Sock thief strikes again
A high-school girl who was tackled by a sock-stealing thief is the latest victim in a series of similar attacks against teenaged targets, police said on Friday. The 16-year-old was walking in an eastern Tokyo suburb on Thursday when she was attacked by a man who ripped a sock off her left foot and fled. At least four other high-school girls in the same neighborhood have been victims of “socklifters” since September, police said. The latest victim was not injured by the thief, who appeared to be in his thirties or forties. It remained unclear if the same man was responsible for all the incidents.
Authorities have arrested a legislator found to have four wives. A district official in the northern province of Shanxi said Li Junwen (李俊文) also had 10 children, and was detained on suspicion of document forgery. Bigamy is a criminal offense in China, and rules restrict most couples to just one child. Another 14 people were sacked, warned or demoted over the case, said an official reached by phone. The 43-year-old Li was an appointed representative in Xiaodian District in the provincial capital of Taiyuan and the Communist Party head of the village of Xiquan. The case has been featured in state media as part of an anti-corruption drive.
Endangered elephant dead
Police said an endangered Sumatran elephant has been found dead at a rubber plantation, apparently poisoned by poachers. It is the 17th elephant found dead on the island of Sumatra since March. First Lieutenant Simson Purba of the local police said the plantation owner found the male elephant dying in East Aceh District on Friday. Purba said the animal was dead by the time authorities arrived. It was about five years old and its left tusk had been stolen. Police are investigating the death. Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are left in the wild. Environmentalists say they could be extinct within three decades unless they are protected.
Suspected terrorist killed
Police have killed a suspected Malaysian terrorist who was allegedly planning a bomb attack in one of the largest cities in the south of the country. Davao City Police Senior Superintendent Ronald de la Rosa said the suspect, identified as Mod Noor Fikrie Bin Abud Kahar, was shot by police on Friday following a scuffle inside a hotel where he and his Filipino wife were staying. De la Rosa said that as the couple were leaving, officers tried to seize the man, but he threatened to detonate a bomb that was inside a bag his wife was carrying. He said the man grabbed the bag, but was then shot. The bomb was subsequently defused.
North Koreans detained
A coast guard official said a fishing boat carrying three North Koreans has drifted south of the eastern maritime boundary. The boat was found on Thursday evening near the South Korean island of Ulleung after drifting for weeks due to engine failure. The North Koreans have expressed their desire to return home, the official, who declined to be named, said. The National Intelligence Service declined to comment. North Korean boats occasionally drift south of the maritime border. Some North Koreans ask to return home, but some choose to defect. Citizens of the two countries cannot travel freely across the border. The countries remain divided after the Korean War ended in a truce in 1953.
Hacker will not face court
A British hacker, whose extradition to face charges of accessing nearly 100 US government computers in a quest for UFOs was halted on grounds he might harm himself, will not be tried in Britain, the prosecution office said on Friday. Gary McKinnon, 46, diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, has admitted hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers under the pseudonym “Solo,” saying he was looking for evidence of flying saucers and other extraterrestrial activity. He has been fighting extradition since police arrested him in 2005 and Home Secretary Theresa May blocked his extradition in October because of the high risk he could kill himself. She referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to rule if he should be tried at home. The CPS said on Friday the chances of a conviction were “not high” and cited logistical difficulties in pursuing a case in England and Wales.
‘China Daily’ goes to Africa
China launched an African edition of its China Daily newspaper on Friday, the latest media venture by Beijing on the continent. “The relationship between China and the African continent is one of the most significant relationships in the world today,” publisher and editor-in-chief of the state-run paper Zhu Ling wrote in the inaugural copy. “It is growing and complex and not always understood ... we hope to set that right,” he added. The weekly paper will “look in depth at what the precise nature of Chinese involvement in Africa is, and also at the prominent role many Africans are now playing in China itself,” Ling added. Published in the Kenyan capital, but to be sold across the continent, it follows the opening earlier this year of a production center of China Central Television (CCTV) in Kenya, the first outside of China.
Former policeman gets jail
A Russian court on Friday sentenced a former policeman to 11 years in jail for his role in the 2006 killing of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was sentenced for tracking Politkovskaya’s movements and giving the killer the gun used to kill her in her apartment building in central Moscow. The case has become emblematic of attempts to silence dissent under Putin. Politkovskaya, who was 58, was killed on the president’s 54th birthday. Politkovskaya had made enemies with her reporting on corruption across Russia and human rights abuses in Chechnya. Pavlyuchenkov had struck a plea bargain for a reduced sentence, but Politkovskaya’s children have said he should be forced to reveal the names of the people who ordered the killing.
‘Casablanca’ piano sold
The piano used for the song As Times Goes By in the classic 1942 film Casablanca has fetched more than US$600,000 at auction. The 58-key upright was sold to an unidentified buyer for US$602,500 at Sotheby’s New York on Friday. It was offered by a Japanese collector on the film’s 70th anniversary. The collector purchased the movie prop at a Sotheby’s auction in 1988 for US$154,000. Humphrey Bogart played Rick Blaine in the Oscar-winning World War II love story, opposite Ingrid Bergman’s character, Ilsa Lund. In a famous flashback scene, Rick and Ilsa lean on the piano at a Paris bistro. Sam, played by Dooley Wilson, plays and sings. They toast as Rick says: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Thirty injured at office party
A brawl broke out as prizes were being awarded at a carmaker’s office party and more than 30 people were injured in the melee in which glasses, bottles and even homemade grenades were thrown, police and media said yesterday. AutoAlliance Thailand, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co and Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp, threw the party for its 4,000 staff on Friday evening at a restaurant in Chonburi, 100km southeast of Bangkok. The Bangkok Post newspaper said the brawl started in front of a stage as prizes were being handed out. It was not clear what sparked it. “The chaos quickly spread as glasses and other missiles were thrown with periodic explosions and gunshots also heard, according to some witnesses,” the newspaper said. “A lot of property was also damaged or destroyed.” “We have incidents like this every year,” said a police officer, who declined to be identified.
Two killed in Las Vegas
Police said a man and woman were dead after a murder-suicide shooting at a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Las Vegas Police Lieutenant Ray Steiber said the shooting happened at about 8:30pm on Friday at the Excalibur hotel-casino. Steiber said a man shot a woman near the front entrance of the high-rise hotel. He then turned the gun on himself and was found dead at the scene. Steiber said the woman was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Neither the gunman not the victim was identified. However, Steiber said the woman worked as a vendor at the hotel’s concierge desk, where tourists can get show tickets and restaurant reservations.
Trapped dog honks for help
A dog trapped with other pets in a truck for several days alerted police by honking the horn. Police said on Friday that the muzzled dog — along with two other dogs and two cats — had been left in deplorable conditions without proper care in the parked truck. Police said the discovery came a week after someone complained to the London Humane Society in Ontario about three dogs exposed to unsanitary conditions in a home. The police statement said the residents left with the dogs, likely to avoid Humane Society officers. Donna Hebert and Allan Folkins-Wyre were charged on Thursday with several counts of cruelty to animals.
Nudists seek ban overturn
San Francisco’s city attorney is urging a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to overturn the city’s recently approved nudity ban. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Dennis Herrera responded on Thursday to the complaint filed by nudity activists who say the ordinance violates their constitutional rights. The ban was approved by the Board of Supervisors this month and is scheduled to take effect Feb. 1. It bars nudity in public places, with exceptions at events like the Bay to Breakers race and the Folsom Street Fair.
Jogger followed by emu
A man picked up an unusual jogging partner when an emu began following him. A Virginia Beach animal shelter supervisor said residents contacted the city after the tall, gangly bird showed up on Thursday. It turns out that the bird had merely drifted away from home. Emus are legal to own in the area. Animal shelter supervisor Wayne Gilbert told media outlets that animal control officers located the bird, which was returned to its owner.