Horror film banned
A horror film starring Elijah Wood as a scalp-collecting serial killer has been banned because it is too graphic and disturbing for the public. The Office of Film and Literature Classification action means Maniac cannot be screened anywhere other than at film festivals or as part of academic study. DVDs of the film will not be allowed for sale. The government censor said the film’s graphic violence could harm the public. Monster Pictures, distributor of the film for Australia and New Zealand, said yesterday that the decision was a gross overreaction. The remake of a 1980 slasher film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
Assange launches party
WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange yesterday officially launched his political party to contest national elections this year, saying a victory for his candidates would be akin to planting the country’s “best investigative journalists” in the Senate. Assange said the WikiLeaks Party would field seven candidates for upper house Senate seats in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. Despite being holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than a year, the 42-year-old will run in Victoria, saying he planned to be “an independent scrutineer of government activity.” “WikiLeaks Party’s core values of transparency, accountability and justice are the template against which we will examine any important issues for Australians: tax reform, asylum seekers, climate change policy and more,” he said in an opinion piece in the Australian newspaper.
Corpse seller executed
A man who murdered a pregnant woman in China to sell her corpse as a “ghost bride” has been executed, state media reported yesterday. Wang Hairong was put to death earlier this week, the Legal Daily said, citing a court in Yanan in the northern province of Shaanxi. Wang and two accomplices persuaded a woman, identified only by her surname, Luo (羅), to accept a lift in their car in May 2011 and strangled her, the report said. She was pregnant at the time. They drove to a nearby town and sold Luo’s body for 22,000 yuan (US$3,585) to a family as a bride for their dead son in a “ghost marriage,” it said.
Fugitive principal arrested
Police on Wednesday arrested the head of a school in eastern India where 23 children died after eating a free meal laced with a lethal pesticide, an officer said. The children, aged four to 12, fell ill within minutes of eating the lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice cooked at their primary school in a poverty-stricken village in Bihar state on July 16. “The principal surrendered... and we have arrested her for questioning,” said Sujeet Kumar, police boss of Saran district where the incident occurred. Police have been searching for the teacher, Meena Devi, who apparently fled shortly after the tragedy in Gandaman village, which also left about 30 children ill in hospital and sparked angry street protests.
Boat death toll rises
Rescuers have recovered the bodies of two more asylum seekers who were aboard a boat that sank off Indonesia, bringing the death toll to 11. Cianjur police spokesman Captain Ahmad Suprijatna says the bodies of a five-year-old Sri Lankan girl and a 30-year-old Iranian man were found early yesterday, south of where their overcrowded boat sank Tuesday night off the coast of West Java.
Drunk man swims to US
A man looking to prove his swimming skills, and drunk, provoked an international rescue when he jumped into the Detroit River and swam to the US, police said on Wednesday. John Morillo, 47, told the Windsor Star after being released from custody on Tuesday the stunt was “very stupid,” but he relishes now being able to boast to friends about his exploit. Morrillo reportedly managed to swim across the river separating Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan, and have his picture taken by curious passers-bye. His neighbor back on the Canadian shore had called police when she lost sight of him in the treacherous waters. A search was launched in the middle of the night involving Canadian police, as well as both US and Canadian coast guard, three boats and a helicopter. He was eventually found on the Canadian side of the Detroit River at 12:50am local time . Authorities said he has been charged with public intoxication and faces fines of up to C$25,000 (US$24,200) for swimming in a shipping channel.
Fugitive became mayor
Prosecutors say they have arrested a man who faked his death to beat a rape charge, then later was elected mayor of a village in the south. The Oaxaca State Prosecutors’ Office says Leninguer Carballido was arrested on charges of using fake documents and making false statements. Carballido was found late on Tuesday hiding in a heavily fortified room at his family’s home on the outskirts of Oaxaca City. Carballido won July 7 elections for mayor of the village of San Agustin Amatengo. When authorities were looking for him in 2011 in connection with a 2004 rape case, his family submitted a death certificate saying he died of natural causes in 2010. The public records clerk who drew up the fake certificate has also been arrested.
Obama nominates Kennedy
President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would name Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president John F. Kennedy, as ambassador to Japan, lending the prestige of a storied political dynasty to the relationship with an important Asian ally. Kennedy, who has a law degree, is president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and chairs an advisory committee at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Active in Democratic politics, the 55-year-old was an early and prominent supporter of Obama in his initial quest for the presidency.
Khodorkovsky trial ‘unfair’
The trial of jailed Russian anti-Kremlin tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev was “unfair,” the European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday. “Charges against two Russian business executives [Khodorkovsky and Lebedev] had a sound basis, but the hearing of their case was unfair, and their placement in remote penal colonies unjustified,” the court ruled. Khodorkovsky, the high-profile former boss of oil giant Yukos and once Russia’s richest man, has spent the past decade behind bars on charges of financial crimes that supporters say were politically motivated. He was convicted of large-scale tax evasion and fraud in 2005 along with co-accused Lebedev following his dramatic arrest at a Siberian airport in 2003. The court found several breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights. These include breaches of the right to a fair trial with regards to “lawyer-client confidentiality.” The court also said Khodorkovsky’s lawyers were harassed.