Cabbie arrested for murder
Police yesterday said they have arrested a Bangkok taxi driver accused of stabbing US man to death in an argument over a 51 baht (US$1.60) fare. The 32-year-old driver reportedly confessed that he pulled a machete from his trunk and repeatedly slashed Troy Lee Pilkington, who allegedly refused to pay the fare. Surveillance camera footage captured part of the altercation on Sukhumvit Road on Saturday. The suspect, Chidchai Utmacha, told investigators that Pilkington accused him of rigging the taxi’s meter and then stormed out of the cab while they sat in traffic. He claimed Pilkington threw a cup of coffee at him when he asked for the money, after which he pulled the knife from his trunk and chased after him. Police identified the driver from the video footage.
Hotel collapse kills 12
A two-story hotel collapsed yesterday morning in a suburb of the city of Hyderabad, killing at least 12 people and injuring 16 others. Police say more people are feared trapped in the debris of the City Light hotel, while 20 people have been rescued from the building. About 25 people were working at the hotel, located on a busy road in Secunderabad, when a kitchen wall gave way, triggering a larger collapse and burying staff under debris, a local police official said. It was unclear how many people were still trapped.
Elderly shoplifters rising
The number of elderly people caught shoplifting in Tokyo has outstripped that of teenagers for the first time, the Mainichi Shimbun reported yesterday. A quarter of the people charged with shoplifting in Tokyo last year were at least 65. “Even though the total number of arrests for shoplifting has been declining, the ratio of elderly people are on the rise,” a police spokesman said. “Our survey shows that elderly shoplifters tend to be lonely, having no one to talk to and having no hobby to enjoy.”
More troops for Golan
The government yesterday announced it will send 380 more troops to join a UN peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, raising its contribution to 562. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the additional soldiers would leave for the tense border between Syria and Israel in the next few weeks, the Fiji Sun reported. The move comes after several countries withdrew from the peacekeeping force due to escalating violence stemming from the Syrian conflict.
Two sentenced for rioting
A district court in Meiktila has sentenced two Buddhist men to seven years in prison for murders during religious violence in March that left at least 44 people dead. A local official said the men were convicted after separate trials for their part in deadly rioting in the town, which mainly targeted Muslims. One man, aged 24, was sentenced on June 28, becoming the first Buddhist known to be sentenced for a serious offence over the rioting. The second suspect, aged 21, was sentenced on Friday.
One held over blasts
Investigators have detained one man and prepared sketches of two others as they investigate a series of blasts on Sunday at some of Buddhism’s holiest sites in Bodhgaya. Two people were wounded in the eight blasts. A senior police officer yesterday said police had detained a man whose identification documents had been found at one of the sites.
Heinz Kerry hospitalized
Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, was hospitalized late on Sunday with an unknown illness after reportedly being rushed by ambulance for treatment in a “critical condition.” She “was taken by ambulance to Nantucket Cottage Hospital accompanied by her husband” late on Sunday afternoon, Kerry’s personal spokesman Glen Johnson said in a statement. Johnson said Heinz Kerry, 74, was later transferred to “Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston... The family is grateful for the outpouring of support it has received and aware of the interest in her condition, but they ask for privacy at this time.” The family had been celebrating the July 4 national holiday weekend at their home on Nantucket Island.
Governor closes schools
Yobe Governor Ibrahim Gaidam on Sunday ordered all schools in the state closed to avoid more attacks by Islamic militants who have killed dozens of students and teachers. Gaidam issued the order after visiting students with burn and gunshot wounds from Saturday’s attack on a boarding school outside Potiskum, the state’s second-largest town. Extremists set a dormitory ablaze, burning some students alive. At least 29 students and one teacher were killed. Gaidam said such attacks could be averted if the military would resume cellphone service cut to three northeastern states since the government declared a state of emergency on May 14.
Opposition ready for vote
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says his party is ready to contest elections on July 31 despite worries that the poll is taking place before democratic reforms can be completed. Speaking at a gathering on Sunday to start his party’s three-week campaign, Tsvangirai said he has had to bow to pressure for an early vote. It was the former opposition leader’s first official acceptance of the date set by President Robert Mugabe.
Anglicans sorry over abuse
The Church of England has formally apologized for past child abuse by Anglican priests and for its own failure to prevent it. The church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted unanimously to make the apology at a meeting in York and said it would now tighten its procedures. “We failed big time,” Paul Butler, the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said as he opened the meeting on Sunday. “We cannot do anything other than own up to our failures. We were wrong. Our failures were sin just as much as the perpetrators sinned.”
Bad behavior condemned
President Raul Castro spent the lion’s share of a prominent speech on Sunday scolding his countrymen for all kinds of bad behavior, everything from corruption and theft to public urination and the odoriferous practice of raising pigs in cities. Speaking before legislators at one of parliament’s twice-annual sessions, he railed against decaying morals, a deteriorating sense of civic responsibility and vanishing values like honor, decency and decorum. He had a list of complaints about illegal activities, including unauthorized home construction, logging, slaughter of livestock and taking bribes, and “social indiscipline” — shouting and swearing in the streets, public drinking, drunk driving, dumping trash on the roadside and showing up late to work.