Taliban ‘likes’ Facebook
Facebook has taken down a page used by the Islamist guerrillas of the Pakistani Taliban to recruit new fighters, a spokesman for the US-based social network site told reporters on Wednesday. Earlier, the US-based SITE Intelligence Group said the Umar Media Tehreek-e-Taliban (TPP) page used Facebook as a recruitment tool. This month, 270 users clicked a link to say they “like” the page. The account appeared to have been created in September and has just a handful of messages, written in English. “At Facebook, we have rules that bar direct statements of hate, attacks on private individuals and groups, and the promotion of terrorism,” a Facebook statement said. In Pakistan, TPP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told reporters this month that the faction was “temporarily” using the page “to fulfil its requirements” before launching its own Web site.
UN team in Tehran for talks
A team from the UN atomic watchdog led by chief inspector Herman Nackaerts arrived early yesterday in the country for talks with nuclear officials over the government’s controversial nuclear program, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the aim of the talks is to sign an agreement on a “structured approach,” giving IAEA inspectors broader access to sites and people working on the nuclear program. However, Tehran said that the trip will focus on discussions regarding “Iran’s nuclear rights as well as its peaceful nuclear activities,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said. However, “certain issues that have possibly become a source of concern for [IAEA] officials can also be discussed,” Mehmanparast added on Tuesday.
Jackie Chan under fire
Action hero Jackie Chan (成龍) provoked a furious outcry from locals yesterday after reportedly suggesting in a Chinese magazine interview that protests in his native city should be restricted. “Hong Kong has become a city of protest. The whole world used to say it was South Korea. It is now Hong Kong,” the South China Morning Post quoted Chan as saying in an interview with Guangzhou, China-based Southern People Weekly magazine on Tuesday. “People scold China’s leaders, or anything else they like, and protest against everything. The authorities should stipulate what issues people can protest over and on what issues it is not allowed.” The Rush Hour star, known for his martial arts skills, faced a counter-attack from the city-state’s politicians and academics, who said he was ignorant of the value of freedom cherished by the city’s 7 million people.
Typhoon victims found adrift
Low-flying search planes spotted three fishermen drifting at sea and flashing mirrors to signal for help, as authorities stepped up the search for 261 others missing more than a week after a typhoon killed hundreds in the south of the country. Indonesia sent a ship to join the search for the fishermen, who may have been swept toward the Celebes Sea from the Pacific Ocean off Mindanao Island, regional military spokesman Captain Severino David said. A total of 35 fishermen have been rescued in the past three days, David said on Wednesday. There were more than 300 tuna fishermen about 220km east of Davao Oriental province as early as October. Typhoon Bopha’s top winds of 210km per hour apparently made it difficult for them to return to shore. Nearly 900 people are still missing.
Savile suspect in 199 crimes
Television star Jimmy Savile is now a suspect in 199 crimes, the vast majority of them involving children or young people, including 31 rapes, police said on Wednesday in their most comprehensive review of the scandal. Revelations about Savile, who died last year, provoked outrage across Britain, where he had been a household name since the 1960s. News of Savile’s crimes threw his main employer, the BBC, into turmoil, and led to the resignation of the BBC’s director-general. Detectives launched their inquiry 10 weeks ago and since then, 450 people had come forward with allegations about Savile, said police. “These levels of reporting of sexual abuse against a single individual are unprecedented in the UK,” the police said in a statement.
Man cuts son on ‘holy day’
A Texan man told authorities he carved a pentagram into the back of his six-year-old son “because it is a holy day” in reference to the numerical date of 12-12-12, police said. Brent Troy Bartel, 39, of the Fort Worth suburb of Richland Hills, was in jail on Wednesday on a US$500,000 bond, charged with aggravated assault of a family member with a deadly weapon. Police officers responded to an emergency dispatch call shortly after midnight from a man who said: “I shed some innocent blood,” according to a recording of the call, released by police. When questioned by the dispatcher, the man said: “I inscribed a pentagram on my son.” When the dispatcher asked why, the man said: “Because it is a holy day,” according to the recording. He then hung up. Police arrived at the home and found the boy shirtless with a large pentagram carved on his back. Wednesday was 12-12-12 — a date some considered significant because such a match of day, month and year will not occur again in this century.
Drugs smuggled in breasts
Police arrested a Panamanian woman on Wednesday who landed in Barcelona from Bogota, Colombia, with cocaine stuffed inside her breast implants. The woman was taken to the police at Barcelona’s El Prat airport after her vague answers to questions about the reasons for her trip from Bogota raised suspicion at the border control, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Authorities carry out rigorous checks of passengers arriving on so-called “hot flights” from Latin America, to fight drug smuggling. When border police discovered fresh scars and blood-stained gauze on the woman’s chest she was taken to a hospital to check her claim that she had recently undergone breast implant surgery. The implants were found to carry 1.38kg of cocaine.
Cannon propels marijuana
Mexican smugglers used a pneumatic-powered cannon to propel cans packed with 38kg of marijuana into the air and over a fence at the Mexican border near San Luis, Arizona, authorities said on Wednesday. Kyle Estes, a US Border Patrol spokesman, estimated the marijuana’s value at US$42,500. The plot was foiled when US Border Patrol agents discovered the 33 pot-filled cans last week before they could be picked up by smugglers in an area about 150m from the border fence, on the US side, Estes said. Agents searching the area about 320km southwest of Phoenix recovered a carbon dioxide tank used to propel objects from the cannon, he said.