Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Burnt woman returned to husband 'for sake of son

Ranjeeta Sharma - Source: Supplied
[TVNZ News, 26 January 2011] - The woman burnt alive in Waikato returned to her husband for the sake of their son less than a month before she was killed, it has been revealed.
Her family urged her not to go back to what was a troubled domestic situation, The New Zealand Herald reported today.
Ranjeeta Sharma, 28, was found burned to death near Huntly in Waikato last Thursday. Her husband, identified as Devesh Kumar Sharma, is being held in a police cell in Fiji after flying out of New Zealand the day after his wife was discovered.
Police launched a homicide investigation on Saturday after it was established that Ranjeeta was alive when she was set alight, and that an accelerant was used.
Devesh, also known as Daniel, was caught in hiding with his and Ranjeeta's four-year-old son in a town on Fiji's mainland at 1am yesterday morning.
The owner of the Papatoetoe house the family lived in said that Ranjeeta told him she was moving away because she was having problems with her husband, but returrned because she wanted to have a happy family.
Their son is now staying with relatives in Fiji and is said to be in good health.
ONE News has been told Devesh Sharma was caught after a tip-off from a neighbour. Locals say he had been hiding in Sigatoka for the past three days.
Police said Sharma was a "person of interest in relation to the homicide inquiry into the death of his wife", said Detective Senior Sergeant Nigel Keall, of Waikato CIB.
"Our inquiry is continuing and we are seeking further clarification from Fiji police of the circumstances surrounding the father being located," Detective Senior Sergeant Nigel Keall said.
"Until we have had further discussions with Fiji police we are unable to add more at this stage."
Fiji's interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has promised to cooperate should New Zealand police wish to extradite Sharma, Radio New Zealand reported.
Sayed-Khaiyum said an extradition agreement between the two countries would be honoured if police here choose to make an application.
Police will today announce whether they will lodge a request for extradition with Crown Law and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The New Zealand Herald reported today that Devesh, a courier driver in Auckland, is the son of a Hindu high priest and was nearly deported for overstaying.
An immigration adviser told the paper that Devesh had been asked by his father to follow in his path and become a priest, but he chose not to.
Ranjeeta's maternal uncle Rohit Kishore told ONE News last night that the family was horrified at what has happened.
"We are very, very shocked. Such a thing has never happened in our family.. it's tough particularly on my sister who is the mother of the girl. It's very tough on her we're trying to stay together."
He said the couple had married around six years ago, and it was an arranged marriage. He said at first the couple had seemed happy, but later they heard the marriage was having some problems.
Fijian journalist Rachna Nath told ONE News Sharma's other relatives were also in shock.
"Ranjeeta's younger brother, who's a senior economist and a civil servant, says that preparations are now underway to accord his sister her final rites," Nath said.
A close friend of Ranjeeta said she was a lovely person who would have made a great nurse.
Nursing tutor, Sue Rosewarne, told Close Up last night that she had helped Sharma with her studies and spent time in the Sharma family home.
"I used to go home with her to support her in her studies and she was very determined she wanted to be accepted at MIT and do her Bachelor of Nursing," Rosewarne said.
"The public needs to know that she was a lovely young woman with an extreme love for her little son."
Ranjeeta is likely to be cremated in a family ceremony in her hometown in Fiji on Thursday.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Couple jailed for sex with son aged nine

[Sydney Morning Herald, October 15, 2010 - 12:43PM ] - A married Sydney couple have been jailed for "disturbing" sex crimes against their nine-year-old son.

The man, 57, and woman, 49, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the boy between January and November 2009 at their suburban Sydney home.

The father has also admitted streaming footage online of his wife and son engaging in sex acts.
At Sydney's Downing Centre District Court today, Judge Anthony Garling sentenced the man to serve a minimum of nine years' jail.

With time already served, he will be eligible for release in November 2018.

"This man was sexually abusing his son and I have no doubt he was doing it for his own sexual gratification," Judge Garling said.

The man pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual intercourse with his son and two counts of committing an indecent act, as well as using the boy for child pornographic purposes, indecently assaulting him, possessing child pornography and using the internet to offend.

The offences included performing oral sex on the child, "massaging" his penis and having the boy do the same to him.

"It is hard to imagine a greater breach of trust than what the male offender has committed," Judge Garling said.

"This is his son, who was entitled to be protected by his father, not abused by him."

The woman was sentenced to serve at least three years and nine months in jail after pleading guilty to sexual intercourse with her son and two counts of committing an act of indecency.

The offences included the mother performing oral sex on her child.

She will be eligible for release on parole in August 2013, taking into account time already served in custody.
"[The woman's] attitude to these offences is almost unbelievable," Judge Garling said.

"She blames her husband and I am satisfied that he did have some domination over her. However, she seems to believe it is acceptable to carry out sexual acts with her nine-year-old son.

"She, like her husband, seemed to think that if her son did not protest at the age of nine, he is consenting and indeed enjoying it.

