Monday, June 30, 2008

Porn block trial complete

THE federal government has completed a trial of blocking pornography and other online content deemed inappropriate for children at the internet service provider level.

A report on the participants and results had been sent to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, Australian Communications and Media Authority spokesperson Donald Robertson said.
Enex TestLab was awarded a tender in January to conduct the closed trials in Tasmania on behalf of the authority.
Tim Marshall, a spokesperson for Senator Conroy, confirmed receipt of the report but said it was too soon to comment on the findings. "The Minister will consider the report and will make comment in due course," Mr Marshall said.
Leading up to the trial, internet content filtering vendors -- both hardware and software -- were invited to participate.
The number of participants is unclear but Senator Conroy has said live field trials would follow soon after the Tasmanian test.
Filters based at internet service providers are meant to block inappropriate web pages and automatically relay a clean feed to households. Before last year's federal election, Labor promised to introduce ISP-based filters to make the web safer for children.

Youth Day laws 'undermine basic rights'

The New South Wales Bar Association says new regulations for World Youth Day undermine basic rights and are an affront to freedom of speech.

Under the new regulations, people who refuse to stop engaging in conduct that causes annoyance or inconvenience to pilgrims can be arrested and fined up to $5,500.

The same provision did not apply during last year's APEC Summit in Sydney.

The association says the terms are too vague and the penalties are excessive.

It says if existing laws are considered sufficient to regulate conduct at events like the Mardi Gras or the Rugby World Cup, they should be good enough to cover World Youth Day.

The Bar Association has also accused the Government of avoiding public scrutiny by creating a criminal offence by regulation, rather than making it an Act of Parliament.

It says the NSW Government is trying to restrict freedom of speech.

Association president Anna Katzmann SC says the laws are ridiculous because any person displaying opposition to the event could be affected.

"If I were to wear a t-shirt proclaiming that World Youth Day is a waste of public money in a World Youth Day-declared area, and I refuse to remove it when an officer, an authorised officer of the Rural Fire Service asks me to do so, then I'm potentially committing a criminal offence," she said.

The Greens say the powers aim to shut down protests and provide a sanitised view of Sydney.

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says the definition of causing annoyance is open to interpretation and the subsequent penalties are excessive.

"If somebody exposes themself to a World Youth Day participant they face a fine of $1,100, but if they wear an anti-Catholic t-shirt, the fine could be $5,500," she said.

But Deputy Police Commissioner Dave Owens says officers will act reasonably in determining what is offensive.

"Police officers do it every day of the week," he said.

"As I've said, they have a discretion. We're not the fashion police, we're not kill-joys."

World Youth Day spokesman Father Mark Podesta rejected suggestions the Catholic Church requested the special powers

Sunday, June 22, 2008

17 teens pregnant after baby 'pact'

A GROUP of under-16s reportedly made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together - and now 17 students at their US school are mums-to-be.

Time magazine reported that 17 girls at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts are expecting babies "more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1200-student school had last year".

"Nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together," Joseph Sullivan, principal of the high school in the fishing and beach town told Time.

The father of one of the babies was a 24-year-old homeless man, Mr Sullivan told the weekly news magazine.

According to the Boston Globe newspaper, other men "involved in the pregnancies are in their mid-20s, a fact that prompted Mayor Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester to ask about statutory rape charges at last month's School Committee meeting".

None of the girls who made the alleged pregnancy pact or their parents agreed to speak with Time, which wrote that Gloucester High "has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers," providing them with on-site childcare and healthcare facilities.

Man 'drunk in charge of a wheelchair'

MOTORISTS had to swerve to avoid a man asleep at the controls of a motorised wheelchair on a north Queensland highway.

Police who breath-tested him allegedly found him to be six times the legal blood alcohol limit.

Police found the 64-year-old man asleep in his wheelchair in a turning lane on the Captain Cook Highway at Stratford north of Cairns on Friday morning.

Passing police noticed him slumped in the wheelchair and stopped to help.

They breathalysed him when they smelt alcohol on him.

He allegedly blew .301, more than six times the legal limit.

He told police he was going 14km to Trinity Beach to visit a friend, most of it on the four-lane highway.

"We'll allege he placed himself in a very dangerous situation," police spokesman Bob Waters said.

"People should be aware that drink-driving laws cover these kinds of vehicles, but also others like horses and bicycles.

The man will appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on July 7

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obesity epidemic: We are the world's fattest

AUSTRALIA'S obesity epidemic has been drastically underestimated, according to the latest comprehensive study showing 9 million adults are fatter than they should be.

The report says Australia is the world's most overweight nation, ahead of the supersized Americans.
Experts are now calling for extreme measures like gym discounting and denial of surgery based on body mass index (BMI) to rectify the situation.
"These might be controversial but they won't just be targeting a small sub-set of Australians," said Simon Stewart, head of preventive cardiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.
"Overweight and obese people now make up the vast majority of us and these are the drastic measures now needed to bring these numbers down."
The report, released ahead of the Federal Government's obesity inquiry, presents the results of height and weight checks carried out on 14,000 adult Australians in 2005.
It gives the most thorough picture of obesity since the AusDiab study in 1999, and Professor Stewart, the author, said it shows the burden has been underplayed.
"Based on the old data and self-reported surveys, we had thought that 7 million adults were obese or overweight, but it is actually 9 million," he said.

