Snow kills one, injures 900
Heavy snow blanketed the east of the country over the holiday weekend, leaving one man dead and 900 others injured. A low-pressure system, dubbed a “bomb cyclone” by the press, dumped 8cm of snow in nine hours, the heaviest snowfall in the region since January 2006, the Meteorological Agency said. It left 13cm of snow in Yokohama, while areas around Tokyo saw up to 30cm. A 71-year-old man in Shiojiri City, in Nagano Prefecture, died after falling into an open drain, a fire service spokesman said. Broadcaster NHK said at least 891 injuries had been recorded in Tokyo and the surrounding area, many of them elderly people who slipped on snowy streets or motorists in accidents.
Child’s rape sparks protest
A seven-year-old girl has been raped in a school toilet in Goa, sparking mass protests and the arrest of her headmistress, police said yesterday. The incident was reported in the city of Vasco da Gama on Monday, sparking a manhunt to find the accused, thought to be in his early 20s. A police official told reporters that the toilet was next to the headmistress’ office at Deepvihar High School, which has a primary-school section. Thousands of people surrounded the school on Monday night, demanding the arrest of headmistress and the accused, who is at large. The headmistress was arrested for alleged negligence of duty, the official said.
Scientist finds new frog
A researcher who discovered a new species of flying frog near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, yesterday said it was a rare find so close to such a big city. Jodi Rowley, an amphibian expert from Sydney’s Australian Museum, found the frog in 2009 in the forests fringing the Vietnamese city. Rowley initially thought the tree-dwelling flying frog was a familiar species. It was not until a later trip, when she saw a specimen of the original type of frog in another part of Vietnam, that she realized her creature was different. Analysis confirmed Rowley’s suspicion and she had the honor of naming the species Rhacophorus helenae, or Helen’s Flying Frog, after her mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Girl in hot water over parody
Authorities have lifted a one-year suspension handed down to an eighth-grade student for posting a parody of a speech by former leader Ho Chi Minh on Facebook. The girl’s post used language from a famous speech by Ho Chi Minh in 1946 to joke about never having to take exams again. Vo Tan Dong, deputy principal of the school in Quang Nam Province, yesterday said the girl deserved punishment, but the school allowed her to return because her family and the local Communist Youth League committed to “educating” her about her wrongdoing.
French pedophile jailed
A court jailed a 52-year-old French pedophile for 14 months yesterday for sexually abusing a teenage boy, prompting rights groups to criticize the prison term as too lenient. Philippe Lauwers was found guilty of “committing an indecent act against an underaged boy in late 2011,” Judge Phong Vann at Kandal Provincial Court told reporters. Lauwers will be free in two months, having already served a year in jail, unless his victim appeals the ruling, the judge added. Samleang Seila, country director for child rights group Action Pour Les Enfants, said Lauwers should have been charged with buying sex, which carries a minimum jail term of seven years.
Boy guilty of shooting father
An abused 12-year-old boy who shot his neo-Nazi father dead while he was sleeping at their California home was found guilty on Monday of second-degree murder. Joseph Hall was 10 at the time of the killing, in which he shot his 32-year-old father, Jeff Hall, in the head in the early hours of May 1, 2011, as he slept, drunk, on a sofa. He used his father’s .357 revolver. “The minor knew what he did was wrong,” said judge Jean Leonard of the Riverside County Superior Court, Los Angeles, adding that Hall planned the attack after his father threatened to break up his marriage and abandon the family.
Court rejects Berlusconi bid
A Milan court on Monday rejected a bid by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to halt his sex-for-hire trial for the nation’s general election campaign, a ruling that makes a verdict likely before next month’s vote. Berlusconi’s lawyer accused the court of “interfering heavily” in the political campaign by refusing to suspend the trial so Berlusconi can dedicate himself to campaigning for his center-right coalition. Berlusconi denounced the trial as “a comedy, a farce, a defamatory hoax,” in an interview with Sky TG24. He is accused of having paid for sex with a Moroccan woman, Karima el-Mahroug, when she was 17, during racy “bunga bunga” parties with attractive young women at his villa near Milan, and then using his influence to cover it up.
Native chief steps aside
The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations stepped aside on Monday, after emergency talks with the prime minister last week failed to stem growing native unrest. Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo cited health woes for his sudden but temporary departure related to “many long conference calls, late-night meetings, and frustrations in the past two weeks.” Atleo said in a statement that his doctor ordered him over the weekend to “take some time now to rest and recover.” Atleo had led a delegation of 20 chiefs to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday after an escalation of nationwide demonstrations and highway blockades over squalid living conditions on reserves.
Maduro to give speech
Vice President Nicolas Maduro was to deliver the annual state of the nation address to lawmakers yesterday in place of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez, who is convalescing in Cuba. Maduro, Chavez’s chosen political heir, will give the speech in accordance with the constitution, due to Chavez’s authorized leave of absence, the first vice president of the National Assembly, Dario Vivas, told Venezuelan radio. The constitution stipulates that the president “personally” deliver the state of the nation address within 10 days of the swearing-in of the legislature, which took place on Jan. 5.
Court clears escapees
A group of illegal immigrants was justified in escaping from a police lockup last year because of the miserable conditions in their overcrowded cell, which was filthy, ridden with disease and had no running water, a court has ruled. The court in Igoumenitsa said the 15 adults — from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Morocco — had been held for up to six weeks in “wretched and highly dangerous” conditions.