Antarctic rescue launched
An Antarctic cruise ship was yesterday racing to rescue a French yachtsman who had abandoned his boat and was drifting in a life raft hundreds of nautical miles off the southern island of Tasmania. Authorities are coordinating the rescue of the round-the-world sailor, who was forced to leave his yacht after it lost its mast and sustained damage to the hull in rough conditions on Friday. The cruise vessel is not expected to reach him until late today. The yacht is skippered by accomplished sailor Alain Delord. Up to three aircraft were to be used in yesterday’s operations with the focus on maintaining communications with the sailor, with at least one French-speaking officer onboard to help communicate with the solo yachtsman, she said. Australian Maritime Safety Authority said one of its Dornier aircraft had later confirmed the sailor had abandoned his yacht and was in a life raft.
Kurds detained over killings
Police have detained two men in connection with the killings of three female Kurdish activists in Paris last week, judicial and police sources said on Friday. The two men are both ethnic Kurds, born in Turkey in 1974 and 1982, and one of them is thought to have been a driver for one of the victims, a police source said, describing the arrests as the product of “significant leads.” The two men were arrested during the day on Thursday, a judicial source said, the same day thousands of Kurds gathered in Diyarbakir, Turkey, for the funerals of the three activists. The three women, one of them 55-year-old Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were found shot execution-style at a Kurdish center in Paris on Jan. 10. The Paris killings came amid nascent peace talks between Turkish secret services and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan with the aim of disarming the group. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has speculated the killings could be the result of an “internal feud” within the PKK aimed at sabotaging the talks, recalling that the separatist group has carried out similar executions in the past.
Train crash deemed accident
Authorities have dropped a criminal investigation against a woman previously suspected of stealing a commuter train that crashed into an apartment building. Investigators on Friday said the woman probably started the train by accident as she was cleaning it at a depot early on Tuesday. The four-car train rolled about 1.6km to the end station of the railway line, where it jumped off the tracks, careered for about 25m and crashed into a three-story building. No one was hurt except the woman, who was airlifted to a hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries.
Man admits Amritsar attack
A man pleaded guilty on Friday in London to attacking the Indian military leader of the contentious 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple assault, in which India’s army raided a shrine occupied by Sikh separatist militants. Retired lieutenant general Kuldip Singh Brar, the commander of Operation Blue Star, ordered by then-Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, was attacked on Sept. 30 last year in a street off London’s main shopping thoroughfare Oxford Street. Barjinder Singh Sangha, 33, from Wolverhampton in central England, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm on Brar, 78.
‘Te’oing’ becomes craze
Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame linebacker entangled in a girlfriend hoax that gives a whole new meaning to the term “air kiss,” is inspiring a new fad racing through social media: Te’oing.An avalanche of pictures of people hugging empty chairs or puckering up to an otherwise empty room were posted to Twitter with the hashtag “#Te’oing” days after the college football star’s story about his girlfriend’s cancer death was exposed as a fraud. Not only did she never have leukemia, she never existed. Notre Dame officials said Te’o told them he had been duped into believing he had an online relationship with the fictitious woman.
Wrong maple leaf on bills
The maple leaf shown on the nation’s new C$20 bills is from a Norway maple, which is not native to Canada, several botanists cited by media said on Friday. “It’s our national symbol — it’s stunning that we continuously get it wrong,” University of Ottawa professor Julian Starr told broadcaster CTV. The Norway maple leaf, Starr and others said, has five main lobes and the tips are stringy, while Canada’s sugar maple leaf has just three lobes and the tips are not stringy. Norway maple trees were introduced to North America in the 1800s, but are considered invasive, and have been banned in at least two US states. The Bank of Canada dismissed criticisms, saying the leaf is not Norwegian, but rather a “stylized Canadian maple leaf” and does not represent any specific species of tree.
Mexican ‘journalists’ jailed
A court sentenced 18 Mexicans to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking on Friday after they tried to enter the country in fake television news vans filled with US$9.2 million in cash. The group was given the maximum jail sentence a month after being found guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime. Authorities have hailed the arrest as a major coup against Mexican drug gangs that use Central America as a transit point for narcotics heading to the US. The Mexicans crossed the Honduras-Nicaragua border on August 20 in six vans with the logo of Mexican media giant Televisa. The world’s biggest Spanish-language network denied any links to the group. Authorities say the gang pretended to be Televisa journalists and technicians in order to bring money into the country and return north with drugs.
No jail for hitman-hiring wife
The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the acquittal of an abused wife who hired a hitman to kill her husband, rejecting her duress defense, but also refused to send her to jail. Nova Scotia high school teacher Nicole Ryan claimed at trial that she feared her “violent, abusing and controlling husband” would harm or kill her and her daughter. She said that she had no safe avenue of escape other than having him killed after her repeated calls to police for help went unanswered. Ryan was arrested in 2008 after hiring what turned out to be an undercover policeman for the hit, paying him a US$2,000 deposit and giving him a photograph of her estranged husband. She was acquitted at trial, after claiming duress. Supreme Court Justices Louis LeBel and Thomas Cromwell said that it was “disquieting” that police seemed “much quicker to intervene to protect Mr Ryan than they had been to respond to her request for help in dealing with his reign of terror over her.” The high court ruled “it would not be fair” to submit Ryan to another trial.