Border talks interrupted
Border talks between the government and South Sudan on Saturday failed to agree on how to withdraw armies from the disputed border after a round of talks in Ethiopia, delaying again the resumption of crucial oil exports. The neighbors came close to war in April last year in the worst border clashes since South Sudan seceded in 2011 under a 2005 deal which ended decades of civil war. After a week of talks in Addis Ababa to discuss how to set up the buffer zone, as agreed by the presidents of both nations, both sides accused each other of making new demands. “We were facing difficulties during the talks in Addis Ababa because of the changing position of South Sudan, which keeps altering every time we reach an agreement,” Defense Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohammed Hussein said after his return at Khartoum airport. Talks would be postponed until Feb. 13, he said.
Politician foils pistol attack
Veteran Turkish minority party leader Ahmed Dogan emerged unharmed yesterday after a dramatic attack by a man armed with a gas pistol, who pointed the weapon at his head after rushing to the stage during a televised political speech. Dogan was addressing delegates of his Movement for Rights and Freedoms party on Saturday when the young attacker, dressed in black, pulled out the non-lethal weapon and pointed it at his head, video footage showed. Visibly stunned at first, Dogan then flung the attacker’s arm away before a shot could be fired. The man tried to point the gun once again, but it “seems to have been misfired,” Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said. Both men fell to the ground in the ensuing scuffle. A handful of conference delegates rushed to the stage and severely kicked the assailant, who was later identified as a 25-year-old ethnic Turk with a police record for drugs, robberies and hooliganism.
‘Stolen baby’ finds mom
A woman was reunited with her mother nearly 50 years after being abducted as a newborn, one of numerous alleged cases of “stolen babies” from the Franco era, police said on Saturday. General Francisco Franco’s regime allowed children to be taken away at birth if the parents were left-wing opponents or not married. Victims’ groups say the practice continued after his death in 1975. In the latest such case to be resolved, a woman in Valencia who suspected she was a stolen baby lodged a judicial request to find her mother, national police said in a statement. Examining hospital records, police identified a woman whom DNA tests revealed to be the biological mother. She had been told by the hospital where she gave birth in 1964 that her baby had died. “She was very surprised and happy to hear the news,” the police statement said. “All these years, the biological mother had lived believing that the baby, whose sex she had never even been told, had died in childbirth.”
Avalanche kills four climbers
Four climbers were killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday, police said. The victims, two men and two women, were in a party of six out climbing in the Glencoe area, renowned for its beautiful landscapes. Northern Constabulary said one woman from the party was in hospital in a very serious condition. The sixth climber, who raised the alarm after the avalanche struck, was safe and well and being cared for by emergency services. Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond called the deaths “an appalling tragedy.”
Eleven die in drugs clashes
Police and army troops squared off with presumed hitmen working for drug traffickers in two deadly incidents that left 11 gunmen dead, authorities said on Saturday. In Puente Nacional, Veracruz State, armed men attacked army troops, who responded by killing six of the gunmen. In Culiacan in Sinaloa State, police and army troops clashed with gunmen, and five more gunmen were killed in the incident. Drug violence has claimed more than 70,000 lives across the country since 2006.
Singer in abortion scandal
Police have charged Portuguese singer Maria Adelaide Mengas Matafome with helping her 15-year-old daughter get an abortion, local media reported on Saturday. Abortion is only legal in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. The Portuguese teenager has been in Cuiaba, Mato Grosso State, since September last year with her boyfriend, a 21-year-old Brazilian. She learned she was pregnant last month, the reports said. Police in Mato Grosso have charged the singer, 53, known for her 1981 hit Baby Suicida, in connection with the abortion, and have also charged the boyfriend. Officers said the singer gave permission for her daughter to take a drug to induce a miscarriage. The girl was put in hospital for hemorrhaging on Jan. 4, which caused her to lose the baby.
Batmobile sells for US$4.2m
An Arizona man with a special fondness for caped crusader Batman and his sidekick Robin bought the original Batmobile driven in the iconic television series with a bid of US$4.2 million at an auction on Saturday. Rick Champagne, a Phoenix-area logistics company owner, came away with the black, futuristic two-seater featured in the Batman series starring Adam West and Burt Ward from 1966 to 1968, after a flurry of spirited bidding at the Scottsdale, Arizona, auction. “I really liked Batman growing up and I came here with the intention of buying the car,” Champagne, 56, said in an interview moments after buying the car. “Sure enough, I was able to buy it. That was a dream come true.” The Batmobile is based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura, a concept car built in Italy by the Ford Motor Co. In 1965, the concept car was bought for a nominal US$1 by noted customizer George Barris, who had just 15 days and US$15,000 to transform the vehicle for the show. The car has a V-8 engine and instruments in the steering wheel, plus innovative items like a push-button transmission. However, generations may remember it best for Bat gadgets added for the series, including a car phone and the ability to deploy such things as oil, smoke and nails to thwart villains
Action figures discontinued
The Weinstein Co has asked a toy maker to discontinue a line of Django Unchained action figures after receiving complaints that they were offensive. The studio on Friday said that such collectibles have been created for all of director Quentin Tarantino’s films and that they were meant for people 17 and older, the audience for the film. Django Unchained is a violent mix of spaghetti Western and blaxploitation genres about a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter. Civil rights groups said the toys trivialized the horrors of slavery. “We have tremendous respect for the audience and it was never our intent to offend anyone,” the Weinstein Co said in a statement.