The report, entitled Australia's Future Fat Bomb, shows the middle-aged are leading the way, with seven in 10 men and six in 10 women aged 45 to 64 now registering a BMI of 25 or more.
An analysis of the data shows there will be an extra 700,000 heart-related hospital admissions in the next 20 years due to obesity alone.
Almost 125,000 people will die as a result, many prematurely.
"I would regard this as now the biggest threat to our future health," Professor Stewart said.
"As we send our athletes off to the Olympics let's reflect on the fact that we would win the gold medal problem now in the world fat Olympics if there was such a thing.
"We used to be down mid-table, but I'm picking that we're now the gold medal favourites."
The report calls for a national weight loss strategy on the scale of smoking and skin cancer campaigns, including subsidising gym memberships and personal training sessions for heavier people.
Wait lists for surgery could be prioritised on the basis of weight loss.
"These are some of the controversial things we need to deal with because the healthcare system is going to be overwhelmed by weight-related hospitalisations from knee replacements through to heart attacks and strokes."
Professor Ian Caterson, director of the Institute of Obesity, Nutrition and Exercise at the University of Sydney, agreed such measures were needed.
"Governments have to start thinking outside the square because as we get fatter and older as a nation things are just going to get worse," he said.

Police burn $7.6b worth of 'ecstasy oil'

A joint operation between Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Cambodian authorities has led to the destruction of one of the world's largest illegal stockpiles of the oil used as a precursor to manufacture ecstasy.

AFP officers are overseeing the burning of 33 tonnes of safrole-rich oil in Cambodia.

The oil is taken from the sassafras tree, a rare species which only grows in the Cardamom Mountains.

AFP Assistant Commissioner for Border and International Tim Morris says the oil is worth about $7.6 billion.

"That would have been manufactured into the precursor MDP2P in neighbouring countries, then in all likelihood into the production of MDMA or ecstasy tablets," he said.

"It would have produced, by our calculations, 245 million ecstasy tablets and a lot of those would have made their way onto the Australian market."

Assistant Commissioner Morris says six members of the AFP's Specialist Response Amphetamine Type Stimulants team are involved.

"We've moved [the barrels] to a remote area of western Cambodia in a disused quarry and essentially they're burnt," he said.

"This is the best practice way of disposing of these types of oils."

Assistant Commissioner Morris says the burning is the result of three years' hard work by the Cambodian National Police.

"The Cambodians are also trying to preserve their sassafras tree forests in this part of Cambodia which are actually destroyed while extracting the oil," he said.

"So there's a two pronged reason from the Cambodian perspective - saving the sassafras forests but also preventing the production of this safrole-rich oil."

The burn is expected to finish tomorrow.

Guantanamo prisoner cites 2-week sleep deprivation

An Afghan prisoner subjected to 14 consecutive days of sleep deprivation at Guantanamo Bay interrupted his war crimes hearing overnight to ask why a Harvard sleep expert was needed to testify about the effects of such treatment.

"They should give me time to talk about my sleeplessness," defendant Mohammed Jawad said through a Pashto interpreter.

Following last week's US Supreme Court ruling that the 270 Guantanamo prisoners have the right to contest their detention in the US federal courts, Jawad's request was allowed and he was sworn in to testify about his treatment in the prison camp's "frequent flyer" program in May 2004.

"Day and night they were shifting me from one place to another place," he said.

"Nobody answered why they are giving me this punishment."

Jawad is accused in the Guantanamo tribunal with throwing a grenade into a US military jeep at a bazaar in Kabul in December 2002, injuring two US soldiers and their Afghan interpreter.

His military lawyer, Air Force Major David Frakt, asked that the charges be dropped on grounds that Jawad was subjected to banned treatment that violated US law and Defence Department policy.

Over 14 days in May 2004 he was shackled and moved from one cell to another 112 times, on average every two hours and 50 minutes, but with more frequent moves at night "to ensure maximum disruption of sleep," Mr Frakt said in legal documents.

Detention logs indicate Jawad was not interrogated during that time nor for three months afterward, so the treatment may have been done "intentionally to inflict suffering," Mr Frakt wrote.

He said the treatment began five months after Jawad tried to hang himself in his cell, and two months after the military commander in charge of Guantanamo explicitly banned the "frequent flyer" program.

At Mr Frakt's request, Harvard Medical School sleep researcher Dr Janet Mullington testified by video link from the Boston area that sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on humans.

The link-up was plagued by long echoes that lent a surreal aura to the testimony.

The prosecutor noted that after the cell-swapping treatment ended, Jawad was quoted in a Guantanamo medical report as saying he had no "psych problems".

Prosecutors argued in written documents that there is no evidence Jawad was tortured and that even if he was, the remedy is not to dismiss the charges but to exclude any evidence obtained as a result.

Jawad, now 23 and sporting a short, dark beard, is charged with attempted murder and causing great bodily harm.

He was 16 or 17 when Afghan police arrested him and turned him over to US forces.

Boy 'skinned, eaten by family'

A MOTHER is accused of partially skinning her caged son and feeding it to relatives.
Kalra Mauerova, 31, of Brno in the Czech Republic, wept in court as she admitted torturing her son Ondrej, and his ten-year-old brother, Jakub,  The Sun reported.
Ms Mauerova, a member of the Grail Movement cult, caged Ondrej for months while relatives, also members of the cult,  ate his raw flesh, a judge heard yesterday.
The court in Brno heard the family sexually abused the boys and made them cut themselves with knives.
The boys said they were kept in cages or handcuffed to tables and made to stand for days in their own urine.
The abuse was discovered when a man living nearby installed a TV monitor to keep watch on his newborn baby.
Instead of pictures of his newborn he was confronted by live images of Ondrej naked in the cellar — beaten and chained, The Sun reporrted.
Ms Mauerova is understood to have installed the monitor so she could watch her victims suffering from her kitchen.
Police were called, and the boy and his brother, as well as what appeared to be a 13-year-old girl, were freed. 
The teenage girl later turned out to be 34 — and one of the torturers.
Ms Mauerova accused the woman — fellow cult member Barbora Skrlova — of brainwashing her.
"Terrible things have happened. I realise it and can’t understand how I could have allowed it," Ms  Mauerova was reported as saying. 
The court heard the abuse of Ondrej and Jakub was co-ordinated via text messages sent by a leader of the Grail Movement cult — who was known only as the "Doctor".
The trial of Ms Mauerova, another relative and their bogus sister Skrlova — who fled and was later found posing as a boy in Norway — continues.

