Thursday, March 18, 2010

British boy leaves Pakistan with dad after kidnap

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Smiling and in high spirits, a five-year-old British boy boarded a flight home from Pakistan on Thursday after being reunited with his overjoyed father following a 12-day kidnapping ordeal.
Sporting a new hair cut, Sahil Saeed kicked around a football on the lawn of the British high commissioner's residence in Islamabad, joined by a little girl playmate, and was smothered in hugs and kisses from relatives.
Smiling and waving as he was cuddled by his relieved father, Sahil seemed in high spirits and gulped down a drink brought out by a member of the household staff, television footage showed.
The emotional reunion came after his father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, flew back to Pakistan to collect his son and return him to Britain, days after the boy's uncle dropped off a 110,000 pound ransom in Paris.
"I am completely overjoyed that I have been reunited with my son after such a long ordeal," the father said in a statement released by the high commission.
"Sahil is doing well, is in good spirits and can?t wait to return to the UK to see his Mum, his family and join his friends back at school," he added, thanking British and Pakistani authorities for assisting in his son's return.
The father, son and an uncle took off for Manchester aboard Pakistan International Airlines flight 701 at 3:15 pm (1015 GMT), PIA official Mohammad Imran told AFP.
Saeed's mother Akila Naqqash, who spoke to her son by telephone from her home in Oldham, northern England, promised him a "big party" on his return.
The ordeal began when Sahil was snatched at gunpoint from his grandmother's house in the town of Jhelum, about 100 kilometres (65 miles) south of Islamabad, in the early hours of March 4 at the end of a family holiday.
Pakistani authorities, helped by British officials, launched a hunt for the boy, and 12 days later Sahil was recovered safe and sound in a field not far from Jhelum as the focus of the investigation switched to France and Spain.
British High Commissioner Adam Thomson said he was "thrilled" that Sahil was back with his father.
"This brings to an end a long period of terrible anxiety and uncertainty. I wish them all the best as they rejoin the rest of their family back in the UK," he said in a statement.
A Pakistani man and a Romanian woman, who have been charged with murder and are awaiting trial, were among five people arrested by police Tuesday.
The couple travelled from the northeastern Spanish town of Constanti, which has a large Pakistani community, to Paris, where they collected the ransom and returned to Spain, where they were arrested.
Another Pakistani man was also arrested in Constanti while French police detained two family members of the man who went to Paris for being accomplices. They had put up the couple at their Paris apartment.
The authorities made the arrests once they were informed that Sahil had been recovered in Pakistan and was safe, said the head of the Spanish police's economic and violent crime unit, commander Serafin Castro.
Police found nearly 104,000 pounds and over 3,000 euros in the couple's flat in Constanti as well as several mobile telephones, including one used to make calls to the boy's father in Paris, and a new computer.
Castro said the kidnapping began when four men armed with grenades and Kalashnikov rifles stormed the house in Jhelum and tied up all the family members as well as the driver of a taxi booked to go to the airport, before leaving with the boy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tori Graces Spring 2010 Issue Of What?! Magazine

Tori graces the cover of the fourth issue of What?!, a magazine edited and published by none other than Karen Binns, Tori’s long-time stylist and friend.
In the editorial, Karen writes:
On the cover of this issue we have my long-time friend and sista Tori Amos, which I guess speaks for itself. She is one of the most insanely attractive people of our time: singer, songwriter, producer and a true Goddess. Knowing and hanging out with Tori is like flying on a silver carpet with candied apples and red wine. She has been an inspiration to my creative being for the last 17 years. Tori is the true channeler of our times, her success is not from the size of her wardrobe but from the spirit of her blood. Her Goddess is always on tap. She was born with that ‘thing’ you just can’t purchase, manipulate or steal – it’s orginial without a price. Not forgetting to mention her dedication to her charity/hotline RAINN – Rape, Absue, and Incest National Network (

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SeaWorld workers describe frenzy of fatal attack