"If that attitude is true, it is disturbing to find parents with that attitude in our community."
Judge Garling found the boy, who is now in the care of DOCS, had suffered "significant emotional harm" as a result of the abuse.

The court has been told previously that the woman intends to divorce the man and wants to have nothing more to do with him.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Segway millionaire drove machine over cliff: police

[The Age, September 28 2010] - The British businessman responsible for the Segway has been found dead after falling off a cliff on one of the vehicles.A British millionaire businessman whose company builds and markets the Segway upright scooter died when he apparently rode one of them over a cliff and into a river.
West Yorkshire police said Jimi Heselden, 62, was found in the River Wharfe, at Boston Spa, near Wetherby, on Sunday.

"The incident is not believed to be suspicious and the coroner has been informed," a police spokesman said.
Jimi Heselden and, inset, a model of the Segway that he made and marketed. [Jimi Heselden and, inset, a model of the Segway that he made and marketed.]
Heselden made his fortune when his Leeds-based firm Hesco Bastion developed the "blast wall" basket, which protect soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, as a replacement for traditional sandbags.

Last year he led a British team which bought the US-based Segway firm that makes and distributes the distinctive two-wheeled self-balancing scooters.

The chief executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, said councillors were "devastated and saddened" to learn of Heselden's death.

"Jimi was an amazing man who, apart from being a wonderful success story for Leeds due to his business acumen, was also remarkably selfless and generous, giving millions to local charities to help people in his home city," Riordan said.

"As a council we enjoyed great success with Jimi and Hesco Bastion, working together with them to achieve a historic gold medal for the city at this year's Chelsea Flower Show, and everyone who knew him will remember his quiet manner, good nature and tremendous pride in being from Leeds."


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gorillas in midst of malaria mystery

[By Nicky Phillips, Sydney Morning Herald, September 26, 2010]
    Host to killer pathogen ... a silverback gorilla forages  in the Republic of Congo. 

Image 2: Caption: Silverback gorilla (Gorilla 
gorilla) foraging on herbs in a swampy clearing in northern Republic of 
Congo. Non-invasive studies of these elusive apes identified three new 
gorilla-specific Plasmodium species, one of which is nearly identical to 
human P. falciparum. 
Credit: Ian Nichols and the National Geographic 



 Pic supplied [Host to killer pathogen ... a silverback gorilla forages in the Republic of Congo. Photo: National Geographic Society]
    A PARASITE that causes malaria may have originated in gorillas, a study has found. The pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum, is the most widespread and lethal of the malaria parasites that infect humans.
    The research will give scientists important insights into eradicating the mosquito-borne disease, which is contracted by more than 250 million people a year and kills nearly 1 million.

    Previous research had suggested the human malaria parasite split from a chimpanzee parasite when humans and chimpanzees last had a common ancestor.

    Other studies claimed the pest originated in bonobos, or possibly a human ancestor.

    To determine the source of the parasite, researchers gathered faecal samples from chimpanzees, bonobos and eastern and western gorillas in central Africa. No parasites were found in bonobos or eastern gorillas, but about half the western gorillas and chimpanzees were infected. When the researchers analysed the DNA strain, they found the parasites were closely related to the parasite that infects humans.

    This suggested the parasite jumped from gorillas to humans, the researchers said.

    The scientists do not know when the cross from gorillas to humans occurred, or whether the parasite has a negative impact on apes.

    "What is still unclear is . . . whether present-day ape populations represent a source for recurring humans infections," said the researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Nature.

    The findings will inform scientists and health experts about how the parasite has evolved and adapted and the possible reservoirs of the parasite, which will, in turn, aid malaria eradication efforts.

    Malaria is a serious problem, especially in Africa, where one in every five childhood deaths is due to the effects of the disease.

    Obama blasts Iran leader over 'outrageous, offensive' 9/11 comments

    [By Kate Andersen Brower, Sydney Morning Herald,26th September 2010] - NEW YORK: US President Barack Obama has slammed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's September 11 conspiracy theory comments at the United Nations as ''offensive'' and ''hateful''.

    US President Obama [Photo: Sydney Morning Herald]

    In his first comments on the Iranian leader's statement that the 2001 terrorist attacks on America may have been orchestrated to bolster the US economy and ''save the Zionist regime'', Mr Obama told BBC Persian that ''for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable''.

    President Ahmadinejad's statements do not serve the interests of the Iranian people, says Barack Obama."

    US and European diplomats walked out of the UN General Assembly hall on Friday when Mr Ahmadinejad delivered his remarks about the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

    Envoys representing Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and New Zealand also left during the speech.

    The interview with BBC Persian is part of Mr Obama's attempt to communicate directly with the Iranian people as the US and other nations increase pressure on Mr Ahmadinejad's government to comply with UN demands that it halt uranium enrichment.

    ''To have a President who makes outrageous, offensive statements like this does not serve the interests of the Iranian people, does not strengthen Iran's stature in the world community,'' Mr Obama said.

