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September 26, 2018

Man arrested on suspicion of molestation of six girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex

Man arrested on suspicion of molestation of six girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Location of the Hougang Swimming Pool.
Image: OpenStreetMap.

A man, 36 years old, was arrested Monday on the suspicion that he had been molesting various girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex, representatives from the Ang Mo Kio police division said on September 25.

The six girls allegedly molested by said man ranged in age from 9 to 13. Authorities were alerted to the case at about 3:50 p.m. on September 13.

After an investigation, the police managed to track down the suspect, who was arrested at Hougang Avenue 2 on Monday.

He is scheduled to be formally charged with outrage of modesty in court on Wednesday. This crime is punishable by two years’ imprisonment, caning, a fine, or a combination these punishments.



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September 5, 2018

Police Captain’s son gets 20 year prison sentence for terrorist plot

Police Captain’s son gets 20 year prison sentence for terrorist plot

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Crime and law
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Alexander Ciccolo, the son of a police captain for the US city of Boston, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in federal court on Wednesday. Ciccolo’s father, Robert Ciccolo, reportedly tipped off the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to his son’s probable intentions, an action mentioned by the U.S. Attorney during the trial. In 2017, Ciccolo’s mother, Shelley MacInnes, said in a radio interview her son is “very compassionate” and “would not hurt a fly.”

File photo of a federal prison building in Seagoville, Texas

As early as Monday, local news sources were predicting Ciccolo would receive a twenty year prison sentence. Ciccolo formally plead guilty in May to to one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, one count of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, assaulting a nurse in jail, and various other offenses. Reports indicate he told an undercover investigator he planned to detonate pressure cooker bombs in college cafeterias, among other places.

Ciccolo’s attorneys say he dealt with mental health and substance abuse problems, had poorly thought out plans and no real ability to carry out an attack. Law enforcement, however, described him as an Islamic-State loyalist. Ciccolo was originally arrested in 2015. During their investigation, FBI personnel observed Ciccolo purchase a pressure cooker from a WalMart store. An undercover agent gave him four guns that authorities state he had requested. After his arrest, investigators found four partially finished Molotov cocktails. The devices were filled with styrofoam and oil.



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August 29, 2018

Brisbane, Australia Magistrates Court charges two cotton farmers for $31m fraud

Brisbane, Australia Magistrates Court charges two cotton farmers for $31m fraud

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Australia
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

On Tuesday, two officers of cotton farming conglomerate Norman Farming in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for alleged fraud of the government. Queensland Police alleged over the past seven years the farmers submitted fraudulent claims to receive funding from Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, resulting in an approximately AUD20M dishonest personal financial gain. The Court laid charges and released the defendants on bail.

According to the results of the investigation by Police, the two men allegedly falsified documents, including invoices, misrepresenting work from contractors as earthwork supposedly in aid of improving water irrigation efficiency. The two allegedly presented farming-related work on their property on six projects as aimed at improving the efficiency of water irrigation at their property near Goondiwindi.

Police arrested the chief executive officer (CEO) of the conglomerate, 43-year-old John Norman, and the conglomerate’s chief financial officer, 53-year-old Stephen Evans. They appeared in Court represented by their lawyers. In the Court they were charged, Norman with six and Evans with four counts of aggravated fraud, Norman with six and Evans with four counts of fraudulently producing or using a false record. Police opposed bail, however the Magistrate released the two on bail conditionally, requiring they surrender their passports.

According to reports by Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian, neighbours of Norman Farming had complained to the authorities about Norman Farming’s work resulting in excessive removal of floodwater from the McIntyre river, leading to reduced availability of water for the farmers downstream.

Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy provided the funding as a part of its Healthy Head Waters scheme. Detective Inspector Mick Dowie said the Department did not have the authority of police to compel provision of documents, leading to difficulty with verifying the invoices which the two submitted in their application.

Dowie said the investigation took over a year to complete, including analysis of accounting reports.



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August 28, 2018

US Attorney indicts thirteen for using false documents to secure jobs

US Attorney indicts thirteen for using false documents to secure jobs

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Thirteen people were indicted in federal court this week for allegedly using false documents to obtain employment in the US. Eleven of the individuals are Guatemalan citizens and the other two are citizens of Mexico, according to news sources. The individuals were initially arrested when federal ICE agents raided Fresh Mark meat packing plant in Ohio in June. That raid initially resulted in 146 individuals being detained. Fresh Mark provided the following statement to local press:

Official ICE logo.

