Banjo killer gets 12 years
A Hungarian tourist who used a banjo to kill a 69-year-old gay man, whom he claimed had made homosexual advances, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for manslaughter yesterday in the Auckland High Court. The judge said that Ferdinand Ambach, 32, a dive master, had committed a “truly cruel and brutal crime” and there was no evidence that the victim, Ronald James Brown, had sexually assaulted him, Radio New Zealand reported. At Ambach’s trial in July, he was said to have beaten the victim with a banjo and rammed the handle down Brown’s throat. A jury cleared Ambach of the more serious charge of murder after he pleaded that Brown provoked him with unwanted advances when he took him back to his apartment after they met at a bar in December 2007. The court was told that police were called by a neighbor and arrived to find Brown badly injured and Ambach screaming in Hungarian and throwing furniture through an upstairs window. Brown died three days later in hospital.
Fugitive gives himself up
A fugitive on the run after breaking his dog from the local pound’s death row is appealing for his pet to be spared and thousands of dollars of fines waived. Police said yesterday that 41-year-old former boxer Ronnie Gilbertson had been in contact and wanted to be reunited with his wife and young family after more than a week on the run. “He’s basically given himself up, so I suggested that he does the right thing and brings the dog with him and gets the whole situation over and done with,” Mount Gambier police spokesman Andy Stott told national broadcaster ABC. Total surrender, however, could mean death for Max, a big black mongrel, who was awaiting a lethal injection after being ordered destroyed for killing sheep and attacking other dogs. Giving himself up could also mean big bills for odd-job man Gilbertson, who racked up thousands of dollars in legal costs trying to save Max.
Couple to be caned for sex
An Islamic court has ordered an unmarried couple to be caned for trying to have sex in a car in the latest of a series of harsh punishments for Muslims in Malaysia, a lawyer said yesterday. The Shariah High Court in central Selangor State sentenced the couple on Wednesday to six strokes of the cane after they pleaded guilty to trying to have sex out of wedlock in their car, prosecutor Shafezan Rusli said. Shafezan said Islamic religious police caught Mohamad Shahrin Abdul Majid, 29, and Nadiah Najat Hussin, 24, with only their undergarments on in a car at an office parking lot in May.
Roo freaks out shrink
A psychologist had to be rescued from her office after a “frantic” kangaroo crashed through the window and leapt around the room, toppling furniture, a colleague said on Thursday. Suzanne Habib jumped screaming atop her desk in the Queensland town of Atherton as the 1.5m marsupial burst through the window behind her with a “big bang,” colleague Tony Baddock said. “Poor old Suzanne just screamed and went straight up in the air,” he said. “The roo was bounding around all over the place, it really was quite frantic.” Baddock said he helped his colleague escape over a toppled bookshelf. After smashing around the room for six minutes, the kangaroo hopped into the main part of the building. “I was then able to block its pathway and encourage it to head out the front door,” he said.
Clown plans fun in space
The man who plans to be “the first clown in space” said on Thursday in Star City he had some surprises planned for the crew of the International Space Station. Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte told reporters he planned to tickle the professional astronauts while they’re sleeping and was also bringing red clown noses to try to lighten things up on the orbiting station. “I’m a person with a pretty high spirit, who’s there to crack jokes and make jokes to those guys, and while they’re sleeping, you know, I’ll be tickling them,” Laliberte said. The 50-year-old Canadian creator of the famed circus troupe is paying US$35 million to blast off later this month on a Russian spacecraft.
Pilgrim bites policeman
A Hasidic Jewish pilgrim bit a Ukrainian policeman, while other pilgrims smashed a TV camera in a row over kosher food, Channel 5 TV reported on Thursday. The incident took place in the city of Uman, a pilgrimage site for one of the nine main branches of Hasidic Judaism. The conflict began after Uman police attempted to shut down a group of kiosks operated by the pilgrims, said a report citing Svetlana Lipinska, an Uman city official. The owner-operators said they were providing kosher food acceptable to Hasidic teachings that were unavailable elsewhere in Uman. The law enforcers alleged the kiosks were not registered businesses and violated city health codes.
