- Philippines celebrates as caregiver wins Israel's X Factor
- Acquitted of killing mother
- Police arrest two over gang-rape of Danish tourist in Delhi
Posted: 15 Jan 2014 04:02 PM PST
MANILA (AFP) - Celebrations broke out in the Philippines on Wednesday after a Filipina who has spent nearly half her life as a carer overseas won Israel's first "X Factor".
Rose Fostanes, one of the millions of Filipino workers abroad lionised back home and forming a pillar of the country's economy, won the television talent show late Tuesday with a rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" that delighted fans in both countries.
Local television, news websites, social media and even the president lavished praise on the unmarried, openly gay 47-year-old, who has worked abroad for more than two decades -- six of them in Israel -- to support her family.
"We know the situation she was in and we are very proud that she has again given the Philippines pride in the showcase of her talent," President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters Wednesday.
"The Filipino has an innate advantage when it comes to the arts.... It clearly shows that the excellence of the Filipino can be expressed anywhere, everywhere, when they are given the opportunity to show their talent."
Fostanes has been likened by fans to Susan Boyle, the middle-aged Scottish singer whose humble looks and shy demeanour belied a scintillating voice that captivated millions on the television talent show "Britain's Got Talent" in 2009.
Before she entered the competition, Fostanes' day job had been to care for an elderly employer in Tel Aviv -- one of some 10 million Filipinos, about a tenth of the population, who have gone to work abroad to escape poverty and joblessness back home.
Israel's media said her victory had put the spotlight on the country's low-paid migrant workers, among them tens of thousands of Filipinos, who work as carers or in menial jobs.
Fostanes, the only foreign contestant, lives in a crowded apartment in an area inhabited mostly by foreign workers in Tel Aviv.
"Not all workers and cleaners from the Philippines are in a position like this: It's like Cinderella, you know," she told the show in an earlier interview uploaded on YouTube.
But she fretted whether Israel's television audience, who had made her an early audience favourite, would tire of her plain looks and vote her out of the contest in favour of younger, slimmer rivals.
"This is what I'm afraid of, because I don't have the whole package," she said.
But fans were won over. In a live performance watched on television by many of her impoverished countrymen before dawn Wednesday, Fostanes' powerful, soulful singing voice won the judges' nod.
Her ecstatic younger sister, Rose, told Manila television network ABS-CBN: "This is my sister's life dream turning into reality. Who would have thought it would happen abroad?"
Fostanes had blitzed through the earlier rounds with impressive renditions of songs by Tina Turner, Lady Gaga, Prince and Christina Aguilera among others.
Clips of her performances have been drawing tens of thousands of hits since they were uploaded on YouTube this month.
Fostanes' girlfriend Mel Adel had told the station last weekend that she feared her partner's disclosure at the show of the lesbian relationship would harm her chances of winning.
"But I was elated that she did not disown me," Adel said.
Lani Cayetano, mayor of the Manila suburb of Taguig where the singer's siblings live, said: "She is indeed an epitome of hope, her powerful voice touching hearts not only of Israelis, but of all of us." - AFP
Posted: 15 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST
A 32-YEAR-OLD man who repeatedly stabbed his mother to death after voices in his head told him to do so was acquitted of murder in the High Court on grounds of temporary insanity.
Mohamed Redha Abdul Mutalib had a history of substance abuse and was heavily intoxicated with cough syrup two years ago when he attacked Asnah Aziz in their Eunos home, according to court documents. The 55-year-old housewife died from the 90 stab wounds the same day.
In a rare case, he will instead be held in custody at Changi Prison before being transferred to the Institute of Mental Health, where he will be held at the President's pleasure.
Clearing Redha of murder, Justice Tay Yong Kwang said that while the man had committed the act, he had not been capable at the time of knowing that it was wrong.
On Jan 26, 2012, Redha, then a healthcare assistant, tried to leave his flat after being woken up in the morning by noise from a lion dance performance at the neighbouring block.
After his mother stopped him from leaving, he beat and stabbed her. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Posted: 15 Jan 2014 03:55 PM PST
New Delhi (AFP) - Police on Wednesday arrested two homeless men over the alleged gang-rape of a Danish tourist who lost her way in New Delhi -- the latest high-profile case to shine a spotlight on women's safety in India.
The incident involving the 51-year-old comes just weeks after the country marked the first anniversary of the death of a student who was gang-raped on a moving bus in the capital in an attack that sent shockwaves across the nation.
The Danish tourist approached the suspects for directions early on Tuesday evening while trying to return to her hotel in the bustling Paharganj district, reportedly after visiting a city museum.
Up to six "youngsters" dragged her to a secluded part of a garden near the New Delhi railway station where they robbed and assaulted her at knife-point, police said.
She was travelling alone and had arrived in the capital on Monday after visiting the Taj Mahal in the northern city of Agra, staff at her hotel said.
"Two person(s) have been arrested in connection with rape case with Danish national," read a statement from the police late on Wednesday.
Despite tougher laws and efforts to change attitudes to women in India's deeply patriarchal society, the number of reported sex crimes in the world's second most populous country continues to rise.
The alleged attack in an area popular with tourists in the heart of the city comes less than two weeks after a Polish woman was allegedly drugged and raped by a taxi driver while travelling with her two-year-old daughter to New Delhi.
Police searching for 'vagabonds'
Police said both arrested men, one of whom was a 25-year-old migrant from nearby Uttar Pradesh, were homeless and sleeping rough at New Delhi railway station.
They were both found to be carrying possessions belonging to the victim, including an iPod music player and a spectacles case.
A senior investigating policeman told AFP Wednesday on condition of anonymity that they were searching for between four and six men who appeared to be "vagabonds".
The victim, who was described as "traumatised" by police, gave a detailed statement in the presence of the Danish ambassador and is returning home.
A Danish foreign ministry spokesman said she "will be offered support and care when she comes home to Denmark" while declining to give any other details.
The crime scene was a secluded area shrouded by trees near a statue, inside the grounds of the Railway Officers Club on State Entry Road.
A police forensic team visited on Wednesday morning and police are in possession of the clothes the victim was wearing at the time of the attack, police told AFP.
Kuldeep Singh, a receptionist at the victim's hotel, said the woman had appeared calm when she returned at about 8:30 pm (1500 GMT) but then confided in a fellow traveller.
"She first came to me at the reception desk and told me that she needed 200 rupees to give to the auto driver as she had been robbed," Singh said.
Female tourists afraid
Female tourists in Paharganj said they were aware of past cases and the new incident had rung alarm bells.
"I felt very unsafe with walking the streets and seeing what you see and everybody staring at you, but you can't not travel to India because of it," said Jessica Orpwood, a 21-year-old student backpacker from New Zealand.
Protests over sexual violence in the past year have prompted India's parliament to toughen laws for rapists and other offenders, while other judicial and police reforms have encouraged women to report attacks.
But daily accounts of brutal assaults continue to be reported in the country's newspapers.
A schoolgirl was raped by eight men in the eastern city of Ranchi this week while they held her male friend, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.
The paper also reported the alleged rape of a German teenager on a train bound for the southern city of Chennai last week. The report said police had a man in custody.
A judge last month sentenced three Nepalese men to 20 years in jail for the gang-rape of a US tourist in June and six men were sentenced to life in prison last July for the gang-rape and robbery of a Swiss female cyclist. - AFP
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