It's a girl for Britney's sister Jamie Lynn Spears

THE teenage younger sister of pop star Britney Spears has given birth to a baby girl, sources close to her family say.

Jamie Lynn Spears gave birth this morning and has named the child Maddie Briann, People magazine reported.
"Just the family was there," a source told People.  "Everyone is healthy and happy."
Spears, 17, gave birth about 9.30am local time (12.30am today AEST) at a hospital in Mississippi, near her Louisiana hometown, People reported.
The magazine said Jamie Lynn's more famous elder sister, father Jamie and brother Bryan flew to Louisiana yesterday to help prepare for the birth.
Jamie Lynn Spears was 16 when she announced her pregnancy last December, provoking a tabloid firestorm in the US about teenage sex.
As a children's TV star, her pregnancy unleashed questions about its impact on her young viewers, Spears announced her engagement to the baby's father, 19-year-old Casey Aldridge, in March.
Her spokesman was not immediately available for comment. Spears has named the child Maddie Briann

Student in court for 'hacking' test results

IT could be a long time before Omar Khan goes to college: up to 38 years, say US prosecutors, who have arrested and charged the 18 year old with breaking into his prestigious high school and hacking into computers to change his test grades from Fs to As.

If convicted on all 69 counts, including altering and stealing public records, computer fraud, burglary, identity theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy, Mr Khan could spend almost four decades in prison, The Australian reports.

He was being held on $US50,000 ($53,000) bail and was set to appear in court today.

Mr Khan's defence lawyer, Carol Lavacol, described her client as "a really nice kid".

"There's a lot more going on than meets the eye," she said.

Prosecutors claim that between January and May, Mr Khan, who lives in Coto de Caza, one of Orange County's oldest and most expensive gated communities, repeatedly broke into Tesoro High School.

In an alleged plot that resembles the script to the 1986 high school comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, prosecutors claim he used teachers' passwords to hack into computers and change his test scores.

In at least one test, an English exam, Mr Khan had received an F grade because he was caught cheating.

Prosecutors claim the teenager, who is alleged to have broken into the school at night with a stolen master key, changed the grades of 12 other students and installed spyware on school hard drives that allowed him to access the computers from remote locations.

Tesoro High has 2800 pupils and often appears in Newsweek magazine's annual list of best high schools.

Mr Khan's plan, the prosecution argued, was to get a place at one of the colleges within the University of California system.

When his application was rejected, he requested copies of his student records, so he could appeal.

Illegal 'dipping' parties on Google Earth

GATECRASHERS are using Google Earth and Facebook to organise illegal pool parties.

Police said illegal pool parties in Bournemouth and Devon, UK, were arranged using online mapping services and social networks.

The revellers used Google Earth to find local pools then invited hundreds of friends through social networks like Facebook and MySpace, The Daily Mail reported.

The trend, known as "dipping", has become popular during the UK summer. Participants sometimes wear fancy dress and bring bikes for a quick getaway.

Police said some residents had woken to find strangers in their pools, or returned from holidays to find the backyard full of beer cans.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police advised pool owners to be on their guard for revellers seeking a quick dip. He warned prospective swimmers that using someone else's pool was "trespassing and therefore illegal".

Earlier this week, ACT police revealed there had been a string of eBay-related robberies around Canberra after users listed their home address on the auction site.

"Don't give thieves a roadmap to your property," Detective Sergeant Dave Harrison said.

"There's no need to publicly display your address."

Google Earth, however, publicly lists addresses on its satellite mapping service.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Petrol very fucking expensive in FuelWatch spoof

A SPOOF ad has been released on the Federal Government's FuelWatch program, labelling its ability to report on petrol prices as "very f****** expensive". Grassroots political movement, GetUp, said the ad cut right through the Government's rhetoric about high petrol prices. "The ad demonstrates how the Government knows exactly where fuel prices are going - through the roof," GetUp Campaigns Coordinator Ed Coper said. "FuelWatch, or tinkering with the excise, is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic when Australia needs to invest billions towards better public transport and mandatory fuel efficiency standards." The GetUp ads depics FuelWatch headquarters with public servants manning high-tech binoculars and reporting on tomorrow's petrol prices today.

*@&!!: Ramsay scores 80 in 40 mins

This time, Gordon Ramsay may have gone too far.

Upset by the colourful celebrity chef's expletive-ridden tirades, a Senate committee into swearing on television has recommended possible changes to broadcasting standards.

The Senate's environment, communications and arts committee examined the issue after Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi took offence at the British cook's show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

Senator Bernardi today said one episode had contained "the F-word" 80 times in its 40 minutes.

"And I'm not referring to fondue," he said.

The report, unanimously endorsed by the committee, recommended parental lock-out systems should be made an industry standard for all digital televisions sold in Australia.

The report also recommended broadcasters should consider permanently displaying the classification symbol of a program on screen.

