civilization that took hold in northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan from the first millennium BC to the sixth century AD. Bodies were first laid to rest in open graves, fenced in by wooden railings. Then the graves were re-opened and the bones partially burnt before the graves were sealed and a burial mound built. Men were buried with high-quality flasks, bowls and cooking pots, and women with semi-precious beads, bronze hairpins and spindles.
Teen charged with shooting
Police say a Toronto teenager is the latest person to be charged in connection with one of the worst mass shootings in the city’s history. Toronto police said on Friday that a 17-year-old boy has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, 22 counts of aggravated assault, one count each of attempted murder and recklessly discharging a firearm. The suspect, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was scheduled to appear in court on Friday. Numerous gunshots were fired during a July 16 barbecue for young people, killing 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay. Twenty-three others were sent to the hospital. Nineteen-year-old Nahom Tseigazab was charged earlier this week with two counts of second-degree murder, attempted murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault.
Phone book lawsuit ends
A phone book company has settled a lawsuit filed by a Montana barbecue restaurant that was listed in a section of the yellow pages for “Animal Carcass Removal.” The owner of Bar 3 Bar-B-Q sued Dex Media Inc after the listing appeared in the 2009 phone book and was reprinted in other directories in 2010 and last year. It gained notoriety after it was featured as a joke on Jay Leno’s show last year. The lawsuit claimed a Dex salesman deliberately published the free listing under the section after the owner of the restaurant refused to buy an advertisement in the book. The terms of last Friday’s deal between Dex and the restaurant’s parent company were not disclosed.
Dog killer escapes jail
A man who pleaded guilty in the slaughter of dozens of sled dogs in British Columbia will not spend time in prison, a judge has ruled. Provincial Court Judge Steve Merrick concluded on Thursday that Robert Fawcett had the “best interests” of the dogs at heart when he culled the pack near Whistler after a slump in business following the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. While Merrick said he agreed with a psychiatrist’s assessment that Fawcett’s actions were the result of mental instability, the judge noted: “[You] ought to have anticipated the possibility of the horrific circumstances that could result. It is beyond comprehension as to how this could have occurred.” The devastating aftermath of the April 2010 killing was outlined in court by Fawcett’s lawyer, who described how hard it was for his 40-year-old client to even listen to details of killing his beloved animals again.
WWII postcard arrives
A postcard mailed nearly 70 years ago has finally arrived at the former upstate New York home of the couple who sent it. The postcard was sent July 4, 1943, from Rockford, Illinois, to sisters Pauline and Theresa Leisenring in Elmira. Their brother, George Leisenring, was stationed at Rockford’s Medical Center Barracks at Camp Grant, an Army post during World War II. Their parents were visiting him when they mailed the postcard home. The postcard reads in part: “Dear Pauline and Theresa, We arrived safe, had a good trip, but we were good and tired.” Elmira’s Star-Gazette newspaper reports the postcard arrived last week at the family’s former home, where a different family now lives. A postal official says the postcard may have been found by someone outside the postal service and placed in the mail.