Children die in fridge
Three children were found dead by a grandparent after becoming stuck in an abandoned refrigerator as they played near their home, police said on Saturday. Their bodies were found on Friday in Atamelang, a town in the country’s North West Province, police spokesman Sergeant Kealeboga Molale said. “They go into the refrigerator and it looks like the refrigerator locks itself and they suffocated,” Molale said. “They were playing outside ... and that’s how they went into it and died, the three of them. Two were four years old and one [was] three,” he added. The grandfather of at least one of the children apparently found their bodies after they failed to return home and called the police.
Syrian boat people rescued
Nearly 500 boat people, mainly Syrian, have been rescued off of the country’s coasts in a 24-hour period, the coast guard said on Saturday. A first group of 170 saying they were Syrian were rescued after their boat began taking on water about 50km from the coast of Calabria, in the south. They included about 50 women and children and were transferred to a coast guard vessel and taken to the town of Roccella Ionica, the coast guard said. A second group of about 320, who were mainly Syrian, but included some Egyptians, were rescued overnight nearly 120km off of Sicily in an operation involving a merchant ship and two coast guard vessels. They were being taken in two groups to Sicilian ports, the coast guard said. The number of people fleeing war-torn Syria toward the country, usually via Egypt, has spiked, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Adrian Edwards said 3,300 Syrians had arrived by sea in the past 40 days, and 4,500 since the start of the year. Only 369 were recorded last year.
PM rejects referendum
Prime Minister Mariano has rejected a request by the leader of Catalonia to approve a referendum that would allow the northeastern region to decide whether to secede from the rest of the country. In a written reply, Rajoy told Artur Mas, leader of the economically powerful region, “the ties that bind us together cannot be undone without enormous cost” and that the two politicians should hold talks instead. Rajoy’s answer on Saturday officially rebuffs the pro-separatist request Mas made in July. The constitution says that only the central government can call a referendum. More than 1 million people showed support for Catalan independence on Wednesday by joining hands to form a 400km human chain across the region.
A journalist has been detained for questioning the government’s case against a TV cameraman, a lawyer said on Friday. Journalist Zied el-Heni was detained for allegedly defaming a civil servant by saying on Nessma TV channel that he has evidence that the case was fabricated against cameraman Mourad Meherzi, who was arrested for filming the egging of a minister. El-Heni’s lawyer, Moufida Belghith, said the detention order was issued without hearing her client’s side of the story. El-Heni said on TV that the prosecutor himself should be charged for detaining someone without basis. Meherzi was accused of being part of a plot against Minister of Culture Mehdi Mabrouk and detained for two weeks after he filmed him getting egged.
World’s oldest man dies
Guinness World Records said that former musician and coal miner Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez, certified as the world’s oldest man, has died. He was 112. Guinness consultant Robert Young said Sanchez-Blazquez died on Friday at a nursing home in Grand Island, New York. Nicknamed “Shorty,” Sanchez-Blazquez became the world’s oldest man when Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura died in June at age 116. Sanchez-Blazquez was born June 8, 1901, in the village of El Tejado de Bejar, Spain. He moved to Cuba at 17, then to the US in 1920, where he worked the coal mines of Lynch, Kentucky, before eventually moving to New York. Sanchez-Blazquez had two children, seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
Judge frees businessman
Daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste has reported that a judge freed Evinx Daniel from jail in the south of the country. The newspaper said that Daniel was released after being held overnight because the government commissioner who ordered the arrest had been “hasty” in his actions, a senior government official said. Daniel owns Dan’s Creek, an oceanfront hotel in Port Salut. He was taken into custody on Thursday after eight foreigners were arrested in the area and charged with drug trafficking.
