Minister partially apologizes
A minister apologized on Friday for causing offense after remarking that men were now “scared to talk to women” amid an ongoing public debate about sexual harassment following several high-profile cases. “I’m scared to talk to a woman these days. I don’t even want to keep a female secretary. Who knows, I might end up in jail because of a complaint,” New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah told reporters. Speaking outside parliament, he added that he was not “blaming the girls. I’m blaming society itself.” After condemnation from women’s rights activists who accused him of trivializing a serious issue, he issued a partial apology for “hurting sentiments,” but said he had been misconstrued.
Suspected gunmen detained
Police have detained two men suspected of shooting and killing an activist who campaigned against religious charlatanism, black magic and superstitions. Inspector Rajendra Prabhudessai from Goa’s state capital of Panaji says the suspects, both from Mumbai, are suspected of firing four shots at Narendra Dabholkar as he was taking a morning walk on Aug. 20 in Pune. Police did not identify the suspects, but a witness described the motorcycle-borne assailants as being in their 20s. Prabhudessai said yesterday that police tracked down the suspects at the seaside state of Goa and arrested them on Friday afternoon before transferring them to Pune.
Rover enters moon’s orbit
The nation’s first lunar rover entered the moon’s orbit on Friday, state media reported, a key step toward the vessel’s planned landing later this month. The rover — known as Yutu, or Jade Rabbit — reached lunar orbit late on Friday, Xinhua news agency said, about 112 hours after it was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China. It is expected to touch down on the moon next week to explore its surface and search for natural resources. The Chang’e-3 mission — named for the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology, with the rover vehicle named after her pet — will make the nation the third to land a rover on the moon, following the US and the former Soviet Union decades ago.
Speedboat gunmen kill five
Gunmen aboard a speedboat shot dead five members of a fishing crew in a mysterious attack in the seas of the southern Philippines, the coast guard said yesterday. The five were part of a fishing fleet off the troubled southern islands of Sulu when the gunmen attacked them on Friday, coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Jomark Angue said. Even as the five leapt overboard, the gunmen riddled them with bullets, then sped off. Only three of the bodies were recovered, he said. The attackers were suspected to be pirates Angue added. However, it was unclear why they would attack the fishing boat crew. Law-enforcement sources said the attack might be part of an extortion attempt by armed groups operating in Sulu, an impoverished, heavily-forested group of islands. Among the armed groups in Jolo are Muslim separatists who staged a bloody three-week siege in the southern city of Zamboanga in September. The Abu Sayyaf, a group known for the worst terror attacks in the nation’s history, including bombings, kidnappings and banditry, are also active in Sulu along with other outlaw bands.
Blushes after Mandela story
The top-selling Dutch newspaper has apologized for a story on its Web site that linked the death of anti-apartheid icon former South African president Nelson Mandela with a controversial black-face character in the traditional Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas. In the opening sentence of an article collating reactions to Mandela’s death, De Telegraaf said on Friday that Mandela “died on the very night of St. Nicholas (with Black Pete).” Black Pete is the helper of Saint Nicholas, known in the Netherlands as Sinterklaas, who brings children gifts on Dec. 5. The Telegraaf blamed the “tasteless link” on “an unfortunate convergence of circumstances.”
Art theft suspect caught
British police have arrested the final suspect in the theft of paintings by Matisse, Picasso and Monet from a Dutch museum. In a statement on Friday, prosecutors said Adrian Procop, one of two thieves who allegedly carried out the heist at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum in October last year, was arrested on Thursday in Britain. British police confirmed that Procop appeared at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court and has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance Dec. 13. London’s Metropolitan Police said Procop was originally arrested for allegedly possessing a false identity document. He was arrested again on a European warrant issued by authorities for suspicion of professional theft relating to the paintings.
