Monday, June 13, 2011

Jaywalker fined

Jun 14, 2011

Jaywalker fined for causing cyclist's death

Xu Yuanyuan, 19, was yesterday fined $1,500 for failing to keep a proper lookout as a pedestrian and colliding with a cyclist who later died from his injuries. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

A TEENAGER, who stepped onto the road without looking and caused a cyclist to crash into her and die, was fined $1,500 yesterday.

The cyclist, Mr Lock Wai Chee, 42, suffered head injuries after he was thrown off his bicycle and died five hours later in hospital.

Xu Yuanyuan, 19, a Chinese national, admitted to causing hurt to the cleaner by doing a negligent act to endanger life in the incident at the junction of Jalan Bukit Merah and Henderson Road.

The student at East Asia Institute of Management was with a schoolmate at the road junction at about 5.15pm on Dec 21 last year when she failed to keep a pro-per lookout.

The court heard she 'took a step forward' onto the road when the 'red man' was showing, resulting in the collision with Mr Lock, who was then cycling towards her from her right along Henderson Road.

She admitted to the police that the traffic signal was against her.

She also said she did not see the cyclist although she was wearing her spectacles and her view was not obstructed.

An autopsy on Mr Lock concluded that the injuries he sustained were consistent with him colliding with a pedestrian, being thrown off a bicycle and hitting his head on the road.

The court was not told if Xu was injured.

The bicycle was later inspected and its front brake pads were found to be worn and ineffective.

Xu, who was not represented by a lawyer, said she hoped the court would not jail her, to avoid having a problem with her stay here.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Gayathri Krishnan said the prosecution was not asking for a jail term but for a heavy fine to be imposed.

District Judge Kessler Soh told Xu: 'I hope you will be more careful in future when you cross the road. It is very unfortunate that death was caused in this case.'

She could have been jailed for up to six months or fined up to $2,500 or jailed and fined.

Last year , 16 cyclists died on the roads in Singapore, one fewer than in 2009.

Even so, cycling groups The Straits Times spoke to called for riders to maintain their bikes regularly, cycle defensively and wear helmets, a practice that has not caught on here.

Both the Singapore Amateur Cycling Association (Saca) and the Safe Cycling Task Force said Mr Lock's life could have been saved if he had been wearing a helmet.

The law currently makes it mandatory only for users of motorised bicycles to wear helmets.

'A helmet would greatly reduce the chances of head injury because it will absorb some of the impact,' said Mr Steven Lim, the task force's president.

Mr Tham Chen Munn, Saca's vice-president for safety and leisure, said some cyclists do not wear helmets because of the heat, lack of awareness and cost.

Helmets can cost from about $20 to a few hundred dollars.

Mr Tham and Mr Lim pointed out that it was dangerous to ride with faulty front brakes.

'Many of us take it for granted, but maintaining your bike and making sure it is in proper condition is very important,' Mr Lim said.

29 - 2

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Indonesian maid took her own life...

Jun 8, 2011

Family of dead Indonesian maid in shock

They refuse to believe she hanged herself after failing maid entry test


'Up to today, we don't believe she committed suicide. She was a strong woman; she wouldn't do something like that.'

Mr Sudarsono, husband of Ms Sulastri Wardoyo (above)


'While being trained at the training centre before she went to Singapore, she called us every Saturday and Sunday to ask how we were doing. She was also supportive of her friends who were also undergoing training with her at the centre.'

Mr Sudarsono

THE family members of the Indonesian woman, who took her own life after failing an entry test for maids thrice, have buried her in their home town of Kluwan in Central Java. But they are still in shock over their loss.

Ms Sulastri Wardoyo, a married 26-year-old mother of one, had hanged herself in a shower stall in a maid hostel here on May 28. She died in hospital a few days later.

Her husband, who gave his name only as Mr Sudarsono, told The Straits Times in a telephone interview done in Bahasa Indonesia: 'Up to today, we don't believe she committed suicide. She was a strong woman; she wouldn't do something like that.'

The 27-year-old farmer had been told on May 31 by his wife's Indonesian recruiter that she had been hospitalised, and then told the next day that she had died.

Her body was flown back last Friday and buried on the same day.

It is believed that Ms Sulastri became despondent when she failed to clear the written English test of literacy and numeracy skills.

All newly arrived maids have to pass the test within three days of their arrival, among other requirements, before they are cleared to work in Singapore.

If they fail it, they are sent home.

Mr Sudarsono said there were no problems at home. He described his late wife as a strong-hearted woman who was very close to her family and ever ready to help her friends.

'While being trained at the training centre before she went to Singapore, she called us every Saturday and Sunday to ask how we were doing. She was also supportive of her friends who were also undergoing training with her at the centre,' he said.

Indonesians looking to become maids in Singapore for the first time undergo around three months of training, which covers areas such as spoken English and performing household chores.

