Mumbai plotter not proud
An American-Pakistani who helped plot the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks came close on Thursday to expressing remorse for the bloody strikes in which 166 people were killed and hundreds more wounded. David Coleman Headley, who has admitted 12 terror charges arising out of the attacks on India’s financial capital, said during the Chicago trial of his friend, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, that he was no longer proud of the attacks. Toward the end of nearly three hours of cross examination, defense attorney Patrick Blegen asked Headley: “You were proud of it [the attacks] then?” “Yes,” Headley replied. “Are you still proud of it today?” Blegen asked. “No,” Headley replied without a moment’s hesitation. There was no explanation as to why he felt differently now, as the hearing then adjourned until Tuesday.
London cleans up for Games
London prostitution, strip tease bars, canal boats and the homeless are being cleared away as the city prepares to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Serious Crime Directorate 9, a unit of the Metropolitan Police, conducted 127 brothel raids since it was formed in April last year, according to police data. The City of London Corp, which governs the capital’s main financial center, voted on May 5 not to grant sexual entertainment licenses to clubs and pubs. Houseboat residents near the Olympic development site in east London say British Waterways is attempting to cleanse the area, said Nick Brown, legal officer for the National Bargee Travellers Association.
Granny allegedly robs men
Police are searching for an elderly woman who allegedly persuades young men at a mall to help carry heavy bags from her car, then kidnaps them from the parking lot and robs them. The woman, who works with two male accomplices, targets shoppers standing in bank queues at a mall in Johannesburg’s Soweto township and has struck at least twice recently, the New Age newspaper reported yesterday. “I never suspected anything wicked about the old woman as she looked like a pensioner and had a walking stick,” 18-year-old victim Kabelo Dube told the newspaper. He said he was waiting in line to deposit money at the bank when a young man approached and asked him for help unloading the old woman’s bags. He began to help with the bags, but then felt a gun pressed against his head and was ordered to get in the car, he said. The woman and her two accomplices then drove a short distance from the mall, took his money and forced him out of the car, he said.
Senior fights off mugger
An 89-year-old Australian woman who used a handbag to beat off a knife-carrying would-be robber said yesterday she would do it all again, adding she would have “killed him if I could.” The woman, known only by the pseudonym Jean, was chatting with two friends in an underground car park in Melbourne on Thursday after buying a bottle of wine to enjoy after a day’s shopping when a “grubby” man approached. When he allegedly held a knife to the throat of Jean’s 82-year-old lifelong friend and demanded her handbag, Jean acted without hesitation. “I thought he was going to kill [her] and I wasn’t going to have that, and I just hit him with my bag on his face,” Jean said. The man fled after a male passer-by came to the defense of the women, but not before their 71-year-old companion had memorized the number plate of the stolen car he used to escape.
Regret over Chinese ban
Lawmakers launched a drive on Thursday for Congress to make an official statement of regret for the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned immigration by Chinese workers and their naturalization as US citizens. After years of grassroots campaigning by Asian Americans, members of Congress from both major parties unveiled a bill saying that the US “deeply regrets” the exclusion act and discrimination against ethnic Chinese. “For a generation of our ancestors, including my own grandfather, who were told for six decades by the US government that the Land of the Free wasn’t open to them, it is long past time that Congress officially and formally recognizes these ugly laws and expresses sincere regret,” said Representative Judy Chu, who heads the Asian-American caucus.
‘Mob boss’ denied bail
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the reputed boss of the Philadelphia mob and an alleged high-ranking associate held without bail on racketeering and gambling charges, despite hearing arguments from defense attorneys that the indictment does not accuse them of committing violent acts that would make them a danger to the community. Judge Timothy Rice denied bail for Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi, pointing to Ligambi’s criminal record, evidence that he has a history of intimidating witnesses and his alleged stature as head of Philadelphia’s La Cosa Nostra.
Court backs Arizona law
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Arizona law that allows the state to shut down businesses that hire illegal immigrants, a ruling arising from the fierce national debate on immigration policy. The decision could spur other states and cities to adopt their own tough anti-immigration measures in the workplace. At least eight other states have laws similar to Arizona’s. By a 5-3 vote, the high court rejected arguments by business and civil rights groups and by President Barack Obama’s administration that the Arizona measure must be struck down for conflicting with federal immigration law.
Protest turns violent
Hundreds of demonstrators mobbed government buildings and burned police cars in the southeastern city of Puno as a protest against mining firms intensified 10 days before a presidential election. About 5,000 protesters have descended on the city over the past two weeks to demand concessions be revoked for mining companies they say will contaminate their lands. Roads to neighboring Bolivia are now blocked, paralyzing commerce. President Alan Garcia earlier this week authorized the army to help maintain order in Puno, but it has yet to use force to end the protests.
Sex culprit caught in the act
California authorities said a registered sex offender who was banned from using the Internet was arrested while browsing Facebook — next to a sheriff’s detective in an Apple store. Investigators said Robert Nicholas McGuire, 35, was spotted on Wednesday in San Luis Obispo by the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team and was followed to the retailer. He was recognized from a previous child pornography case. The San Luis Obispo County Tribune reported that McGuire logged on to a display computer and a detective went to the system next to him and pulled up the Megan’s Law sex offender Web site, which showed McGuire is prohibited from using the Internet.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big