Monkey god heads school
He’s a monkey, he’s a god, and now he’s a business school chairman. Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god revered for his strength and valor, has been named chairman of the recently opened Sardar Bhagat Singh College of Technology and Management in Lucknow, a school official said yesterday. The position comes with an incense-filled office, a desk and laptop computer. Four chairs will be placed facing the empty seat reserved for the holy chairman, said Vivek Kangdi, the school’s vice chairman. “When we were looking for a chairman for our institution, we scanned many big names in the field of technology and management. Ultimately, we settled for Lord Hanuman, as none was bigger than him,” Kangdi said.
Anwar wants troops’ return
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday urged his government to return its peacekeepers to the southern Philippines to prevent renewed clashes between Filipino troops and Muslim separatist rebels. Malaysia, which brokered peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has been disappointed with the slow pace of negotiations and decided to withdraw its peacekeepers from an international team that monitors a 2003 ceasefire. Anwar told a forum in Manila that “the proven and successful engagement” between warring sides is an imperative to peace.” He said Kuala Lumpur could present its “strong views” about the talks’ progress to Manila, “but nothing short of participating effectively in any multilateral effort to reduce skirmishes and violence in the region.” He said the international monitoring team “has helped ease the situation and it is unfortunate if we resort to ignore that importance and therefore withdraw.”
Deal reached on ‘ice’ energy
Tokyo and Washington yesterday agreed to cooperate on research into methane hydrate, known as the “ice that burns,” which is seen as a promising future energy source. Energy ministers from the world’s two largest economies signed the cooperation agreement at a meeting in northern Japan that comes amid mounting concern about record-high oil prices. Methane hydrate, or methane gas trapped in frozen water, looks like ice but burns. Its deposits can be found in permafrost regions and seabeds.
Widow throws huge feast
A rich 80-year-old Indian widow has spent thousands of dollars on a feast for 100,000 people in the hope it will please the gods and open the doors of heaven for her, local officials said. People from surrounding villages and towns were fed lunch over two consecutive days by Phuljharia Kunwar, who lives in the eastern state of Bihar and has no family or relatives. Kunwar spent US$37,500 on the feast. Local officials said she spent lavishly on the meal because she had no one to whom she could bequeath her property. “She was worried that no one would care about throwing a feast after her death,” said Ajay Kumar Bulganin, a local lawmaker who attended the feast, held over Wednesday and Thursday.
Sacked teacher back at work
A Sydney primary school teacher has kept her promise to regain her job after being sacked for appearing nude with her husband in a women’s magazine. Lynne Tziolas was dismissed last month after a parent complained about a spread in Cleo magazine that had couples talking about their sex lives. The Australian newspaper reported yesterday that Tzolias, 24, had been reinstated after a campaign by other parents with children in the school. Tziolas had rejected an offer from the Department of Education in which she would have been given non-teaching work. She demanded to be given a job as a teacher and the government relented.
Gunmen kill tribal leader
A police chief says armed gunmen have killed a tribal leader in southern Afghanistan. Kandahar provincial police chief Sayed Agha Saqib says gunmen on a motorbike killed Malim Akbar Khakrezwal, a pro-government tribal leader from the Arghandab region north of Kandahar city. Khakrezwal’s brother was the former police chief of Kabul. He was killed in a suicide bombing in 2005. The Arghandab district — one of the few areas in Kandahar province inhospitable to Taliban fighters — has seen several leaders die in the last year.
Indian national dies in jail
The family of an Indian national who died in a Singapore prison two weeks ago claimed they learned about the death from a cellmate, not authorities, a published report said yesterday. The case involved Katu Raja, 30, who had been jailed after illegally overstaying in Singapore, has been referred to police for investigation, the Straits Times said. Relatives who live in Tamil Nadu reportedly said they were not told of the death by prison authorities or India’s High Commission in Singapore, rather the news arrived when a fellow inmate called. Raja died on May 22 after vomiting and complaining of giddiness, the newspaper said. He was given emergency medical aid and taken to hospital, but was dead on arrival, the report said.
■ CZECH REPUBLIC
PM says coalition could fall
The center-right ruling coalition may collapse in autumn, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said yesterday in the Mlada Fronta newspaper. The coalition has struggled to pursue its plans to overhaul public services and cut what it sees as wasteful state spending since it took power in 2006. “The coalition is shaken,” Topolanek told the paper. “If there is not a catharsis that would lead to the confirmation of a majority this summer, then autumn could mean the fall of the government.” With just 100 of parliament’s 200 seats, it has depended on two independents to push through some laws, but several coalition deputies have increasingly broken party ranks and voted with the opposition.
