Former official sentenced
A former vice mayor of Wenzhou was on Friday sentenced to three years in jail for abuse of power in a land deal, state media reported. A court jailed Ye Jiren (葉際仁) after he allotted a plot of land in Wenzhou to a private company against government rules for its use, Xinhua news agency said, quoting the court. The move caused a direct economic loss of 116 million yuan (US$19 million) for the government, the report said, but gave no further details. Authorities detained Ye in 2011 and gave the case to prosecutors last year, Xinhua said.
Exam ‘blinkers’ ridiculed
A university has taken drastic steps to stop would-be cheats by introducing makeshift “blinkers” for its examinees, thwarting students tempted by a furtive glance at their peers’ exam papers. The bizarre headgear — consisting of two A4 sheets of plain white writing paper attached by paperclips to a headband — was worn by nearly 100 students on Wednesday during a textile exam. It was the brainchild of a professor at one of Bangkok’s most famous universities who was concerned that his small exam room would encourage plagiarism. However, a photograph posted on Facebook of the students sporting the blinkers — which they made and customised themselves — during the exam at Kasetsart University, had by Friday stirred ridicule from the Thai press and social media. The controversy prompted the university to scrap the blinkers while the teacher behind the scheme toured television studios to explain the unusual measure. “It was for fun, relaxation and humor for the students. I want them to feel relaxed in their exams,” Nattadon Rungruangkitkrai said.
Gunmen kill policemen
Motorcycle gunmen shot dead two policemen on the outskirts of the capital overnight, officials said yesterday, the latest in a series attacks against officers. The two gunmen drove up to a police station on the southwest of Jakarta and shot one policeman on the street in the back of the head, national police spokesman Ronny Sompie said. Four officers in a police car gave chase, but the driver was shot dead after crashing into the bike. One of the suspects drove off on the bike and the other ran away. The shooting at the Pondok Aren police station in Tangerang District was the latest in a series of attacks against police officers. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility.
Hostages freed in Nigeria
Four Thais held in an apparent ransom kidnapping in Nigeria have been freed unharmed, a spokesman for the kingdom’s foreign ministry in Bangkok said yesterday. A gang of armed kidnappers seized the four Thais and two Nigerians on a waterway while they were on their way to work at a state-owned fish farm in the African nation’s southern Rivers State, Nigerian officials said last week. “All of them are released,” ministry spokesman Manasvi Srisodapol said of the Thais. “The Thai Foreign Minister has talked with one of them. They are fine and will continue to work in Nigeria,” he added, without confirming whether a ransom was paid or the exact time of their release. It was unclear what happened to the Nigerian hostages. Kidnaps for ransom are common in the remote and gang-ridden area. Most kidnap victims in southern Nigeria are released unharmed after the payment of a ransom, unlike in the country’s north, where Islamist extremists have killed a number of their hostages.
40 pythons found in hotel
Little more than a week after a giant python crushed two young boys to death, police have recovered 40 of the snakes from a hotel room. The reptiles were found in several plastic storage bins on Thursday night in a room in Brantford, Ontario, where a couple who had been evicted from their home were staying, police said in a statement. Officers have opened a probe into the incident but they did not say where the couple were at the time or whether the pair would be charged with breaking local laws that prohibit owning pythons. The snakes, which ranged in length from 0.3m to 1.4m, were in poor health and have been taken in by the Canadian Society for the Protection of Animals, where a veterinarian is monitoring them. The find comes 11 days after Connor and Noah Barthe, aged six and four respectively, died in the eastern town of Campbellton, New Brunswick, when an African python escaped from its terrarium and killed them. The boys had been enjoying a sleepover with a friend, whose father’s private menagerie of exotic animals included the python.
Cuban migrants deported
The government says it has deported 24 Cuban migrants to their homeland amid protests by supporters in South Florida. The Department of Immigration issued a brief statement saying the 24 were “successfully repatriated to Havana” early on Friday. No mention was made of calls by Cuban-Americans for the migrants to be allowed to seek refuge elsewhere. The South Florida-based Democracy Movement says some of the 24 had apparently been offered asylum by Panama. The group said 43 Cubans were detained under harsh conditions in a migrant detention center and in the main prison of the nation east of Florida. The islands have become a transit zone for migrants, mostly from Haiti and Cuba, seeking to reach the US.
Scorned wife cuts off penis
A woman cut off her husband’s penis after she caught him cheating on her with a man, a report said on Friday. Upon learning of her husband’s indiscretion, the woman did not act at first, but days later proposed a sex game during which she tied him to their bed. As he lay still, she cut off his penis with a serrated knife, the G1 Web site of Globo TV reported. The act of revenge played out in Santos, which is 77km southeast of Sao Paulo. The organ could not be sutured back on because too much time had transpired, but the man’s life is not in danger. The woman has been arrested, G1 said.
‘White skin’ request riles
Aeromexico airline and its ad agency have apologized for a producer’s casting call for an ad that specified that only light-skinned people need apply. The population is largely dark-skinned, but TV ads routinely feature light-skinned actors, sparking accusations of discrimination. The commercial has not yet been made, but a casting call for actors specified “nobody dark skinned” and requested “white skin.” The Catatonia ad agency said this week it regretted the situation and that a third company that sent out the casting call had used inappropriate language. Aeromexico also apologized and blamed Catatonia for the “discriminatory attitude” of the casting call. Most of the population carry some Indian blood, but Indians have suffered persistent racial discrimination since the Spanish conquest in the early 1500s.