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.
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