- Japan makes first arrest over 3-D printer guns
- Autistic Australian an artistic hero
- Hong Kong publisher given 10 years' jail in China
Posted: 07 May 2014 10:16 PM PDT
TOKYO: A Japanese man suspected of possessing guns made with a 3-D printer has been arrested, reports said Thursday, in what was said to be the country's first such detention.
Officers who raided the home of Yoshitomo Imura, a 27-year-old college employee, confiscated five weapons, two of which had the potential to fire lethal bullets, broadcaster NHK said.
They also recovered a 3-D printer from the home in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, but did not find any ammunition for the guns, Jiji Press reported.
It is the first time Japan's firearm control law has been applied to the possession of guns produced by 3-D printers, Jiji reported.
The police investigation began after the suspect allegedly posted video footage on the Internet showing him shooting the guns, the Mainichi Shimbun said on its website.
Officers suspect that he downloaded blueprints for making the guns with 3-D printers from websites hosted overseas, the newspaper said.
The daily said the suspect largely admitted the allegations, saying: "It is true that I made them, but I did not think it was illegal."
The police refused to confirm the reports, although broadcasters showed footage of Imura being taken in for questioning.
The rapid development of 3-D printing technology, which allows relatively cheap machines to construct complex physical objects by building up layers of polymer, has proved a challenge for legislators around the world.
Weapons assembled from parts produced by the printers are not detectable with regular security equipment, like that found at airports, leading to fears that they may be used in hijackings.
The debate about home-made guns took off last year in the United States when a Texas-based group, Defense Distributed, posted blueprints for a fully functional, 3-D-printed firearm, a single-shot pistol made almost entirely out of hard polymer plastic.
In December the US Congress renewed a ban on guns that contain no metal.
While Japanese police are armed, Japan has very strict firearms control laws and few people possess guns or have ever come into contact with them. -AFP
Posted: 07 May 2014 09:44 PM PDT
SYDNEY: Artist Tim Smart cannot explain why his colourful work has such appeal, or how the cheeky superhero he first drew when he was a child, Laser Beak Man, has won fans around the world and become a television series.
"Drawing makes me really happy, doesn't it mum," is all he says, as his mother Judy sits beside him in Sydney's Hyde Park. "Colours can make me happy. Am I doing well mum?"
Smart, who turns 26 this month, was first diagnosed as autistic when he was three years old. At the time, his mother was told he would never talk, go to school or feel real affection for her. One doctor encouraged her to put him into an institution and move on.
Judy knew her son was intelligent and loving, but it wasn't until she began drawing pictures to communicate with him that he seemed to "switch on".
The first time she drew, Tim grabbed her hand and pushed it towards the pencil for her to pick it up and keep drawing. "And that in itself was a major interaction, he hadn't done that before."
The discovery was a breakthrough, meaning day-to-day activities such as going to another child's birthday party, which had once made Tim deeply anxious, became manageable once shown to him in pictures.
"Now I was able to show him the sequence of what you do - we go, we take the present, we blow out the candles, we sing 'Happy Birthday', and then we leave.
"And as soon as the candles were blown out we had to leave," she says, laughing. "But he didn't scream for the hour or so before that so it made a difference that way."
Once Tim starting drawing, it was quickly clear he had his own quirky style.
"I don't know that it was Picasso or anything like that, there was just something about it for a four-year-old," Judy says.
"What he tended to draw tended to have a lot of personality to it. And then he liked to watch me draw, which was a big thing because I couldn't maintain his attention on anything else."
'Have a filthy, disgusting birthday'
When he was 11, Tim told his mum that he wanted to be his creation - Laser Beak Man - when he grew up. It was around this time Tim and his younger brother were going to a birthday party and set about making a card.
"We didn't have any money for the card. So we made the card. I said, 'We'll put Laser Beak Man on the front. And I said to Tim, 'What would Laser Beak Man say?' What does he say? "Have a filthy, disgusting birthday".
"And we put that inside and we gave it to our friend who happened to have a friend who worked in the disability arts scene who said, 'This is just brilliant'. You have to make cards of this.'"
For Tim, Laser Beak Man was an extension of his love for superheroes such as Batman, Spiderman, Superman and the X-Men.
"He's always in my paintings," he explains of the creations which often involve a pun - such as one called "Everyone is Beautiful' in which the superhero is surrounded by the number 1, or "Shut the Duck Up" which has a duck with its mouth tied shut and Laser Beak Man holding a cooked bird on a platter.
In another entitled 'How to Make Mona Lisa Smile', Laser Beak Man is pictured mooning the famous subject as he paints her portrait.
Tim's work had instant appeal, and at 16 he was selected for the Very Special Arts Festival in Washington for people with disabilities. Judy mortgaged their house to make sure he could get there.
Since then, Tim, who uses pencils and crayons to create his bright designs on the family's kitchen table, has won fans such as Hollywood star Cate Blanchett and had a music festival staged in his honour in Nashville, Tennessee.
Laser Beak Man has also inspired an animated television series screened by the Cartoon Network and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
For Judy, one of the great things about Tim's art is that it has showed that acceptance of people with disabilities has improved.
"Lots of things have happened that we never thought would happen," she said. "Every day is exciting." -AFP
Posted: 07 May 2014 09:34 PM PDT
BEIJING: A Chinese court has condemned a Hong Kong publisher who planned to release a dissident's book about President Xi Jinping to 10 years in jail, his lawyer said Thursday.
Yao Wentian, 73, was given the sentence for smuggling on Wednesday by the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People's Court, one of his lawyers Ding Xikui told AFP.
Yao, also known as Yiu Man-tin in Cantonese, is the chief editor of Hong Kong's Morning Bell Press and has previously published politically sensitive books that were banned in mainland China.
He had been working with US-based author and dissident Yu Jie to release "Chinese Godfather Xi Jinping".
But Yao was detained last October after he was "lured" to Shenzhen, next to Hong Kong, previous media reports said.
Ding said Yao was convicted of smuggling a chemical raw material, with the court ruling that he had avoided tariffs of 740,000 yuan ($119,000).
His lawyers argued he was only an accessory.
"The sentence was too heavy," Ding said, adding Yao has until May 17 to lodge an appeal.
Censored Chinese books have become a big seller in the former British colony of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region of China which enjoys a separate legal system.
In 2012, Yao complained to Google, saying his Gmail account had been hacked while he prepared to release Yu's "Hu Jintao: Harmony King", a book on China's former president.
China came 173rd in a press freedom ranking of 179 countries issued by the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders last year, climbing one place from the previous year. -AFP
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