Shoe snatcher snared
Police in southern Japan arrested a man for stealing shoes at a local hospital, then later stumbled upon a collection in his home of 440 women's shoes -- all for the left foot, an official said on Sunday. The private hospital in Usu city began receiving complaints two years ago that shoes removed at the entrance hall were going missing. Police arrested Ichiro Irie, 45, on Saturday and found a box overflowing with women's shoes, including high heels, patent leather pumps, sandals and nurses' shoes. Irie told police he had "a penchant for women's feet." It wasn't clear why he seemed to prefer the left foot.
Man kills money-eating dog
A farmer in Honghu, Hubei Province killed his pet dog and cut it open after it swallowed his US$300 life savings, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported yesterday. The dog gobbled up 25 notes worth 100 yuan each when Sun Xiaoshan left his savings lying around the house. Sun managed to retrieve 14 of the notes, which were partially damaged but worth a total of around US$170 from the dog's stomach, the paper said.
Priests detained over retreat
Authorities have detained a dozen underground Roman Catholic priests and seminarians for attending a retreat that was not sponsored by the state, a US-based religious rights group said. They were being held at a detention center in Gaocheng County, Hebei Province, a week after authorities took them into custody, the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation said. The group also said authorities demolished a church in nearby Liugou village in June, about two weeks after its completion. "It does not appear that the Chinese government respects the Pope with these consistent and harsh treatments of the Roman Catholic Church in China," foundation president Joseph Kung said.
Bachelors living in fear
Young men in the eastern state of Bihar are being closely watched by their families to prevent them from being abducted and unwillingly married, the Hindu Times newspaper said yesterday. The paper reported that with the onset of the traditional wedding season, fear has gripped families with unmarried men. The practice in the Begusarai area of abducting bachelors has risen to alarming proportions in recent years with a sharp rise in dowry demands. Families who want to marry off their daughters without paying a dowry often hire criminals to abduct eligible boys and force them into wedlock, the paper said, quoting social activists. So far 13 cases of such forced marriages have been registered with police this year.
■ South Korea
Key presidential aide quits
President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday accepted the resignation of a close aide accused by the political opposition of making the president's leadership look shaky. Lee Kwang-jae, who held the key post of briefing the president on state affairs, has been embroiled in allegations of corruption, though no criminal charge has been filed against him. Lee turned in his resignation on Oct. 18 but it wasn't accepted until yesterday as pressure mounted on Roh to reshuffle his staff to regain public confidence. Roh said earlier this month that he no longer felt confident as president and would step down if he failed to win a fresh mandate in the referendum.
■ United States
Gay bishop won't back down
Canon Gene Robinson, the Anglican communion of churches' first openly gay bishop, pledged at the weekend that he would defy the world leaders of the church and proceed with his consecration next week in the US. Speaking via a videolink to a conference of gay and lesbian Christians in Manchester, England, Robinson confirmed that he was determined that he would not stand aside next Sunday. Anglican church leaders have warned that his appointment could tear the worldwide church apart. Robinson, 56, a divorced grandfather, with two daughters, has lived with his partner, Mark Andrew. for 13 years.
Leftist wins Bogota election
Colombians returned to the polls Sunday to elect state and local officials amid an atmosphere of violence, a day after 13 people were killed as a referendum was held. Leftist Luis Eduardo Garzon won the mayor's race in Bogota with 47 percent of the vote, the Election Commission said. It was the first time the Colombian left had been able to win such an important election, and it represented a blow to the conservative President Alvaro Uribe. The president hopes for Saturday's 15-question referendum also fell short as the minimum turnout required for the vote to be valid was not met.
■ United States
Egyptian twins doing well
The conditions of formerly conjoined Egyptian twins Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim were upgraded from serious to guarded as they continued to recover from surgery two weeks ago to separate them. Mohamed is off all intravenous medications, the hospital said Sunday night. Both children were tolerating full formula feedings. "Mohamed's therapy is going well and today he was able to throw toys with his left hand at various staff members," said Dr. James Thomas, chief of critical care services at Children's Medical Center Dallas. Ahmed is undergoing therapy workouts twice a day and is making good progress.
Pill for rampaging boars
Scientists are experimenting with contraceptives for wild boars, to try to stop the daily invasion of Berlin by herds looking for food. Although wild pigs have lived in the nearby forests for centuries, their numbers have grown rampantly in recent months. "A herd of wild pigs can do thousands of euros of damage in one night," said Katarina Jewgenow, of Berlin's Zoo and Wild Animal Institute. The institute hopes to remedy the problem by giving the animals a yearly dose of hormones that will leave them temporarily sterile. The pills will be delivered in in feeding troughs in the center of the forest or on "tasty snacks" hidden in the undergrowth.
Paper combo beats rocks
The competitors call themselves professional athletes. Some even bring along team doctors to supervise their nutrition and take them through intense warmups. This, it seems, is serious stuff to the 320 competitors who shook their fists early into Sunday morning at the World Rock, Paper, Scissors Champion-ships in downtown Toronto. The winner was Toronto's Rob Krueger, a member of the team "Legion of the Red Fist," who netted C$5,000 (US$3,825). To achieve the title of World RPS Champion, he threw a combination of rock-paper-paper, defeating his opponent's offering of three rocks.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists