Weapons thief arrested
Police yesterday arrested a man over a night raid on a naval vessel in which weapons were allegedly stolen by a balaclava-clad intruder dressed in military clothing. Northern Territory Police said they had recovered the two shotguns and 12 pistols stolen from a navy patrol boat moored at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin around midnight on Thursday. Police raided a Darwin city unit yesterday afternoon and recovered “all of the outstanding weapons,” Commander Richard Bryson said. “One man is currently in police custody and the investigation is continuing as to the contextual circumstances surrounding the theft of the weapons,” Bryson said. The weapons were taken after the officer on duty was assaulted and bound with cables ties. He suffered only minor injuries and was eventually able to release the ties to raise the alarm.
Former prince granted bail
Former Nepalese crown prince Paras Shah has been granted bail after being arrested and charged with cannabis possession on the resort island of Phuket, police said on Friday. Shah, who as crown prince was unpopular for his playboy lifestyle, was detained along with a Thai woman on Oct. 23 after the management of his condominium complained about his unruly behavior. Police found roughly 3 grams of marijuana. “We didn’t know who he was when he was first arrested because he had a normal passport, nothing identifying him as a VIP,” Police Colonel Jirasak Siemsak said. Shah, who is free on bail, denies the charge. If convicted he faces a light sentence because marijuana possession for personal use is not considered a serious offense.
Native saint celebrated
Nearly 1 million Roman Catholics on Friday gathered in central Cebu City to celebrate the canonization of the country’s second saint, 17th-century teen martyr Pedro Calungsod. Devotees waved palm fronds, shouting “Viva San Pedro Calungsod” when Calungsod’s flower-decked wooden statue arrived at a shrine built on 27 hectare. Last month, Pope Benedict XVI canonized the teenager from central Philippines who joined Spanish Jesuit missionaries to Guam in 1668 to convert the native Chamorros. He was killed when the natives resisted. Cardinal Ricardo Vidal urged the faithful to emulate Calungsod’s love for Christ and sacrifice for his fellow men. Police say up to 900,000 people flocked to the open-air thanksgiving Mass. Among them was President Benigno Aquino III. The Philippines is Asia’s largest predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Sailors rescue sea turtles
Sailors rescued more than a hundred sea turtles from poachers, but Chinese nationals who were allegedly buying the endangered animals escaped, the navy said on Friday. At least 123 turtles were recovered from three fishpens off the western island of Balabac on Tuesday as part of a campaign against such illegal activities, the navy statement said. “At least six Chinese nationals were sighted fleeing the area using a speed boat,” regional naval chief Commander Rostum Joseph Pena was quoted as saying. It took two days to remove all the turtles from the fishpens and six of them were found to be dead, he said. Residents have reported that Chinese financiers were paying local people to gather the turtles for 5,000 pesos (US$120) each, so they could be shipped abroad, the navy commander said.
Graves robbed for voodoo
Tomb raiders have dug up more than 100 graves at a cemetery since Saturday last week for what authorities suspect is a black-market trade in human organs and skulls for voodoo-ritual fetishes. The incident is the most serious case of grave-robbing in the West African state, the world capital of voodoo, where most of the country’s 9 million residents practice a benign form of the official religion. Authorities in Dangbo, a village 10km from the capital, Porto-Novo, began an investigation after a mason working at the cemetery said he spotted several masked men digging up the graves, from which organs and skulls were removed. “The desecration of graves is about money in this region,” said Joseph Afaton, director of the cemetery. “It is for sacrifices, or for bewitching.” Body parts of humans and rare animals are prized by some people in central Africa for their supposed supernatural powers, and are used in occult ceremonies. Traffickers often obtain human remains from grave robbers.
Officials show treasure
Spanish cultural officials have allowed the first peep at 16 tonnes of shipwreck treasure worth an estimated US$500 million that a US salvage company gave up after a five-year international ownership dispute. A tiny portion of the loot from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a galleon that sank off Portugal’s Atlantic coast near the Strait of Gibraltar in 1804, was shown to the media: 12 individual silver coins, a block of encrusted silver coins, two gold tobacco boxes and a bronze pulley. Officials on Friday said some of the treasure would be put on display in museums next year. Spain got it from Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration in February after US courts rejected arguments that the company was entitled to all or most of the treasure.