The Government should review the Australian Communications and Media Authority's role in the regulatory system, the report said.

The industry should also clarify what is meant by the terms "occasional, some and frequent" coarse language, it said.

Labor committee chair Anne McEwen said submissions to the inquiry showed people were not offended only by Ramsay's coarse language, but the way he used it.

"People were offended by the way Ramsay directed his language towards restaurant staff in an abusive and aggressive manner," Senator McEwen said.

The report also recommends several changes to the way complaints are dealt with.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Girl fights for 'right' to play footy with boys

A 14-year-old girl is attempting use Victoria's new Charter of Human Rights to allow her to play for her local footy team this weekend.

In what could be a precedent-setting case, Evelyn Rannstrom's parents are arguing their daughter should be able to continue playing in the under-14s team at Gembrook Cockatoo Junior Football Club as they push for the finals.
And unless she is cleared to play this weekend, Evelyn won't have played enough games to be eligible for the finals. 
Evelyn - who plays in a protective kevlar vest - has been denied an age exemption by the Dandenong Ranges Junior Football League to play in the under-14s as AFL Victoria rules exclude girls from playing once they turn 14 and discourage them from playing with boys above the level of under-12s.
Earlier this year, Ms Rannstrom's parents lodged complaints against AFL Victoria at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
However this failed and today the case moved to the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal where it was argued that under the terms of Victoria's new Charter of Human Rights, she should be allowed to play.
The Charter became law on July 25 last year.
Barrister Will Alstergren, acting for Evelyn, told VCAT today that they were seeking an injunction to allow his client to play for Gembrook-Cockatoo this weekend.
Mr Alstergren said that with nine games already completed Evelyn would not be eligible to play in the finals if she did not play the remaining six games.
He described Evelyn as "the linchpin of the backline" and said she was one of the team's best players.
Evelyn applied for registration for Gembrook-Cockatoo U14 team but the Dandenong Ranges Junior Football League refused to accept it in February this year.
She has effectively being sidelined since then although she still trains weekly with the team.
Mr Alstergren said that his client was in a bind because the league argued she was too good and too strong to play in the U14s but too weak and in danger of injury if she applied to play in the U15s with a gender exemption.
Mr Alstergren accused the league of using a technical excuse when in fact it might be saying "she's a girl and can't play"

Japan confirms execution of cannibal killer

The notorious Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, a fetishist convicted of murdering four young girls and eating parts of their bodies, has been executed, Japanese officials confirmed.

Miyazaki, 45, was nicknamed the "killer nerd" for his obsession with sexual cartoons and pornography.

But defence lawyers argued he was mentally ill and could not be held fully responsible for his actions.

Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama told a news conference he had signed the order to send Miyazaki and two others to the gallows to "realise justice".

"We are carrying out executions by selecting the people whom we can execute with a feeling of confidence and responsibility," he said.

Japan, the only major industrialised nation other than the United States to apply the death penalty, has come under fire from the European Union and human rights groups for stepping up the pace of executions.

But Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said there was no plan to stop the hangings.

"In Japan, the majority view is that capital punishment should be maintained, so I feel no need to change what we have continued doing until now," he said.

Miyazaki was arrested in July 1989 while trying to take naked pictures of a girl outdoors and the details that emerged from his case stunned Japan.

He confessed to having killed four girls, aged between four and seven, in Tokyo and its suburbs and eating some of the remains of two of them.

Miyazaki mutilated the bodies of the victims, slept next to the corpses and drank their blood.

He sent letters to the media under a woman's name claiming responsibility for the crimes and sent a box containing the remains of one girl to her family.

"The atrocious murder of four girls to satisfy his sexual desire leaves no room for leniency," Chief Justice Tokiyasu Fujita said in January 2006 when he upheld his death sentence.

When police arrested Miyazaki, they found about 6,000 videotapes, many containing horrific footage, at his home in Saitama prefecture, near Tokyo.

During the nearly two-decade judicial process, Miyazaki never uttered a word of remorse to the victims and their families. He cryptically said that a "rat man" -- which he even drew a cartoonish image of -- committed the crimes.

The other two inmates who were executed, Shinji Mutsuda, 37, and Yoshio Yamasaki, 73, were both convicted murders.

'Ned Kelly' protester bails up council meeting

The Mayor of the Hepburn Shire in Victoria cut short a council meeting at Daylesford last night, because of concerns about a Ned Kelly impersonator.

The man, dressed in a coat and metal helmet entered the meeting during public question time.

He was holding a sign protesting against the Council's plan to increase rates for the next financial year.

Mayor Tim Hayes says the man refused to remove his helmet and he had no option but to end the meeting.

"If you let that one pass the wicket-keeper, what else do you hold up as being acceptable?" he said.

"You know, you've gotta draw the line somewhere, and for people to, you know, to be saying that it was a silent protest, I think they've lost the plot quite frankly."

Bill McClenaghan was one of two councillors who refused to leave the meeting, because he believes the Mayor over-reacted.

He says the resident was entitled to protest against the council's budget.

"Councillor Hayes simply did not like his presence, but he was not disrupting the meeting," he said.

"Now, if Councillor Hayes wanted him to go, he should have given him three warnings, and I counted two, and then he should have rung the police and asked (for) him to be removed."

How could toddlers starve to death in suburbia?

IN A home so ordinary it could be on Ramsay Street, twin toddlers have starved to death, left in their cot until a sibling noticed the smell.

Lily Rose and Zadie Vincent Matthews-Jackman lived for just 18 months, at the end of which one weighed four kilograms, the other a little less. Many newborns weigh more.

