Dozens buried in landslide
Between 30 and 40 people were buried by a landslide in Sichuan Province yesterday as heavy rains in the area also destroyed homes and bridges, local officials said. An official in Zhongxing said by telephone that “so far we only know 11 families were buried and more than 200 residents have been evacuated,” but that workers were still searching for others.
Singer Rain out of military
Pop start Rain is out of the military. He fired off a crisp salute yesterday and thanked a large crowd of mostly media and women who had gathered to commemorate his discharge after 21 months of mandatory service. The fans held signs reading in Korean and English: “We waited for you” and “Rain’s coming.”
Burglar was a python
Police in Queensland investigating a suspected break-in at a charity store in Ingham have discovered the culprit was a 5.7m, 17kg python. Sergeant Don Auld yesterday said officers found a damaged roof, shattered goods and a pool of vomit-like liquid on the floor. They initially thought a thief had fallen through the ceiling and then thrown up. However, shop workers spotted the python the next day. The snake has been relocated to nearby wetlands.
Glasses needed for polls
The Australian Electoral Commission is expecting so many candidates in the upcoming national polls they have ordered magnifying glasses to ensure every name on the meter-long ballot paper can be read. There were 25 parties registered to run in the Senate in the 2010 election, a number large enough to warrant a 1.02m-long ballot paper for New South Wales voters with the 84 candidate names printed in size 8.5 font. The typeface was likely to be smaller still this year, with 47 parties registered so far and nine more applications being processed.
Taliban shut Qatar office
The Taliban has temporarily closed its office in Qatar. The office opened on June 18 as the first move toward a possible peace deal after 12-years of fighting, but it enraged President Hamid Karzai by styling itself as an unofficial embassy for a government-in-exile. “We are not happy with the Americans, the Kabul government and all parties who have not been honest with us,” a Taliban spokesman said.
Officials misuse Google
Bureaucrats used the wrong privacy settings for Google Groups online discussions, allowing anyone to see internal memos, including negotiating positions for an international treaty, the government said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun said it found more than 6,000 cases where information from public or private organizations, including hospital records, was publicly available. The paper admitted its journalists had also been using the wrong settings and may have revealed draft stories and interview transcripts.
Gangsters publish magazine
The Yamaguchi-gumi, nation’s biggest organized crime group, has published a magazine for its members that includes a poetry page and senior gangsters’ fishing diaries, the Sankei Shimbun reported yesterday. The front page of the Yamaguchi-gumi Shinpo carries a first-person piece by the group’s leader instructing younger members in the values and disciplines they should observe, the paper said.
Last kingpin extradited
Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, the last of the country’s major drug lords, was extradited to the US on Tuesday, where there had been a US$5 million reward for his capture, local police said. Barrera, who was captured in Venezuela last year and deported to Colombia, was turned over to US Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Bogota and put on a plane to New York. Barrera is wanted by authorities in New York and Florida for allegedly smuggling tonnes of cocaine into the US between 1992 and last year.
US gives gang victim asylum
A US court has granted asylum to a Mexican man threatened by organized crime after 11 of his family members were killed by gangsters in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, his lawyer said on Tuesday. A US immigration judge in El Paso, Texas, decided last month to grant sanctuary to Christian Chaidez, 32, after he crossed the border and told authorities that 11 of his relatives, aged between 24 and 66, were murdered between 2009 and last year, lawyer Carlos Spector said. The relatives were killed for refusing to pay protection money demanded by gangs.
Cocaine smuggled in dogs
South American drug gangs in Milan have been using dogs to smuggle cocaine from Mexico into the country, police said on Tuesday after an operation that found at least 48 dogs had been killed to retrieve the drugs. The animals were forced to swallow plastic packets containing the drug before being sent to Italy on flights that usually landed at Linate Airport in Milan. The packages were wrapped in black vinyl tape to shield them from X-ray checks. The drug traffickers then dismembered the dogs. A court ordered 49 people arrested in the operation to face trial under a fast-track procedure, a Milanese police spokesman told reporters.
Waterboarding illegal: Comey
James Comey, the man nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next FBI director, said on Tuesday said he believed the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique was torture and illegal. Comey, the former deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005, told senators at a confirmation hearing that he had made his views known, but lost battles to stop the CIA from using so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. “When I first learned about waterboarding when I became deputy attorney general, my reaction as a citizen and a leader was ‘This is torture,’” he said. “It’s still what I think.”
Five held for botched rites
Five people appeared in court in Eastern Cape Province, where bungled traditional initiation rites killed 30 young men and landed almost 300 more in hospital, police said on Tuesday. Health authorities in the rural province on Sunday said 293 youths were undergoing treatment for dehydration, gangrene and septic wounds. Besides the deaths, some had lost genitals in botched circumcisions.
Tonnes of ivory seized
Officials at Mombasa Port impounded more than 3 tonnes of illegal ivory disguised as peanuts for export to Malaysia in the biggest seizure so far this year. Revenue officials said the ivory was worth more than US$700,000. The ivory was seized on Monday and had been declared as 240 bags of peanuts, Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Mbugu said on Tuesday.