64 million live in slums: poll
A new national census report found that one in six people in cities live in about 100,000 sprawling slums in conditions “unfit for human habitation.” The statistics are the nation’s first complete count of its vast slum population. The census identified 13.8 million households — about 64 million people — in slums in urban areas around the country. It also found that 41 percent of households in Mumbai, the nation’s largest city, were in overcrowded shantytowns, where most residents are squatting illegally and many have little access to basic sanitation. More than one-third of slum homes surveyed had no indoor toilet and 64 percent were not connected to sewerage systems. However, 70 percent had televisions and 64 percent had cellphones.
Twister kills 20, injures 200
The death toll from a tornado that ripped through 20 villages in Brahmanbaria District in Chittagong Division has climbed to 20 people, with another 200 hurt, a government official said yesterday. Initial reports said at least 10 people were killed and a newspaper put the toll for the injured at 500 in the storm that lashed the district’s distant villages on Friday. The Prothom Alo newspaper reported that the 15-minute storm destroyed many homes and shops, and toppled a large number of trees and electricity poles. Villagers and emergency personnel took the injured to hospitals, the reports added.
French deaths not suicide
French and local investigators yesterday ruled out suicide in the deaths of a Frenchman and his four young children whose skeletal remains were found in a submerged car last year. Ten French investigators, including a judge and scientific and forensic police officers, arrived in the nation earlier this month to probe the deaths of widower Laurent Vallier, 42, and his young children. “This [investigation] has led to very significant breakthroughs which are now ruling out the possibility of a suicide,” the French embassy in Phnom Penh said in a statement. The family’s badly decomposed bodies were discovered inside Vallier’s white all-terrain vehicle after it was retrieved from a large pond behind his house in southern Kampong Speu Province in January last year. Vallier and his two sons and two daughters, thought to have been aged from two to nine, had been missing since September 2011. Vallier, who according to his relatives worked as a tour guide, is understood to have moved from France to Cambodia about 13 years ago, arriving in Kampong Speu in 2007. His wife, a local, died in childbirth in 2009.
Men executed in jail assault
A group of well-trained gunmen stormed a jail in Yogyakarta, Java, early yesterday and executed four detainees accused of murdering a special forces soldier. At least 17 masked gunmen angry over the killing of a member of Komando Pasukan Khusus — the nation’s elite military unit, known as Kopassus — allegedly by the four men detained in Cebongan Prison, broke into the jail, Police Chief Brigadier General Sabar Rahardjo. The attackers tortured several guards and forced them to open the jail cell just after midnight yesterday. The four detainees were dragged from their cell and shot with automatic weapons before the gunmen destroyed surveillance cameras and fled, he said. “They looked very professional,” Rahardjo said. “Their acts were completed in just five minutes.” Rahardjo said that two guards were injured in the attack.
‘Goblin’ manual wins award
A supernaturally tinged barnyard manual has won an award for the year’s oddest book title. Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley was awarded the Diagram Prize on Friday by trade magazine the Bookseller. The book took 38 percent of the votes in a public ballot, beating finalists including How Tea Cosies Changed the World and Was Hitler Ill? Goblinproofing editor Clint Marsh said he and the author were honored to receive a prize that “celebrates the playfulness that is at the heart of much of the world’s best book publishing.” The prize was founded in 1978. Its rules say the books must be serious and their titles not merely a gimmick. Previous winners include Bombproof Your Horse and Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way.
Priest may not preach
The Roman Catholic Church is forbidding a priest from preaching to his flock at Easter Mass, because of his comments against homosexuals and Muslims. The move comes after the priest, Karl Tropper, described homosexuality as “perverse” in a recent newspaper interview. He has also described Islam as “pure racism.” Spokesman Georg Plank of the south-eastern Graz-Seckau diocese said on Friday that Tropper, 75, has repeatedly used an “unacceptably simplistic and inciting tone” about homosexuality and Islam. He adds that this can no longer be explained away to the “obstinacy of old age.” Plank also said that Tropper is to be pensioned on Aug. 31.
