Help offered to ill toddler
A top private hospital in New Dehli has offered to treat an 18-month girl whose head has swollen to more than double its normal size because of hydrocephalus. Roona Begum, whose parents are too poor to pay for her treatment, was discovered last week living in remote Tripura State. The publication of pictures taken by an Agence France-Presse photographer on Friday last week led numerous well-wishers to offer donations, while a Web site has been set up to collect money for her. Sandeep Vaishya, who is the head of neurosurgery at a hospital for the private Fortis Healthcare group, has promised to examine the girl and see if surgery was possible.
Anti-protest bill attacked
Rights groups and conservationists yesterday condemned a move to ban protests at sea, accusing the government of pandering to the interests of oil companies. A planned new law allows the military to arrest protesters in the nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and ramps up the penalties facing demonstrators to include jail terms of up to a year and fines reaching NZ$100,000 (US$84,000). Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel said Resources Minister Simon Bridges was trying to silence opposition to plans to exploit the EEZ, which is believed to contain significant oil reserves. More than a dozen group, including Amnesty International, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and the World Wildlife Fund, have also signed a joint letter slamming the law as “a sledgehammer designed to attack peaceful protest at sea.”
The moon affects sharks
The moon and water temperature affect the diving behavior of sharks, researchers said yesterday, in a discovery that could help prevent fishermen from inadvertently catching the marine predators. A team from the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute and the Australian Institute of Marine Science spent nearly three years monitoring gray reef sharks off Palau in the Pacific Ocean. They found the sharks stayed in deep water on full-moon nights, but rose to the shallows with the new moon. The study also said it may be an anti-predator response where reef sharks seek to avoid increased light nearer the surface that may aid the hunting abilities of larger sharks.
An election tribunal on Monday disqualified former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from contesting next month’s general elections over graft allegations, an official said. Ashraf, a candidate for the Pakistan People’s Party, was prevented last week from standing in his native Gojar Khan district in Punjab Province after his opponent accused him of corruption. He filed an appeal, but both high court judges on the tribunal rejected the appeal and disqualified him.
Mubarak stays in jail
Former president Hosni Mubarak will remain in custody on new corruption charges, despite a court order to release him before his retrial over the killing of protesters in the uprising against him. The order on Monday by the Cairo Criminal Court followed Mubarak’s request to be released after two years in detention without a final verdict. The court said Mubarak could be released on bail if he was not wanted for any other court cases, but prosecutors then pointed out that Mubarak has three other cases pending. The 84-year-old Mubarak has been in detention since April 2011.
Group sues over spy tech
A human rights group is suing the government over the export of sophisticated surveillance technology that has been used to spy on dissidents in Bahrain and elsewhere. Privacy International said yesterday it had filed a lawsuit before London’s High Court over the government’s refusal to say whether it was investigating Gamma International, whose FinFisher software has been linked to use in more than two dozen countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. Privacy International argues that the export of FinFisher software may be illegal and has demanded officials investigate.
Let women drive: prince
Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah, has thrown his support behind allowing women to drive, saying it makes economic sense. Women are barred from driving in the kingdom — leaving them reliant on mostly foreign drivers. “[The question of] women driving will result in dispensing with at least 500,000 foreign drivers, and that has an economic and social impact for the country,” the prince said on his Twitter account on Sunday.
Regime issues amnesty
President Bashar al-Assad has issued a general amnesty for crimes committed in the war-torn country prior to yesterday, state news agency SANA reported. Under the decree, “the death penalty will be replaced with a life sentence of hard labor,” the agency said. Al-Assad has issued several amnesty decrees since an uprising against his regime erupted in March 2011. The latest will not apply to people found guilty of smuggling weapons or drug-related crimes.
School claims tsunami boat
A small boat that washed up in northern California after the massive 2011 tsunami that hit Japan has been claimed by a city that was devastated in the disaster. The Triplicate newspaper in Crescent City, California, reports that officials in the Japanese city of Rikuzentakata are in a “giddy state of shock” and would love to get the boat back. Rikuzentakata spokeswoman Amya Miller says hours after photographs of the 6m boat were posted to Crescent City’s Facebook page, a teacher from a Japanese high school’s marine sciences program said the vessel was theirs. Humboldt State University geologist Lori Dengler says she posted the photographs recently after a university librarian translated the name of the high school from the boat.
Police jailed for spying
An Alaska-based military policeman was sentenced to 16 years in prison and will receive a dishonorable discharge for selling military secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian spy, a military panel decided. A panel of eight military members from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage recommended a 19-year sentence for Specialist William Colton Millay, but that was dropped to 16 years because of a pretrial agreement. He will receive credit for the 535 days he has been jailed since his Oct. 28, 2011, arrest. The panel also reduced him in rank to private and he will forfeit all pay and allowances. The 24-year-old Millay pleaded guilty last month to attempted espionage and other counts. Military prosecutors painted Millay as a white supremacist who was fed up with the army and the country, and was willing to sell secrets to an enemy agent, even if that would cost his fellow soldiers their lives.