Fake Tahitian prince jailed
A man who led a playboy lifestyle while claiming to be a Tahitian prince was jailed yesterday for 14 years for stealing A$16 million (US$16.6 million) from a health department. New Zealand-born Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, known as Joel Barlow, pleaded guilty to eight offenses, including aggravated fraud and forgery at the Brisbane District Court. In sentencing, Judge Kerry O’Brien said Morehu-Barlow, 37, ran an audacious scheme in which he diverted funds from a grants scheme he ran to pay for his extravagant lifestyle. “The funds diverted by [Morehu-Barlow] were public monies earmarked ... to support charities and other community groups,” prosecutor Todd Fuller told the court, the Brisbane Courier-Mail reported. The court heard that Morehu-Barlow regularly signed bank documents “HRH,” for His Royal Highness. When he was arrested in 2011, police found a trove of luxury goods including a fake crown, a life-size horse lamp and a Louis Vuitton surf board. The scheme unraveled in 2011 when he faked a A$11 million invoice that made a fellow public servant suspicious. The colleague did an Internet search and found that the money went to a firm controlled by Morehu-Barlow.
Dozens die in bomb blasts
Car bombs and a suicide blast hit Shiite districts of Baghdad and south of the capital yesterday, killing at least 56 people on the 10th anniversary of the invasion that ousted former president Saddam Hussein. Sunni Islamist insurgents tied to al-Qaeda have stepped up attacks on Shiite targets since the start of the year to stoke sectarian tension and undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The car bombs exploded near a Baghdad market and in other places across the capital. A suicide bomber driving a truck attacked a police base in a Shiite town just south of the capital, police and hospital sources said. Another 160 people were wounded in the attacks, hospital officials said. No group claimed responsibility for the blasts.
Stylish N Koreans go dotty
Polka-dot dresses and manual threshing machines were among the hottest consumer products in North Korea last year, an annual list compiled by a local researcher showed. The arrival of the patterned dresses in the top 10 list was down to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, who was seen wearing them at public functions. “Young North Korean women are keenly interested in the first lady’s fashion style and try to follow her example,” Dong Yong-seung, a senior research fellow at the Samsung Economic Research Institute in Seoul, told reporters yesterday. Dong has been compiling a top 10 chart of consumer items in North Korea since 2010, basing her findings on interviews with North Korean defectors and Chinese traders on the Sino-North Korean border.
Daniel Pearl suspect held
The government arrested a former militant leader in connection with the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, officials said on Monday. Qari Abdul Hai, once a leader of Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was arrested on Sunday in Karachi, the officials said. Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi while researching a story on Islamist militants in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda militant who claimed responsibility for the attacks, said he beheaded Pearl after his abduction. It is not clear what role Hai is suspected of playing in the murder.
Landslides kill 13
Landslides triggered by heavy rains have killed 13 people over the past 24 hours in the tourist town of Petropolis, an official said on Monday. “We are in a state of maximum alert,” Rio State Governor Sergio Cabral told media in Petropolis, a former imperial capital 68km north of Rio de Janeiro, as he updated the death toll from 10. He urged residents to leave high risk areas and to seek refuge in shelters. Up to 390mm of rain have fallen in some city districts in the past 24 hours, when only 270mm were anticipated for all of this month.
Police stop car during birth
A man who was pulled over for speeding as he rushed his pregnant wife to the hospital said he was determined to keep going despite the police lights flashing behind him. Tyler Rathjen planned to keep going as his wife, Ashley, began giving birth to their son in the passenger seat. However, a red light with heavy traffic finally forced him to stop. The baby’s head and arms were already out by the time Iowa City Officer Kevin Wolfe reached the passenger door. Ashley Rathjen gave birth to her third son, Owen, just blocks from Mercy Iowa City hospital on March 10. Wolfe helped with the final steps of delivery and then escorted the Williamsburg family to the hospital. His dashboard camera captured the episode.
Pubic shaving spreads virus
A trend for shaving, clipping or waxing pubic hair may encourage the spread of a skin virus, French doctors suggested on Monday. In a letter to the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, dermatologists in Nice said that over the past decade they had noted a rise in cases of a poxvirus called Molluscum contagiosum, or MCV. MCV causes painless, pearl-like nodules on the skin that usually disappear after a few months. It is sometimes seen on the face, arms and hands, but can spread through scratching or sexual contact. The doctors reported on 30 patients, who over 14 months were treated at a clinic in Nice for sexually transmitted MCV. Six of them were women and the rest were men. All but three of the patients had removed pubic hair, with 70 percent shaving. All had MCV nodules on the pubis, abdomen or legs. Hair removal may cause “microtraumisms” to the surface of the skin, facilitating infection by the virus and other “minor” sexually transmitted infections, the doctors theorize. The risk appears to be higher for shaving, but does not apply to laser treatment for hair removal.
Japanese diplomat jailed
A Japanese diplomat based in California and charged with abusing his wife has been sentenced to a year in jail and will start serving it in May, a newspaper reported. Yoshiaki Nagaya, vice-consul at Japan’s consulate in San Francisco, will spend a minimum of six months at a jail in nearby San Mateo, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday, quoting deputy district attorney Tricia Povah. Nagaya had reached a plea deal in the case in December last year. That reduced his maximum possible sentence from 20 years to just one year. Nagaya, who is 33, had been charged with 17 felony offenses, 14 of domestic violence and three of assault, including stabbing his wife with a screwdriver and knocking out one of her teeth. US authorities said he did not have diplomatic immunity for crimes unrelated to his work. The wife, Yuka Nagaya, testified that her marriage was a turbulent one. She said she and her husband argued a lot over her suspicions that he was being unfaithful and visits from her in-laws.