    The US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia were united last week in telling Mr Ahmadinejad to comply with UN Security Council demands or remain under trade and financial sanctions. The council wants Iran to cease uranium enrichment and answer the International Atomic Energy Agency's questions about whether the effort is designed to achieve a weapons capability.

    In his speech to the General Assembly on Friday, Mr Obama said while he was willing to negotiate, ''the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program''.

    Mr Obama told BBC Persian that Mr Ahmadinejad's address ''defies not just common sense but basic sense - basic senses of decency that aren't unique to any particular country - they're common to the entire world''.

    He drew a distinction between the Iranian people and their government, saying that when the September 11 attacks took place there was ''a natural sense of shared humanity and sympathy expressed within Iran''.

    ''It just shows once again sort of the difference between how the Iranian leadership and this regime operates and how I think the vast majority of the Iranian people who are respectful and thoughtful think about these issues,'' he said.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Megachurch preacher accused by trio of cash lures for sex

    [The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Sept 2010] - As a Christian author, gospel singer and leader of one of the USA's best-known black megachurches, Bishop Eddie Long finds a wide audience for messages such as marriage is "between one man and one woman".

    Those words hung heavy this week over accusations that the TV preacher, a married father of four, used jewellery, cars and cash to lure three young men into sexual relationships.

    Lawsuits filed in Atlanta, Georgia, this week say the young men were 17 or 18 years old at the time, enrolled in New Birth Missionary Baptist Church's ministry for teen boys.

    Accused ... Bishop Eddie Long. Accused ... Bishop Eddie Long. [Photo: AP]
    A lawyer for Long, who writes books on heterosexual relationships and has strong ties to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s family, adamantly denied the allegations.

    Few at Long's 25,000-strong church will discuss the situation, and the grounds were quiet on Wednesday, save for a small group walking in prayer. But those who will speak say they are supporting him.

    Lance Robertson, who joined New Birth nearly two decades ago and has coached youth basketball there, said that members were hurting.

    "I support and will stand with my bishop, but right now in the court of public opinion, it does not look good," Robertson said.

    "This affects too many people. As the bishop goes, New Birth goes. He built New Birth."
    B.J. Bernstein, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said she opened her investigation after getting a call from one of the men.

    The Associated Press normally does not name people who claim they are victims of sexual impropriety, but Bernstein said all three — Maurice Robinson, 20, and Anthony Flagg, 21, and Jamal Parris, 23 — have consented to making their identities public.

    Bernstein said she didn't trust local authorities to investigate the claims.

    "This is a really large church that's incredibly politically powerful," Bernstein said. "There are pictures of this guy with every politician around. With something this important, how can I trust that word didn't get back to the bishop?"

    DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown has been a member of New Birth for more than 15 years and sits on the advisory board for Long's Longfellows Youth Academy. He said he would stand by the bishop and bristled at Bernstein's suggestion that local authorities couldn't be trusted.

    "I take offense to that," he said. "It does not merit a dignified response."

    Bernstein said that her case hinges on her three clients' testimony and that she doesn't have much physical evidence backing up her complaint.

    Bishop sent dozens of e-mails and phone calls to her clients, though they weren't "overly sexual," she said.
    Bernstein said she plans to subpoena records from Long that will show he travelled with the young men to New York, Las Vegas, New Zealand and elsewhere.

    Long has been silent since the lawsuits were filed, though he did have a news conference planned for Thursday.

    But urban radio, websites like Facebook and Twitter, and cable television news shows have been abuzz.
    Atlanta radio host Frank Ski devoted much of his four-hour morning show to the issue.

    Ski, a 12-year member of New Birth, called the accusations "painful" and said he doesn't believe them.
    Ski said he and his fellow church members are generally supportive of Long and are awaiting the outcome of the case.

    "This church is used to the controversy coming against him," Ski said. "It's all about faith. When you have faith, you understand that those kinds of things will happen."

    Robertson, the church's youth basketball coach, said he wants to hear Long respond to the accusations.
    "The bishop has helped so many people," he said. "It's not uncommon for him to mentor young men and groom them to be productive members of society.

    "The bishop's heart has always been in the right place. But the New Birth family, we're weeping. This is not a good day for New Birth."

    Long, who was appointed pastor of New Birth in 1987, presides over an empire that claims athletes, politicians and entertainers as members.

    President George Bush and three former presidents visited the sprawling New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia for the 2006 funeral of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Long introduced the speakers and the Rev. Bernice King, the Kings' younger daughter, delivered the eulogy. She is also a pastor there.

    Today, New Birth sits on 250 acres and has more than 25,000 members, a $US50 million, 10,000-seat cathedral and more than 40 ministries.

    Not all of his attention, though, has been positive. The church was among those named in 2007 in a Senate committee's investigation into a half-dozen Christian ministries over their financing.

    Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father's Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage "between one man and one woman."

    This isn't the first allegation against a religious leader who has crusaded against gay marriage.
    Ted Haggard left New Life Church of Colorado Springs in 2006 after a male prostitute said Haggard paid him for sex.

    Haggard denied the allegations but later admitted to "sexual immorality" and launched a new church in June 2010.