Judge sent box of cash
A Supreme Court judge was sent a candy box stuffed with 2 million baht (US$60,150) in cash, delivered by a man claiming to be a lawyer for a politician, a court official said yesterday. The box was brought on Tuesday to the secretariat of the Supreme Court by a lawyer who asked for it to be given to the judge handling his client’s case. When security officers checked the box, they found 2 million baht inside. They then alerted the judge, who called the lawyer to take back the box.
Former PM heads for US
Former prime minister Sheikh Hasina left for the US yesterday for medical treatment a day after she was released from jail pending trial on corruption charges, a party leader said. Hasina boarded a British Airways flight yesterday from Dhaka’s Zia International Airport, ATN Bangla television station reported. Syed Ashraful Islam, a close party colleague, confirmed she had left for the US after seeing her off at the airport. She is to be treated for hearing impairment, eye problem and high blood pressure, her Awami League party said.
Talks reach critical stage
Negotiations for the release of a prominent television journalist and her crew on the southern Philippine island of Jolo have reached a critical stage, sources close to the talks said yesterday. Suspected Muslim extremists seized Ces Drilon, a senior anchorwoman for the ABS-CBN network, two members of her crew and a Muslim academic accompanying them on Sunday. “We know the hostages are all OK,” the source said. “Talks for their safe release have reached a critical stage with the ransom demand going up from 10 to 20 million pesos [US$454,000].” ABS-CBN said in a statement on Wednesday .
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Bomber partner found guilty
The partner of a man who tried to carry out a suicide bombing in London in July 2005 was found guilty on Wednesday of not informing the authorities about his plans and helping him escape justice. Yeshiemebet Girma, 32, was the partner of Hussein Osman, one of four men who unsuccessfully attempted to blow up three underground trains and a bus to replicate attacks two weeks earlier in which suicide bombers killed 52 commuters. The July 21 attack, which authorities said was masterminded by al-Qaeda in Pakistan, only failed because the men’s bombs failed to explode.
Couple repent for booth romp
A couple who were caught having sex in a church confessional box while morning Mass was being said have repented and made peace with the local bishop. The couple, in their early 30s, were detained by police earlier this month after they had made love in the confessional box in the cathedral in northern Cesena. They were cautioned for obscene acts in public and disturbing a religious function. Their lawyer said they had been drinking all night and realized they had gone too far. The lawyer told the area’s local newspaper on Wednesday the couple met with the local bishop on Tuesday night, asked for his forgiveness and that he had given it.
Rudd accused of gender bias
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was accused by a government colleague yesterday of applying a sexist double standard by insisting that a woman lawmaker seek anger management counseling when male politicians’ similar behavior has been overlooked. Rudd took the extraordinary step on Wednesday after the lawmaker Belinda Neal was the focus of a series of media reports alleging threatening or violent behavior. Neal, a 45-year-old former union leader, has been accused of threatening and abusing staff at a nightclub last week and of kicking an opponent during a recent soccer match.
Wiki entry changes banned
Users of the Korean-language version of online encyclopedia Wikipedia have been banned from editing the entry on South Korean President Lee Myung-bak because most comments are too rude. Lee’s popularity has plummeted in the wake of mass protests against a deal to import US beef which his government signed in April. Opponents claims the public will face risks from mad cow disease. Editing is “protected from June 8 to October 8 due to repeated defamation,” the site said yesterday. Wikipedia articles can normally be edited by any Internet user. Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said one online user had accused Lee of being insane and had added: “He will ruin the country.”
Train derailment injures 60
Russian emergency officials say a train derailed in the nation’s far east and 60 people were injured. Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andriyanova said nobody was killed in the accident yesterday, but 14 of the injured were hospitalized. Russian media reported six were in serious condition. Andriyanova says at least 10 cars from the passenger train went off the rails in the Amur region near the Chinese border. Some of the cars fell on their sides. Russian media said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered transport and emergency officials to take urgent measures to aid the injured and deal with the accident. The train was headed from a city in Russia’s extreme north to Khabarovsk near the Pacific coast.
■ UNITED STATES
Man survives nail in head
George Chandler said he didn’t know a 6cm nail was driven into his skull until his buddy spotted it stuck through his cap. Chandler said he felt only a sting. “It never did really what you call hurt,” the Shawnee, Kansas, man said on Wednesday on NBC’s Today. Chandler said his friend Phil Kern was using a nail gun to mount lattice on Chandler’s deck when a hose on the tool became caught. Chandler said he stood up just as Kern tried to free the gun and it discharged. At first, they couldn’t locate the nail. An emergency room doctor needed a claw hammer to get the nail out and sent Chandler home with a few stitches.
Largest drawing completed
He forgot to eat, sleep or even drink water, but artist Filemon Trevino accomplished his lifelong dream of entering the Guinness Book of World Records. In a news conference on Wednesday, Trevino presented a Guinness certificate declaring his 411m pencil drawing as the world’s largest. The Monterrey artist spent 6,000 hours and used 800 pencils to complete his representation of the heart and circulatory system. He says breaking the record became an obsession that led him to neglect his health. He was hospitalized seven times for dehydration, heart and kidney problems and fainting spells. The work was unveiled in March at the Regiomontana University.
Man walks 40km to court
A man facing sentencing on a drunk-driving conviction couldn’t get a ride to court. So he start walking, and walking. Stephen Shoemaker was scheduled to appear at 9:30am on Tuesday for sentencing. Shoemaker, 33, doesn’t have a car or driver’s license. So he started hoofing it from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, to the Carlisle courthouse 40km away at dawn. He kept walking in 30°C heat. Shoemaker arrived about 3:30pm — after a detour to a hospital, where he was treated for dehydration. Judge Edward Guido had issued an arrest warrant when Shoemaker failed to appear, but he agreed to defer sentencing until next month.
Obscenity trial delayed
A long-awaited obscenity trial opened on Wednesday and was promptly put on hold after revelations that the top federal judge hearing the case had posted sexually explicit material on the Internet. Judge Alex Kozinski agreed to the prosecution’s request for a 48-hour delay so the Justice Department could look into possible issues of prejudice in the case. The Los Angeles Times said Kozinski posted the explicit material on his Web site. Kozinski said he had been unaware that the pictures could be viewed by the public. The Times said he declined to comment when asked if he felt he should excuse himself from hearing the trial of Ira Isaacs, a filmmaker accused of selling criminally obscene sexual fetish videos depicting bestiality.
Kenyan lions in danger
Conservationists raised the alarm yesterday that lions in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park face extinction within a few years. “The situation has reached a critical level,” said Terry Garcia, executive vice president at National Geographic Society. Fewer than 100 lions are estimated to remain in the region. A major reason for the decline of the lions is spearing and poisoning by local Maasai, whose society depends on raising cattle. National Geographic is donating US$150,000 to the Maasailand Preservation Trust for a compensation fund for herdsmen whose livestock are killed by lions.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and