“Fresh Mark is fully cooperating with authorities on this matter.Fresh Mark’s policy and practice is to validate the employment authorization and identity of all workers who join the company, for each of whom we complete an I-9 and confirm the documentation through E-Verify.Fresh Mark has also been a member of the voluntary IMAGE program (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) since 2012. This program between the US Government and private employers ensures a lawful workforce.”

Earlier this week, members of the US agency, ICE raided a vehicle trailer manufacturing plant located near the city of Paris, Texas. That company, Load Trail, is suspected of illegally employing undocumented foreign immigrants. The company reportedly paid a $445,000 fine in 2014 for hiring over 170 undocumented immigrants to work in its plant, according to an ICE report. More than 300 agents and staff took part in the raid.


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July 22, 2018

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Crime and law
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On Thursday, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed the “Jewish nation-state” bill granting Israel the status of “national home of the Jewish people”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel”.

The bill was passed at 3 AM with 62–55 majority. Two lawmakers abstained. The bill declared Hebrew as the only official language and demoted Arabic from national language to a “special status” language. Netanyahu said, “An absolute majority wants to ensure our state’s Jewish characters for generations to come.” Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein said this bill, which received just 51.66% votes in favour out of the full Knesset of 120, was “one of the most important laws ever to be passed by the Knesset”.

The Knesset began the voting on Wednesday. Previously, the bill had clauses declaring the state as a Jewish-only community as well as direction for judiciary courts to consider Jewish values over democratic values. Both of the clauses were challenged by the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the Attorney General. The latter clause about Jewish values for courts was dropped in May; the other clause was eventually dropped, and the final draft of the bill was approved on Monday. The bill was first introduced in 2011 by the right-wing Likud party.

The latest draft of the bill said the Hebrew calendar is to be the official calendar of the state. It also read, “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established” and “the state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” Israel is home to about 1.8 million Palestinians, who account for roughly 20% of the national population. The bill also declared Jerusalem, in its entirety, as the capital of Israel.

The bill received negative reception from a number of people. The Arab Joint List multi-party alliance called it “anti-democratic, colonialist, racist, and with clear characteristics of apartheid.” Calling it a “shameful night”, Meretz Party’s Tamar Zandberg said it was a “debased and tainted law”. The Joint List’s Ahmad Tibi questioned, “Why are you afraid of the Arabic language?”.

Last week, Netanyahu said, “We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel’s democracy but the majority also has the rights and the majority decides”. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a US-based Jewish Organisation, said the bill “was born in sin, its only purpose is to send a message to the Arab community, the LGBT community and other minorities in Israel, that they are not and never will be equal citizens. Two months ago we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, where it was written that the State of Israel ‘will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender.’ Today Netanyahu’s government is trying to ignore those words and the values that they represent.”



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July 19, 2018

After signing peace declarations, Eritrea reopens embassy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

After signing peace declarations, Eritrea reopens embassy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Politics and conflicts
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On Monday, Eritrea reopened their embassy in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa just a week after both the countries signed a declaration of the end of the two-decade-long conflict between the countries.

71-year-old Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki raised the Eritrean flag in Addis Ababa and Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed handed Afwerki the keys for the embassy. Abiy said, “Both nations have chosen peace as opposed to war […] We won’t allow anyone to stop this from happening.”

A former province of Ethiopia, Eritrea voted in favour of a sovereign state and declared independence in 1993. The Eritrean embassy in Ethiopia was shut down in 1998 and, per reports, about 80 thousand were killed in the border conflict between the two nations from 1998 to 2000.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister visited Eritrea earlier this month and on July 9, leaders of both countries signed a declaration of the end of the conflict in Eritrean capital Asmara. After announcing the end of the conflict, telephone lines were set up between the two countries and on Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines flew the first direct plane between Ethiopia and Eritrea in twenty years. Chief Executive of the airlines Tewolde GebreMariam said, “This day marks a unique event in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea”.



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July 15, 2018

Riots break out in France after 2018 World Cup victory

Riots break out in France after 2018 World Cup victory

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

France
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After France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup after having defeated the team from Croatia in the final football game on Sunday, celebrations turned into riots in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Ajaccio, Strasbourg and Rouen. In total 292 people were arrested.

In Paris, masked troublemakers described as “youth” attacked a major store and threw bottles at police. Nearby, 4000 police were in readiness and responded with water cannon and tear gas. 90 were arrested.

