Tycoon starts political party
Billionaire Clive Palmer, the tycoon who is building a replica of the ill-fated Titanic, yesterday announced he was forming a political party and would run in this year’s elections. The flamboyant mining magnate was a longtime supporter of the opposition Liberal-National coalition, but gave up his membership last year after a bitter and public dispute with the government in his home state of Queensland. He now plans to re-form the United Australia Party, which dissolved in 1945, and contest all 150 lower house seats in the Sept. 14 national polls, as well as seats in the upper house Senate. He joins a growing list of high-profile candidates including Australian-born Julian Assange, who intends to run for the Senate with his WikiLeaks Party. Palmer has been at loggerheads with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government over its carbon tax, which he says is ill-conceived and will cost companies dear.
Foreigner accused of assault
A foreign guesthouse operator was arrested yesterday after two French tourists complained they had been sexually molested at his guest house, police said. The 44-year-old Olivier Sage, who manages a beach property at Unawatuna, 120km south of Colombo, was to be taken before a magistrate yesterday, senior superintendent Jayantha Wickremasinghe said. “The two French tourists complained that the guest house owner used criminal force on them two days ago,” Wickremasinghe said. He said the man carried a French passport at the time of his arrest and had first arrived in the nation nearly three years ago and later started managing the guest house.
Woman charged with feticide
A Chinese immigrant accused of killing her unborn infant by eating rat poison while pregnant says her life has been difficult since she was charged, but that she stays busy to avoid dwelling on her upcoming murder trial. Beibei Shuai (帥貝貝) was eight months pregnant when she ate rat poison in December 2010 in a suicide attempt after her boyfriend broke up with her. Doctors called authorities when the baby died three days after being delivered prematurely. Prosecutors charged Shuai with murder and feticide in March 2011. She was released on bond in May last year after more than a year in jail following an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in her favor. The case has attracted attention from reproductive rights advocates around the globe who claim it could set a precedent by which pregnant women could be prosecuted for smoking or other behavior that authorities deem dangerous to their unborn child. Dozens of organizations have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on Shuai’s behalf.
The attorney for a southern California woman charged with severing the penis of her estranged husband said she “had a break from reality” the night of the attack. Orange County Deputy Public Defender Frank Bittar said during closing arguments in court on Thursday that Catherine Kieu had been through a lifetime of trauma and abuse, and snapped the night she drugged her husband, cut off his penis and threw it in the garbage disposal in 2011. The jury is scheduled to begin deliberating on Monday on charges of torture and aggravated mayhem that could get the 50-year-old Kieu life in prison. Prosecutors said in their closing arguments that Kieu was driven by jealous anger, not trauma, and showed her intentions by her thorough planning before the attack.
Drunk tourist pulls toy gun
A Frenchman visiting Berlin probably could not have picked a more dangerous spot to pull a pretend pistol. Police say the heavily drunk tourist kneeled down in front of Germany’s biggest synagogue on Thursday and pointed what appeared to be a gun at officers guarding the building. Luckily for him, a quick-witted policewoman noticed that the weapon was a toy before her colleagues opened fire on the Frenchman. Berlin police spokesman Dirk Stoewhase said the unnamed 25-year-old man could have ended the day in the morgue instead of a jail cell. Stoewhase said the gun might easily have been mistaken for a real weapon because “it certainly didn’t just look like a water pistol.” Jewish buildings in Germany are routinely guarded by armed police to prevent anti-Semitic attacks.
Emperor’s hair stuns auction
A lock of hair from a former Austrian emperor has fetched a price of 13,720 euros (US$17,853) at an auction in Vienna of imperial memorabilia — more than 20 times its listed worth. Hushed murmurs rippled through the room as the winning bid was announced for the silvery strands of hair from Franz Josef I, who ruled Austria from 1848 until his death in 1916. A picture of Empress Elisabeth by Franx Xaver Winterhalter was the most pricey item, changing owners for 70,000 euros on Thursday. At more than three times its estimated value, that price reflected the growing scarcity of Austrian imperial memorabilia nearly a century after the country’s last emperor abdicated at the end of World War I.
Stowaway’s death accidental
A British coroner on Thursday delivered a verdict of accidental death in the case of a stowaway who fell from a plane’s undercarriage. The man’s body landed in a street in southwest London in September. Months later he was identified as Jose Matada, 26, of Mozambique. At an inquest, police Detective Sergeant Jeremy Allsup said Matada was identified through a SIM card in his pocket. One number was traced to a woman whose family had employed him in South Africa. She told police that Matada had expressed an interest in moving to Europe for a better life, Allsup said. Pathologist Robert Chapman said Matada survived most of the flight from Angola, but might have been killed by hypothermia, lack of oxygen or the plane’s landing gear before his body hit the ground. Coroner Sean Cummings ruled Matada’s death an accident.