Naked run held early
Members of a fraternity at the University of the Philippines held their annual ritual of running naked on campus six months early on Wednesday — by official request — to celebrate the state-run school’s centennial anniversary. Hundreds of cheering students lined the main campus avenue, jostling for positions with their digital and mobile phone cameras. The “Oblation Run” — named for the university’s iconic symbol of a naked man with outstretched arms that symbolizes his selfless offering of himself to the nation — started in 1977 as a gimmick by the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity to promote the screening of a movie about oppressed plantation workers called Naked Hero. The film had been banned by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Transvestites get own loos
A school has introduced toilets for its transvestite students after a survey revealed that 200 cross-dressing students felt uncomfortable using the male toilets but were not always welcome in the female lavatories. Kampang school, attended by 2,600 pupils in the rural northeastern province of Sisaket, unveiled the toilets when the new academic year began in May. The symbol for the toilets shows a figure split in two, the male half in blue and the female in red.
■ SOUTH KOREA
Endangered dog cloned
A South Korean team led by disgraced stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk said yesterday it had created 17 clones of an endangered dog breed popular in China. The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation said in a statement that the cloned Tibetan mastiff dogs were born in April, two months after being requested by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The foundation said another institute conducted DNA tests and confirmed that all 17 dogs had been cloned from one Tibetan mastiff. However, an official of Kogene Biotech, the Seoul-based institute specializing in DNA analysis that did the DNA tests, said it did not to take its own samples from the dogs and that the samples it tested were provided by the foundation.
Couple charged with murder
A couple was charged yesterday with murder and torture in the deaths of their 18-month-old twins, whose decomposing bodies were found by their older sister this week. The mother, 30, and father, 28, who were not identified, had initially been charged with neglect after the woman told police the twins had starved to death, but the prosecutor raised the charges during their court appearance. The murder and torture charges carry potential life sentences. Australians have been horrified by the deaths of the two children, who had been dead at least a week before police were called to the middle-class suburban home. The mother told the court she found the boy and girl dead last week, on Sunday or Monday, but did nothing about it, prosecutor Michelle Clark told Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Hijacker shot and killed
Police shot and killed a knife-wielding man who demanded guns and 1 million yuan (US$145,000) in cash during a bus hijacking, state press said yesterday. Police shot the man on Wednesday evening as he held a large knife to the neck of a woman passenger aboard the bus in Guizhou Province, Xinhua news agency said. Police said the man demanded two guns, 500 bullets and the money after hijacking the bus and beginning a hostage siege that lasted for about 90 minutes, the report said.
Smuggler’s wig busted
A British woman’s bulging wig did not fool customs agents in Norway, who realized she wasn’t just having a bad hair day. The wig was concealing 1kg of cocaine glued to her head and customs agents detained her on suspicion of cocaine smuggling, authorities said on Wednesday. The 32-year-old suspect arrived late on Sunday at Vaernes airport near the city of Trondheim on a flight from Copenhagen, Denmark, the customs service said. Norway’s largest newspaper, Verdens Gang, said the cocaine was glued so firmly to the woman’s real hair that police brought her to the local hospital to have it removed.
Court rules against phobia
A German court has ruled against a woman who claimed a phobia of official letters in her appeal against a decision to cut off child support. The woman said that “she had already suffered many financial disadvantages” as a result of leaving mail lying around or throwing it out. The court statement added that she sought to justify her actions by saying that “she was and still is petrified of the contents of official letters.” She said she had long considered seeking psychological treatment, but had been too ashamed.
Police pursue dognapper
Police searched on Wednesday for a drug smuggler who made off with a sniffer dog in a customs officer’s car after being caught with 200g of heroin. The 37-year-old suspect was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the vehicle after his arrest on Tuesday evening in Niederkruechten near the Dutch border. While the officers were searching another car, the man hopped into the front seat and sped off toward Holland with sniffer dog Amber in the rear cargo area. The dog was discovered unharmed in the back of the abandoned car in the Dutch town of Weert on Wednesday morning.
