Comedian returns home
After sailing and running around the planet for the past two years, comedian Kanpei Hazama, 61, set foot on native soil again yesterday, proclaiming that “the Earth really is round.” Thousands of well-wishers greeted the television personality as he sailed from China to dock at the southwestern Fukuoka harbor in cold rain, completing the last maritime stage of his “Earth Marathon.” “Thank you!” Hazama told his fans, wiping tears away with his sleeve, before hugging his wife and grandchildren and saying: “I’ve made it!” The final leg will see Hazama run another 620km to finish his epic journey at a concert at Osaka castle on Jan. 21. The comedian set off in December 2008, first sailing across the Pacific then running across North America, sailing across the Atlantic, and putting on his running shoes again to traverse the Eurasian continent. A year ago in Turkey he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, forcing him to temporarily suspend the journey, but after receiving medical treatment in the US he was back on the road in June.
Uighur sentenced to death
A news report says a 19-year-old Uighur woman has been handed a suspended death sentence for taking part in deadly ethnic riots in western China in 2009. It says she is the second woman to receive the death penalty for the unrest. US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia says Pezilet Ekber was working as a saleswoman at a shop in Urumqi when the July 5, 2009, riots broke out. The report cites a letter from a classmate of the woman as saying Ekber was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. Such punishments are usually commuted to life in prison.
No push for vote: opposition
The main opposition group will not push for a no--confidence vote against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani because to demand such a vote would exacerbate instability, the party said yesterday. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) believes a vote would “damage the whole country,” party chairman Raja Zafar-ul-Haq said. The PML-N’s decision means Gilani’s fragile government could survive after a key partner withdrew on Sunday.
Bomb kills police officer
A bomb exploded in central Kabul early yesterday, killing one police officer and wounding three other people, a government official said, on the one-year anniversary of the country’s Constitution. The blast, a rarity in Kabul, served as a grim reminder of the insurgents’ ability to strike at will across the country.
Tunneling thieves rob bank
Thieves dug a 30m-long ventilated and lit tunnel from a neighboring building into a bank and emptied the contents of up to 140 safety deposit boxes, officials said on Monday. Authorities said three thieves entered a Banco Provincia branch in the Buenos Aires District of Belgrano on New Year’s Eve when it was closed and spent the weekend opening and emptying between 130 and 140 of the branch’s 1,408 boxes. The robbery was not discovered until the bank opened on Monday. Bank executives were unable to say how much the thieves stole because clients are not obliged to tell authorities what was in their safety deposit boxes.
Murderer receives windfall
A man imprisoned for killing his mother-in-law can look forward to a life of ease thanks to a tidy inheritance — from his victim, a report said on Monday. Brandon Palladino, a 24-year-old heroin addict, is doing 25 years minus time served after killing his in-law during an attempted jewelry theft, the New York Post reported. However, in a twist of fate, he stands to enjoy at least US$250,000 in assets that the victim left to Palladino’s wife, who has also since died, leaving everything to her imprisoned husband.
Transport workers targeted
Bus drivers paid US$1.5 million in extortion money to organized crime rings last year, according to a police report out on Monday. Over the course of last year police arrested more than 500 criminals and charged them with trying to extort money from business owners and workers. Some of those charged were members of the notorious Mara 18 street gang, according to Donald Gonzalez, a spokesman with the national civil police.Public transport workers appear to be at particular risk. Human rights groups said that between January and November, 119 drivers and 51 transport aides were shot dead.
Release sought for fugitive
Lawyers for an Italian fugitive sentenced in his home country to life in 1993 for a series of murders in the 1970s when he was a member of a radical left-wing group, asked the high court on Monday to order him freed after former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva refused to extradite him, sources close to the case said. Cesare Battisti’s lawyer, Renata Saraiva, said that with the high court on a vacation recess, the justice on call can decide on his own to authorize the release, or consult with the other justices. His lawyers argued that he has been detained in Brazil since 2007, and since Lula decided he should not be extradited to Italy, should now be released.
Rouseff chats with UN head
President Dilma Rousseff and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke by telephone on Monday about the UN Security Council — a body on which Brazil has long tried to secure a permanent seat. “The UN secretary general called the president to congratulate her on her inauguration, and they spoke for 15 minutes about current events, especially the Security Council,” Rousseff’s advisor on international affairs, Marco Aurelio Garcia, told reporters. Garcia pointed out that Brazil is a temporary member of the council and would hold its rotating presidency next month. Rousseff and Ban also discussed Brazil’s participation in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, with the president saying her country would continue to contribute to the earthquake-devastated Caribbean nation.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
‘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