Child abduction treaty passes
Parliament yesterday approved an international treaty on child abductions after decades of pressure from the US and other Western nations. The country is the only member of the G8 nations that has not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires nations to return snatched children to the countries where they usually reside. Hundreds of foreign parents have been left without any recourse after their estranged partners took their half-Japanese children back to the country. The upper house of parliament yesterday voted unanimously for the country to join the treaty, following a similar move by the lower house last month.
Imran Khan leaves hospital
Cricket-star-turned politician Imran Khan has been discharged from the hospital roughly two weeks after he sustained serious back injuries in a fall from a forklift at a campaign event. A spokesman for his party, Naeemul Haq, says Khan left the hospital yesterday and is at his home in Lahore. He says Khan can walk and will be staying at home for a while so doctors can monitor his progress. Khan fractured three vertebrae and a rib when he fell 4.5m on May 7.
Experts reject murder theory
Two US pathologists yesterday supported police findings that a US scientist found hanged last year in the city-state committed suicide and was not murdered as his family claims. Medical examiners David Fowler of Maryland and Valerie Rao of Florida testified as independent experts a day after the family of the late researcher Shane Todd walked out of a coroner’s inquest in Singapore. Fowler rejected a theory put forward by the family’s star witness, Missouri deputy medical examiner Edward Adelstein, who said Todd may have been killed by assassins working for two Asian high-tech firms involved in a secret project. Rao also cited “asphyxia due to hanging” as the cause of death and agreed that there were no injury marks indicating a struggle.
AV star calligraphy slammed
Calligraphy by Japanese adult video (AV) star Sola Aoi has sparked a culture war in the country, where she has a huge fan base, with purists dismissing the work as “unskilled” after it was reportedly auctioned for US$95,000. Eight Chinese characters the actress wrote with brush and ink at a theme park in Ningbo were sold earlier this month, the Liberation Daily newspaper said yesterday, without identifying the auction house or buyer. “The style of calligraphy is childish, unskilled,” said the newspaper, which is backed by Shanghai’s Communist Party branch.
‘Office bully’ sparks outcry
A company supervisor caught on video slapping a male intern is in trouble after the clip went viral on the Web and sparked a public outcry. Police confirmed that a complaint had been lodged against the supervisor. The 17-second Singapore office bully clip, first uploaded on the video-sharing Web site YouTube on Friday, showed the boss repeatedly slapping a younger man described by local media as a 29-year-old intern. A fellow intern who filmed the video said in a posting at an online forum that he had noticed the supervisor “constantly bullying” his co-worker soon after starting his internship. When he confronted the boss, the supervisor “said that my colleague apparently has an inferiority complex and apparently my supervisor is trying to ‘nurture’ him to get over it,” he said.
Men held for China bribes
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Tuesday charged three Chinese researchers at the New York University School of Medicine with conspiring to take bribes from a Chinese medical imaging company and a Chinese-sponsored research institute to share non-public information about their work. The trio had been working on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology research sponsored by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The defendants include Zhu Yudong (朱宇東), 44, of Scarsdale, New York, an associate professor in the school’s radiology department who was described by the authorities as “an accomplished researcher and innovator.” The other two are Yang Xing, 31, and Li Ye, also 31, who were described as research engineers at the school.
Murderer begs for her life
Jodi Arias, a woman who was found guilty of stabbing and shooting her boyfriend to death in 2008, on Tuesday pleaded with a jury to spare her life after she was convicted of premeditated murder. The 32-year-old, who had previously said she would prefer a death sentence to life in prison, listed the good things she could achieve behind bars. “I’ve made many public statements that I would prefer the death penalty to life in prison ... To me life in prison was the most unappealing outcome I could possibly think of. I thought I’d rather die ... but as I stand here now I can’t in good conscience ask you to sentence me to death,” she told the jury in Phoenix, Arizona. Arias was found guilty of murdering Travis Alexander, 30, in a frenzied attack in which he was stabbed 27 times, shot in the head and had his throat slit. A jury found her guilty two weeks ago and decided last week that she could face the death penalty because she had been “especially cruel.”
Gay teen faces felony charge
An 18-year-old girl in Miami is facing felony charges that she had sexual contact with her underage, 14-year-old girlfriend, leading gay rights advocates to say the teen is being unfairly targeted for a common high school romance because she is gay. Advocates say older high schoolers dating their younger counterparts is an innocuous, everyday occurrence that is not prosecuted and not a crime on par with predatory sex offenses. Kaitlyn Hunt played on the basketball team with her younger girlfriend and shared the same circle of friends, said Hunt’s mother, Kelley Hunt Smith. The two had a consenting relationship that began soon after Kaitlyn Hunt turned 18. However, in February, she was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16. The day before she was arrested, police and the younger girl’s parents secretly recorded a phone conversation in which the two girls discussed kissing, said Kaitlyn Hunt’s father, Steve Hunt. “It’s horrible. For my daughter’s sexual preferences, she’s getting two felony charges,” he said.
Bieber monkey now German
Justin Bieber’s pet monkey, which was seized by customs in March, officially became national property on Tuesday after the Canadian pop sensation failed to claim the animal by a deadline, officials said. Mally, a capuchin monkey, is temporarily in an animal refuge in Munich. Munich Customs Authority spokesman Thomas Meister said Bieber “has not come forward” since the monkey was confiscated at the city’s airport when the teen was unable to present the necessary documents for importing a live animal.