Temples closed after fraud
Authorities have shut two temples on a sacred Buddhist mountain and arrested six people after fake monks reportedly deceived tourists into donating money, state media and an official said yesterday. The Mount Wutai Administration Bureau closed two of the mountain’s dozens of temples and revoked their business licenses on Friday, Xinhua news agency said. It said the six people were arrested over illegal funding and that the temples had reportedly hired fake monks to con tourists into buying expensive incense and paying unreasonable amounts of money for ceremonies.
Briton survived on lens fluid
A British backpacker who endured three days missing in the Outback survived by drinking his contact lens fluid and urine, his mother said yesterday. Samuel Woodhead, 18, was found on Friday on the sprawling remote property Upshot Station, about 130km from Longreach, from where he had set off on Tuesday. He became lost in extremely harsh terrain and mother Claire Derry credited his training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for his survival in the remote and unforgiving Outback with little more than sunburn and dehydration. “He tried drinking his own urine and he wasn’t able to cope much with that, so he drank tiny sips of the contact lens fluid,” Derry told the Sun-Herald newspaper. He lost 15kg over three days and nights and Derry said she and her son were both incredulous that he’d been found alive.
Shells disrupt bullet trains
Troops removed two unexploded wartime bombs yesterday, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes and disrupting bullet train services. Removal work began yesterday morning at a factory in Hamamatsu, where a dud shell, believed to have been fired by a US naval ship during World War II, was found in October last year, a city official said. A bomb disposal unit of the Ground Self-Defense Force loaded the 860kg shell on to a military vehicle and transported it to a nearby beach, where it was detonated later in the day, the official said. “We have already lifted the evacuation advisory issued to some 10,000 residents and are now confirming if it was defused with the detonation,” the official said. Central Japan Railway suspended its operation of the high-speed Tokaido Shinkansen Line between Hamamatsu and Toyohashi for about an hour, affecting about 14,000 passengers, local media said. Separately, another unexploded wartime bomb was also removed by troops in Kobe yesterday, forcing some 7,000 people to temporarily evacuate to schools and other public buildings, city officials said.
Motorcycle bomb kills two
Police say suspected insurgents have detonated a motorcycle bomb that killed two security volunteers, following overnight explosions that left one person wounded. Police Colonel Tuanday Juthanan said yesterday that an explosive device hidden in a motorcycle went off in the commercial district in Pattani before noon yesterday. He said the explosion killed two security civilian volunteers who were on duty at a tower clock in the area and wounded 10 people. Tuanday said suspected militants on Saturday night planted seven bombs across Pattani, two of which exploded. One person was injured. Security forces managed to defuse the rest.
Ties with Canada may grow
Ottawa and Havana have plenty of room for growth in the areas of bilateral trade and cooperation, their top diplomats agreed on Saturday, according to state media. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird “reviewed the state of bilateral ties and reaffirmed the desire to maintain and expand ties in trade, investment and tourism,” the official state news broadcaster said. It said Rodriguez thanked Baird “for Canada’s support in Cuba’s fight against the blockade [embargo] imposed by the United States,” which has been in effect since 1962. Baird arrived in Havana on Friday from Mexico on a regional tour that also will also take him to Venezuela, Peru, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
Life terms in rights case
Seven retired military officers were sentenced to life in prison for rights abuses committed during the 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship, officials said on Saturday. The seven were found guilty of kidnapping, torture and homicide in the case of 69 people who were held at navy bases in the city of Mar del Plata, 400km south of Buenos Aires. The case was brought by relatives of victims and rights groups, including the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Sixteen people were originally indicted, but two died before the trial could end and a third was absolved for health reasons, the Center of Judicial Information, an office attached to the Supreme Court, said in a statement. About 30,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed in what became known as the nation’s “dirty war,” according to rights groups. A blanket pardon for crimes committed during the dictatorship was overturned in 2003, paving the way for scores of lawsuits.
Man held over cruise death
A California man has been arrested in southwest Florida on an outstanding murder warrant in the death of his ex-wife, who went overboard from an Italian cruise ship seven years ago. Lonnie Kocontes, 55, was taken into custody on Friday night by federal marshals and booked into the Pasco County Jail, where he was being held without bail, authorities said. He was charged with one count of special circumstances murder for financial gain, Orange County District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Farrah Emami said. Kocontes’ ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, plunged into the Mediterranean on May 26, 2006, off the Island Escape, which was sailing between Sicily and Naples, according to the FBI. Her body washed ashore the next day in Calabria, Italy. Kanesaki, 52, was sharing a cabin with Kocontes, her ex-husband.
Conviction thrown out
An Alabama appeals court has thrown out the conviction and death sentence of a Vietnamese immigrant tried for killing four children in 2008 by throwing them off a coastal bridge. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Friday that the trial of Lam Luong should have been moved outside of Mobile County because “publicity surrounding the murders completely saturated” the community. Web site Al.com reported that judges have sent the murder case back to Mobile County Circuit Court. Prosecutors say Luong killed the four children — whose ages ranged from three years to four months — by throwing them off the Dauphin Island bridge one-by-one and into the Mississippi Sound more than 24m below. Three were his children and the fourth was his wife’s from a previous relationship.