When their eldest sibling found them dead on Monday, the 11-year-old told their mother: "I know why you've been crying now."

They lay dead for more than a week, in a middle-class house in a middle-class suburb, Sunnybank Hills, in southern Brisbane. They were decomposing as their parents - Kylie Maree Matthews, 30, and Mark Ryan Jackman, 28 - went about their daily lives.

Police arrived about 7pm on Monday, and late yesterday morning the pair faced a Brisbane court, charged with failing to provide their twins with the necessities of life.

Police expect to lay either murder or manslaughter charges this week after post-mortem examinations, although they suspect malnutrition was the cause of death.

The Department of Child Safety said last night the twins were not known to it. Although it investigated an incident involving the family some years ago, it said no evidence was found to justify an intervention.

Matthews appeared in the dock first, barefoot and wearing a brown prison tracksuit. The mother of six was teary at first, before composing herself and staring at the floor.

She did not look up when the police prosecutor, Michelle Clarke, told the court she had replied to the obvious police question - how did they die? - with the words: "I don't think I fed them enough."

She did not look up when the court was told she rarely changed their nappies, that they rarely left their bedroom, or that their siblings rarely saw them.

She did not look up when it heard she had noticed her twins were dead one morning on the June long weekend - either Sunday or Monday - but left their bodies to decay in their cot.

It heard she had a cold, it heard of relationship difficulties between her and Jackman, who sat impassively in the dock after her, but it heard nothing to properly explain why Lily and Zaide were left to die.

Jackman's lawyer, Michael Cridland, said the roadwork project manager had little contact with the twins in the past six months and discovered their deaths only on Monday.

But a police prosecutor, Tina Green, said Jackman lived in the same home and had to walk past the toddlers' bedroom to reach his own.

The magistrate, Noel Nunan, remanded both in custody until tomorrow, when a contested bail hearing is expected after Matthews has a psychiatric evaluation (Jackman has refused one).

Mr Nunan said the circumstances were "bizarre". Similarly troubled were neighbours in the commuter suburb.

Like most of them, Fiona Ma did not know the twins existed. She recalls one of the other children, a boy about four, who appeared healthy but unsupervised.

Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said the family moved into their rented home at Christmas - about the time Jackman says he last saw the twins.

The neighbour heard Matthews swearing at her children but said occasional screaming did not appear out of the ordinary. "We didn't even know there were twins," he said. "No one realised." He said he last saw Matthews on Thursday and she did not appear distressed.

Another neighbour, Nyakong Maying, told AAP she sometimes gave food to the four-year-old. "The youngest boy comes over here and says 'I need something to eat, I'm hungry'," she said. "When they came here about four months ago, I give them some snacks or fruit with my children, but after that I stopped it."

The four other children are being cared for by Matthews's mother

UK is world's biggest arms dealer

Britain was the world's biggest arms seller last year, accounting for a third of global arms exports, the Government's trade promotion organisation said.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) said British arms exporters had added $20.1 billion in new business last year, giving them a larger share of global arms exports than the United States.

"As demonstrated by this outstanding export performance, the UK has a first-class defence industry, with some of the world's most technologically sophisticated companies," Minister for Trade and Investment Digby Jones said.

UKTI said the British figures were boosted by orders for Eurofighter Typhoon jets from Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest arms buyer, which imported $32.8 billion in weapons over the last five years.

The United States still tops the world for the last five years with $66.7 billion in total arms exports.

Britain was second with $56.1 billion and Russia third with $35 billion, it said.

Caustic soda sprinkled on pancakes

FOUR residents of a nursing home became ill after caustic soda was mistakenly sprinkled on their pancakes.

Three women and a man from Edgarley Home in southwest Victoria were admitted to hospital on June 4 after eating the pancakes.

Casterton Memorial Hospital chief executive Owen Stephens said one patient left the same day, two others were kept overnight, and the fourth stayed another day.

"My indication on discussion with the home was that it was an accident," Mr Stephens said.

"It was nothing of a malicious nature."

Comment from Edgarley Home is being sought.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Teens 'stabbed woman 100 times'

TWO teenagers have been charged with murdering a woman who was stabbed and cut more than a 100 times and her 10-year-old son whose head was smashed with a television.
A one-year-old girl was unharmed in the attack, which happened in the woman's home in the US city of Minneapolis last week, the Associated Press reported.

Stafon Edward Thompson, 17, and Brian Lee Flowers, 16, both of Minneapolis, were charged as adults overnight over the murders of Katricia Daniels, 36, and her son, Robert Shepard, the AP said.

Ms Daniels' boyfriend found the bodies last Thursday.

Blood was spattered throughout the house, and bloody footprints, handprints and fingerprints were left behind, according to court documents.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said it appeared Ms Daniels welcomed the teens into her home on June 11 because they knew her 15-year-old son who lives in Chicago.

According to court documents, Stafon and Brian blamed each other for the killings and indicated robbery was the motive.

Mr Freeman said he doubted that because of the extreme violence used, and the fact that the only thing taken was Ms Daniels' cellphone.

"We don't know why this murder was committed and we may never know why. The level of violence associated with this crime is difficult to comprehend and difficult to imagine,'' he said.

The teenagers will appear in court later today.

Fifth human foot washes up in Canada, baffling police

Five human feet that washed ashore on Canada's south-west coast have become an international science puzzle, and have sparked intense speculation about whether murder or a tragedy is the cause.

The fifth foot to wash up in less than 10 months was found by a passer-by on the Fraser River in a suburb of Vancouver, local police officer Sharlene Brooks said.