Thames got lost in the Tube
London’s subway bosses have erased the River Thames. Mayor Boris Johnson on Thursday joined a chorus of disapproval at a new version of the London Underground map that does not show the river, which divides north and south London. Subway operator Transport for London said the map was simplified after becoming cluttered. Bands denoting different fare zones and some small print have also been removed. Johnson’s office said the mayor “has ordered the river to be reinstated as soon as possible” without incurring extra costs. Transport for London said it would heed the negative reaction and put the river back the next time the map is revised, in December. Thousands of copies of the new map have been printed on posters and leaflets and distributed in the last week.
Farmers dump milk, dung
A farmers’ union said it dumped 3 tonnes of milk and 1 tonne of cow dung in the reception hall of a branch of Credit Agricole in the small town of Boen-sur-Lignon to protest the way banks make better profits than dairy farmers do. The APLI milk producers’ union said farmers in this mountainous area weren’t paid enough for their milk, obtained in difficult conditions. Farmers around Europe are dumping milk to call attention to sagging milk prices and a plan to phase out milk quotas.
Rest helps cows give milk
Comfortable cows are producing more milk and have less udder infections since new regulations allowing them to relax for up to half a day on soft rubberized mattresses were introduced. In 2004, the government introduced rules to gradually replace all sheds where cows are kept in stalls with ones that allow them to move more freely and lie down on a softer surface. The change has helped raised production rise by 5 percent to 6 percent, doctoral student Lars Erik Ruud said after researching the impact of the rules.
YouTube star released
A man whose drunken outburst on hunger in Cuba made him an Internet celebrity was released from prison and sent to psychiatric ward for three weeks of alcoholism treatment, a human rights activist said on Thursday. Authorities had given Juan Carlos Gonzalez Marcos a two-year jail term for “public dangerousness” following his outburst during the filming of a documentary about Cuban music. The tirade was filmed and ended up on YouTube. Gonzalez Marcos appeared obviously inebriated when he burst into an interview for the documentary, waving his arms and screaming: “What we need here is a little bit of chow!” The video became a rallying cry for exile groups in South Florida, though Gonzalez Marcos later expressed regret that his outburst was used for political ends.
Woman spends huge tip
A woman who worked catering events for the University of Notre Dame says it was her lucky day when the school tipped her US$29,000 in her check. But now the university is suing to get back the money she says she already spent. Sara Gaspar says in court documents filed this week that she “thought finally something wonderful had happened” in her life when the school paid her a US$29,387 tip on April 17. She said in court documents that she called the school’s catering department three times about the payment, but didn’t hear back until she received a threatening call from the school in June. Gaspar says by that point, she had spent the money on a new car and bills. Notre Dame contends Gaspar should have been paid only US$29.87, but was overpaid because of a typing error. The school says in a lawsuit filed on Aug. 27 that Gaspar did not notify the school, and spent the money knowing it wasn’t hers.
Ball-hurler ‘honored golfers’
A man who says he hurled thousands of golf balls into Joshua Tree National Park for more than a year to honor deceased golfers will be explaining his tribute to a federal magistrate. Park rangers cited Douglas Jones, 57, for abandoning property, littering and feeding wildlife, the Desert Sun reported. Park spokesman Joe Zarki said on Wednesday that Jones tossed some 3,000 golf balls from his vehicle and left park literature and fruit and vegetables along park roads. He said the food was for stranded hikers.
Naked motorcyclist charged
Authorities say a man was charged with driving under the influence after he was spotted riding his motorcycle naked on a highway in Florida. A deputy caught up with J. Dante Krauss, 45, at a red light and stopped him. Captain Mike Rolls says Krauss could not explain why he was naked. Rolls says the deputy asked him if he had been drinking, and he answered that he had. Breathalyzer tests revealed blood alcohol levels above 0.08 percent, the state’s legal limit to drive, resulting in Krauss’ fifth DUI.
Gang robs police station
A gang of audacious thieves robbed a police station in Malambo, local media reported on Thursday. The heavily armed thieves had little trouble overpowering the lone officer in the small station in the Caribbean region. A police spokesman said the robbers took about US$5,000 from a safe. The cash — from a social program to help the poor — had been left there for safekeeping because the police station was considered secure. Three suspects have been arrested.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered