Booze kills more than 50
More than 50 people have died in Libya since Saturday after drinking cheap homemade alcohol and hundreds have been poisoned, the health ministry said on Monday, as authorities in the Muslim country vowed a crackdown on booze trafficking. The ministry said 38 people died in Tripoli hospitals, while 13 others perished on their way to neighboring Tunisia, where their families were hoping they could be treated. At least 378 people were poisoned after drinking the homemade brew, known locally as Boukha, that was tainted with methanol, the ministry added, while urging Libyans to stop consuming any form of alcohol. A security official, asking to remain anonymous, said the authorities were preparing to crack down on suppliers and traffickers of alcohol, whose sale and consumption is prohibited, although it can be found on the black market.
Wardens sacked over video
The authorities have sacked three prison wardens over an online video that appears to show officials beating and torturing two men, the prisons department said yesterday. The graphic video, posted on YouTube last week, attracted condemnation from the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International. Apparently shot using a mobile phone, it shows one handcuffed man being savagely beaten with batons and metal bars, and another being set upon by a dog as the animal’s handler urges it on. “I can confirm that three prison officers have been sacked in relation to the video that was posted on the Internet last week,” Prisons and Corrections Service spokeswoman Ana Tudrau Tamani said.
Giant snail seized, destroyed
A baseball-sized snail with an insatiable appetite for hundreds of plants, including cocoa and papaya, has been seized and destroyed by officials, who said it posed a huge threat to local agriculture. The animal was found creeping across a Brisbane shipping container yard and was identified as a giant African snail, an East African pest capable of growing up to 30cm long and 1kg in weight. It is known to eat 500 different species of crops, fruits, plants and even other giant African snails, according to an Australian government Web site. The snail can lay 1,200 eggs a year, tolerates extreme temperatures and has few natural enemies in Australia. It also carries parasites that can infect humans with meningitis, which can in some cases be fatal. The last major outbreak of the snail was in 1977, when 300 were exterminated in Queensland in an eight-month campaign.
Spreadsheet sparks furor
Students at a high school were in an uproar on Monday after a teacher mistakenly sent them an e-mail that spelled out what faculty members really thought about them. “Not too bright,” “Liar,” “Tactless,” “Big Baby,” “Anti-social,” “Has a thing for boys” and “Sick-o” were some of the descriptions on an Excel spreadsheet that landed in students’ inboxes. Protesting outside the Yitzhak Rabin High School in Kfar Saba, students pinned some of the descriptions on their shirts and demanded an apology, which the school’s principal made. “We will draw conclusions about our behavior and the way we express ourselves,” the principal, Ruth Lazar, was quoted as saying by the YNet news site. The list was compiled by teachers as a guide to potential misbehavior by the teens due to take part in a school visit to Holocaust sites in Poland. One of the teachers inadvertently copied the list to students who signed up for the trip, the school said.
Marines to dodge charges
Two Italian marines charged in India with killing two fishermen while on anti-piracy duty will not return there from a home visit granted to allow them to vote in last month’s election, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday. The ministry said India had not responded to requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there was now a formal dispute between the two countries over the terms of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. “Italy has informed the Indian government that, given the formal initiation of an international dispute between the two states, the marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone will not return to India at the end of their home leave,” the ministry said in a statement.
ICC case collapses
The International Criminal Court (ICC) case against a man accused alongside Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta collapsed on Monday, prosecutors said, raising the chances that charges against Kenyatta will also fail to stick. Last week’s election of Kenyatta, accused by the ICC of crimes against humanity, has complicated Kenya’s ties its Western allies which see it as a major bulwark against the rise of Islamist militancy in east Africa. The ICC charged Kenyatta alongside former civil servant Francis Muthaura of orchestrating the violence that followed the 2007 election in which 1,200 were killed and more than 100,000 were forced to flee their homes. However, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the decision of a key witness to recant their testimony forced her to drop charges against Muthaura. As the prosecution of Muthaura and Kenyatta is linked and based on a lot of the same evidence, the decision may well impact the case against the Kenyan president-elect.
Orchestra employee charged
An employee of a philharmonic was charged with murder in the double homicide of a young female harpist and a security guard inside the orchestra’s building, prosecutors said on Monday. The two victims were found dead on Friday morning in the building of the Lower Silesia Philharmonic in Jelenia Gora. The 60-year-old guard was found on the ground floor near the entrance and the harpist, 27, was found on the first floor. A 29-year-old suspect, identified only as Michal M, has been questioned and charged with murder, prosecutors’ spokeswoman Violetta Niziolek said.
Boy admits prank calls
A 12-year-old boy admitted in court on Monday that he falsely reported to police last year that criminals with guns and explosives had invaded the home of actor Ashton Kutcher and shot people, the Los Angeles County District Attorney said. The boy, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, prompted police to dispatch emergency responders to the Two and a Half Men star’s Hollywood home in October last year. Such prank emergency calls are known as “swatting” because SWAT officers are often sent to such purported crime scenes. The child was charged with making a false bomb threat and computer intrusion because he placed the call from a computer. The boy has also been charged with a misdemeanor count of making a false emergency report when he allegedly placed a hoax call about gunshots being fired on the Los Angeles-area property of teen pop star Justin Bieber.