NORAD tracks Santa
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which monitors air and space threats against the US and Canada, is in charge of the annual Christmas mission to keep children informed of Santa’s worldwide journey to their homes. NORAD said Santa began his latest flight early on Wednesday at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. Historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. NORAD points out that only Santa knows his route. Last year, NORAD’s Santa tracking center answered 94,000 calls and responded to 10,000 e-mails. About 10.6 million visitors went to the Web site (www.noradsanta.org), which can be viewed in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese and Chinese.
■ UNITED STATES
China to miss ‘Dark Knight’
Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight won’t be screened in Chinese cinemas, Warner Bros said in a statement on Wednesday. The studio said that the film — the second highest-grossing movie in US box-office history — would be canned in China, with “cultural sensitivities” cited as one of the reasons for the no-show. “Based on a number of pre-release conditions that are being attached to The Dark Knight as well as cultural sensitivities to some elements of the film, we have opted to forego a theatrical release of the film in China,” an e-mailed statement said. It was not clear what “cultural sensitivities” were at issue but the movie includes an action sequence shot in Hong Kong where Batman, played by Christian Bale, apprehends a Chinese money-launderer.
■ UNITED STATES
Snow globes recalled
Some 7,000 jumbo-sized snow globes were recalled by Hallmark Cards because the holiday decorations can act as a magnifying glass when exposed to sunlight and ignite nearby combustible materials, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Tuesday. The snowman-shaped snow globes were sold in October and last month at Hallmark Gold Crown stores nationwide for about US$100 each.
Ex-police chief charged
A former small town police chief is facing drug and organized crime charges for allegedly protecting drug smugglers who paid him a monthly fee. The Attorney General’s office says the former police chief in San Mateo Atenco, a town outside of Mexico City, has acknowledged accepting between US$1,500 and US$1,900 a month from alleged members of “La Familia” drug gang. Antonio Careaga was arrested last month for alleged links to the executions of 24 men in several states. A former police commander and alleged drug hitmen have also been charged in connection with the massacre, one of the worst in the country. It was not clear if Careaga is still being investigated for the killings.
■ UNITED STATES
Suspect traced by spit
A trail of tobacco spit has led investigators to a suspect in at least five burglaries in Oklahoma, police said. Randy Lee Shoopman Jr., 33, was charged with 11 counts of second-degree burglary after a sample of his DNA matched that taken from expectorant left behind at the scene of several burglaries, Tahlequah police department spokesman Brad Robertson said. Shoopman was taken into custody Friday in Merced, California, on an unrelated stolen property charge, Robertson said.