In Marseille, two police officers were wounded and ten persons were detained.

In Lyon, 100 “youth” caused unrest and police responded by firing tear gas at them. Police arrested 18 people.



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June 25, 2018

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Environment
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On Saturday, the plastic ban in the Indian state of Maharashtra came into force. In an attempt to minimise pollution, the state government has introduced a ban on single-use plastics.

The leader of the Yuya Senaa political party, Aaditya Thackeray, said on Twitter, “The ban on single use disposable plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic plates and cutlery, styrofoam cutlery and non woven bags”. He added, “these are global issues now and we have taken a step to combat it”.

Plastic pollution has led to the choking of drains, marine pollution and a risk of animals consuming plastics. This year, India’s motto for World Environment Day — June 5 — was “Beat Plastic Pollution”. People violating the plastic ban are to face a fine of 5,000 Indian Rupees (INR) for the first offence. For the second offence, the fine is INR 10,000 and the third time offence is INR 25,000 and a three-month prison term. Deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhary said, “To weed out corruption, we plan to give inspectors payment gadgets for electronic receipts of the fines”.

The Maharashtra government has given a 90-day period for manufacturers to dispose of existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE) plastic spoons and plates, while shopkeepers and citizens in general have six months to dispose of plastics. However, the ban does not prohibit plastic usage for wrapping medicines or milk cartons thicker than 50 microns.

The state government had announced the decision for the plastic ban on March 23. According to NDTV’s report, Maharashtra is the eighteenth Indian state to enforce a state-wide plastic ban. Aaditya Thackeray also said, “I congratulate the citizens for making this into a movement, even before the ban was enforceable, giving up single use disposable plastic.”



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August 26, 2016

India proposes ban on commercial surrogacy

India proposes ban on commercial surrogacy

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Wednesday a draft law to ban commercial surrogacy in the country. Commercial surrogacy is where a person or couple pay another woman (the surrogate) to carry a pregnancy for them. The new proposed law will allow only infertile couples who’ve been married five or more years to use a surrogate to conceive, on the condition that the surrogate is a close relative of the couple’s.

File photo of Sushma Swaraj, 2014.
Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office .

The proposed ban will prevent single women, foreigners, non-resident Indian nationals, and the LGBTI community from accessing surrogacy services.

Minister Swaraj was quoted in the Indian Express newspaper saying, “we do not recognise live-in and homosexual relationships … this is against our ethos,” adding that Indians living overseas would be banned as “divorces are very common in foreign countries”.

The draft bill will now go to parliament for approval. If approved, minister Swaraj said the ban on commercial surrogacy would come into affect 10 months after passing parliament, allowing for women already in commercial surrogacy arrangements to give birth.

Experts in surrogacy have criticized the proposed law, saying that a complete ban on commercial surrogacy will simply force ineligible couples into illegal surrogacy arrangements. India is one of few countries in the world that currently allows commercial surrogacy. In 2012 the United Nations estimated that there are over 3,000 fertility clinics in India, generating approximately $400 million USD a year from commercial surrogacy.



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August 12, 2016

Sweden to question Julian Assange at Ecuadorian Embassy

Sweden to question Julian Assange at Ecuadorian Embassy

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Friday, August 12, 2016

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Four years after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange initially sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Swedish authorities will finally get the chance to question him in relation to sexual assault allegations.

After years of drawn out negotiations and an apparent diplomatic stalemate, a statement released on Thursday states that Ecuador’s foreign minister has agreed to allow Swedish officials access to the embassy to question Assange.

“This is a positive step and allows the investigation to continue” said a spokesperson for the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

Assange was accused of sexual assault by two women in 2010. He has denied such allegations and has not been charged.

The date for the interview between Assange and the Swedish authorities is yet to be determined. The statement said that is would be agreed upon “in the coming weeks.”

Assange has been held up at the embassy since 2012. His lawyer has previously stated that Assange would be happy to oblige Swedish authorities and answer questions however he fears that that the Swedish government would extradite him to the US, where he could be charged with the death penalty for leaking classified government documents.

Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, a US army intelligence analyst, was responsible for providing Wikileaks with hundreds of thousands of classified military documents. Manning was subsequently arrested soon after and found guilty of espionage and theft. She was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment. Assange fears a similar fate should he ever face extradition to the US.

Wikileaks continues to expose sensitive information. Recently the organisation published emails and voicemail from the Democratic National Committee.


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