MIAMI – A killer whale that dragged a trainer to her death eluded SeaWorld workers' frenzied efforts to corral it with plastic nets while it swam pool-to-pool, according to witness statements released Monday.
After the massive whale was finally trapped last week, it refused to unclench its teeth and let go of Dawn Brancheau, according to the investigative reports released by the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Its jaws were eventually pried open.
"The whale would not let us have her," another trainer, Jodie Ann Tintle, told investigators after the Wednesday attack.
Investigators have said that the 40-year-old trainer died from multiple traumatic injuries and drowning.
In the new investigative reports, Brancheau's co-workers describe the swiftness of the attack and the furious response that came after alarms sounded around the pool. Employees who were at other pools, behind computers or emptying coolers of fish rushed to the scene.
The reports released Monday include the first extensive accounts from employees who witnessed the attacks at the park in Orlando.
Jan Topoleski, whose job is to monitor trainers' safety during shows, told investigators he saw Brancheau lying on the deck face-to-face with the 22-foot-long, 12,000-pound whale and communicating with him right before the attack. He said the whale, named Tilikum, bit Brancheau's hair and pulled her into the pool in a span of about two seconds. He sounded an alarm and grabbed safety equipment.
Susanne De Wit, a 33-year-old tourist from the Netherlands, told investigators her group had just walked to a window for a photo when she saw the attack. The attack occurred in front of about 20 visitors who had stuck around after a noontime show.
"Suddenly I saw (the whale) grabbing the trainer ... and pulling her down in the water," she said. "It was scary. He was very wild, with the trainer still in the whale's mouth, the whale's tail was very wild in the water."
Tanner Grogan, who scrambled to help other employees unfurl nets to corral Tilikum, said the whale at one point let go for several seconds, but snatched Brancheau again by the foot before anyone could react. The plastic, weighted nets — similar to temporary fencing used at construction sites — were unrolled and dropped in the water to help direct the whale to a pool with a hydraulic lift.
It's not clear how long it took workers to finally trap the whale in that pool and lift him from the water. One witness said it seemed like 10 minutes. Another said it could have been as long as 30 minutes.
Even after the whale was lifted out of the water, Brancheau still could not be freed until the whale's jaws were pried open. The trainer was pronounced dead by paramedics on the deck by the pool.
"Tilly was not giving up Dawn," said Robin Ann Morland, another SeaWorld worker.

Family holds out hope for Calif. teen's return

SAN DIEGO – Chelsea King is a straight-A student who plays French horn for the San Diego Youth Symphony, runs on the school cross-country team and actively volunteers in a peer counseling program.
At Poway High School, photos adorn the walls with the caption, "Last seen 2-25 at RB Community Park wearing running clothes."
The 17-year-old's family and authorities are holding out hope she will return safely. Thousands of volunteers have helped search for the teen since she disappeared Thursday, and her father, Brent King, told CBS' "The Early Show" Tuesday, "Until I hear differently, I believe she's alive."
But as optimistic searchers spread out over the popular area for trail runners, police were determining whether to charge a registered sex offender who was arrested Sunday for investigation of the teen's murder and rape.
John Gardner III, 30, remained in custody without bail after his arrest outside a Mexican restaurant in suburban Escondido on Sunday. Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney's office, said a decision would be made by Wednesday about filing charges.
Gardner, of Lake Elsinore, pleaded guilty in May 2000 to molesting a 13-year-old female neighbor and was sentenced to six years in prison. Prosecutors say he lured the victim to his home with an offer to watch "Patch Adams," a 1998 movie starring Robin Williams.
Sheriff Bill Gore told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday that the questioning of Gardner hadn't produced any leads. Sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell declined to say if searches of Gardner's home and his mother's San Diego home yielded evidence.
Brent King pleaded for anyone with information about Gardner to come forward. Investigators suspect Gardner could be tied to a Dec. 27 assault on a female jogger from Colorado who fended off her attacker in the same park.
"Anybody who knows anything about the person they have in custody — whatever you want to call him, I can't even put a word to it — please let us know," he said.
In an interview Monday, the Kings, who also have a 13-year-old son, recounted their daughter's disappearance.
Brent, 47, returned from the gym around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the same time his wife, Kelly, 48, came home with groceries. Their daughter, who always kept them abreast of her whereabouts, wasn't home.
First, they called her cell phone, then her friends. A friend's mother suggested an AT&T Web site, which led them to her cell phone that was left inside her 1994 BMW parked near the tennis courts at the park.
"Because it was so out of character for Chelsea not to tell us or call us and say I'm going to be late ... we just had that feeling," Brent King said.
Kelly called 911 as her husband drove to the park. Brent looked first at the tennis courts, then saw a trail headed into the woods.
"I took off and ran down the trail as far as I could run, calling out for my daughter at the top of my voice in every direction," he said.
Chelsea was born in Poway, a well-to-do suburb of homes and office parks northeast of San Diego. The family followed Brent King's job in mortgage banking to the San Francisco Bay area and to the Chicago area before returning to San Diego. Their home was badly damaged in 2007 wildfires that ravaged Southern California.
Chelsea is taking four Advanced Placement courses and applied to 11 colleges, with an eye toward a career that would combine her interests in writing and environmental protection. She has been accepted to two schools, University of Washington and University of British Columbia.
"She is one of the most driven, personable, caring people that you could ever meet," Brent King said. "Her goal in life is to brighten everyone's day. That's what she does, and when she walks into the room, you know she's there."
She often stays up studying past midnight, working so hard that her parents urge her to ease off and spend more time with friends. Long-distance running was her escape.
"That was her outlet when she was stressed about a test or needed to just clear her head," Kelly King said.