‘Muslim Patrol’ gets jail
Three members of a self-styled “Muslim Patrol” in London who threatened strangers for holding hands, drinking alcohol and other behavior they deemed “un-Islamic” have been sentenced to jail. Nineteen-year-old Jordan Horner, 26-year-old Ricardo McFarlane and a third man who cannot be named for legal reasons pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including actual bodily harm and affray. They were sentenced on Friday at London’s Central Criminal Court to jail terms of between 24 weeks and 17 months. London’s Chief Crown Prosecutor, Baljit Ubhey, said the trio “aggressively intimidated a couple who were holding hands in the street, a group of friends who were drinking alcohol and a girl whom they deemed to be dressed provocatively.” He said the trio’s “bullying behavior” would not be tolerated in London.
Protest over Putin talks
Outraged citizens rallied in central Kiev yesterday after President Viktor Yanukovych discussed a new strategic partnership agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin upon rejecting a historic EU deal. About 1,000 supporters of Western integration braved swirling winds and a heavy snowfall early yesterday as they maintained control of the capital’s iconic Independence Square for the seventh successive day. Protest organizers expect up to 300,000 to turn out today for the largest demonstration since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution first nudged the former Soviet nation of 46 million closer to the West. The embattled president held unannounced talks with Putin in Russia on Friday after completing a mission to China aimed at drumming up backing for his cash-strapped government. Yanukovych’s official Web site said the meeting at Putin’s Black Sea retreat in Sochi focused on “trade and economic cooperation ... and preparation for the future treaty on strategic partnership.”
Newlyweds kill for thrills
Police say two young Pennsylvania newlyweds lured a man to his death with a Craigslist ad because they wanted to kill someone together. Sunbury, Pennsylvania, police say 22-year-old Elytte Barbour was charged on Friday night in the death of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara. Barbour’s 18-year-old wife, Miranda, was charged on Wednesday. Investigators say that Elytte Barbour told police the couple planned the killing. He previously told the Daily Item his wife acted in self-defense when LaFerrara groped her after hiring her as a “companion.” Authorities say the Selinsgrove couple picked up LaFerrara on Nov. 11, three weeks after they got married. Elytte Barbour allegedly choked LaFerrara with a cord while Miranda Barbour stabbed him. LaFerrara’s body was found in an alley.
Troops kill workers
Troops shot dead four municipal workers returning from a shooting range in the southwestern on Friday, apparently after mistaking them for criminals, a state official and residents said. The incident took place in the town of Arcelia and the victims included the director and deputy director of municipal transport, as well as two culture department workers, a Guerrero State official said. Residents said the four were driving back from a shooting club where they practiced and hunted with low-caliber guns. “There was confusion because one of the four subjects who died was wearing military-style clothes, so the soldiers fired,” the official said on condition of anonymity. The soldiers were taken to the Arcelia prosecutor’s office. About 200 people blocked the town’s main road to protest the shooting. It was the second time that residents block the highway this year to demand that soldiers leave the town.
Manholes explode in Rio
Local media reports say half a dozen manholes exploded on Friday in Rio de Janeiro’s showcase Copacabana beach neighborhood. G1 Internet portal says no injuries were reported in the explosions, caused when accumulated underground gas tossed the heavy metal lids several meters into the air. The report quotes Joao Barros, a doorman who witnessed the explosions, as saying they “sounded like dynamite.” Barros said smoke billowed out of some manholes. Firefighters and technicians from Rio’s Light electric utility have cordoned off the area. The G1 report cites utility officials saying there is a short-circuit in the area. The phenomenon is not a new in Rio. In 2010, a US couple was seriously burned in a similar blast.
Protesters appeal jail terms
Judges were to hear the appeals yesterday of 21 women and teenage girls handed heavy jail terms on charges related to an Islamist protest in a case that sparked an outcry. The 14 adult women were handed 11-year jail terms and the seven minors sentenced to juvenile detention last month, shocking even supporters of the military-installed government. They were convicted of taking part in a violent protest demanding Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi’s reinstatement following his overthrow by the army in July. The women’s lawyer, Ahmed al-Hamrawy, said he expected the misdemeanor courts to either acquit them or release them on bail ahead of a final ruling. The jail sentences, coming in the same week as a restrictive new protest law, re-energized the Islamist opposition to the interim government and drew criticism even from its secular supporters.