Mr Sudarsono said his wife did not face difficulties during her training, but added that they had not been in touch since her arrival here.

Their daughter, 11/2-year-old Afeka Fapeana Kusumu Dewi, is now being cared for by Ms Sulastri's parents.

The child misses her mother, said Mr Sudarsono. 'She cries all the time, asking, 'Where is mum?' She is confused.'

He said his wife had borrowed about 7 million rupiah (S$1,000) from relatives to come to Singapore to work.

When asked if he had to pay the money back, he said: 'We discussed it as a family. They understand.'

He said he is not sure who will have to foot his wife's hospital bills, but added matter-of-factly: 'Right now, I think it's my responsibility.'

Ms Bridget Tan, president of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said she and a few representatives of the migrant worker welfare group will visit Mr Sudarsono and his family next week with an offer of assistance.

She added that she was also looking to start a public donation drive to raise funds for Ms Sulastri's family.

The Indonesian woman's death has turned the spotlight on the entry test for foreign domestic workers, with many maid agencies and employers calling for it to be either reviewed or scrapped.

The Manpower Ministry said on Monday that it is reviewing the test, following feedback it has received over the last few months.

22 - 1

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Deadly E. coli is entirely new strain

Prime News


Jun 3, 2011

Deadly E. coli is entirely new strain

European officials say they may never know its source

Goats eating discarded cucumbers at a farm in Algarrobo, Spain on Wednesday. Russia has banned imports of vegetables from all 27 EU member states. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON: The World Health Organisation said yesterday that the E. coli bacterium sweeping through Europe is a deadly new strain that has never been seen before, and European health officials say they may never know where it came from.
Preliminary testing suggests that the strain is a mutant form of two different E. coli bacteria, with aggressive genes. That could explain why the Europe-wide outbreak appears to be so massive and dangerous, the WHO said.
Yesterday, Britain reported that the mysterious lethal bacterium had reached its shores.
WHO food safety expert Hilde Kruse said 'this is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before'.
She said the new strain has 'various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing' than the many E. coli strains people naturally carry in their intestines.
So far, the mutant E. coli strain has sickened more than 1,500 people, including 470 who have developed a rare kidney failure complication, and killed 18, including one overnight in Germany, the country hit hardest by the outbreak.
Researchers have been unable to pinpoint the source of the illness, which has hit at least nine European countries, and prompted Russia yesterday to extend a ban on vegetable imports to include the entire European Union.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control pinpointed the 'causative agent' as a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, or STEC.
It confirmed its previous suspicions that STEC, which it said had occurred only rarely worldwide, was responsible for the killer outbreak.
The agency reiterated that contaminated food 'seems the most likely vehicle of infection' but stressed the source was still under investigation.
Indeed, it is a sad fact of life in food poisoning cases: There often is no smoking gun.
'They might never find the cause of the outbreak,' said health protection professor Paul Hunter at England's University of East Anglia. 'In most foodborne outbreaks, we don't know definitively where the contaminated food came from.'
Chinese scientists who analysed the bacterium said it carries genes making it resistant to several classes of antibiotics.
'This E. coli is a new strain of bacteria that is highly infectious and toxic,' said the scientists at the Beijing Genomics Institute in Shenzhen city in southern China, who are collaborating with colleagues in Germany.
Nearly all the sick people either live in Germany or recently travelled there. Two people who were sickened are now in the United States, and both had recently travelled to Hamburg, where many of the infections occurred.
In London, the health authorities said yesterday that seven people in Britain have been infected, with all cases linked to Germany.
Three of those infected were British nationals who had recently travelled to Germany, and four were German nationals, the Health Protection Agency said in a statement.
Of those cases, three had full-blown haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) - a disease that can cause serious liver damage - and the other four suffered bloody diarrhoea, it said.
Russia yesterday infuriated the EU by banning fresh vegetable imports from all its 27 member states. The sanction was immediately denounced as 'disproportionate' by a European Commission spokesman, who said Brussels would demand an official explanation from Moscow.
The outbreak is already considered the third-largest involving E. coli in recent world history, and it may be the deadliest. Twelve people died in a 1996 Japanese outbreak that reportedly sickened more than 9,000, and seven died in a 2000 Canadian outbreak.

GOTCHA! Man hunts down stolen laptop - using the laptop

Prime News


Jun 3, 2011

GOTCHA! Man hunts down stolen laptop - using the laptop

Mr Joshua Kaufman reunited with his MacBook in San Francisco on Wednesday, about 1-1/2 weeks after it was stolen in a burglary. -- PHOTOS: ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO: The images began arriving in Mr Joshua Kaufman's inbox: grainy, low-lit photos of a man curled up on a couch, sound asleep; the same man propped up against pillows on a bed, shirtless.

Who was this stranger sitting with his stolen laptop?

Mr Kaufman, an interaction designer, collected the images and took them to police, who did not help him. So he went online, publishing the pictures on Twitter and on a blog titled This Guy Has My MacBook.

'It went super-viral,' he said.

On the same day that he posted his website on Twitter, police came calling. On Tuesday, they arrested a 27-year-old cab driver, Muthanna Aldebashi. By Wednesday, Mr Kaufman had his laptop back.

He is the latest example of people, not police, using technological tools to help find their own stolen property such as cars, cellphones and digital cameras.

The return of Mr Kaufman's laptop was the culmination of a one-man crusade of online sleuthing, social networking, and moments of voyeuristic creepiness - aided by a software called Hidden, developed by the London-based Flipcode.

Part tracking system, part nanny camera, the software is equipped with location positioning.

Many portable electronics, including some cameras, now come with wireless Internet capability and automatic geographic tagging of any photos taken - a helpful tool when trying to see where a thief has been hanging out - and a step beyond the LoJack tracking system invented two decades earlier that emits a signal from a stolen vehicle.

Mr Kaufman had just moved into a new apartment in Oakland, California, when a burglar broke in, taking the laptop, an electronic book reader and more on March 21.

In response, he activated the Hidden software he had installed on his laptop. It began sending him photos taken by the computer's built-in camera of the unauthorised user three days later.

Mr Kaufman said most of the images 'were honestly really boring photos - people staring into the screen. But some were definitely more humorous'.

Among them was a screenshot of the man logging into his Gmail account, which showed an e-mail that appeared to include the name of a business. Mr Kaufman did a quick Internet search that revealed it was a cab company in nearby Berkeley, which he assumed was the man's workplace.

Mr Kaufman submitted the information to police, but said they were unwilling to help and did not respond to numerous follow-up e-mail messages.

So he turned to the Internet. He posted some of the photos, including captions such as 'I really don't want to know what this guy is doing with my MacBook' for the image of the shirtless man in bed.

Mr Kaufman said he received a call from Oakland police spokesman Holly Joshi on the day he included a link to his blog. 'From that point on, they seemed to be on my side completely,' he said.

Police arranged a cab ride from Aldebashi and nabbed him when they recognised his face. He is being held in an Oakland jail on $20,000 bail, and was scheduled to be arraigned today.


Marathon winner who wasn't

Prime News


Jun 3, 2011

Marathon winner who wasn't

Marathon winner who wasn't

LAST weekend's Sundown Marathon was won by runner No. E6121, who clocked 2hr 53min 15sec and beat 5,684 others to the top spot.

When the emcee announced that Nigerian Richard Habeya was the winner of the Men's Open 42km race, a 1.70m lanky African stepped up, took his place on the podium and collected the winner's cheque.

He received a crystal trophy, $500 in cash and $600 worth of New Balance vouchers.

But there was a twist. Although he had run the race and finished first, the man on the podium was not Habeya, who had registered as runner No. E6121.

Organisers discovered later that it was one Willy Kipkemoi Rotich who had competed using his friend Habeya's numbered bib. He is a 20-year-old Kenyan who had not registered to run.

They also discovered that it was not the first time he turned up on the podium using someone else's race bib. He did the same thing at the Bagiuo 21K in the Philippines in April, when he finished second.

Now the Sundown organisers have disqualified him, and shaken up the order of winners.

Moroccan Ahmad Lamchannak (3:09:11) is the newly declared champion. He is followed by Singaporeans Morgan Lim (3:16:38) and Chew Hong Ang (3:19:08).

New winner Lamchannak said yesterday: 'I'm grateful that the organisers did due diligence and checked. Whatever it is, I'm proud to be champion of the Sundown Marathon 2011.'

According to HiVelocity general manager Benjamin Wee, the race organisers were informed by a volunteer that 'Willy had said he had run using Richard Habeya's number tag'.

'The rules clearly state that no runner is to use someone else's race tag and run,' he said.

In a phone call from Malaysia, Habeya told The Straits Times that he had missed his flight and could not make the Singapore race.

He said Rotich, who was in Singapore, called him.

'Willy told me that he signed up too late and asked me if he could use my race bib,' he said. 'I told him he could, but warned him that the organisers might disqualify him.

'He said he only wanted to train and did not care about winning.'

Rotich and another Nigerian runner stayed at the home of Andrzej Niekrasz, a lawyer working here.

Niekrasz told The Straits Times that Rotich had asked the organisers for permission to wear Habeya's bib and someone named Raychele had told him it was all right.

HiVelocity confirmed that there was a volunteer named Raychele but said it was probably a miscommunication between her and Rotich.

Said Wee: 'All volunteers were briefed that no last-minute changes could be entertained.'

Lawyer Loh Lin Kok, former Singapore Athletic Association chief, said that what Rotich did could be considered cheating but he added: 'This is probably a guy who wanted to save on the race entry fee and did not expect to win.'

Rotich has been uncontactable since Sunday. HiVelocity said they would find out if he has cashed the winner's cheque today.