Briefs, January 9, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 4:18am

Second inquest returns same Winehouse ruling

LONDON - A second inquest into the death of British singer Amy Winehouse has confirmed she died of accidental alcohol poisoning. The same verdict of death by misadventure was given at a rehearing of the inquest that was ordered after it emerged that the first, in October 2011, was heard by a coroner who did not have the correct qualifications. The Grammy award winner was found dead at her north London home on July 23, 2011, following years of drug and alcohol addiction. She was 27. Winehouse had 416 milligrams of alcohol per decilitre of blood in her system, more than five times Britain's legal driving limit of 80mg. AFP

Snakes on a Plane director found dead

LOS ANGELES - David R. Ellis, the actor turned stuntman turned director of Snakes on a Plane, has died. He was 60. Manager David Gardner said Ellis' body was found in a hotel room in Johannesburg. Ellis was in the South African city working on Kite, a remake of the 1998 Japanese anime film that was to have starred Snakes on a Plane actor Samuel L. Jackson. No cause of death had been released. Ellis began his Hollywood career as an actor in the 1970s. He is survived by his wife and three children. AP

British soldier killed by Afghan 'colleague'

KABUL - A member of the Afghan army has shot dead a British soldier, in the latest insider attack to undermine the United States-led mission training Afghans to take over from Nato troops next year. The attack came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepared for talks in Washington on long-term US military and civilian support for his country, where fears are growing that turmoil could erupt after foreign troops depart. AFP

Depardieu may face prison after no-show

PARIS - French film star Gerard Depardieu failed to show up in court to face drink-driving charges because he was preparing to play disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a film, his lawyer said. The no-show means the case will turn into a full trial - guaranteeing yet another day in the spotlight for the garrulous actor caught up in a scandal over his tax status. It could also lead to the star getting a tougher sentence if convicted - in theory, up to two years in prison. Reuters

Wikipedia hoax outed after five years online

MUMBAI - It went undetected for five years on Wikipedia, but now a seemingly meticulous entry about a 17th-century conflict between colonial Portugal and India's Maratha empire has been exposed as a hoax. "The Bicholim Conflict" of 1640-41, described in the piece assessed as a "good article", has been unearthed not as an episode of Goan history but a tale by a mischievous user. Added to the site in July 2007, the entry was only uncovered by an eagle-eyed user last month. The entry has been added to Wikipedia's list of hoaxes that have dogged the site since it was founded in 2001, such as non-existent Indonesian island Bunaka, and Gaius Flavius Antoninus, supposed assassin of Julius Caesar. AFP


Severance pay restored for gays in US military

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - Dozens of gay and lesbian former members of the US military who were discharged due to their homosexuality will receive more severance pay under a settlement approved by a federal court. The American Civil Liberties Union said the US$2.4 million settlement covered more than 180 veterans who received only half of their separation pay under a policy that went into effect in 1991, two years before "don't ask, don't tell" became law. Lawyer Laura Ives of the ACLU called the settlement "long-delayed justice". AP


Stray dogs blamed for four deaths in capital

MEXICO CITY - Mexico City police rounded up stray dogs in an ecological reserve after a pack apparently killed four people, including a mother and her baby. The bodies of the mother and child were discovered with bite marks on December 29, while a young man and woman were found on Saturday in the Iztapalapa district. Prosecutors said everything pointed to an animal attack, "most likely by canines". But relatives of the young couple said the bodies showed signs of having been murdered, adding there was no blood at the scene. AFP


Fernandez forced to rent plane in debt row

BUENOS AIRES - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will go on a four-nation trip in a rented plane due to fears that her official aircraft will be impounded in a debt dispute. Despite a bitter war of words with London over the Falkland Islands, Fernandez' government is paying British charter firm Chapman Freeborn US$880,000 for the trip to Cuba, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Vietnam. Last year, a court in Ghana impounded the Argentine navy ship Libertad for two months following a request from Cayman Islands-based NML Capital. AFP


Lawmakers tossed out of Greek coalition

ATHENS - A junior partner in Greece's three-party governing coalition kicked two of its lawmakers out of its parliamentary group, reducing the struggling government's majority, as a result of a scandal over a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts. The Democratic Left party expelled Odysseas Voudouris and Paris Moutsinas, who said they would support the opposition Syriza party's moves to impeach former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, who heads the coalition's Socialist party, over alleged mishandling of the bank account list. AP