Six Flags coaster reopens
Six Flags has reopened the Texas Giant roller coaster for the first time since a rider fell 23m to her death. The ride at the north Texas amusement park opened on Saturday with new precautions that included redesigned restraint bars and new seat belts. Riders can also sit in a trial seat before entering the line. Six Flags cautioned parkgoers who waited hours to board that the Texas Giant might not accommodate “guests with unique body shapes or sizes.” The ride has been closed since Rosa Ayala-Goana died in July. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Six Flags. Still, thousands of riders line up for an hour or more to ride the twisting, wood-and-metal coaster, which features a 79o drop and banked turns.
Jersey towns to get fire aid
Two New Jersey beach towns will get US$15 million in state aid to repair damage from a boardwalk fire that devastated the resorts that had to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Saturday. The fast-moving blaze swept across the Seaside Park and Seaside Heights boardwalk on Thursday last week, engulfing scores of businesses and taking 400 firefighters hours to put it out. Sandy pummeled the communities in October last year and they had only recovered months before the fire. Christie said the state’s Economic Development Authority would hold a special meeting on Wednesday and extend US$15 million from Sandy relief programs to support businesses hurt by the fire. Christie said that more than 50 businesses were damaged by the fire. About four blocks of the rebuilt boardwalk were burned and torn up to make a fire break. About US$5 million will go for demolition and removal of debris and rebuilding it, the statement said. No cause for the blaze has been determined, but local media reported that electrical wiring under a frozen custard stand had caught fire, burned through the stand and spread to other food stands.
US kills jihadist leader
The country’s al-Qaeda branch has confirmed that a US strike killed one of its leaders at the end of last month. It said in a statement posted on a militant Web site on Saturday that Qaid al-
Dahab was killed by a “perfidious American air raid” in the el-Manaseh region of Bayda Province, along with one other person. Officials reported his death last month, saying the strike was likely by a US drone. They said two were killed with al-Dahab. Al-Dahab was believed to be al-Qaeda’s leader in the southern province of Bayda, one of its former strongholds. The statement praised him for having waged jihad for years, saying he had lost a hand in a previous battle. The US conducts regular drone strikes in the country, but rarely confirms individual attacks.
UK Aid used to kill traffickers
The government is under pressure to stop aid for anti-narcotics programs in countries where drug traffickers are executed. The country leads the way in opposing the use of the death penalty around the world and the claims are potentially embarrassing. The government stopped funding Iran’s anti-narcotics program amid concerns that the money was helping to capture drugs mules who were then executed. The human rights group Reprieve wrote to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg requesting guidance on where the foreign aid was going. The charity’s research suggests that London is funding and training Pakistan’s
Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). “As a result of this aid, the ANF and the wider justice system in Pakistan — known to have problems with widespread torture and corruption — is better able to send people to the hangman’s noose on drug offenses,” Reprieve director Clive Stafford-Smith told Clegg. “The ANF itself boasts that 106 prisoners have been sentenced to death on drugs offenses in Pakistan alone.”
Mine collapse kills 24
Officials say a tunnel collapse in a coal mine in the north has killed at least 24 workers and left three missing. Provincial government spokesman Sediqullah Azizi yesterday said that 20 more were injured. The accident occurred on Saturday in Ruyi Du Ab District of Samangan Province, one of the safer parts of the country from the standpoint of insurgency-related violence. A police official said more than 1,000 residents rushed to help, using shovels to try to rescue the workers. Workplace safety standards are poor in the country, as in many developing nations, and such accidents are common. The government hopes to develop a wealth of mineral resources on its territory, a challenging goal as it battles a Taliban insurgency.
Council chief escapes bomb
The head of Baghdad provincial council escaped assassination when a car bomb hit his convoy yesterday, part of a wave of nationwide violence that left eight people dead. The attacks were the latest in a surge of unrest in recent months that has sparked concern the country is slipping back into the all-out sectarian bloodshed that plagued the country in 2006 and 2007. The bomb against the convoy of Riyadh al-Adhadh, the chief of the provincial council and a Sunni lawmaker belonging to the party of the national parliament speaker, killed two people and wounded four others, police and a medical source said. Adhadh was unharmed, but one of his bodyguards was killed in the bombing, which struck in the Waziriyah neighborhood of north Baghdad.