‘Amorous net’ costs US$4m
A 77-year-old woman who received US$4 million from a 79-year-old man in exchange for sexual and romantic favors has been ordered to repay the cash by a court in Japan, a report said on Thursday. The woman succeeded in getting about ￥400 million out of the man over a seven-year period, in what he said he thought were loans, which she used to buy luxury cars and a condominium, the Sports Nippon newspaper said. “She had no ability nor any intention to repay the debts,” the court in Shizuoka said, according to the paper. The court heard how the woman, who was not named, used what it called an “amorous net” to persuade him to part with the cash, including stripping naked in hotel rooms and asking him to bathe her. The elderly couple began dating in June 2000, the paper said, and the woman repeatedly asked for money, which she said was to pay off debts to another man, who she would otherwise have to marry. The man, whose identity was also not revealed, sold land he had inherited and took out loans to meet her demands.
‘Blood money’ appeal
The government appealed on Thursday for the public to help raise almost US$1 million needed to save a Filipino from execution in Saudi Arabia. Laborer Joselito Zapanta was due to be executed in June for murdering his landlord, but Saudi authorities have extended the deadline until Nov. 3 to allow more time for the “blood money” to be raised, the government said. Under the Saudi justice system, Zapanta can have his death sentence waived if he pays 4 million riyals (US$1.06 million) to the victim’s family, but so far the Zapanta family and the government have raised only US$136,000, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters. He said the victim’s family and the Saudi government agreed to extend the time needed to raise the funds following requests by President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Politician becomes Web hit
A politician whose humorous speech to parliament backing gay marriage has become an Internet hit said yesterday he was staggered at the response to his words. Maurice Williamson, a government minister, joked ahead of Wednesday’s vote that he had seen “the most enormous big gay rainbow” over his electorate and taken it as a sign to back the change. He also mocked fears about the impact of the reform, which passed by 77 votes to 44, and revealed critics had written to him warning he would burn in hell if he did not change his mind. “The sun will still rise tomorrow ... you will not have skin diseases, or rashes, or toads in your bed,” he said. “The world will just carry on, so don’t make this into a big deal.” The speech has been viewed almost 400,000 times on YouTube.
Scouts seek anorexic models
A Stockholm treatment center for eating disorders on Thursday said talent scouts from modeling agencies had approached their patients outside the clinic, hoping to recruit them. “They were outside the building and waited for the girls to go out for a walk,” the director of the public institution, Anna-Maria af Sandeberg, told news agency TT. The unscrupulous headhunters were familiar with the patients’ everyday routine and would stop at nothing, she added. “One of those contacted was in a wheelchair because she was so skinny,” she said. The incident took place several months ago, and the girls’ schedules have since been changed. The director of the Elite Model Management agency in Stockholm, Fredo Kazemi, denounced the methods as “disgusting and unethical.” “I do not think that any large, serious agencies work this way,” he said. The fashion industry is regularly accused of promoting extreme thinness and working with models that suffer from eating disorders.
Wallabies escape farm
Volunteers are searching for a pair of wallabies. The kangaroo-like marsupials, which are smaller than “roos” and primarily found in Australia, escaped from a farm in the countryside, about 180km northwest of Vienna. Thursday was the third day of the quest to find them. There are actually three wallabies on the loose — owner Gabrielle Schrammel says the female has a joey in her pouch. Austrians often express irritation at being confused for Australians while abroad, and mail meant for Australia occasionally surfaces in this central European country. Those Vienna souvenir shops selling T-shirts with the slogan “No kangaroos in Austria” might have to start a recall campaign.
Acid leaves director blind
The Bolshoi ballet artistic director who suffered eye and skin damage in a horrifying acid attack in January still cannot see with either eye, his lawyer said on Thursday, suggesting that his state of health is worse than predicted by doctors. “As of today, Sergei Filin cannot see either with his left or right eye,” his lawyer Tatyana Stukalova told the Izvestia daily in an interview published on Thursday, adding that she was citing an expert medical assessment submitted to the investigation into the attack. Filin, 42, had sulphuric acid flung in his face outside his Moscow apartment building. A top soloist at the theater, Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, has been charged with masterminding the attack although the motive remains unclear. He could serve up to 12 years in prison. Stukalova told Izvestia that the “sad diagnosis” came in German medical papers that she had arranged to be translated and submitted to the investigation.
Senator seeks to legalize pot
A former police chief who is now a senator has filed a bill seeking to legalize marijuana possession for personal use. Miguel Pereira says it should be legal for those 21 and older to possess up to 28g of marijuana. Currently, those charged with possession can face up to three years in jail and a US$5,000 fine. Pereira has also served as a federal prosecutor and corrections secretary. He says marijuana possession cases are costing the government money, adding that 80 percent of inmates on the island are serving time for non-violent crimes. Justice Secretary Luis Sanchez Betances did not say whether he favored the measure in an interview with radio station WKAQ, but he said the government should find alternatives to the current law.