Detainees’ suit rejected
The administration of President Barack Obama on Friday told a federal judge it would not deviate from the former administration’s position that detainees held at a US air base in Afghanistan have no right to sue in US courts. Obama has ordered the closure within one year of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but has not decided what to do about the makeshift prison at the US military base in Bagram, where the US government is holding more than 600 prisoners, or whether to continue work on a US$60 million prison complex there. The administration faced a Friday deadline to tell US District Court Judge John Bates whether it would “refine” the former administration’s position on four men being held at Bagram who have filed suit against their detention.
Library restricts sex book
The public library in Topeka, Kansas, will restrict access to four books about sex, including The Lesbian Kama Sutra, after a woman complained about them being available on the shelves with other health books. The library’s Board of Trustees voted on Thursday night to prevent minors from having access to the books after reviewing the complaint. Topeka resident Kim Borchers called the books “harmful to minors.” The staff of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library must now develop a plan for handling the books. The other three are The Joy of Sex, The Joy of Gay Sex and Sex for Busy People: The Art of the Quickie for Lovers on the Go.
Court under mouse attack
There are so many mice in one Florida county courthouse that they’ve been seen falling from ceiling tiles. One judge at the Palm Beach County Courthouse told the Palm Beach Post newspaper that it’s an infestation. Some staffers say they check their handbags for stowaways before leaving the building each day. Court employees and lawyers say the rodents scuttle down corridors, munch legal papers and scratch behind the walls. Last week, one mouse ran around a courtroom floor for an hour during a burglary trial. The courthouse facilities manager says he’s put out a few dozen traps to capture the rodents. He says he’s not sure if there has been an uptick in mice lately, but that they’re getting more press than they deserve.
Candy trail leads to ‘crooks’
Five Florida teenagers face burglary-related charges after police followed a trail of candy wrappers from the crime scene back to the house of one of the teens. Officers responded to a break-in on Tuesday in Palm Bay. An officer then followed a trail of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups packages in the backyard. The officer noticed another wrapper on the front porch of a house near the victim’s house. Officers found several juveniles at the other house. Police say the teens confessed to the burglary and informed officers that the stolen property was in the attic. Three of the teens face armed burglary charges and two others face charges of resisting arrest without violence and tampering with evidence.
Socks passes away
Socks, the White House cat during the administration of president Bill Clinton and who waged war on Buddy the pup, has died. He was around 18. Socks had lived with Clinton’s secretary, Betty Currie, in Hollywood, Maryland, since the Clintons left the White House in early 2001. Currie confirmed Socks’ death on Friday and said she was “heartbroken.”
UK soldier steals tanks
Police say one joyride in a light tank wasn’t enough for a drunken British soldier. Police in Celle say the 18-year-old stole a small light tank early on Friday and rumbled out of his base toward nearby Bergen — but drove off the road after 500m. Undaunted, he walked back to his base and commandeered a second armored vehicle just like the first. This time, he was spotted by a British military police patrol. As the patrol tried to stop him, he lost control and drove into a tree. Military police then arrested him. Local police say a breathalyzer test showed an alcohol concentration of 0.1 percent. The blood alcohol limit in Germany is 0.05 percent.
Odd books vie for award
Baboon Metaphysics is up against The Large Sieve and its Applications on an eye-catching shortlist vying for the Oddest Book Title of the Year award, unveiled on Friday. Contenders for the annual Diagram Prize for last year, organized by British weekly The Bookseller, also include Curbside Consultation of the Colon and Strip and Knit with Style. The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais and Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring complete those vying for the prize, to be announced on March 27 on the basis of a public vote. Philip Stone, sales analyst at The Bookseller, said: “We received a huge number of entries this year and the debate was furious as to which would be included on the shortlist. “Six seems such a cruelly low number given titles such as Excrement in the Late Middle Ages and All Dogs Have ADHD were rejected,” he said.
Dentist guilty of taking teeth
A court on Friday found a dentist guilty of assault for forcibly extracting the dentures from a patient who did not pay a 700 euro (US$880) bill. Chirin Kolb, a reporter for the Suedwest Presse newspaper, said the dentist, 57, apologized to the municipal court in Neu-Ulm after he was fined 6,000 euros for going to the woman’s home and taking the false teeth from her mouth. He was trying to collect 700 euros not covered by her insurance. The woman appeared in court with no teeth.
Prime minister homeless
The prime minister is living in a rented apartment two months after starting work because the state can’t find permanent housing for him. The country has no official residence for the prime minister or president. And the government says former public officials aren’t moving out of the few high-quality state-owned homes and apartments in downtown Bucharest, the capital. They are required to leave two months after their terms end. State Secretary Daniela Andreescu said on Friday that she hopes to avoid taking legal action to remove a former dignitary from the state-owned home where Prime Minister Emil Boc wants to live.
Police taste own medicine
Police are usually enthusiastic about closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance, but rank and file officers appear far less happy when spy cameras are set up to catch their own misdemeanors. A CCTV camera is being installed in a police station kitchen in Brighton on the south coast to catch officers who do not clear up. It has been strewn with rubbish, spilled food and dirty crockery since a refurbishment. “What a waste of public money,” one officer told the Argus newspaper in a text-message tip-off. “Tough on crime, tougher on causers of grime.”
Stars used to promote drug
Soccer star David Beckham and actor Sean Connery were yesterday being illicitly used to promote a sex drug in an advert being shown on TV stations around China. Footage of Beckham in action and with his wife Victoria is used in the advert for the Viagra-style pills called USA Selikon, with Chinese voices dubbed onto the film to show the AC Milan star apparently endorsing the product. In the video, Beckham appears to say: “Want to know how I can keep being strong and running on the football field? USA Selikon capsules help me a lot. It’s also the secret weapon with which I can satisfy Victoria.” Actor Connery is shown in scenes from an Indiana Jones movie as a dubbed voice says: “I turned 70 this year, but with the help of USA Selikon capsules, I was praised by Barbara that I’m still the James Bond, forever 25.” The voice dubbed onto interview footage of Connery, who is in fact 78 and married to Micheline, adds: “I have told all my aged friends: ‘You should try USA Selikon capsules.’”
National cocktail unveiled
When tourism has taken a self-inflicted battering, the temptation might be to have a drink to drown your sorrows. Thailand is going a step further. It has invented a new national cocktail, which it hopes will help visitors forget the hangover from the disastrous airport shutdowns late last year. Intended as an answer to Singapore’s slings, Cuba’s mojitos and the many manhattans downed in New York, the Siam sunray is intended to give tourists an instant taste of Thailand’s charms. At the very least the drink’s ingredients are far from bland — a shot of vodka, coconut liqueur, a dash of chilli pepper and sugar, lime juice, a few slivers of lemon grass and ginger, with the whole mixture shaken and then strained into a glass with ice and soda water. Thailand’s tourism authority formally rolled out the drink yesterday, grandly styling the concoction “Thailand in a glass: the new punch in Thai tourism.”
Man wins cut in sentence
The first man in Singapore to be sentenced for having sex with an underage prostitute under a tougher law had his one-year jail term reduced on Friday to nine months on appeal, media reports said. In December, a district court had initially sentenced the 55-year-old man to one year in jail for having sex with a 16-year-old prostitute. The contractor, Tan Chye Hin, a father of three children, was the first man in the city state to be dealt with under a new law the Singapore government put in place in February last year to crack down on underage prostitution. On Friday, a justice at Singapore High Court allowed the appeal of the contractor against his initial sentence, the online edition of the Straits Times newspaper reported. The defendant had argued that it was only fair that he got a shorter jail term than the pimp who arranged the hook-up. The pimp was jailed for one year.
Pirates attack tug and barge
Armed pirates kidnapped two crew of a Singapore-managed tug and barge in the Malacca Strait, raising fears of renewed insecurity in the busy shipping route, a maritime watchdog said yesterday. It was the first abduction of seafarers after a long lull in kidnap-and-ransom cases that once afflicted the waterway between peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia’s Sumatra island, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center. About 12 pirates with guns boarded the vessel in the northern part of the strait on Thursday.
Zardari in Hubei for talks
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited Hubei Province on Saturday for talks on cooperation in agriculture, hydropower and trade. Zardari was scheduled to meet State Councillor Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) in Wuhan and tour the giant Three Gorges Dam and power project on the Yangtze River. He was scheduled to travel today to Shanghai, where he planned to focus on finance, banking and urban development, Chinese and Pakistani officials said. Zardari was expected to seek assistance to meet the energy crisis faced by his country.
Fugitive couldn’t resist lotto
A fugitive wanted for allegedly raping his housemaid more than a year ago was arrested in an eastern city while placing a bet in the country’s biggest lottery jackpot ever, a police report said yesterday. The report said Ariel Ayque, 52, was arrested while placing his bet in a lottery outlet in Naga City. Ayque was accused of raping his housemaid in November 2007 and a local judge issued a warrant for his arrest in March last year, it said.
Pyongyang may test missile
Pyongyang could be ready to test fire an intermediate range ballistic missile by the end of the month, defense analysis group Jane’s said on Friday. Experts at Jane’s Defence Weekly said satellite imagery taken on Wednesday indicated that Pyongyang was preparing to either launch a prototype Taepodong 2 missile or a Paektusan 2 space launch vehicle. “There has been a significant increase in launch preparation activity at the Musudan-ni Launch Facility,” said Joseph Bermudez, an analyst at the magazine. The magazine also said support facilities for the engine test stand at the site were being expanded.
LIFE GOES ON: After a strict lockdown that left millions on the brink of starvation, Indians embrace work to avoid starvation and get ready for several major festivals India is on course to top the world in COVID-19 cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work — and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on. Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalized this year in excruciating pain after catching the novel coronavirus. However, after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had
A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday. More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25,
From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the COVID-19-fueled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings. As masks become the norm worldwide, tech companies and researchers are rolling out weird and wonderful models to guard against infection and cash in on a growing trend. One of the wackiest comes from Japan, where start-up Donut Robotics has created a face covering that helps users adhere to social distancing and also acts as a translator. The “C-Face” mask works by transmitting a wearer’s speech to a smartphone via an app, and allows
JAPAN Deer-edible bags invented The deer that roam Nara no longer face discomfort — or far worse — after local firms developed a safe alternative to the plastic packaging discarded by tourists that often ended up in the animals’ stomachs. Last year, several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the ancient capital’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers. Firms collaborated to develop bags that pass safely through the animals’ complex digestive system. The bags are made with recycled pulp from milk cartons and rice bran, one of the main ingredients of the shika senbei savory