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Mon, 05 Jun 2023
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Facebook 'Planking' Craze Claims Life in Australia

© Agence France-Presse
Ambulances in Cairns. A new craze sweeping the Internet known as "planking" has claimed a life in Australia with a man attempting the fad plunging to his death from a balcony Sunday
A new craze sweeping the Internet known as "planking" claimed a life in Australia Sunday and police fear the tragedy may not be the last.

Planking involves someone lying flat on their stomach with their arms against their bodies in unusual and sometimes dangerous situations, with photographs of their exploits shared through social media sites.

It has gone viral in recent weeks with Facebook page Planking Australia boasting over 55,000 fans and hundreds of photos of people lying on train tracks, escalators, fire hydrants, motorbikes and other objects.

Police last week warned "plankers" of the dangers and their fears have been realised with the death of a man in Brisbane who plummeted from a seventh-storey balcony and died at the scene.

"This morning we have seen a young man take this activity a step further and attempt to plank on a balcony. Unfortunately he has tragically fallen to his death," Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said.

Heart - Black

Kenyan Olympic Marathon Champion Wanjiru Dies After Balcony Fall

© Reuters
Wansiru of Kenya runs in front of Tiananmen Gate after the start of the men's marathon at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru plunged to his death from the first-floor balcony of his home after the athlete's wife found him in bed with another woman, police told Reuters.

Regional police chief Jaspher Ombati said that Wanjiru's wife, Triza Njeri, surprised the couple when she came home late on Sunday, locked them in the bedroom and ran outside.

"In a rage, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru jumped from the first floor of the house and he was badly injured. When he was rushed to the hospital the doctors tried to resuscitate him but unfortunately he passed on," said Ombati.

Wanjiru, 24, won Kenya's first men's marathon gold in Beijing in 2008 and had been regarded as one of the greatest current talents in an east African country long renowned for its distance runners.

He also won the prestigious London and Chicago marathons, but his private life was troubled.

Ombati said Wanjiru returned home with the woman after a drinking spree. Nyahururu residents said Wanjiru had taken to heavy drinking of late and was stressed by personal problems.


Nigerian 'Baby Factory' Raided, 32 Teenage Girls Freed

© Agence France-Presse
Nigerian police have raided a home allegedly being used to force teenage girls to have babies that were then offered for sale for trafficking or other purposes
Nigerian police have raided a home allegedly being used to force teenage girls to have babies that were then offered for sale for trafficking or other purposes, authorities said on Wednesday.

"We stormed the premises of the Cross Foundation in Aba three days ago following a report that pregnant girls aged between 15 and 17 are being made to make babies for the proprietor," said Bala Hassan, police commissioner for Abia state in the country's southeast.

"We rescued 32 pregnant girls and arrested the proprietor who is undergoing interrogation over allegations that he normally sells the babies to people who may use them for rituals or other purposes."

Some of the girls told police they had been offered to sell their babies for between 25,000 and 30,000 naira (192 dollars) depending on the sex of the baby.

The babies would then be sold to buyers for anything from 300,000 naira to one million naira (1,920 and 6,400 dollars) each, according to a state agency fighting human trafficking in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

Heart - Black

Ukraine: Was Muslim Girl 'Stoned to Death for Taking Part in Beauty Pageant' Actually Murdered by a Stalker?

© unknown
Murdered: Katya Koren was attacked after taking part in a beauty contest but police say she may have been murdered by a stalker
At first it appeared that she had been stoned to death for disobeying Sharia law.

But glamorous Muslim beauty queen Katya Koren may actually have been battered with a rock by a crazed stalker after she spurned his advances.

The body of the 19-year-old was found dumped in a remote forest on the Crimean peninsula days after she went missing.

She had died in agony after suffering horrific blows to the head from stones or rocks.

Initial reports suggested that Ms Koren had been battered by three local men after flouting the strict Islamic law. Sharia law prohibits women from taking part in beauty contests.

But police have now said that Ms Koren may have been attacked by a deranged classmate who had been besotted with the teenager.

The man is believed to have given Ms Koren a ride on his moped before robbing her and possibly raping her. He may then have battered her to death with a rock.

Light Sabers

US: Bradley Manning Supporters Head To Fort Leavenworth

bradley manning protest wikileaks
© Unknown
Demonstrators from around the country will converge on Leavenworth, Kan., this Saturday to rally in support of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

The event will mark the first public rally in support of Manning since he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, after being imprisoned for nine months on the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

There, Manning was forced to sleep naked in a military jail after a commander of the brig in Quantico, Va., ordered his clothes be taken away for a full seven hours. He was also forced to stand naked outside his cell in front of the rest of the clothed inmates until he passed inspection and was given his clothes back.

"Due process and the assumption of innocence are principles we soldiers are sworn to defend, but PFC Bradley Manning has already been declared guilty by our Commander in Chief and subjected to unlawful pretrial punishment," said William Stewart-Starks, an organizer of Saturday's rally and a regional coordinator for Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Gathering in Bob Dougherty Memorial Park on Saturday, demonstrators will denounce Manning's treatment and call on the government to drop all charges against him.


