Boys beheaded for spying
The authorities have accused Taliban militants of beheading two children for spying, but insurgency leaders denied the gruesome charges. The boys, aged 10 and 16, were beheaded on Sunday in the southern province of Kandahar after they collected left-over food from a police post, provincial police spokesman Ghorzang Afridi said. “The children used to go to a police checkpoint to collect food and other things thrown away by police, so the Taliban thought they were spies, and abducted them and beheaded them,” Afridi said. “They were poor children who lived on collecting scraps and leftovers,” he added, saying that villagers found the two boys’ bodies in a remote area of Zhari district and informed police. Kandahar provincial spokesman Javid Faisal confirmed the incident, but the Taliban denied any role in the children’s deaths. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi dismissed the allegations as government propaganda.
Guard guilty of 11 murders
A security guard at a retirement home was on Tuesday found guilty of killing 11 elderly residents, three of whom he forced to drink bleach. Prosecutors are seeking a 194-year jail term after Joan Vila Dilme, dubbed the “Angel of Death,” was found guilty by a unanimous jury decision at a court hearing in the northeastern town of Girona. Sentencing was to take place later. The 45-year-old defendant, employed at the La Caritat home in Olot, was arrested in October 2010 after the death of an 85-year-old woman in a local hospital. He later confessed to her murder, saying he had made her drink bleach, along with the killings of two other elderly people, which he said were carried out in order to “end their suffering.” Eight other murders, committed between August 2009 and October 2010, later came to light, with the victims given overdoses of insulin or various fatal pharmaceutical cocktails.
Strauss-Kahn trial in doubt
Prosecutors on Tuesday recommended the dismissal of pimping charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, signaling a possible end to the former IMF managing director’s legal battle over sex scandals that destroyed his career. Strauss-Kahn was charged last year with helping to procure prostitutes for sex parties in one of a string of cases that came to light after he was forced to resign from his IMF job over an alleged sex attack on a New York hotel maid, but the prosecutor’s office in Lille, where some of the parties took place, announced on Tuesday that it considered the evidence against Strauss-Kahn and another man, Jean-Luc Vergin, as insufficient for them to be sent to trial. The prosecutor recommended that 12 other men be tried, but said the gravity of their alleged pimping should be downgraded by dropping a charge that they had operated as part of an organized gang. The judge has a month to decide whether to follow the prosecutor’s advice or insist on Strauss-Kahn standing trial. Strauss-Kahn admits attending sex parties, but insists he did not know some of the women were being paid.
Explosion destroys building
An explosion caused by an apparent gas leak brought down a three-story building in Suzhou, killing at least 11 people, state media said yesterday. The explosion occurred on Tuesday morning in an employee cafeteria of a gas sales company, Xinhua news agency reported. Nine survivors were being treated in hospitals, the report said. It said a preliminary investigation showed the blast was caused by a gas leak.
Gay ‘propaganda’ banned
Parliament unanimously passed a federal law on Tuesday banning gay “propaganda” amid a Kremlin push to enshrine deeply conservative values that critics say has already led to a sharp increase in anti-gay violence. The law was passed 436-0 with just one deputy abstaining from voting on the bill, which bans the spreading of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. The law in effect makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights. It introduces fines for individuals and media groups found guilty of breaking the law, as well as special fines for foreigners. The Duma also approved a new law allowing jail sentences of up to three years for “offending religious feelings,” an initiative launched in the wake of the trial against the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot. The two laws were widely criticised by liberal and human rights communities and come amid a wider crackdown against independent civil activity in the country.
Brockovich faces charge
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich will face a misdemeanor charge of operating a boat while intoxicated, the district attorney in Las Vegas said on Tuesday. Julia Roberts won an Academy Award for playing Brockovich in a 2000 film, portraying her efforts to sue Pacific Gas & Electric for polluting the water supply of a small Southern California town. Brockovich, 52, has an Oct. 7 court date stemming from her arrest on Friday last week at a marina on the Colorado River reservoir behind the Hoover Dam, said Tess Driver, an aide to Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. A Nevada State game warden said he had to help Brockovich dock a boat and said two breath tests measured her blood-alcohol level at twice the legal limit. Brockovich could face six months in jail, a US$1,000 fine, up to 96 hours of community service and court-ordered alcohol and drug counseling if convicted, Driver said.
Women escape limo fire
Ten women — some of them in their 90s — escaped unharmed from a limousine that caught fire in California just more than a month after five nurses were killed while trapped inside a burning limousine on a nearby bridge. The women were celebrating one of their 90th birthdays and were in the vehicle outside the birthday woman’s home when white smoke drifted out of the partition between the driver’s compartment and the passenger compartment, passenger Mary Chapman said on Monday. Chapman, 63, said she got out and the other women — some of whom relied on walkers and canes — followed with help from each other and a caregiver.
Man graduates 80 years late
It took nearly eight decades, but Frederick Gray is finally a high-school graduate. The Watertown Daily Times said that the 97-year-old World War II veteran was presented on Monday with a diploma from Watertown High School during a ceremony at his northern New York home. Gray was set to graduate in 1934, but dropped out to get a job during the Great Depression. Gray worked in a factory before being drafted into the US Army in 1942. He served in the 24th Infantry Division in the Pacific campaign, earning a Bronze Star. Gray says he never expected to get a diploma and is “dumbfounded by the thoughtfulness.”