Malls ban wearing caps
Police in the capital have banned the wearing of caps in shopping malls to stop criminals concealing their identity from security cameras. The ban was imposed after a gang of hammer-wielding robbers looted a jewelry store at a popular suburban Manila shopping mall on Dec. 15. The suspects are believed to have used baseball caps to hide their identities. Police officials for Manila and its suburbs met with shopping mall security officials last week, telling them to bar people wearing caps from entering as a security precaution, Metro Manila police spokesman Chief Inspector Robert Domingo said. “We studied their strategies. If they want to commit a crime, they wear caps. That way, the [closed-circuit] TV will not be able to photograph their faces,” he said yesterday. He said mall security guards had been instructed to politely ask those wearing caps or any hats that may hide their faces, not to wear them inside.
Afghans set up camp
About 200 Afghan asylum
seekers and their supporters set up camp late on Sunday in the western town of Mons, demanding to see Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to press for residency papers. The demonstrators had marched 70km from Brussels to see Di Rupo, who is also mayor of Mons. After learning the prime minister was on a trip abroad and would not return until yesterday, they vowed to camp out in Mons’ main square — decked out in Christmas decorations and vendors — until they could see him. The Afghans had been occupying a Brussels church for four months in a protest demanding permission to legally stay in the country. The archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Andre Leonard, has lent his support to their campaign. While Di Rupo has expressed some sympathy for their plight, his state secretary for asylum, Maggie De Block, has taken a harder line, saying the Afghans’ requests would be processed as for any other would-be refugee.
Airports shut due to strike
Authorities shut the nation’s international airports yesterday after workers at its civil aviation authority went on strike, officials at the transport ministry and airports said. The strike was due to a dispute with the finance ministry over the independence of the civil aviation authority, an official at the transport ministry said. The finance ministry froze the authority’s funds, he said. “The strike is ongoing until our demands are met,” the official said, declining to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly to media. Officials at Sana’a, Aden and Mukalla airports confirmed the shutdown.
Coalition deaths grow to 8
NATO says an attack in an eastern province has killed one of its service members.
A statement from the US-led coalition says the soldier died after coming under direct fire by enemy forces yesterday. The coalition, known as the International Security Assistance Force, provided no other details or the nationality of the killed soldier. Insurgents have increased attacks in recent months, intensifying a campaign to regain territory as foreign forces draw down ahead of a full withdrawal at the end of next year. Yesterday’s death brings to eight the number of coalition deaths so far this month. On Tuesday last week, six US soldiers died when their Black Hawk UH-60 went down during a mission in Zabul.
Officer tried for saving cat
A question is to be raised in parliament over the case of an army officer who was sent for trial at a military court last week for saving the life of a dying cat. Lieutenant Barbara Balanzoni, a reservist who has since returned to her civilian job as an anesthetist in Tuscany, is charged with gross insubordination. She committed the alleged offense while serving as medical officer at a NATO base in Kosovo. It is claimed that, by attending to the cat, Balanzoni disregarded an order issued by her commanding officer in May last year forbidding troops at the base from “bringing in or having brought in wild, stray or unaccompanied animals.” She faces a minimum sentence of one year in a military penitentiary. Balanzoni said she intervened after receiving a call to the infirmary from military personnel, alarmed by the noises the cat was making. Balanzoni said the veterinary officer was in Italy when she received the call. “Far from disobeying orders, I was following military regulations, which state that, in the absence of a vet, the medical officer should intervene,” she said. She said she found that the cat had been unable to deliver the last of her kittens, which was stillborn and certain to die.
Harris facing more charges
Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris, who stands trial in April accused of indecently assaulting two underage girls, is to face three further charges of sexual assault, the public prosecutor said yesterday. “The three counts will be prosecuted in addition to the 13 alleged sexual offenses with which Mr Harris was charged on 29 August 2013,” a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said. The prosecutor said the additional charges are for assault, relating to a girl aged 19 in 1984; indecent assault on a girl aged seven or eight in 1968 or 1969; and indecent assault on a girl aged 14 in 1975. Harris, 83, already faced nine counts of indecent assault, as well as four counts of making indecent images of children.
Teen saved by her glasses
A teenage girl avoided serious injury when her glasses deflected a bullet fired during a drive-by shooting at her Seattle home, police said on Sunday. The 16-year-old was asleep on her living room couch at about 9:40pm on Saturday when shots were fired from a dark-colored sedan as it passed her house, Seattle police spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson said. Several bullets went through the walls of the house and one through the front window, Jamieson said. One of the bullets struck the bridge of the teen’s glasses, he said. She suffered only minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital, he added. “She is very, very fortunate,” Jamieson said.
In Texas, it’s Pancho Claus
He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat — though often it is a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit, and he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros. Meet Pancho Claus, the Tex-Mex Santa. Amid all the talk about Santa Claus’ race, spawned by a Fox News commentator’s remarks that both Santa and Jesus were white, there is, in the Lone Star State, a Hispanic version of Santa — handing out gifts to low-income and at-risk children. “We have kids that we ask: ‘Did Santa Claus come to see you?’ and they say: ‘No he didn’t, but Pancho Claus did,’” said Robert Narvaiz, vice commander for Lubbock’s American GI Forum.
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
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
WEIGHING THE RISKS: One biogeochemist said that the known risks of disease from not sterilizing baby bottles outweighed that of microplastics Bottle-fed babies might ingest more than 1 million pieces of microplastics each day, new research showed on Monday, highlighting the abundance of plastics in our food products. There is growing evidence that humans consume huge numbers of the tiny particles, formed when larger pieces of plastic break down, but very little is known about the knock-on health consequences. Researchers in Ireland looked at the rate of microplastic release in 10 types of baby bottles or accessories made from polypropylene, the most commonly used plastic for food containers. They followed official guidelines from the WHO on sterilization and formula preparation conditions. Over a 21-day