Australia Rejects Refugees
New Australian Prime Minster Kevin Rudd has announced that no more so-called “boat people” will be allowed to resettle in Australia. Rudd’s nascent administration has struck a deal with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil today that will allow Australia to deport any such refugees to the eastern half of New Guinea island. Thousands of refugees have fled from poverty in Indonesia in hopes of a more successful life in Australia, with many hundreds having perished in the rough seas separating the two nations.
Today’s agreement, in which Papua New Guinea will take an unlimited number of refugees for a significant amount of foreign aid, is designed to provide a disincentive for people fleeing Indonesia, as even fewer economic opportunities exist in Papua New Guinea. Nearly a third of Papua New Guineans are below the poverty line, and a great majority are subsistance farmers.
Human Rights Groups have roundly criticized Rudd’s deal; Graeme McGregor of Amnesty International asks the world to “mark this day in history as the day Australia decided to turn its back on the world’s most vulnerable people, closed the door and threw away the key.”
Dubai Convicts Raped Woman of Extra-Marital Sex
A Dubai court has sentenced Norwegian Marte Deborah Dalelv to 13 months in prison for extra-marital sex, after she reported a sexual assault to police last March. The Norwegian government secured her release during the trial, but with her conviction she is now wanted for arrest. “I should have been imprisoned since Tuesday,” she said. “But I have been told they are not searching for me.”
Dalelv, who was in Dubai on a business trip, is not the first foreigner to be struck by the small emirate’s strict laws governing sexuality. Following new legal interpretations in recent years, a British couple were arrested, jailed, fined and deported for kissing in a public restaurant.
Last year, following the rape of an Arab national, attorney general Essam Eisa Al-Humaidan was quoted as saying, “Dubai Public Prosecution will not spare any effort, whatsoever, to combat the crime of rape or any other crime of the same nature. Rape is an alien to the UAE society.” But rape convictions are rare; there must either be a confession or four adult male witnesses to the crime. When Police realized such evidence did not exist in Dalelv’s case, they seized her passport and cash, filing a litany of charges against her.
Cambodian Opposition Leader Returns
Sam Rainsy, the twice banished Cambodian opposition leader, has returned home today from three years of exile in France. Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose party has been in power since the Khmer Rouge was overthrown in 1979, asked King Norodom Sihamoni to pardon Rainsy earlier this month, ostensibly to ensure that next week’s elections will be democratic and free. While Rainsy will not be eligible to contest a parliamentary seat himself, he has pledged to lead a united opposition to victory. To a crowd of at least 30,000 gathered around his plane, Rainsy said, “I come to rescue the nation with you, brothers, sisters and nephews.”
Spanish Police Clash With Protestors
Last night saw at least 14 injured and five arrested as protestors demanding the resignation of Spanish Prime Minister Marian Rajoy met violent opposition for Police officers in Barcelona and Madrid. Rajoy has been linked to a major graft scandal which may have net him more than five million pesetas, while Spain goes through a turbulent and controversial austerity program and millions of Spaniards are unemployed. Judge Pablo Ruz has asked the Spanish Tax Agency to investigate the nature of the alleged kickbacks from real-estate developers which received lucrative public contracts.
Bezos Discovers Apollo Rockets
Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos underwrote a secret project to recover Apollo 11′s F-1 rockets, and today he announced success. “Forty-four years ago tomorrow Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, and now we have recovered a critical technological marvel that made it all possible,” said Bezos in a statement. The rockets, which were jettisoned after liftoff, had been badly damaged by their impact on the Atlantic and the ensuing 43 years at the bottom of the ocean, which impaired efforts to affirmatively identify their origin. The conservation team at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center worked for months on identifying the ruined remains. Bezons was enthusiastic about the conservationists’ work, saying, “Huge kudos to the conservation team at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Conservation is painstaking work that requires remarkable levels of patience and attention to detail, and these guys have both.”
Since 2000, James McCormick has been selling bomb detectors to more than 7,000 agencies worldwide, for up to $30,000 each. The only problem is, they don’t detect bombs. Adam Higginbotham tracks McCormick’s con in Businessweek.