More fighting despite truce
Fighting between Islamist-led insurgents and allied Somali-Ethiopian troops has killed at least 17 people, residents said on Wednesday, underlining the lack of impact of a UN-brokered peace agreement. One attack on a troop patrol on Tuesday night prompted return fire toward Mogadishu’s SOS hospital, killing three people outside, witnesses said. Stray bullets from crossfire killed another three in a separate incident about the same time. Mogadishu resident Fatuma Hussein said a mortar landed on her neighbor’s house, also on Tuesday night, killing a woman and two children.
Kidnap brokers arrested
An official who helped negotiate the release of a kidnapped TV presenter has been arrested and is to be charged in the abduction, Philippines authorities said yesterday. In a bizarre twist to the nine-day hostage crisis, Alvarez Isnaji and his son Haider Isnaji were detained on Wednesday, one day after ABS-CBN television broadcaster Cecilia Drilon, her cameraman and a local guide emerged from the jungle. The elder Isnaji is the mayor of the Jolo town of Indanan, from where the TV crew was kidnapped on June 8. The elder Isnaji said he had negotiated the group’s release after paying token amounts to kidnappers. But statements gathered from the freed hostages “unraveled the fact that Mayor Alvarez Isnaji is involved in the kidnapping,” national police chief Avelino Razon said.
Another foot added to puzzle
For the sixth time in less than a year, a human foot encased in a running shoe has washed ashore on the British Colombia coast. A woman on a beach near the Vancouver Island town of Campbell River discovered a right foot inside a black Adidas men’s running shoe. Local resident Sandra Malone said the woman came to her office to call police. “You could see the two bones coming up out of the shoe,” Malone said. “It’s just the bone and a lot of seaweed around the ankle.” Since last August five right feet and one left foot have been found along the south coast of the province, sparking international speculation about a possible murder mystery, or that they are remains of airplane or boat accident victims. Scientists say the feet could have drifted dozens or thousands of kilometers because human body parts can remain intact in water for years when protected by shoes or sturdy clothing. Police Sergeant Mike Tresoor said the foot was a man’s size 10.
■ UNITED STATES
Thief fixed for java
Police in Hawaii say a thief got his caffeine fix when he made off with more than 450kg of Kona coffee beans. Police say the beans were taken from a home sometime between May 27 and May 29. The beans were in 45kg burlap bags. Police are asking the public to report anyone trying to sell green coffee beans.
■ UNITED STATES
Duck shooter pleads guilty
A Long Island man has pleaded guilty to shooting a neighbor’s duck in an attack that led a court to approve an order of protection for the bird. The duck — named Circles — has fully recovered from the pellet gunshot wound to his throat. Ylik Mathews is expected to be sentenced next month to a year in county jail after pleading guilty to aggravated animal cruelty. The 21-year-old admitted to shooting the yellow-billed Pekin duck on March 17. Mathews said the shooting was an accident and “is happy the duck is doing well,” his lawyer said. However the judge in the case continued the order of protection for both the duck and his owner.
■ UNITED STATES
Taser prosecution dropped
Prosecutors in Boulder, Colorado, dropped charges against a restaurant owner after he and a security company supervisor shot each other with Tasers in a dispute over a parked car that had been clamped. They said the case against Harvey Epstein was weak. They also cited a weak case for the security company to have clamped a metal boot on a wheel of a van owned by one of Epstein’s employees — the incident that set off the May 17 confrontation.
National Guard take buses
The government started posting National Guard troops on buses on Wednesday to try to prevent violent crime. About 500 guardsmen have been assigned to ride on buses in Caracas as a deterrent against frequent armed robberies and killings of bus drivers, General Alirio Ramirez told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency. Some will escort buses by motorcycle through crime-prone areas. President Hugo Chavez announced the idea on his SundayTV and radio program, but it wasn’t clear if the project would be permanent. Polls regularly show that crime is Venezuelans’ leading concern — above unemployment and inflation. Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin said on Tuesday that Caracas averages about 40 homicides per week.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread