- Australian trafficker Corby released from prison in Bali
- Kerry heads Thursday on new Asia visit
- Japan sensor will let diaper say baby needs changing
Posted: 09 Feb 2014 04:26 PM PST
KEROBOKAN, Indonesia: Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby was released from an Indonesian prison on parole Monday after more than nine years behind bars, racing past hordes of waiting journalists as scores of police stood guard.
The 36-year-old covered her face with a scarf and hat as she was ushered into a minibus waiting outside Kerobokan jail on the resort island of Bali, as camera crews and photographers fought to get a shot of her.
Corby, whose case has drawn huge fascination in Australia since she was caught entering Bali in 2004 with marijuana stashed in her surfing gear, sped off to complete final administrative steps for her release, with journalists giving chase.
Dressed in a white blouse and jeans, she headed to the prosecutors' office and then to the corrections office, part of the justice ministry which will oversee her parole, trying to keep her face covered at all times.
At the corrections office, she signed papers agreeing to her parole conditions. Despite her face being obscured, she could be seen dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
Her release dominated Australian TV networks on Monday morning, with every second of her release broadcast live to all those who have followed the case minutely.
As expected Corby did not comment on her release, as a bidding war is reportedly in full swing in Australia for her first post-jail interview. However Kerobokan prison governor Farid Junaidi said she seemed fine.
"She was fine when she left, only a little anxious and she asked why there were so many people and reporters," he told journalists outside the jail.
Journalists have been camped outside Kerobokan jail for the past week in anticipation of her release, with one Australian television network alone having reportedly dispatched 17 staff.
Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin announced on Friday that Corby, who has always maintained her innocence, had been granted parole following a drawn-out process that repeatedly ran into bureaucratic hurdles.
The move was welcomed in Australia but drew protests from Indonesian lawmakers and an anti-drugs group, who said it went against the country's tough anti-narcotics laws.
Syamsuddin defended the move, saying that parole was a "right regulated by law".
Mental health problems in jail
Following her release, Corby will not be able to return to Australia until 2017. Her sentence ends in 2016 and then she will be required to stay for another year to comply with the conditions of her parole.
During this period, Corby is expected to live on the resort island with her sister Mercedes, who has a Balinese husband.
She will also have to report regularly to authorities in Bali and will be allowed to travel to other parts of Indonesia but only with prior permission from the authorities.
Corby, who has always insisted that the 4.1 kilos (nine pounds) of marijuana found in her body board bag were planted, will emerge a changed woman after years in Kerobokan prison.
Prisoners typically live side by side in overcrowded cells, and drug abuse, fighting between inmates and beatings by jail wardens are reportedly common.
She has suffered from mental health problems in prison and needed hospital treatment for depression.
Corby was convicted and jailed for 20 years in 2005.
The end of her sentence was brought forward to 2016 after she received several remissions for good behaviour, and a five-year cut following an appeal for clemency to the Indonesian president.
Her parole bid was a complex, months-long process which repeatedly ran into bureaucratic hurdles. The process sped up in the past week when a justice ministry parole board in Jakarta finally heard her case.
Her application included letters of support from the Australian government, as well as her family, the head of the Balinese village where she will live and Kerobokan prison.
In prison Corby lived alongside other foreigners sentenced under Indonesia's tough anti-narcotics laws, from people caught with small quantities of drugs at parties to those attempting to smuggle huge stashes into the island. -AFP
Posted: 09 Feb 2014 04:10 PM PST
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry will make his fifth trip to North and Southeast Asia on Thursday, stopping in China, South Korea and Indonesia for climate change and North Korea talks.
The globe-trotting top US diplomat will also visit Abu Dhabi at the end of his February 13-18 voyage, his spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
In Seoul, Kerry will "discuss ways to expand our cooperation on regional and global issues, and continue our close coordination... on North Korea," Psaki said.
Kerry last visited Seoul in April, and the new trip comes just after Washington learned Friday that a US citizen has been returned to a labor camp after having been hospitalized for poor health.
Washington has repeatedly called for the release of Kenneth Bae after the devout Korean American Christian missionary was detained in November 2012 and later sentenced to 15 years' hard labor on charges of trying to topple the government.
In Beijing, Kerry will highlight the role that the United States and China - the world's top emitters of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming - can play in combating climate change.
Kerry will also "relay the message that the United States is committed to pursuing a positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship and welcomes the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China that plays a positive role in world affairs," Psaki said.
The Beijing visit, also his second as secretary of state, comes however amid growing regional tensions over China's territorial ambitions after it unilaterally extended its air defense zone over the South China Sea.
The United States has urged Beijing to clarify or adjust its claims in the South China Sea, calling for a peaceful solution to one of Asia's growing flashpoints.
On Friday, Kerry reaffirmed a 1960 treaty with Japan and vowed the US would defend its ally against attack, including over islands claimed by China.
Beijing claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, even areas a long way from its shoreline, but portions are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
After China, the top US diplomat will then travel to Jakarta for talks with senior Indonesian leaders, before heading to Abu Dhabi, where his discussions are likely to focus on Middle East peace and the conflict in Syria. -AFP
Posted: 09 Feb 2014 08:05 PM PST
TOKYO: A disposable organic sensor that can be embedded in a diaper and wirelessly let a carer know it needs changing was unveiled by Japanese researchers on Monday.
The flexible integrated circuit printed on a single plastic film transmits information and receives its power wirelessly, and could potentially be manufactured for a few yen (US cents), the developers told AFP.
The system, which uses organic materials that can be printed with inkjet technology, was developed by a team led by professors Takayasu Sakurai and Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo.
In addition to use in infants' diapers, the technology can be applied to adult nappies, which are a big-seller in rapidly-ageing Japan.
Regular diapers change colour to indicate they are wet, but a care-giver still needs to take off the wearer's clothes to see.
"If sensing is done electronically, you can tell simply by coming close to the wearer - without unclothing him or her," Someya said.
The technology could also be put directly on the skin like a plaster, in place of often ring-shaped devices currently used in hospitals to monitor pulse and blood oxygen levels, he said.
Healthcare sensors often use silicon and other relatively rigid materials that can cause their users discomfort.
The flexibility of a single sheet of plastic film reduces discomfort for wearers and means it can be applied to a larger number of places - offering greater potential for doctors or carers to monitor well-being.
The prototype system that has been developed is capable of monitoring wetness, pressure, temperature and other phenomena that cause a change in electrical resistance, said Someya, but the team would like to refine it to reduce its power consumption before it goes into widespread use.
Currently the data-reading device needs to be a few centimetres (inches) from the sensor, but Someya said the team was exploring how practical this is and whether they can boost the distance.
Researchers are to unveil their work at an academic gathering now under way in San Francisco. -AFP
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