Red Cross emblem dropped
A nurse in a Robin Hood stage show had to change her costume after the Red Cross warned the theater company in Glasgow that the use of its emblem on the dress could violate the Geneva Conventions. Glasgow’s Pavilion Theater had a nurse character in the pantomime show wearing a costume with red crosses on her hat and tunic — but changed the crosses to green after the British Red Cross objected.
Gunmen abduct Frenchmen
Heavily armed members of the security forces were combing the center of Niamey yesterday after gunmen abducted two Frenchmen from a restaurant in front of shocked diners and staff. Two armed men burst into the Toulousain restaurant in the city center when it was crowded with diners late on Friday and forced the two men to follow them, staff and diners said. They were taken to a four-by-four vehicle with Benin plates in which other armed men were waiting and then driven off at speed. The incident happened between 10:30pm and 11:30pm. A security source confirmed the abduction, while a police source said that one of the two abducted men had arrived that same day to attend a wedding. Witnesses said both abductors wore turbans and one customer at the restaurant said the two had fair skin and had spoken Arabic.
Soldier dies in ‘accident’
A soldier died on Friday and four were injured in an accidental explosion during an exchange of gunshots and mortar fire with Palestinians along the Gaza border, an army spokesman said. A unit came across three “terrorists” apparently trying to place explosive devices near the security barrier that separates Gaza from Israel, he said. They opened fire, but for an “unknown reason” a mortar they tried to fire exploded, “accidentally” killing one soldier and injuring four others, including an officer, the spokesman said.
Lightning-hit plane lands
A passenger jet with 35 people aboard landed safely at an airport on New York’s Long Island after being struck by lightning. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and an airline spokesman said US Airways Express flight 4507 from Philadelphia to New Haven, Connecticut, was diverted to Long Island MacArthur Airport in the town of Islip on Friday afternoon as a precaution. FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the pilot reported electrical problems with the aircraft after the lightning strike. The plane had originally been scheduled to land at 2:30pm. It was unclear when it was diverted.
Toilet apartheid sparks row
As the country gears up for its annual carnival festivities, a row has broken out over toilets for the exclusive use of gays and transvestites in samba schools readying for the event. Protesters claim the recent designation in the premises of Unidos de Tujuca, one of the top Rio de Janeiro samba schools preparing a parade for the March 4-9 carnival, resembles the forced separation of blacks and whites in the past. “They are carnival apartheid!” Claudio Nascimento, the head of a government anti-homophobia program, raged to reporters. But defenders of the segregated conveniences said they provided a safe area for gays and transvestites. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people merely have the option to use the special bathrooms and can still opt to go to the ordinary ones, they said
Prosecutors to share disc
Prosecutors in Detroit were ordered on Friday to turn over a computer disc containing more than 30,000 names allegedly linked to an international prostitution ring based in Florida. District Judge Arthur Tarnow granted a defense lawyer’s request for the disc, but said the contents cannot be copied, printed or shared with anyone besides the lawyer’s client, Greg Carr. Carr has been charged with conspiring to run a prostitution ring. Prosecutors say his company spent a decade arranging high-priced trysts in many large US cities, along with Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica. The prosecution held up the disc in court on Friday and described it as the “so-called black book” of the business. Carr’s lawyer Paul DeCailly, who said he’s entitled to see all evidence as he prepares for trial, asked the judge to intervene in a dispute over viewing the contents.
‘Queen’ turned over to US
Bogota turned over a woman known as “the queen of amphetamines” to US authorities on Friday to face drug trafficking charges in New York, police said. Beatriz Elena Henao, 45, arrested on Sept. 1, 2009, was extradited along with two others wanted in the US on money-laundering charges. Police said Henao rose to prominence as a multilingual wheeler and dealer who during the 1990s shipped more than 300,000 units of amphetamines to the US, Spain and the Netherlands.
Fare jumper’s girl survives
A woman’s bid on Tuesday to avoid paying a train fare almost cost her the life of her daughter. The girl is miraculously alive after her mother lowered her onto the tracks just as a train was coming into the station in Buenos Aires, according to surveillance video. Video released on Friday by the commuter rail operator shows the woman guiding the child underneath the platform, apparently trying to hide from ticket collectors. The woman appears set to join the child hiding under the platform when suddenly she sees the train approaching. The woman scrambles back up onto the platform, but her daughter remains below, the video shows. As the train comes to a stop, the woman bends over and peers into the gap between the train and platform, apparently checking for the girl. Workers were able to crawl underneath the platform where they found the girl terrified but unharmed, safely ensconced inside a tiny nook.
No details on defector: US
The US Department of State has no information about the whereabouts or status of a leading government trade expert whom Miami media reports said had fled the island, a US official said on Friday. El Nuevo Herald newspaper and several Cuban-American Web sites reported that Pedro Alvarez, 67, the former head of the state food importing company Alimport and a key figure in legal purchases of US farm products over the last decade, had defected to the US.
‘Harry Potter’ suit dismissed
A judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit accusing Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling of copying the work of another author when writing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. However, the estate of late author Adrian Jacobs, which said the plot of Goblet of Fire copied parts of his book Willy the Wizard, including a wizard contest, vowed to continue its legal action in Britain’s High Court. Jacobs’ estate said it regretted the decision and was considering whether to lodge an appeal.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since