Judges search spy office
Judges have searched the nation’s foreign intelligence headquarters in a probe over a bank account allegedly held by former president Jacques Chirac in Japan, a source said on Friday. “Judges came Wednesday to the DGSE, they asked for a certain number of documents,” said a source close to the DGSE spy agency. “The documents were given to them, they were put under seal but remained at the DGSE offices. They may be declassified at a later point,” he said. In 2006, a French weekly gave details of a bank account said to be held by Chirac at Tokyo Sowa Bank, where it said a “cultural foundation” had funnelled 45 million euros (US$57 millio) over the years. The allegations have been repeatedly denied by Chirac’s office, which says they are part of a smear campaign against him launched at the start of his 12-year presidency. Separately, the offices of Chirac’s Paris lawyer were visited by a judge probing the 1997 disappearance of a journalist from Tahiti, who went missing as he was looking into alleged transfers of funds to Chirac accounts in Japan.
Assailants attack PM’s home
Police say armed assailants have attacked the home of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. They say Thaci’s security guards exchanged fire with the assailants, injuring at least one assailant. The guards spotted one person trying to break into the two-story house from the balcony of the top floor. Thaci was away on a private visit at the time of the attack late on Friday, but his wife and son were in the house.
Minister targets corruption
The country will up the fight against corruption with a special electronic property database, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said yesterday. “There already is a database on what property people own but we are talking about streamlining it to make it easier to use and see what people own by synchronising what different agencies and ministries already have,” Konovalov said.
Drivers get sound advice
Drivers have been told not to abandon their car in motion, or wave their hands and legs out of car windows. This prudent piece of advice is given in a new road safety code in the first major revamp of guidelines on driving practices in decades, the Phileleftheros daily reported. With many known for driving with one hand, children bouncing about unrestrained in the back of vehicles and parking on pavements, the new code also sets out guidelines on how to use the much-loved horn. Beeping will be prohibited in residential areas.
■ UNITED STATE
Lost camera phones home
Alison DeLauzon thought the snapshots and home videos of her infant son were gone for good when she lost her digital camera while on vacation in Florida. Then a funny thing happened: Her camera “phoned home.” Equipped with a special memory card with wireless Internet capability, DeLauzon’s camera had not only automatically sent her holiday pictures to her computer, but had even uploaded photos of the miscreants who swiped her equipment bag after she accidentally left it behind at a restaurant. “I opened up the Eye-Fi manager on the computer and, lo and behold, there are the guys that stole our cameras,” said DeLauzon, a native of New York’s Long Island suburb. “Not only is it the guy who stole our camera ... but the guy took a picture of [his accomplice] holding our other camera.”
‘Thong bandits’ arrested
Police in Arvada, Colorado, say they’ve caught two “thong bandits,” who used women’s underwear to disguise themselves during a convenience store robbery. Joaquin Rico, 19, turned himself in on Friday, two days after his alleged accomplice, Joseph Espinoza, 24, turned himself in. A surveillance video released last week by police shows two unarmed men inside the convenience store. They stole an undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes in the May 16 robbery. One man wore a green thong and the other wore blue. Each thong barely covered the man’s nose, mouth and chin and left the rest of his face exposed. One also wore a pink backpack in which he stuffed the stolen items.
More time to spread cash
A bank that gave employees US$502,000 for them to donate as they wish is giving workers more time to come up with ideas. The State Bank & Trust in North Dakota announced at its Christmas party in December that each full-time employee would get US$1,000 and each part-time employee would get US$500 as part of the “Pay it Forward” initiative. So far, employees have given away more than US$350,000. The bank had set a deadline of June 30 for workers to find a use for their share, but chief operating officer Michael Solberg said on Friday that the deadline would be extended. “Some of the bigger ideas have taken more time,” Solberg said. “We’ll make sure we give all the money away.”
No change in Afghanistan
Incoming chief of defense General Walt Natynczyk said on Friday that there would be no change in troop strategy in Afghanistan, where Canadian soldiers clash frequently with the Taliban. “We’ve got a great strategy that’s happening right now,” said Natynczyk, who takes office next month. “The amount of progress that we have made from the past three years, two-and-a-half years, actually, is remarkable.” Critics say Canada’s 2,500-strong mission spends too much time fighting the Taliban and not enough helping rebuild the country. So far, 84 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan.
Group urges envoy’s recall
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading anti-Semitism watchdog, wants Venezuelan Ambassador to Russia Alexis Navarro recalled for making anti-Semitic comments. Navarro was quoted by the daily Moscow News on May 15 as saying that a failed 2002 coup that briefly ousted President Hugo Chavez involved Israeli Mossad intelligence snipers who were “Venezuelan citizens, but Jews.”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big