Boy, 9, mauled to death by dogs

Sister's pit bulls attack him while he is left alone in trailer

SAD: Ms Alexandria Griffin-Heady had been trying to adopt her little brother.

Ever since his mother's death a few years ago, Tyler Trammell-Huston has been under foster care.

And the nine-year-old's wish for Christmas "was to have a mother".

His sister, Ms Alexandria Griffin-Heady, 24, was given permission to have him for overnight weekend visits. So she brought him home to her trailer in Linda, California, where she lives with her three pitbulls.

On Sunday, Tyler was left alone in the trailer with the dogs and when Ms Griffin-Heady returned home from her security guard shift a few hours later, the boy had been mauled to death.

The three dogs, a mother and two offspring that Ms Griffin-Heady had raised from puppyhood, are now in an animal shelter. They will be euthanised if they are determined to be dangerous animals, Yuba County Undersheriff Jerry Read said.

Ms Griffin-Heady had been trying to adopt her brother and she almost succeeded when the Sacramento County Child Protective Services allowed her to have him for overnight weekend visits.

She told Fox 40 in Sacramento: "I failed him, whether it's my fault, my dogs' fault, whoever's fault. I wanted to protect him, and I wanted to give him an amazing life.

"He loved them (the dogs). He lay in the bed with them. He played with them."

FOSTER HOMES

Mr Donald Thorpe, the boy's uncle, told Fox6now.com that Tyler had a hard life. He was in and out of foster homes after his mother died of a drug overdose - homeless on the streets of Sacramento.

Mr Roberto Marquez, a lawyer representing Ms Griffin-Heady, said his client had no sense that her dogs could pose a threat.

He said: "If she had any hint at all that these dogs had any propensity for violence, she would never have left her brother with them."

However, Tyler's aunt, Ms Laura Badeker, alleged that Ms Griffin-Heady was incapable of caring for the boy. She said she repeatedly told the agency she thought Tyler was unsafe with his sister.

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Jailed for work pass scam

Filipina helped foreigners get work passes to be maids while they seek other jobs

She knew of several foreign women who were looking for ways to extend their stay in Singapore legally.

To make a quick buck, Celeste Provido Apostol, 36, started an employment agency of sorts: She linked up foreign women with false employers here so they would be granted foreign domestic worker (FDW) work passes.

Ostensibly, these women had been employed as maids in Singaporean homes. In fact, they had paid for the work passes so they could legally extend their stay while seeking alternative employment.

They worked as performing artists, freelance cleaners, manicurists and in other odd jobs.

Apostol, a Filipino, was yesterday sentenced to 16 months' jail.

She had earlier pleaded guilty to 16 charges of engaging in a conspiracy to make a false declaration while 17 more charges - 16 of engaging in a conspiracy to make a false declaration and one of running an employment agency without a license - were taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that Apostol previously worked as a marketing manager for Asia Supreme Property, where she got to know Tay Szu Khee, the company's director.

Apostol and Tay hatched a plan to get FDW passes for foreigners who wanted to legalise their extended stay in Singapore.

They charged the women between $3,500 and $4,000 for the service and took a cut of the sum after paying off the bogus Singaporean employers.

The Singaporeans were paid between $700 and $2,000.

Apostol was in charge of dealing with interested foreigners while Tay was supposed to link up with Singaporeans interested in being bogus employers.

They operated between 2009 and 2013, despite the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) starting a probe in 2011.

She roped in two recruiters - Filipino Romeline Paa Tiongson and Hale MaArnie Pagaran.

Tiongson was usually the one who took the foreigners' information and passed them to Apostol, who filled out work pass application forms and submitted them to MOM.

Over four years, she found 27 foreigners and 21 "employers".

During sentencing, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said the operation was run on an extensive scale, almost like a syndicate.

HER ROLE

He said Apostol played a leading role that was "central and pivotal" to the operation, which had been designed to circumvent MOM's framework.

