Suspected rapists arrested
Two suspects arrested in the gang rape of a 51-year-old Danish tourist in New Delhi are unemployed young men who allegedly attacked the woman for nearly three hours before fleeing with her belongings, police said yesterday. The two were picked up late on Wednesday from a park near the scene of the crime, police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said. Investigators were closing in other suspects after the two provided details during questioning, he said. Police said the tourist was raped at knifepoint on Tuesday near Connaught Place.
Beijing smog hits highs
Beijing’s skyscrapers receded into a dense gray smog yesterday, as the capital saw the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more than two dozen times the level considered safe. The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city’s commuters wore industrial-strength face masks as they hurried to work. The readings early yesterday for PM2.5 pollution marked the first ones of the season above 500 micrograms per cubic meter. The density of PM2.5 was about 350 to 500 micrograms, and had reached as high as 671 at 4am at a monitoring post at the US embassy. That is about 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the WHO and was the highest reading since January last year.
Wife tweets minister’s affair
The furious wife of the nation’s top-tweeting minister admitted yesterday she had hacked his account to send out messages exposing an alleged affair he was having with a Pakistani journalist. The scandal was splashed on the front pages of several newspapers after a curious series of messages appeared on the Twitter account of the thrice-married Human Resources Minister Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday evening. They showed private exchanges apparently between 57-year-old Tharoor and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar, 45, in which she professed her love for him and he said that his wife had discovered the affair. Sunanda Tharoor, formerly a Dubai-based entrepreneur whom the minister married in 2010, confessed to sending the messages. “That woman pursued and pursued him... men are stupid anyway... for all you know she is a Pakistani agent. Where’s love, where’s loyalty in this world?... I am so distraught,” she told the Indian Express. She told the paper that she would be seeking a divorce, but then appeared to have relented later yesterday, writing on her Twitter account that “Shashi an& I are very happy together.”
Floods, landslide kill 13
Days of torrential rain triggered a landslide and flash floods on Sulawesi Island, killing at least 13 people and sending tens of thousands fleeing for safe ground, disaster officials said yesterday. Residents and rescuers in Sangihe District of North Sulawesi Province dug through debris with their bare hands and shovels. Two bodies were pulled from the mud, and 11 others were found in the water late on Wednesday, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. More than 1,000 houses were flooded by overflowing rivers in five other districts of the province, he said. About 40,000 people fled to temporary shelters, and rescuers were still searching for at least two more villagers.
Senate set to approve bill
The Senate is ready to give final approval to a US$1.1 trillion package financing federal agencies this year. The measure is a bipartisan compromise that all but eliminates the specter of an election-year government shutdown. After several years of intense standoffs over the budget, many lawmakers want to leave such fights behind them — at least for now. Senate passage was expected as early as yesterday. On Wednesday, the Republican-run House of Representatives passed the legislation in a 359-67 vote that underscored how both parties could claim wins in the measure. The legislation is a line-by-line follow-up to the budget compromise Congress approved last month that set overall spending limits for the next two years.
Freud’s ashes almost stolen
Police are hunting burglars who tried to steal the ashes of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud from a London crematorium. The Metropolitan Police force on Wednesday said that a 2,300-year-old Greek urn containing the remains of Freud and his wife, Martha, was severely damaged in a break-in at Golders Green Crematorium on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. Detective Constable Daniel Candler said the attempted theft was “a despicable act.” “Even leaving aside the financial value of the irreplaceable urn and the historical significance ... the fact that someone set out to take an object knowing it contained the last remains of a person defies belief,” he said. The father of psychoanalysis moved to Britain from Nazi-controlled Austria in 1938. He died in London in September 1939, aged 83.
Pollen part of honey: EU
After years of wrangling and a ruling by the EU’s top court, the European Parliament agreed on Wednesday that pollen is a constituent of honey and not an added ingredient. The distinction may seem arcane, but it has important implications for the industry, since it determines how honey jars are labeled when it comes to levels of pollen from genetically modified plants. Purity is a key selling point for honey and a label warning consumers it contained genetically modified pollen might deter buyers anxious to avoid foods that have been genetically altered.
EU slams passport scheme
The European Commission on Wednesday warned that EU citizenship “must not be up for sale,” following controversy over a Maltese initiative to grant passports to wealthy foreign investors. “Granting the nationality of a member state means also granting EU citizenship and the rights attached to it,” EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “Member states should only award citizenship to persons where there is a ‘genuine link’ or ‘genuine connection’ to the country in question,” she added. She said the EU’s executive arm was paying close attention to member countries that have set up investor schemes for granting citizenship, with Malta being the most recent example.
Air strikes on Gaza launched
The military says it has carried out air strikes in the Gaza Strip after militants there launched five rockets toward Israel. A Gaza health official says five Palestinians were lightly wounded in the air strikes. The military says all five rockets fired early yesterday were intercepted by the army’s Iron Dome anti-missile battery system. The rockets caused no injuries or damage.