Officials sentenced to death
Two officials have been sentenced to death for leaking information in a case reportedly involving secret contact between the ruling junta and North Korea, official sources said yesterday. “Two officials got the death sentence and another one was jailed for 15 years for leaking information. They were sentenced at the special court in Insein Prison on Thursday,” one source said on condition of anonymity. The two men sentenced to death were Win Naing Kyaw and Thura Kyaw, while the jailed man was Pyan Sein, the sources said, without giving further details.
Uluru climbing to continue
Tourists can carry on climbing Uluru, the massive rock in the heart of Australia’s central red desert, after the Australian government yesterday ruled out banning the popular ascent, for now. Every year about 350,000 people, half from overseas, visit Uluru — previously known as Ayers Rock — with 100,000 choosing to climb the 348m rock, which is sacred to the local Aboriginal people. However, the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park last year called for a ban on climbing the world heritage-listed rock out of respect for the indigenous owners. They also voiced safety fears and concerns about visitors littering and using the monolith as a toilet. The proposed ban caused an uproar in the tourism sector. A new management plan prepared by the board and approved by Environment Minister Peter Garrett yesterday ruled out banning the climb for now, but left it open to be closed at a later date.
Indian cartoon sparks anger
The government and police yestreday angrily criticized a cartoon in an Indian newspaper that depicted police as racist Ku Klux Klan members following the fatal stabbing of an Indian student. A cartoon in the Delhi Mail Today portrayed a person in a white Ku Klux Klan hood and wearing a Victoria state police badge against a black background and the words: “We are yet to ascertain the nature of the crime.” Accounting graduate Nitin Garg, 21, originally from the state of Punjab in northern India, was stabbed to death last Saturday night on his way to a job at a fast food outlet in Melbourne. “To say that our detectives are going slow on this, or for some reason trying to protect somebody, is incredibly offensive and wrong,” said Greg Davies, secretary of the Victoria Police Association, the police officers’ union. Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the police were doing an outstanding job investigating Garg’s murder and a series of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney.
Quadriplegic sails solo
A disabled Briton became the first quadriplegic man to sail across the Atlantic without sailing help on Thursday, arriving in the Caribbean after a grueling 28-day journey, his spokeswoman said. Geoff Holt, 42, made the 4,300km journey in a specially designed boat without help with sailing although he did have a cameraman and personal assistant on board. “The arrival has been everything I expected and more,” Holt said as he sailed into Tortola. “The welcoming committee has been amazing, I am surrounded by the flotilla of boats and yachts that have all come out to meet me. It’s emotional and I have a tear in my eye as I near the finish line.”
Activist blasts Copenhagen
The head of Greenpeace Spain, freed from 20 days in Danish custody along with three others, on Thursday accused authorities in Copenhagen of making them “pay” for the failure of the climate summit. Juan Lopez de Uralde and Norwegian Nora Christiansen fooled security staff at the Danish parliament in Copenhagen by arriving at a Dec. 17 gala dinner in a limousine and evening attire. There, they unfurled banners reading “Politicians Talk, Leaders Act” at the entrance. Lopez de Uralde denounced their treatment in prison, telling Spanish National Radio: “We did not expect to get off scot-free ... We were taking a risk. What was completely disproportionate was the 20 days in isolation in prison, without knowing the extent of the charges against us, without speaking to anyone.”
Jihad plotters jailed
Fourteen members of an Islamist radical group seeking to spread jihad to Spain’s Andalusia region were jailed on Thursday for plotting attacks against Moroccan targets, state news agency MAP said. A criminal court in Sale, the twin city of Rabat, sentenced Rachid Zerbani, the leader of the Fath al Andalus (Andalusia Conquest) group to 15 years in prison, the agency said, quoting a court statement. The 13 other members received sentences of between four and 10 years for charges that included stockpiling explosives for attacks on state targets, collecting money to buy weapons and undermining state security and public order.
Temperatures fall further
Parts of the UK were colder than European ski resorts on Wednesday night as temperatures matched their lowest levels so far this winter. While temperatures in Benson, Oxfordshire, and Woodford, Greater Manchester, reached minus 18ºC, the popular ski destinations of Davos in Switzerland and St Anton in Austria saw temperatures of minus 12ºC and minus 8ºC respectively. A low of minus 18ºC was recorded earlier this winter — in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, on Dec. 29. MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said it could get even colder, with the temperature in parts of Scotland expected to fall below minus 20ºC last night.
Banned Web sites listed
Local judicial authorities have published a long list of banned Internet Web sites in a new crackdown on online networks, including those deemed immoral, the press reported on Thursday. They said the list, drawn up by a “committee of experts,” bans any site that contains pornography, prostitution, sexual deviation or anything considered to be “contrary to the morals of society” or “hostile to government officials and institutions.” Violators could be jailed for several years, newspapers said.
