Buddha Bar drops its name
The first Asian branch of the chic Paris-based Buddha Bar has dropped its name amid complaints by Indonesian Buddhists that it denigrated their religion, the management said on Tuesday. The Jakarta franchise of the bar-cum-restaurant, opened in a historic colonial-era building last year, said in a statement it dropped its name “out of respect” for the country’s religion minister and did not mean to offend Buddhists. “There has been no intention to hurt the feelings of Buddhists in Indonesia. Taking down the Buddha Bar is as a form of respect to Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni,” manager Henry Marheroso said in the statement. The bar has changed its name to Bataviasche Kunstkring, the original Dutch name of the building, a former immigration office, it said. Buddhist activists said the bar had been forced to drop the name after the government’s intellectual property agency revoked its right to the local Buddha Bar trademark.
Motel bans a whole town
The Australian owner of a motel and his Scottish “Basil Fawlty” manager have banned an entire town, including its member of parliament. Steve Donnelly, owner of the Supreme Motor Lodge in the North Island town of Palmerston North, said he became fed up with the rowdy behavior of sports teams from Wainuiomata, a town near the capital Wellington. So he and manager Malcolm Glen — who according the motel’s own Web site is better known as “Basil Fawlty” after the highly strung John Cleese TV character — banned the whole town of 17,000 people. When Wainuiomata’s member of parliament and former cabinet minister Trevor Mallard tested the ban yesterday by trying to book in, Glen gave him his marching orders. “As a Scotsman I don’t have a vote, it doesn’t matter to me, you’re banned,” Glen told the lawmaker.
Islands’ names are not legal
Experts searching for alternative Maori names for New Zealand’s two main islands were startled to find that their commonly used English names — North Island and South Island — were never made legal, officials said on Tuesday. To repair the 200-year-old oversight, the country’s Geographic Board, which assigns and approves names for all New Zealand places, said it would take steps to legally name the two South Pacific islands that make up more than 95 percent of the country’s land mass. The board had spent several years exploring a process for formally recognizing alternative Maori names for each island when it noticed that the islands had never been given official names, board chairman Don Grant said. “We therefore want to formalize alternative Maori names and, at the same time, make the naming of ... North and South Islands official,” Grant said.
Recession good for gamblers
Gamblers who tipped that the government was wrong and that Australia would fall into recession this year were rewarded with big payouts yesterday from Internet betting agency Centrebet. Centrebet financial analyst Neil Evans said the smart money had always been on the economy contracting in two consecutive quarters and that astute gamblers had always discounted claims that billion-dollar stimulus packages would keep the economy growing. This week Prime Minister Kevin Rudd conceded he was wrong and that the economy would indeed go backwards this year.