Three Iranians arrested
Police said yesterday they had arrested an Iranian policeman and two sportsmen caught smuggling methamphetamines into the country. Central Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the three were arrested at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Saturday morning after they were found behaving suspiciously when having their bags screened by customs. “The three Iranians are a policeman from the country’s sports division, a volleyball player and a martial arts exponent,” he said. “When police inspected their bags, they found the metal handles of their trolley bags filled with methamphetamines.” The haul has a street value of about 1 million ringgit (US$313,000).
Missing man ‘taken by North’
The head of an anti-North Korean radio station in Seoul says his missing correspondent in the Chinese border city of Dandong has been taken by North Korean security officials. Kim Seong-min said on Saturday night that the 50-year-old defector was taken near the Yalu River on Feb. 19 while waiting to meet his wife and son from North Korea. Kim, who is also a defector, said he recently received the information from a contact inside North Korea. Kim said he believes the defector is one of four South Koreans who North Korea’s state media has said illegally entered the North.
■PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Quake strikes east coast
An earthquake struck the east coast of Papua New Guinea yesterday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, officials said. The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.3 quake occurred at about 9:15am in the Pacific island nation and that the epicenter was 29km east of the city of Lae.
China top military concern
Tokyo is boosting its intelligence resources devoted to China’s growing military, which it considers the top national security concern, the business daily Nikkei reported yesterday. The defense ministry-affiliated National Institute for Defense Studies has established a task force of six researchers to examine China’s national security strategy, the daily said. It will study the strategic thinking guiding the People’s Liberation Army, the purpose of its recent military buildup and its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, the daily said. The team will be expanded into a fuller unit in two or three years, Nikkei said. China’s military budget has risen steadily in recent years, but much remains unknown about the size of its military forces and the equipment they use.
Canoes to retrace migration
Nearly 1,000 years after the last of the great Polynesian migration journeys across the Pacific, a group of descendants set sail in a fleet of replica canoes yesterday to relive the voyages. Four double-hulled canoes with crews of up to 16 people each departed from Auckland to sail 4,000km to the French Polynesian island of Raiatea. Raiatea is believed to have been the departure point for the last great Polynesian migrations to New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island about 700 to 1,000 years ago. The crews from New Zealand, Fiji, the Cook Islands and a multi-national crew from Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga expect it will take 20 to 25 days before they reach land. They will then be joined by a Tahitian crew for a 1,200km voyage to the Cook Islands before returning to their home ports.
Pasaban scales Annapurna
Spanish climber Edurne Pasaban scaled one of the deadliest Himalayan peaks, Annapurna, on Saturday, leaving her with just one more mountain to climb to become the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest peaks. Pasaban, 36, reached the top of the 8,091m mountain along with several other Spanish climbers at around 2pm, a spokesman for her team said. She now has just the 8,027m Shisha Pangma to scale in her bid to be the first female to reach the summit of every mountain over 8,000m, but her chief rival, South Korea’s Oh Eun-sun, is also on the slopes of Annapurna, which would be her 14th and last summit. Annapurna is particularly dangerous because it is both technically difficult and avalanche-prone, and it has a much higher death rate than Everest, the world’s highest peak. Pasaban had been defeated by Annapurna once before, in 2007, when she and her team turned back about 1,000m from the summit in bad weather.
Black pepper, not people
A publisher is reprinting 7,000 cookbooks over a recipe for pasta with “salt and freshly ground black people.” Penguin Group Australia’s head of publishing, Bob Sessions, acknowledged the proofreader for the Pasta Bible should have picked up the error, but called it nothing more than a “silly mistake.” The Pasta Bible recipe for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto was supposed to call for black pepper. The reprint will cost Penguin A$20,000 (US$18,500), but books already in stores will not be recalled because doing so would be “extremely hard,” Sessions said. There was no answer at Penguin’s offices yesterday.
Stranded couple wed online
A British-Australian couple’s wedding guests watched them take their vows over the Internet on Saturday after the volcanic ash cloud disrupting European flights left them stranded in Dubai. Sean Murtagh, 24, from west London, and his new wife Natalie, a 30-year-old Australian, were married at a civil wedding in Brisbane three weeks ago, but they also planned a ceremony for family and friends in Ealing, west London. Flying back from their home in the Queensland capital for the ceremony, however, they found themselves stuck when they changed planes in Dubai on Thursday. Staff at their airport hotel helped them take their vows over the Web. “They have decorated the lobby of the hotel. They made us a three-tier wedding cake, set up a laptop with Skype and a projector,” Sean Murtagh said. The groom even borrowed his smart shirt and trousers while the bride wore a dress she had in her luggage. Caroline Black, who conducted the online ceremony from London, said: “It was just like any other wedding, except the bride and groom weren’t there.”