"[The passer-by] saw a shoe floating in the water, pulled it to the shore and called police," Ms Brooks said.

The feet are all in the care of the British Columbia Coroner's Service, which is being deluged with media calls from around the world, according to Chief Coroner Terry Smith.

"This one stretches everyone's imagination," Coroner Smith said.

"But we really need to remember that these remains are someone's loved one."

"I'm reluctant to treat this as some sort of crime thriller."

Police were tight-lipped about the type of shoe found on the fifth foot, the size of the foot, and the gender of its owner.

However, they did reveal that it is the first left foot to be found.

Annie Linteau of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the other four were all right feet encased in running shoes, which washed up on islands beginning last August.

Ms Linteau said the force's major crime unit was coordinating the investigation with local police.

"We're looking at all possibilities ... and that includes that they could have been connected," she said.

But Ms Linteau said it was not yet clear if a crime had been committed.

"Our examination has found no evidence that the feet were severed, meaning there were tool markings, etc."

Several experts said the feet could have been carried to western Canada on ocean currents from almost anywhere in the world.

It is also possible they originated inland in the province of British Columbia and washed down the Fraser River, said retired American oceanography Professor Curtis Ebbesmeyer of Seattle.

But finding five feet in a row, with no other body parts, suggests that "something is going on that is not natural," said Professor Ebbesmeyer, who researches how ocean currents carry floating objects around the globe.

That body parts can remain intact in water indefinitely expands the possible cause and location of origin, Professor Ebbesmeyer said.

"In a survival suit they can go for years," he said.

Criminologist Gail Anderson of Simon Fraser University, an international specialist in forensic decomposition from microbes and scavengers, said the appearance of five feet is not necessarily sinister.

"I'm beginning to think it might be a boat or plane that went down, and then something shifted, through seismic activity or a boat, that is making it release all these body parts now," she said.

"The reason only feet have been found is because they are in running shoes and protected," Ms Anderson said.

A shoe might also make a foot more likely to float, which means it could have come from "miles and miles away," she said.

Feet normally come apart from legs in water, said Ms Anderson, adding that flesh immersed in water turns into adipocere tissue, a soap-like substance, that no microbes or scavengers like crabs will eat.

Coroner Smith said the coroner's service was testing the feet for DNA while a forensic anthropologist would draw up "a broader profile of the individuals... for height, age, sex, those kinds of things".

He said the first three feet belonged to males, but tests of their DNA have not yet been matched to anyone.

Monday, June 16, 2008

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Italian kidnaps ex-girlfriend to get ironing done

An Italian man was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend from a pub, taking her home and forcing her to iron his clothes and wash the dishes, police said.

The 43-year-old man dragged the woman out of a pub in the port city of Genoa, shoved her into a car and took her to his home where he made her iron and wash dishes after threatening her, they said.

Police arrived at his house after being tipped off by a friend of the woman who watched the scene at the pub.

The man, who was apparently furious at his ex-girlfriend for leaving him, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, police said.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

R Kelly acquitted of making child porn

A jury has acquitted R and B star R Kelly of child pornography charges, finding he did not make an explicit videotape showing him having sex with an underage girl who called him "godfather".

The 41-year-old Kelly, whose given name is Robert, could have faced a sentence of up to 15 years in prison on 14 counts of child pornography.

The eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated about six hours over two days before delivering the not guilty verdict on all counts.

The 26-minute videotape featured oral sex, masturbation and other explicit acts and was handed over to police by a Chicago newspaper reporter in 2002.

It had circulated widely on the underground video market.

Authorities said the tape was shot at Kelly's former Chicago home sometime between January 1998 and November 2000 when the girl was 13 or 14.

The tape was played in court for the jury, and the girl could be heard whispering "daddy" several times.

Family members testified she considered Kelly her "godfather" who frequently gave her cash gifts.

She sang in a group supported by the popular songwriter, singer and producer.

The girl, now 23, did not testify at the three-week trial in Cook County Criminal Court, having previously denied she was the girl on the tape.

Kelly, who has toured and made million-selling albums during the six years since his initial arrest, denied being the man on the tape.

Students told friends dead in police hoax

POLICE and teachers who told a group of Californian high school students that two dozen of their classmates had been killed in road smashes had to admit it was just a hoax when the teenagers became hysterical with grief.
The fake announcement was part of a El Camino High Schol's road safety campaign meant to scare the students off drink-driving. 

To make it seem real, highway patrol officers visited the school on a Monday morning to deliver the grim news explaining why 26 students were missing from class.  The Associated Press reports some students wept, some felt physically ill and others were completely overcome.

Sensing the hoax had gone too far, some teachers decided to break character and tell the grief-stricken students it was not true.

Word quickly spread throughout the school and shock and pain was replaced by fury and disbelief.

One student, named as Michelle, who had been told her friend David had been killed, was quoted as saying: "They got the shock they wanted".  She had been told David had died instantly after a drink-driver crashed into his car.

Another student she felt betrayed by people she is supposed to be able to trust.

When the hoax was revealed, students began screaming in anger at the teaching staff.  At a later assembly, they held signs saying: "Death is real.  Don't play with our emotions", the AP reported.

Those who were slow to hear the news of the hoax then had the added shock of seeing their "dead" friends turn up for class.

School officials are unrepentant.  "They were traumatised, but we wanted them to be traumatised," a guidance counsellor was quoted as saying.

The area's schools superintendent said there had only been a handful of complaints and that it appeared as though the message had got through.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Antarctica base gets 16,500 condoms before darkness

One of the last shipments to a US research base in Antarctica before the onset of winter darkness was a year's supply of condoms, a New Zealand newspaper has reported.