Acupuncturist gets jail
A court has found a self-styled acupuncturist guilty of intentionally infecting 16 people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. A regional court in the canton of Bern said the man was sentenced on Friday to 12 years and nine months in prison. Prosecutors had asked for a 15-year sentence for causing serious bodily harm and spreading human diseases. They accused him of using various pretexts to prick his victims with a needle and infect them with HIV between 2001 and 2005. The man, who has not been identified because of privacy laws, denied the charges.
Rap singer sentenced
A court has sentenced a rap singer in absentia to two years in jail for insulting the police in a case likely to fuel debate over free speech under the Islamist-led government. The singer, known as Weld el 15, is on the run. Two of his associates, singers Mohamed Hedi Belgueyed and Sabrine Klibi, were in court when they received suspended sentences of six months each, a justice ministry source said on Friday. Belgueyed and Klibi were arrested earlier this month for a music video in which lyrics sung by Weld el 15 describe police as dogs and accuse them of using violence unjustifiably.
Jail battle leads to escapes
At least 11 inmates escaped from a prison after gunmen brazenly attacked the site with grenades and automatic weapons, inciting a nightlong standoff between police and prisoners. Two guards were injured, one of them seriously. A senior police official said yesterday that 11 inmates were missing after the gun battle and standoff, which ended at dawn when police special forces entered the prison. He spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement was still pending. The incident occurred near the town of Trikala, in central Greece, about 320km northwest of Athens.
US man bitten by shark
A police spokeswoman said a New York man is recovering after being bitten by a shark while visiting the island chain. Inspector Chrislyn Skippings of the Royal Bahamas Police Force said the visitor was fishing on the island of Eleuthera when he was bitten on the left leg. The 50-year-old from Rochester, New York, went to a local clinic on his own and was airlifted to a hospital in the capital of Nassau for treatment. He was listed in stable condition on Friday. The attack occurred on Thursday in the Savannah Sound, where fishermen wade in several feet of water to go bone fishing. The area is known to have bull and tiger sharks, though attacks on humans are rare.
‘Fireball’ meteor sighted
Social media sites are buzzing with reports of a flash of light that streaked across the sky along the east coast. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environmental Office said on Friday that the flash appeared to be “a single meteor event.” He said it “looks to be a fireball that moved roughly toward the southeast, going on visual reports.” He added that the meteor was widely seen, with more than 350 reports on the Web site of the American Meteor Society alone. Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, agreed that the sightings had all the hallmarks of a “fireball.” Pitts said this one got more attention because it happened on a Friday evening — and because Twitter has provided a way for people to share information on sightings.
Police seek charges over fire
Police say they are seeking criminal charges against 16 people in connection with the nightclub fire that killed 241 people earlier this year. Inspector Marcelo Arigony said on Friday that the mayor and fire chief of the city where the fire took place were also responsible for the tragedy because of the negligent safety inspections of the nightclub. On Jan. 27, fire roared through the crowded, windowless Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria, filling the air with flames and thick, toxic smoke. Arigony said the band performing at the club lit a flare, which ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling. The cyanide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide released by the ensuing fire “was what killed the people inside.” Security violations at the club, located in a town in Rio Grande do Sul State, included a lack of emergency lights, inoperable fire extinguishers, and an overcrowded dance floor. The tragedy was a huge embarrassment for Brazil as it gears up to host the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Paper sued over ‘Nazi photo’
A Croatian actor has won a libel suit after a newspaper wrongly identified him as a Nazi war criminal. Ljubomir Jurkovic sued the Independent after his photograph was used to illustrate a story about the death of Samuel Kunz, who served as a guard at the Belzec death camp in eastern Poland. The picture was actually from the 2007 film The Living and the Dead, in which Jurkovic played the role of an officer in the Croatian fascist movement. Jurkovic’s lawyer Christina Michalos said on Friday that she wanted to make clear that her client never committed war crimes and “does not subscribe to any form of Nazi ideology.” The Independent’s publisher, which is paying undisclosed damages, apologized for the mistake.