Cheese cake turns deadly
The deadly bacterium Listeria monocytogenes was found in gorgonzola and mascarpone cheese cake, a notice to the EU’s food alert system showed. The bacteria were found during official checks in cheese cake past its best-before date and no action was taken, according to a notice updated yesterday on the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. The cake was also distributed to Germany and the Netherlands, the notice showed. The finding follows detection of the pathogen earlier this month in Italian raw-milk cheese. Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen that can cause listeriosis, which can lead to brain infection and death. An outbreak in the US this year linked to imported ricotta salata cheese contributed to at least two deaths, according to the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Plane crashes in storm
A cargo plane crashed at Brazzaville airport as it was trying to land in a storm on Friday, killing about 30 residents and also the crew, emergency services and witnesses said. About 30 local people had been killed as the plane skidded off the runway and crashed into houses and a bar in the Congolese capital before crashing into a ravine, said Georgelin Massemba, head of the emergency services. The crew, numbering three or four people, are thought to have died in the ensuing fire. Another about 20 people had been injured in the crash and taken to nearby hospitals, witnesses said. The Ilyushin plane, registered with local company Aero-services, was flying in from the western port city of Pointe Noire carrying cars and other goods.
Studio sues porn company
Hollywood’s Universal Studios has filed a copyright lawsuit against a porn production company, accusing it of lifting language, characters and plot from the best-selling erotic book trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey for its own adult films and sex toys. Calling one of the adult movie adaptations of the British novel “a rip-off plain and simple,” Universal’s lawsuit seeks to stop sales of copycat porn movies and to recoup any profits they earn. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and its two sequels have sold more than 40 million copies since first being published last year. Universal bought the rights for a film adaptation earlier this year for a reported US$5 million. The suit was filed jointly in federal court in California on Tuesday by Universal and James’ British company which owns the copyright to the novels. The lawsuit said that Los Angeles-based based Smash Pictures had produced a movie called Fifty Shades of Grey: a XXX Adaptation, which lifted “exact dialogue, characters, events, story, and style from the Fifty Shades trilogy.” Smash Pictures could not be reached for comment. Universal said Smash Pictures had two subsequent movies in production and that one of its subsidiaries had also launched a “play kit” of kinky sex toys called “Fifty Shades of Pleasure.”
Actress loses YouTube case
An actress who appeared in the anti-Muslim film blamed for sparking violence in the Middle East has lost another legal bid to have the trailer taken down from YouTube. A federal judge in Los Angeles denied a motion for injunction on Friday by Cindy Lee Garcia. It was not immediately known whether Garcia’s attorneys would file an appeal. Garcia lost a similar legal challenge in state court when a judge rejected her lawsuit in September. Innocence of Muslims, which depicts the Muslim prophet Mohammed as a religious fraud and womanizer, enraged Muslims and ignited violence in the Middle East, killing dozens.
Britain stops aid to Rwanda
Britain says it is withholding aid for Rwanda after reports of Rwandan involvement with a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). International Development Secretary Justine Greening said on Friday that the government would not release a ￡21 million (US$33.6 million) payment amid concerns Rwanda is backing the M23 militia. Greening says Rwanda is breaching “partnership principles.” Several armed groups are involved in the resurgent conflict in the DR Congo, which has vast mineral wealth. A succession of rebel groups and warlords has sought a piece of the mining action in the DR Congo. Britain wants to pressure Rwanda to stop the violence in its neighbor.
Key to lobsters’ age found
Scientists have finally figured out how to determine the age of a lobster. Scientists already knew how to tell a fish’s age by counting the growth rings found in its inner ear and a scallop or clam’s age from the rings of its shell. However, nobody knows how old lobsters can live to be. Some people estimate they live to over 100. Before now it was thought that when lobsters, shrimp and crabs molt, they shed all parts of their bodies that might record annual growth bands. Raouf Kilada of the University of New Brunswick and other researchers found that growth rings are found in a lobster’s eyestalk and in teeth-like structures in their stomachs used to grind up food.