Bill Henriksen, the manager of the McMurdo base station, said nearly 16,500 condoms were delivered last month and would be made available, free of charge, to staff throughout the year to avoid the potential embarrassment of having to buy them.

The base only has a skeleton staff through the long winter.

"Since everybody knows everyone, it becomes a little bit uncomfortable," Mr Henriksen told the Southland Times newspaper.

About 125 scientists and staff are stationed at McMurdo base, the largest community in Antarctica, during the winter months when there is constant darkness.

The first sunrise will occur on August 20 and McMurdo's population will start to increase again in September when supply flights resume, peaking at more than 1,000 during the summer period.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Naked Parents: Children from naturist families tell of being bullied at school

For most teenagers the sight of their parents dancing is embarrassing enough, so the thought of seeing them naked doesn't bare thinking about.

But for a rising number of British families naturism is the norm, with parents indulging in the lifestyle regardless of the impact on their children's lives – despite the fact that many face bullying and teasing at school because of it.

In a revealing new documentary on Channel Five called Naked Parents factory worker Les Sherwood, 48 and wife Sharon, 46, explain how they spend all their time at home in the nude and will only occasionally put on clothes if visitors call round.

The couple admit the situation has caused problems for their sons growing up because they were ridiculed by school friends.

Rod Stewart lookalike Les, who has a Prince Albert piercing on his genitals, said: "It is a personal choice. We are naturists, not porn stars and I think some people struggle with that. We always walk about the house with nothing on. There is nothing wrong with the human body.

"It doesn't matter if you are a doctor, a lawyer or a plumber – when you are naked there is no class difference."

But son Sean revealed that at times the teasing was difficult to bare. He explained: "My dad won a radio station prize after promising to do a nudist bungee jump. Then everyone knew and at school the teasing really started. They would say things like 'you can't afford new clothes' all the time."

The couple are filmed doing their household chores such as cleaning and ironing in the nude and in one scene Les is shown sitting at the kitchen table completely naked, chatting with his other son Stewart's fiance Rachel and young grand-daughter Ruby.

But both boys claim that growing up in naked household has better helped them get on better with opposite sex, because they are less intimidated by women.

Naked Parents also features size 22 Diane Parsons, who along with son James, was introduced to naturism by her third husband David. After years in abusive relationships she revealed how her self esteem had hit rock bottom when she first met David, but that while she had reservations at first both she and her son have now taken up the lifestyle and it has helped with her body issues.

She explained: "I always used to get changed with the lights off and didn't want anyone to seem. Naturism has helped me come to terms with my body. I always felt fat and ugly and now I feel better about my fuller body. I am not 100% there but I am on my way."

Diane claims son James was the first to embrace nudism after watching David cook and clean around the home with no clothes on, and that she later followed their lead.

Actress Goldie Hawn famously revealed that she and partner Kurt Russell often wandered around the house naked, and encouraged their children to do the same

Naturism has enjoyed a renaissance over the past five years with nudist society British Naturism reporting a 700per cent jump in requests for information on nudist holidays and beaches.

The organisation's commercial manager Andrew Welch told the Daily Mail: "The actual number of naturists in the UK is difficult to measure as most people choose to do it at home or on holiday abroad. We have seen a large increase in people trying it out.

"Socially and culturally society is changing and people are starting to be more accepting that the body is nothing to be ashamed of or kept secret."

Mr Welch added that business were increasingly realising the spending power of the "buff pound".

He explained: "Lots of companies are finding that – particularly at quiet times of the year – there is money to be made from hiring out venues to groups of naturists."

Jessica Alba gives birth to daughter - report

US actor Jessica Alba, who married her long-time boyfriend Cash Warren three weeks ago, has given birth to baby girl, according to US Weekly magazine.

Alba, 27, best-known for her roles in the TV drama Dark Angel and the movie Fantastic Four, announced last December that she was pregnant and engaged to Warren.

Alba met Warren, 29, on the set of Fantastic Four in 2004 where he was a director's assistant. Warren has since moved into producing.

US Weekly said Alba gave birth to her daughter at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles over the weekend.

Alba's father was overheard saying "she's beautiful", while Warren - in a T-shirt, jeans and baseball cap - was spotted carrying food into the maternity ward yesterday.
The couple married in a quiet ceremony at the Beverly Hills courthouse on May 19.

Japanese killer 'wrote of stabbing spree on internet'

Police say a disturbed comic-book fan who killed seven people in a stabbing frenzy in downtown Tokyo had advertised what he was going to do on an internet bulletin board.

As stunned mourners placed flowers, sweets and comic-book images at a makeshift shrine, new details have emerged of how he kept a detailed log of his plans to wreak havoc in Akihabara, the hub of Tokyo's comic-book subculture.

The assailant behind Japan's deadliest crime in seven years, 25-year-old Tomohiro Kato, worked on a temporary contract at an auto components factory in central Shizuoka prefecture, police said.

On Sunday, he drove a rented two-tonne truck some 100 kilometres from the town of Susuno to Tokyo, swerving the vehicle into pedestrians before bursting out and stabbing at random with a butcher's knife.

He told police he was "tired of living" and had no motive other than to kill people - anyone he found.

Kato reportedly had a strong interest in comic-book and video-game subculture.

In a school yearbook in which graduating students were asked to describe their personalities, Kato enclosed a picture of an action hero and simply wrote the word "curt," a television report said.

He admitted to police that he documented his journey on internet bulletin boards posted from his mobile phone, a police official said.

"I'll crash my vehicle into people and if the vehicle becomes useless, I'll get out a knife. Goodbye everyone!" one posting said hours before the crime, as quoted by Japanese media.

On a different site, an anonymous posting on May 27 was entitled "A disaster in Akihabara" and warned that an incident would take place on June 5.

Around the crime scene, overnight rain had washed away the bloodstains from the streets of the electronics district, where residents placed flowers and pressed their hands in prayer at a makeshift shrine set amid the neon signs.

In the Japanese tradition, mourners left offerings at the shrine including sweets, coffee, beer and - in a twist befitting Akihabara - comic-book images of action heroes.

"I left coffee because I think that some of the victims will need coffee in the morning," Ukyo Murakami, a 14-year-old boy said on his way to school.

"I'm afraid he did this because he played video games. But he should have known that in life, you can't hit the restart button."

Businesswoman Tomoko Iizuka, 58, was sobbing as she paid her respects with a bouquet of flowers on her way to work.

"The victims included young people with a bright future. Why did he do such a crazy thing?" she said.

"It's all his fault. He deserves the death penalty."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cannabis blunder at Tokyo airport

An unwitting passenger arriving at Japan's Narita airport has received 142g of cannabis after a customs test went awry, officials say.

A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security.

Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in.

Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials.

"This case was extremely regrettable. I would like to deeply apologise," said Narita International Airport's customs head Manpei Tanaka.

Strict laws

The customs officer conducted the test on a passenger's bag against regulations. Normally a training suitcase is used.

"I knew that using passengers' bags is prohibited, but I did it because I wanted to improve the sniffer dog's ability," the officer was quoted as saying.

"The dogs have always been able to find it before... I became overconfident that it would work," he said.

Japan has strict laws against drugs and possession of small amounts of cannabis can lead to a prison sentence.

Mother shopped son for stealing £50,000 of her property after ticking him off for forgetting her birthday

Susan Taylor knew what she had to do when she realised her wayward teenage son was behind a £50,000 burglary at their home.

The mother of three rang the police and shopped 19-year-old Thomas Bradley.
And yesterday, after seeing him sentenced to 40 weeks in a young offenders' institution, she insisted: 'I've no regrets. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

'In a funny way this will probably turn out for the best. He has written letters saying he is sorry and he seems to be on the right track.'

Bournemouth Crown Court heard that Bradley and his mother had a row after he forgot her 52nd birthday in February. He stormed out and went to stay with a friend.

Four weeks later, medical secretary Mrs Taylor returned from work to find someone had sawn the front door off a wardrobe which hid their household safe and stolen jewels including a £7,500 ring.

The rest of the house had been ransacked and property including a prized £5,000 guitar had been stolen. Crucially, the burglar alarm had been turned off, using a secret code known only to the family.

Mrs Taylor and Bradley's stepfather Peter, a building company director, had no hesitation in giving his name to police, who recovered some of her jewellery.

In court, Bradley pleaded guilty to the burglary. Defence counsel Iain Ross said: 'The enormity of what he has done has only now come home to roost - betraying the love and nurturing his parents gave him.'

Bradley's friend Tariq Khan, 33, a drug addict, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting helping with the break-in and committing two separate burglaries.
After the hearing Mrs Taylor, from Bournemouth, said her son had enjoyed a good upbringing and went to a local Roman Catholic grammar school, where he passed three A-levels.

But he fell in with the wrong crowd and started smoking cannabis. Mrs Taylor said: 'He is an intelligent lad but he has never been particularly streetwise and has been easily led.

'He never decided what he wanted to do in life. Me and his step-dad are reasonably comfortably off, but I don't think he has realised how much hard work has gone into that. You don't get much out of life sitting on your backside.'

Mrs Taylor, who also has grown-up children of 27 and 29, said: 'Tom became very volatile and unresponsive because he was smoking cannabis. When I had my 52nd birthday and got nothing in the post from him, not even a text message, I got wound up over it.

'He eventually turned up the next day and his attitude was as though it was almost wrong of me to be upset.'

Mrs Taylor said the stress of the affair has affected her health and she had had to give up her job. But she and Tom are now getting on better than they have for years.

She said: 'He has been in prison for three months on remand and he has turned into a nice, likeable young man. I write to him every week and have visited him twice.
'Tom is my son and I love him but I want him to stay in prison until he has sorted himself out.'

Mrs Taylor said that since Bradley has been locked up his girlfriend has given birth to a baby son. Although the pair split up several months ago, she has said she is willing to give him a second chance when he comes out.

Mrs Taylor said: 'I have told him he is very, very lucky. If he messes this up then I will come down on the side of her and the baby and will probably disown him.'

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Men arrested after 721 murders

IRAQI police in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala have arrested five men wanted in connection with 721 murders committed over a period of 18 months.

Major General Raed Shaker Jawdat, head of police in the central city, said the men were questioned about the sectarian murders and they said the victims were loyalists of the Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
"When we searched the background (of the victims), we found that only 11 of the 721 were in fact Baathists," General Jawdat said.
He said the five men in custody were supected of leading a criminal gang of some 150 people.
Investigators have found mass graves containing the victims of the wave of killings, some of them women or children.
Police did not give a date for the arrests, saying only that they were made recently.
Police identified the suspects as Ali Abdel Taan, who is also known as Ali Shariia, Sayed Monadhel, Muhsen Shariia, Haidar Jouri and Razzak al-Samman.
The suspects are also accused of torturing their victims at a mosque.

Body Painting by JoelDeluxe

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