First president’s fines unpaid
If George Washington were alive today, he might face a hefty overdue library fine. New York City’s oldest library says one of its ledgers shows that the first US president has racked up 220 years’ worth of late fees on two books he borrowed, but never returned, the Daily News newspaper reported. One of the books was the Law of Nations, which deals with international relations. The other was a volume of debates from Britain’s House of Commons. Both books were due on Nov. 2, 1789. New York Society Library head librarian Mark Bartlett says the institution isn’t seeking payment of the fines, but would love to get the books back.
Mafia fugitive recaptured
Authorities say they’ve caught a Mafia-affiliated fugitive who spent two days on the run after kicking his way out the door of a prison van in Kentucky. Marshals Service spokesman Craig Smith said 37-year-old Derek Capozzi was captured without incident in Versailles, Kentucky, on Saturday afternoon. Capozzi escaped from custody on Thursday. He had been in Kentucky to testify in a federal trial. In 2005, Capozzi was identified by federal prosecutors in Massachusetts as a member of a Mafia-affiliated drug gang that killed a 19-year-old woman suspected of cooperating with investigators. Capozzi was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison for helping to dismember and hide the body. Authorities said he also was serving time for trying to kill a correctional officer.
Lynx’s return unfortunate
Wildlife officials say a lynx trapped in Alberta and released in southwestern Colorado in 2003 traveled 1,930km back to the northern country, where it got caught in a trap and died earlier this year. The nine-year-old lynx made it to near Nordegg, Alberta, about 386km northeast of Kamloops, British Columbia, where it was first captured for release in Colorado as part of a lynx reintroduction program, the Denver Post reported. Colorado Division of Wildlife officials put a radio collar on the lynx and followed it for years before losing contact in 2007. Researchers say it fathered kittens in 2005 and 2006. A trapper in Canada contacted wildlife officials after finding the collar when the lynx got caught in a trap on Jan. 28.
Porn for the blind published
Photographer Lisa Murphy believed the blind lacked access to our “much sexualized” world, so she decided to create a new kind of pornography, with tactile images, the first designed especially for the blind. “We live in a society that is much sexualized — just look at advertising — but if you can’t see then you are probably not aware of how sexualized it is and I believe that vision-impaired people have been [wrongly] left out of the experience,” she said. “Of course, anyone can find it erotic, not just the vision-impaired.” The book, Tactile Mind, features pages made of thermoform plastic — the same material used for Braille. Each page contains raised images of naked men and women in various poses, some wearing masks or in suggestive bondage, along with titillating phrases in Braille. Murphy photographed friends in costumes and masks which she then transformed into fine sculptures — a process that took more than 50 hours per image.
Actress, husband arrested
Mexican-born actress Fernanda Romero has had bit parts in such movies as the horror film Drag Me to Hell, but federal prosecutors say her biggest act was pretending to be a bride. The 28-year-old actress and her husband were arrested on Friday at their separate Los Angeles homes and charged with marriage fraud, the attorney’s office said. They contend Romero paid Kent Ross, 28, to marry her in 2005 so that she could become a US resident. Authorities said the two never lived together and that Romero submitted phony documents with her residency application. An investigation began after Romero’s former boyfriend, fashion photographer Markus Klinko, told immigration authorities her marriage was a sham. If convicted, Romero and Ross could be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison.
Fake surgeons arrested
Police have arrested a man and woman accused of impersonating plastic surgeons and providing women with silicon breast and buttock implants from an illegal clinic in an apartment. Reinaldo Henriquez was charged with aggravated fraud, while sidekick Hersi Rodriguez was accused of aiding and abetting him by recruiting clients and taking them to their surgery in the western city of Maracay, the attorney general’s office said. Henriquez, 26, and Rodriguez, 34, are beauticians who belonged to a gang called “The Silicons” and attracted customers with rock-bottom prices, local media reported. Police were tipped off by a former client and caught the suspects on April 12 in a raid of the apartment, which contained surgical equipment and a surgical table.
Cold kills off pythons
An unseasonably cold winter in Florida may have taken care of what python hunters could not. Not a single python has been caught since the state started allowing hunters with special permits to track the snakes on state-managed lands around the Everglades. The season started March 8 and ended on Saturday. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says cold weather is believed to have killed up to half of the pythons. They are a problem because they have few natural predators in Florida and are feeding on native wildlife, including endangered species. Officials say pet owners often free their snakes and reptiles when they get too big. They also think some Burmese pythons may have escaped from pet shops during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete