Scores drowned or missing
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says 55 people have drowned or are missing after an overcrowded boat capsized off the Somali coast. It said the incident late on Tuesday represented the biggest loss of life in the Gulf of Aden since February last year, when 57 Somali refugees and migrants drowned while attempting to reach Yemen. Five people survived the accident, it added. The survivors said the boat was overcrowded and capsized 15 minutes into its journey. Twenty-three bodies were recovered; the rest are presumed to have drowned.
US citizen arrested
Pyongyang yesterday confirmed that it had arrested a US citizen last month, saying legal action would be taken against him, but gave no details of the charges. The man, identified as Pae Jun-ho, entered the country on Nov. 3 as a tourist and “committed a crime” against the country, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. “He was put into custody by a relevant institution,” it added. KCNA said consular officials from the Swedish embassy, which acts on behalf of the US, had visited Pae yesterday. The arrest was first reported earlier this month by a South Korean newspaper, which had identified the detainee as a 44-year-old Korean-American tour operator.
Iranian suspects in court
Two Iranians arrested after a botched bomb plot allegedly targeting Israeli diplomats say they are innocent and were stunned to discover explosives stashed in a cabinet in their rented Bangkok home. Both men appeared in court yesterday, 10 months after the explosives blew up their home on Valentine’s Day and uncovered a plot that Israeli officials say was part of an Iranian-backed network of terror. Their lawyer said the men would testify that they had no clue there were bombs in their house and that they tried to run to safety after finding them. One of them, Saeid Moradi, lost both his legs after running into the street with explosives that he tried to hurl at police officers.
Three tourists rescued
Two German tourists and an Australian have been rescued following two days in the sea after their boat capsized while they were island hopping, the coast guard said yesterday. Ralf Harald Auer, 54, his son Thomas Auer, 20, and Australian family friend, Joshua Marsh, were taken to hospital and treated for bruises and dehydration before being released, Chief Petty Officer Venerando Celis said. The Filipino who was piloting the boat was missing after he attempted to swim ashore to seek help when the vessel was knocked over by waves in the Sibuyan Sea on Tuesday, Celis said. The tourists were rescued by a passing freighter which took them to the port of Iloilo.
Urinating marine sentenced
A US Marine staff sergeant who urinated on dead Taliban insurgents and posed for photographs with the bodies has pleaded guilty to two charges in a military court, the Marine Corps said on Thursday. His sentence was a reduction in rank and forfeiture of US$500 in pay. Staff Sergeant Joseph Chamblin pleaded guilty at a special court martial at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to dereliction of duty for failing to properly supervise junior marines. He also pleaded guilty to wrongfully urinating on a deceased enemy combatant. The incident occurred during a counter-insurgency operation in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in July last year. It came to light in January this year when a videotape of the incident was posted on YouTube and other Web sites. The video showed four men in camouflage marine combat uniforms urinating on three corpses. One of them joked: “Have a nice day, buddy,” while another made a lewd joke. The video was one of a series of offensive incidents involving US service members that roused Afghan ire and led to heightened tensions between Washington and Kabul earlier this year.
Woman to wed twin’s killer
A woman plans to marry the convicted killer of her twin sister. Victor Cingolani is serving a 13-year sentence for murdering girlfriend Johana Casas, a fashion model, in August 2010, but insists he is innocent and planned to marry her twin yesterday in his prison in Santa Cruz Province. Cingolani said in a TV interview on Thursday that he and 22-year-old fiancee Edith Casas had been granted permission to wed in a civil registry in town, but decided to do it in jail instead to avoid a media circus. The mother of the twins, Marcelina Orellana, has vowed to do everything she can to prevent Edith from going ahead with the nuptials. Casas insisted that Cingolani was unjustly convicted, saying he “is a guy who would not hurt a fly. He did not kill her.” Another man, Marcos Diaz, who had also gone out with Johana, is also doing time over the killing.
Twitter offers tweet record
Twitter is offering its more than 200 million users a chance to keep a digital scrapbook of all their tweets. The tool, announced this week, is designed to make it easier for people to review all their activity on Twitter’s trend-setting messaging service. When it is available, the downloading option will appear at the bottom of each user’s settings menu. Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, said it may take a several weeks, or even months, before everyone gets the feature. After a records request is made, users will receive an e-mail on how to download their personal archive. For Twitter’s earliest users, the records date back to 2006 when Twitter started.
Instagram quells outcry
Instagram has abandoned wording in its new terms-of-service agreement that sparked outcry from users who were concerned it meant their photographs could appear in advertisements. In a blog post late on Thursday, the popular mobile photo-sharing service says it has reverted to language in the advertising section of its terms of service that appeared when it was launched in October 2010. Instagram is now owned by Facebook and maintains that it would like to experiment with different forms of advertising to make money. Its blog post says that it will now ask users’ permission to introduce possible ad products only after they are fully developed.