HRW presses for boycott
Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday urged Commonwealth leaders to boycott a summit Sri Lanka is hosting to protest against its failure to investigate abuses by the military during a decades-long fight against separatists. The New York-based group has written to the leaders of the 54-member bloc urging them to stay away from the Nov. 15 to 17 summit and send only a low-level delegation. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already announced he will boycott the meeting, but others, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, are expected to attend.
Man acquitted of royal slur
A court yesterday acquitted a man whose own brother accused him of defaming the monarch, a grave charge punishable by up to 15 years in jail. A judge who read out the verdict said there was not enough evidence to convict Yuthapoom Martnok. His brother Thanawat had been his only accuser, and other relatives had insisted Yuthapoom never insulted the crown. Yuthapoom was imprisoned for a year and denied bail on national security grounds. He was to be freed later yesterday.
Markov murder probe closed
The nation’s chief prosecutor has closed a probe into one of the most notorious killings of the Cold War, saying that after 35 years a dissident’s murder with a poison-tipped umbrella has reached the statute of limitations. Georgi Markov, a journalist and government critic who fled the nation and settled in the UK, was jabbed in the thigh with an umbrella tip on Sept. 7, 1978, as he waited for a bus at London’s Waterloo Bridge. He developed a fever and died four days later. Suspicion fell on the Bulgarian secret police, but no one has been arrested or charged in the case. Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said on Thursday that his office was ready to provide legal assistance to British authorities. There is no statute of limitations on murder in the UK.
Jeweler shoots thief
A 67-year-old jeweler in Nice has received an outpouring of support on the Internet after being detained on suspicion of murder for shooting dead a teenager fleeing his shop with stolen gems. A Facebook page set up in support of Stephan Turk had attracted more than 55,000 likes by Thursday afternoon, a day after the jeweler was placed in custody on suspicion of murder. Turk was held up at gunpoint by two men wearing helmets as he opened his small jewelry shop on Wednesday morning. Closed-circuit video images show he was punched and kicked before being forced to open his safe. When the robbers fled on a motorcycle with the loot, Turk shot at them three times with a small gun, hitting the 18-year-old sitting on the back of the scooter at least once in the back, Bedos said. The teenager’s dead body was found in an adjacent street, while the driver of the scooter got away with the rifle used in the robbery.
Rousseff wants Web servers
President Dilma Rousseff has asked congress to urgently take up a so-called “Internet constitution” that could force foreign technology companies like Facebook and Google to store data of local users on servers within the country. Her request comes after several reports about the US National Security Agency’s spy program that has aggressively focused on the nation. Rousseff met earlier this week with the bill’s author, Deputy Alessandro Molon. The Internet bill has been before the lower house since 2011. By law, with the president’s request, the bill now must be voted on within 45 days.
Immigration activists held
About 100 women were arrested on Thursday at a protest in Washington calling for the Congress to pass stalled immigration reform, police said. The US Capitol Police said the women were arrested for obstructing roadways in front of the House of Representatives. Several of the protesters were themselves undocumented, including one woman, Maria, who said she felt strongly enough about the need for immigration reform to risk deportation with her arrest. “That’s the same risk I live every day, when I take my daughters to school and when I go to work,” she said. “For 20 years I’ve been living in the shadows, and I’m tired of living that way,” she said.
Audio pioneer Dolby dies
Ray Dolby, the engineer who pioneered the noise reduction in audio recordings that produced clearer sound for music and movies, died on Thursday. He was 80. Dolby, whose name became synonymous with home sound systems and movie theaters and won an Oscar, a Grammy and two Emmys for his work, died at his home in San Francisco, said the company he founded, Dolby Laboratories. Dolby had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years and had been diagnosed with leukemia in July. “Though he was an engineer at heart, my father’s achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts,” Dolby’s son, novelist Tom Dolby, said in a statement.
Molasses spill kills fish
Hawaiian health officials warned swimmers, surfers and snorkelers to stay out of the waters near Honolulu after a leak of 1,270 tonnes of molasses killed hundreds of fish, potentially attracting sharks. So many fish had died by Thursday that the Hawaii Department of Health tripled its cleanup crews. A brown plume was spotted seeping into Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon on Monday after a ship hauling molasses to the West Coast pulled out to sea. By Tuesday, a leak was discovered in a molasses pipeline used to load the sweet, sticky liquid onto ships operated by Matson Navigation Co.
Baggy pants foil getaway
A robber who was running away with his hands full of loot from an Orlando, Florida, church was caught when his baggy pants started slipping off, Orange County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jane Watrel said. She said the man, Anthony Jason Garcia, 31, had been praying in the sanctuary of a large Catholic church near Walt Disney World on Wednesday when he arose, went into the gift shop, grabbed the cash drawer and ran toward the courtyard with church maintenance director Joe Larkin in pursuit. As they ran, Garcia’s baggy pants began to fall down, Watrel said. She said Larkin plunged for Garcia and pulled his pants down further, tripping him up.