Judge throws out lawsuit
A paternity suit launched by a woman seeking millions of dollars from Keanu Reeves was thrown out of court on Thursday. Karen Sala claimed she had a sexual relationship with Reeves during and after her marriage and that they lived together. Reeves vehemently denies ever having met the woman. Sala was seeking C$3 million (US$2.8 million) a month in spousal support, retroactive to November 2006. She also wanted C$150,000 a month in child support, going back to June 1988. A judge in Ontario dismissed the case, however, saying Sala’s allegations were “so incredible” that no reasonable judge would accept them. She said Reeves grew up down the street from her and she had known him since she was four or five. She did not connect him to the actor until much later because she knew him by the name Marty Spencer, she said.
Arrest in toxic cocktail case
A western New York woman is accused of mixing up a batch of antifreeze-laced margaritas for her live-in boyfriend, who died four days after drinking the toxic cocktail. State police arrested 51-year-old Cynthia Galens of Farmington on Wednesday and charged her with second-degree murder in the death of 47-year-old Thomas Stack. On Oct. 3, medics summoned to the couple’s home took an unresponsive Stack to hospital, where he died. An autopsy listed the cause of death as “complications of ethylene glycol intoxication,” referring to the active ingredient in automotive antifreeze. Troopers said they were tipped off this week that Galens was involved.
Ministry probes allegations
Authorities are investigating the possible abuse of five Canadians detained in Mexico since Dec. 31 for unknown reasons, an official at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday. “The government of Canada takes all allegations of mistreatment of its citizen very seriously,” Nathalie Sarafian, spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, said in an email. Canadian embassy officials in Mexico have visited the five men on two occasions, she said. The detainees’ identity and the reason for their arrest have not been released because of privacy laws, Sarafian said.
Unruly passenger arrested
Authorities arrested an unruly passenger minutes before takeoff on an airplane bound from Miami to Detroit, after the man shouted that he wanted to “kill all the Jews,” police said on Thursday. Mansor Mohammed Asad, 43, was removed from the Northwest Airlines flight late on Wednesday at the Miami International Airport and charged with disorderly conduct and other offenses, police said. “He is in jail in Miami and facing several charges for threats, disorderly conduct and resisting his arrest without violence. He will be prosecuted,” Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Veronica Ferguson said.
Gay marriage law appeal
Christian groups on Thursday said they had asked Mexico’s attorney general to overturn a newly-passed Mexico City law allowing gay marriage and the possibility of adoption because it was “unconstitutional.” The capital’s legislature approved gay marriage on Dec. 21 in the first such law passed anywhere in Latin America. The Contraternice group of Evangelical churches and the College of Catholic Lawyers believe the new law is unconstitutional, a statement said.
Pins hidden in her shoes, head forced down a toilet, kicked in the stomach: South Korean hairdresser Pyo Ye-rim suffered a litany of abuse from school bullies, but now she is speaking out. The 26-year-old is part of a phenomenon sweeping South Korea known as “Hakpok #MeToo,” where people who were bullied publicly name and shame the perpetrators of school violence — “hakpok” in Korean — decades after the alleged crimes. Made famous globally by Netflix’s gory revenge series The Glory, the movement has ensnared everyone from K-pop stars to baseball players and accusations — often anonymous — can be career-ending, with
One of Australia’s two active volcanoes on an island near Antarctica — known as Big Ben — has been spotted by satellite spewing lava. The lava flow on the uninhabited Heard Island, about 4,100km southwest of Perth and 1,500km north of Antarctica, is part of an ongoing eruption that was first noted more than a decade ago. The image was caught by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite on Thursday, and is a composite of an optical picture and an infrared image. The lava is seen flowing down the side of Big Ben from near the summit, known as Mawson Peak.
TIME TO TALK: Among China’s grievances were economic and trade issues related to Taiwan, but both countries emphasized the need to maintain communication US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪) on Friday raised complaints about China’s state-led economic policies during a meeting with Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao (王文濤), who objected to US tariffs and trade policies, as well as issues related to Taiwan, their offices said. However, statements from the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce emphasized the need for Washington and Beijing to maintain communication on trade. “Ambassador Tai highlighted the need to address the critical imbalances caused by China’s state-led, non-market approach to the economy and trade policy,” the USTR said in a statement released after the
READY FOR ACTION: Military, police, firefighters and volunteers were standing by for search-and-rescue operations, with an official saying they ‘cannot afford not to prepare’ Philippine officials yesterday began evacuating thousands of people, shut down schools and offices and imposed a no-sail ban as Typhoon Mawar approached the country’s northern provinces a week after battering the US territory of Guam. The typhoon was packing maximum sustained winds of 155kpm and gusts of up to 190kph, but was forecast to spare the mountainous region a direct hit. Current projections show the typhoon veering northeast toward Taiwan or southern Japan. Although it is expected to slow down considerably, authorities warned of dangerous tidal surges, flash floods and landslides as it blows past the northernmost province of Batanes from today