Yemen crisis deepens as dozens are killed in street battles

© Ahmad Gharabli/AFP
A wounded Yemeni man is carried into a makeshift clinic outside Sana'a university during clashes with government forces.
The crisis engulfing Yemen deepened on Wednesday with dozens of people killed as President Ali Abdullah Saleh reinforced his troops after heavy clashes with gunmen loyal to an influential tribal leader.

Overnight street battles left at least 41 people dead, some trapped in burning buildings. Fighting raged until dawn as presidential guard units shelled the headquarters of an army brigade responsible for protecting government institutions.

Arab embassies were said to be evacuating their staff and the few remaining western residents were being advised to leave urgently. The Foreign Office is urging all Britons to leave while flights are still available in a situation diplomats described as "worse than Libya."

Comment: It's "worse than Libya" because unlike in the Mediterranean country, Yemen's government is actually killing civilians by violently suppressing dissent. Yet there are no warships lined up to launch cruise missiles at this leader's residence. Why is that?

Che Guevara

Spanish Anti-Austerity Protests Spread to More European Cities

On Sunday evening thousands of protesters voted to continue the occupation of Madrid's Puerta del Sol square, in the "tent city" established in the immediate aftermath of the mass demonstration on May 15.

Voting to stay, protesters chanted, "We are not going! We are not going!"

The rally was the culmination of some 120 protests held in the capital over the weekend. Protests are also continuing in Spain's major cities and towns including Barcelona, Seville, Valencia and Logrono.

The AFP agency reported a Puerta del Sol protest spokesman who said, "We have started something in Sol. We have started to spread to the rest of the world, so this is not the time to stop it. The support we received internationally was very important, it was something that moved us in Sol, especially the mobilisation in Paris was a very big support, and also the mobilisation in Greece".

"For the moment we are here indefinitely. We will decide depending on events", he added.

Those gathered also observed a minute's silence in tribute to those who faced vicious police and "political oppression" repression during the protests, including in Barcelona's Plaza de Catalunya. On Friday, police in Barcelona were instructed to clear the square, using the pretext of Saturday evening's football Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United at Wembley. Around 120 people were injured during the assault by riot police, who attacked peaceful protesters with batons and tear gas and fired rubber bullets.

Bad Guys

US: FEMA To Demand That Hurricane Katrina Victims Return Aid Money

Fema Hurricane Katrina Aid Debt
© AP
Carpenter Alan Perkins walks past a sign put up by another resident living in a tented city in Bay St. Louis, Miss., Thursday, Sept. 8 , 2005. The victim of Hurricane Katrina put up the sign after she called four times for FEMA's assistance and was always prompted to leave a message.

New Orleans -- Nearly six years have passed since Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans in misery, but many residents haven't forgiven the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its sluggish response to the storm. Now another delayed reaction by FEMA - a stop-and-start push to recoup millions of dollars in disaster aid - is reminding storm victims why they often cursed the agency's name.

As a new hurricane season begins Wednesday, FEMA is working to determine how much money it overpaid or mistakenly awarded to victims of the destructive 2005 hurricane season. The agency is reviewing more than $600 million given to roughly 154,000 victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and is poised to demand that some return money.

FEMA already has sent letters to thousands of victims of other disasters, asking them to return more than $22 million. Letters to victims of the 2005 hurricanes could go out in a matter of months, but it's too soon to tell how many people will be told to repay or how much money is at stake.

The effort isn't sitting well with victims who spent the money years ago and who could need help again if another powerful storm hits. It's of little consolation that FEMA says procedural changes since 2005 mean future disaster victims aren't likely to have to deal with large recalls of cash.

Alarm Clock

Mysterious Bacterial Outbreak in Europe

© Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press
Berlin - Scientists in Europe are racing to locate the source of a bacterial outbreak that has killed at least 16 people, sickened hundreds more and disrupted food markets across the continent.

"Don't eat your salad, it's not good for you," parents in Germany tell their children these days, in a bizarre reversal of the usual healthy diet sermon. To blame is a bacterial epidemic that has killed 15 people in Germany as well as one woman in Sweden and continues to roll across northern Europe.

Officials from the Robert Koch Institute, a respected German health science facility, warned that further deaths are likely.

Scientists suspect the outbreak is linked to vegetables contaminated with the enterohaemorrhagic E.coli bacterium but they haven't located the exact source.

The first cases were reported in Hamburg, Germany, and the disease, which can cause fever, bloody diarrhea and kidney failure, has since spread across the continent. There have been dozens of confirmed cases in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria and Britain.


Texas, US: Mysterious shootings have neighbors on edge

Apparent random shootings in a southwest Houston neighborhood have residents on edge. A victim who was shot in the back has been upgraded to good condition. For the first time, we're hearing from a second victim who was shot in the same neighborhood, also for no apparent reason.

The shootings happened along Bob White near Ariel. Many of the neighbors along Robindell are strongly suggesting anyone steer clear of that intersection. They say this mysterious gunman has them feeling like prisoners in their own homes.

There is a huge reason you won't catch too many neighbors outside their homes near Bob White Drive in Robindell right now.

"Everybody is very scared," said neighbor Mary Thayer. "Very scared."

Neighbors are scared knowing two people have been shot in the last week and a half while walking along the street. We spoke with one woman who was shot in the shoulder.

She said, "I'm still shocked. I'm afraid to go outside whether it's here or anyplace."