"Your egregious conduct in continuing after being investigated shows your disregard for the law," he said, adding that a strong sentence was needed to reflect the gravity of the offence and Apostol's role in it.

In a statement, MOM called it one of the largest scams of this nature it has investigated.

"This is a serious case of deceit, and a blatant disregard for the work pass framework.

"We will not tolerate fraud, and will take firm action against those who wilfully deceive the ministry," said Mr Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM's Foreign Manpower Management Division.

The ministry said all the bogus maids have been dealt with in court. They will be sent home and permanently barred from working in Singapore.

It is dealing with the bogus employers separately. Those convicted of providing false information will be barred from hiring any foreign workers.

This is a serious case of deceit, and a blatant disregard for the work pass framework.

- MOM, in a statement that said this was one of the largest scams of this nature it has investigated

Inaugural Singapore biker carnival aims to be annual event

Carnival to celebrate beauty of two-wheelers with custom bike painting and bodywork contest

BAND OF BIKERS: Warpigs Motorcycle Club members during a pit stop while touring in Malaysia.

It aims to be a yearly event on the motorcycling calendar in Singapore.

Called the Wicked Wallop, the inaugural biker carnival tomorrow at Handle Bar in Sembawang is also a celebration of the Warpigs Motorcycle Club's (WMC) 20th anniversary.

While club members specifically ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Wicked Wallop is open to all bikers regardless of what they ride.

Mr Jap Loh, vice-president of WMC, told The New Paper: "In the 20 years of the club's existence, we have organised rides and supported charities.

"This time, we want to give back to the riding community and invite all bikers to celebrate the biker lifestyle, ruggedness and, of course, the appreciation of motorcycles."

Cold brew and hot food will be served with live music.

Bike enthusiasts will also get to see award-winning custom bike painter Fahmi Freeflow at work.

The self-taught Bandung native, whose real name is Mochamad Syamsul Fahmi, will be doing on-the-spot pinstriping, a delicate art form that involves laying paint strips on motor vehicle bodies.

But expect a long queue at his booth as bikers hand him their helmets, fenders and fuel tanks.

Mr Fahmi, 37, said in a telephone interview from Bandung: "My clients usually ship their bikes' bodywork to me. These clients come from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand. But it is at these shows that I get to meet these bikers face-to-face and explore future projects."

Since 2003, Mr Fahmi has done bike-related paintwork "numbering in the hundreds", given the huge custom bike scene in Indonesia.

His works have been featured in an exhibition in Texas in 2012 and last year, he received an award at the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show.

He said: "There's no limit to one's imagination when it comes to unique designs. The challenge is to identify which designs suit your motorcycle."

If you are proud to showcase the work you have done on your motorcycle, enter your bike in the Show Off contest.

One of the judges is renowned Malaysian custom bike and car show organiser, Mr Asep Ahmad Iskandar.

Mr Asep, 40, told TNP: "A motorbike is one of the many canvases for showing your passion for customising... I think money (spent on custom work) is secondary. Taste and understanding of what represents a beautiful design comes first."

Participants for the Show Off contest must register between 3pm and 4pm at the venue.

Aside from bike activities, you can also get a shave or a haircut.

The event is supported by Harley-Davidson Singapore, El Cubanos and Liqui Moly, among other partners.

There's no limit to one's imagination when it comes to unique designs. The challenge is to identify which designs suit your motorcycle.

- Mr Mochamad Syamsul Fahmi (above), better known as Fahmi Freeflow

FYI

WHAT: Wicked Wallop biker carnival

WHEN: Tomorrow, from 3pm to 10pm

WHERE: Handle Bar, 57, Jalan Mempurong (Sembawang)

Admission is free.

Bikers, dealers react to record-high COE premiums

Record-high motorcycle COEs give riders the chills

OUT OF REACH: COE prices for motorcycles hit a record high of $6,889 on Wednesday.

It is like a recurring nightmare for biker Ahmad Zohree.

