Zuma kills cows for election
President Jacob Zuma’s family slaughtered 12 cows at his rural village at the weekend in a traditional ritual to help him keep his job, media said on Monday. The Times quoted one clan elder calling on the ancestors to protect Zuma against his rivals ahead of an African National Congress leadership vote next month. Guests feasted on the beef cooked on open fire and drank traditional brew, according to The Star. Pictures of Zuma clad in a traditional Zulu warrior leopardskin jacket and brandishing a spear and shield were plastered on the front of two leading newspapers. He faces a tough re-election bid at the party congress after some former supporters have openly called for his removal.
Bodies found in drifting boat
A wooden boat containing several rotting bodies and with Korean characters on its side has been found on the rocky shore of a Japanese island, police said yesterday. The 13m long boat was discovered on Sado Island just west of Japan, police said. “The bodies are decomposed badly and we still cannot confirm exactly how many of them there are,” a police spokesman said, adding that belongings and trash were scattered inside. Kyodo News and the Yomiuri Shimbun daily said there were five bodies. “We cannot determine their nationality yet. The boat seems to have been drifting in the sea for quite some time,” he said.
Toilet park flush with pride
Rodin’s Thinker is pondering even harder than usual as he sits astride a toilet at what has been dubbed the world’s first theme park dedicated to the restroom. The park, about an hour outside of Seoul in the city of Suwon, centers around a toilet-shaped museum that was once the home of Sim Jae-duck, founder and first president of the World Toilet Association. Legend has it that Sim, a former Suwon mayor who made his fortune in metal products, was born in his impoverished grandmother’s outhouse. “He is a man whose life literally began in a toilet and ended at a commode-shaped house,” said Lee Yeun-sook, manager of planning at the “Mr Toilet Sim Jae-duck Foundation.” Sim, who died in 2009 at the age of 70, founded the organization to spread the benefits of toilets around the world.
Satellite to bring TV to rural
President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday welcomed the launch of the first communications satellite in partnership with a Chinese state-owned company. Rajapakse said the geo-stationary Supreme Sat I will provide television broadcasts in rural areas of the country that cannot be reached by normal broadcasts. The local partner of the joint venture, Supreme Sat, said the satellite was positioned in orbit on Tuesday evening after launching from the Xi Chang Space Center in China.
PM wins no-confidence vote
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra comfortably survived a no-confidence vote in parliament yesterday, following a heated debate on alleged corruption in the government’s rice subsidization scheme that pays farmer at above-market prices and irregularities in the government’s flood management budget. The vote came after a three-day censure debate and four days after thousands of protesters called for the overthrow of the government, citing corruption as one of the reasons. However, the opposition was outnumbered in parliament and lawmakers voted 308 to 159 to keep Yingluck in power.
Dad admits to killings
More than six years after two children burned to death in an SUV in Los Angeles, their father has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder. Dae Kwon Yun, 61, was sentenced to life in prison after entering the guilty pleas on Tuesday, the district attorney’s office said. The Los Angeles Times reported that before Yun entered the courtroom, authorities told the judge his status had been changed to suicidal. The children’s mother, Sun Ok Ma, testified that Yun beat her and threatened to kill her and burn down their home, leading to their separation, the Times said. Yun’s 10-year-old son, Alexander, and 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, were killed on April 2, 2006.
Parrot killer imprisoned
A 63-year-old Everett, Washington, man has been sentenced to six months in jail for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend’s parrot with a serving fork. The Daily Herald reported that Richard Atkinson pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and domestic-violence malicious mischief in the Aug. 19 attack. In a letter to the newspaper in September, the woman said she had the parrot, Bailey, for 18 years. Defense lawyer William Steffener said at Tuesday’s sentencing that his client does not remember what happened, but he may have mixed anti-anxiety medication with whiskey and slipped into a blacked-out rage. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel ordered Atkinson to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He also has to pay the woman for her parrot and destroyed belongings.
Woman used as ‘shield’
A 22-year-old beauty queen killed during a gunfight between a suspected drug gang and soldiers appeared to have been used as a human shield, an official said on Tuesday. The soldiers reported that Maria Susana Flores Gamez was holding a weapon when she came out of the gang’s car during Saturday’s clash in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, the official from the federal prosecutor’s office said. The soldiers’ report “does not say if she fired, only that they used her as a human shield” during the confrontation, the official said on condition of anonymity. A forensics test found gun residue on her hands, suggesting she fired the weapon, the state prosecutor’s office said. Two men and two women, including Flores, and a soldier died in the running gunbattle that extended across the municipalities of Salvador Alvarado and Mocorito. Four other people were arrested. Local media said Flores was traveling with her boyfriend, a suspected hitman, when the shootout erupted.
Al-Assad sends message
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mokdad, who was visiting the country on Tuesday, brought a private message from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to President Hugo Chavez. Mokdad did not give details about al-Assad’s message to Chavez, saying only that it dealt with relations between the two leaders. Chavez has been a vocal defender of al-Assad and has accused the US and its allies of provoking violence during the conflict in Syria to try to topple its government. Venezuelan officials have previously acknowledged that the state oil company has sent three shipments of diesel fuel to aid Syria. Asked if Syria plans to request more fuel from Venezuela, Mokdad did not respond, saying through an interpreter: “Relations between Venezuela and Syria are very advanced, and we’re showing our thanks ... for the support offered economically and politically.”