Cats start fire with urine
Two kittens picked the wrong place to relieve themselves when they urinated on a fax machine, sparking a fire that extensively damaged their owner's house. Investigators concluded that the fire was caused by a spark generated when the urine soaked the machine's electrical printing mechanism. The fire damaged the kitchen and living room before it was put out by the house's owner, who was treated for mild smoke inhalation. The kittens quickly ran to safety. "If you have a cat, or a dog, be careful where they urinate," a Kobe fireman said. "Especially keep them away from electrical appliances and wires."
Kyoto Prize winners named
Two American researchers and an Austrian conductor were awarded the 2005 Kyoto Prize yesterday for their contributions to the scientific, cultural and spiritual development of mankind. The Inamori Foundation said electronics engineer George Heilmeier, ecologist Simon Levin and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a former conductor of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, are this year's winners. The Kyoto Prize, which includes a ¥50 million yen (US$465,000) cash gift, is awarded annually in advanced technology, basic sciences and arts and philosophy, to individuals or groups deemed by the foundation to have "contributed significantly to mankind's betterment."
Student sets off `bomb'
A high school student threw a jar filled with gunpowder and other substances into a packed classroom in Japan yesterday, causing an explosion that injured 53 people. One male student suffered cuts to his legs in the blast, but the other injuries were minor. In all, 53 people were treated in hospital. An 18-year-old student was arrested on charged of inflicting bodily injury immediately after the blast at Hikari public high school. The device reportedly burst into flames just in front of the teacher's desk and exploded with a loud bang after it landed. The suspect's motives were as yet unclear.
■ Hong Kong
Shark fin eaters warned
Customers who want shark fin soup served at their banquets at Hong Kong Disneyland will be told about the harm done by the industry that supplies the fins. Pamphlets will be given to people booking banquet tables at the park, but "not too graphic," and guests can decide "to read it or not," said a Disney spokesperson. Activists have been pressuring Disneyland to take shark fin soup off its menus, saying millions of sharks are killed each year for the traditional dish, with fishermen often hacking off the fins and dumping the sharks back into the water. Disney has refused to remove the staple Hong Kong banquet dish from its menus.
■ United States
Teen terror suspect `guilty'
A teen accused of plotting a massacre at his suburban Detroit high school pleaded guilty on Thursday to several firearms charges -- a day before his Internet terror trial is set to begin. Andrew Osantowski, 17, faces charges of making a threat of terrorism, using a computer to make threats of terrorism and possession of a firearm in a felony. The case is among the first in the nation in which anti-terrorism laws are being applied to school violence, according to officials. Police arrested Osantowski in September after finding Internet chat-room messages in which he allegedly threatened students at Chippewa Valley High School.