The news of motorcycle certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums being on the uptrend, especially Wednesday's record high of $6,889, has stalled his dream of owning a new motorcycle.

Like other bikers, Mr Zohree is praying for a window where premiums stabilise and fall to reasonable levels.

But the start of the year's COE bidding exercise may signal bad things to come.

Mr Zohree, 34, said: "Mampus (Malay for die). If the situation doesn't improve, I can't imagine taking public transport to work. It takes too long without my scooter."

Riding his eight-year-old 200cc Gilera scooter to work each day - from his home in Punggol to his office in Penjuru Road - is a breeze, especially in light morning traffic.

Mr Zohree, a service engineer who heads to work at around 7am, said: "It takes 35 minutes tops to get to work. If I take public transport like trains and feeder buses, it takes me between 90 and 120 minutes."

The sole breadwinner said the inconvenience and transport costs will rise without the use of a motorcycle as he is also required to visit secluded work sites.

Premiums for Category D (motorcycles) rose by $289 from $6,600 in the Dec 23 tender.

Since last year, the motorcycle industry has been urgently asking the authorities to step in and ease the pent-up demand for motorcycle COEs.

Mr Ong Kim Hua, sole distributor of KTM motorcycles in Singapore, said: "We can try to absorb some of the increase in COE premiums to help our dealers. But we can't keep absorbing."

Across the board, all motorcycle brands sold here, except for a handful, saw a decline in yearly new motorcycle registrations in 2015.

Statistics from 2004 reflected healthier yearly registration numbers hovering above the 12,000 mark. In 2014, yearly registration figures stood at about 8,000 new motorcycles.

For 2016, the outlook isn't expected to improve.

Mr Ong said: "I used to think those who are able to buy pricier KTM motorcycles could afford to withstand increases in COE premiums. I'm a little concerned now when my customers tell me they'll wait and see before buying their next KTMs."

'BLEEDING OUT'

Some industry players believe the current low supply of COE quotas for motorcycles and the "bleeding out" of motorcycle COEs to contribute to the open class (Category E) are to blame. Ten per cent of de-registered motorcycle COEs are transferred to Category E.

Mr Lee Kwan Meng, a spokesman for Hong Leong Yamaha, said: "An increase of $30 to $50 in bike COE premiums is okay. But jumps of between $200 and $300 each time are worrying.

"The solution is simple, Category D needs more COE quotas to cool premiums."

At present, there is quota of about 350 motorcycle COEs in each bidding exercise, compared to between 500 and 700 in 2004.

High COE premiums hurt lower-income riders like Mr Zohree, who is eyeing the 200cc and below category. This category makes up about 70 per cent of the total bike population.

In 2013, for example, a biker could buy a small motorcycle for less than $6,500 with COE premiums then below $2,000.

But prevailing COE premiums will now make the same motorcycle cost twice as much, said Mr Rex Tan of Ban Hock Hin.

Mr Tan said: "Today, a biker will see his monthly instalments double after buying a small bike."

Going the second-hand route, while appealing due to cheaper prices, may seem like an obvious choice. But it might not be a long-term solution.

Mr Ong said: "Sooner or later, prices for the second-hand market will also increase as more who can't afford to buy new motorcycles venture this route.

"An up-and-up bike COE price trend neither benefits sellers nor buyers."

Mampus (Malay for die). If the situation doesn't improve, I can't imagine taking public transport to work. It takes too long without my scooter.

- Mr Ahmad Zohree (above)

An increase of $30 to $50 in bike COE premiums is okay. But jumps of between $200 and $300 each time are worrying. The solution is simple, Category D needs more COE quotas to cool premiums

- Mr Lee Kwan Meng, a spokesman for Hong Leong Yamaha

REMEMBER $1 BIKE COES?

Believe it or not, there used to be a time when motorbike COE premiums cost only $1.

This was around 1991 to 1993.

COE quotas were also higher then, particularly in November 1993 when there were 7,079 COE quotas available. Successful bids then hit only 1,090.

However, in November 1995, premiums bust the $4,000 mark with the quota drastically reduced to 652. The total number of bids received then was 1,507.

Fast forward to 2015 and owning a motorcycle became much pricier, with COE premiums starting at $4,403 in January and hitting $6,600 by Dec 23.

Wednesday's COE bidding exercise set a record with premiums at $6,889. The quota was 328 and the bids received were 409.

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German mayor slammed for advice to women on sexual attacks

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What you need to know about Netflix's Singapore launch

REGIONALISED: Singapore subscribers of Netflix will be able to watch the provider's own TV series Marvel's Daredevil (above) but not popular TV series House Of Cards.
REGIONALISED: Singapore subscribers of Netflix will be able to watch the provider's own TV series Marvel's Daredevil but not popular TV series House Of Cards (above).

Internet TV service Netflix was launched yesterday in 190 countries, including Singapore.

So what's in store for us?

WHAT IS NETFLIX?

Netflix first launched its streaming service in the United States in 2007.

Members pay a monthly subscription and it is available on any device that has an Internet connection, which includes smartphones, smart TVs such as Apple TV and game consoles such as the PlayStation.

Before its launch in Singapore, some local users managed to access Netflix by using virtual private network services that unlocks geo-restricted content and entertainment to Singapore users.

These include online providers such as Unotelly and Unlocator and local Internet Service Providers such as Viewqwest and My Republic.

WHAT KIND OF SHOWS CAN WE WATCH?

Netflix creates its own content with their own original series, including Marvel's Daredevil and comedy Orange Is The New Black. A catalogue of licensed TV shows and movies is also available.

WHAT ABOUT NON-ENGLISH CONTENT?

A search for Indian actor Salman Khan revealed three of his old films, the latest of which is Hum Saath - Saath Hain (1999).

The only Chinese content available appeared to be 2011 TV series Empresses in the Palace.

A Netflix spokesman said: "We will add more to the Netflix catalogue in Singapore as the service grows in popularity and we better understand what our members want to watch in each region."

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Subscribers here will pay between $10.98 and $16.98 a month, which is comparable to prices in the US.

It is possible to share an account with up to four people watching Netflix at the same time.

A Netflix account also allows you to create up to five user profiles so that family members sharing an account can each enjoy a customised experience.

Prices:

One screen (standard definition): $10.98

Two screens simultaneously (high definition): $13.98

Four screens simultaneously (high definition + ULTRA HD 4K: $16.98)

A Netflix spokesman said that members can pay with an international credit card, through the iTunes app store and via Paypal.

"Over time, we aim to add local payment options around the world," he said.

HOW DOES CONTENT HERE COMPARE TO THE US?

Former veteran tech journalist Oo Gin Lee noted that wildly popular series House of Cards and Breaking Bad are not available to Netflix subscribers in Singapore.

"There is a general consensus that the US market has the best content. It could get better over time, but for now, I feel that content is limited," said the Netflix subscriber of three years.

A Netflix spokesman said that they aim to offer "a fully global service with a global catalogue".

He said: "However the world of content licensing has traditionally been very fragmented and regionalised. It will take some time to get to an offering that's the same everywhere."

HOW WILL IT AFFECT PAY TV SUBSCRIBERS OF LOCAL TELCOS?

Mr Goh Seow Eng, managing director of Home, Consumer Singapore at Singtel, said: "We will be working closely with Netflix to deliver great promotions to our customers."

A StarHub spokesman said they are exploring a partnership with Netflix, so that their viewers will have the "widest selection of content with the convenience of their StarHub set-top box".

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE?

Interested subscribers can sign up for an account at the offi­cial Netflix website: www.netflix.com/sg/

There will be a free one-month trial for new members. A reminder e-mail will be sent before the free trial is up and cancellations can be made at any time.

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