Toilet glue pranksters sought
Police and civic leaders yesterday appealed for help catching pranksters who glued a man to a public toilet seat, forcing an embarrassing rescue by ambulance officers. A 58-year-old was taken to hospital with the toilet seat still attached to his behind after he used a booby-trapped convenience in a shopping center in Cairns on Saturday. Police investigating the incident made a public appeal for help finding the joker, while furious city officials described the stunt as a “sick joke.” “I’m disgusted that a gentleman has had to go through that because someone thinks it’s funny — it’s a sick joke,” Cairns City Council community safety committee chair Di Forsyth told the Australian Associated Press.
Post sets weight limit
Workers too heavy for the motorbikes that Australia Post uses to deliver letters will be taken off the road until they get below 100kg, the company said on Sunday. “It’s about how to ensure we’ve got a consistent approach, how riders can be safe and continue riding the bikes,” Australia Post spokesman Alex Twomey told the Daily Telegraph. The too-heavy riders will be redeployed to the sorting office or on walking routes. The union claims the weight restriction breaks anti-discrimination laws and has pledged court action to challenge it. Communications Workers Union spokesman Cameron Thiele said Australia Post should get bigger motorbikes rather than insist on smaller postal workers.
Thieves kill tiger at zoo
A group of thieves killed an endangered tiger at an Indonesian zoo and stole most of its body, zoo officials said on Sunday, a theft police suspect was motivated by the animal’s valuable fur and bones. The remains of the female Sumatran tiger were found by staff on Saturday at the Taman Rimba Zoo in Jambi Province on Sumatra island, zoo director Adrianis said. “It was sadistic,” Adrianis said of the attack. “The killers left only its intestines in the cage.” Posma Lubis, lead detective for the Jambi police department, said they were searching for the perpetrators.
Group targets disposables
A green organization yesterday called for a levy on disposable cups and cutlery after revealing McDonald’s had given away about 400 million such items during lunchtimes alone in the last three years. Green Senses is demanding the government introduce a levy of US$0.06 on every item given to customers in a bid to force the fast-food chain to cut down on the number it uses. The environmental group based its estimate on a survey, which had tracked 50 of the McDonald’s outlets in the administrative region since 2006.
Elephant tusks found
Customs inspectors have discovered more than 2 tonnes of elephant tusks hidden in a shipping container full of snail shells from Kenya, an official said yesterday. Bui Hoang Duong, head of the customs inspection department at the northern port of Haiphong, said inspectors opened the container on Friday as part of enhanced scrutiny of shipping from Tanzania because of recent cases of ivory smuggling. The container’s waybill said it had been loaded by a Vietnamese carrier, Vinashin Mariner, in the Tanzanian port of Zanjiba. The elephant tusks were cut into three to four pieces and hidden in the middle of thousands of packages of snail shells. A total of 326 pieces of ivory were found in the container.
T-rex was a coward: study
Forget the movie image of Tyrannosaurus rex engaged in battle with other brutes his own size. In fact, T-rex was a cowardly bully who preferred to pick on runts who were no match for him, a team of German scientists said. Fossil evidence collected by researchers led by Oliver Rauhut, a palaeontologist at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, indicates that Tyrannosaurus tended to go after juvenile plant-eating weaklings who were far smaller and no match. “Unlike their adult and well-armed relatives these young animals hardly posed any risk to the predators,” Rauhut said. “And their tender bones would have added important minerals to a theropod’s diet.” In a news release announcing the surprise findings, he said: “Animals such as T-rex are often seen as the perfect ‘killing machines’ with extremely powerful bites ... but the very few fossils that reflect the hunt of predatory dinosaurs on large herbivores tell a tale of failure — the prey either got away, or both prey and predator were killed.”
Review nuke policy: Tehran
Tehran told world powers yesterday they must stop working against its atomic drive and instead adopt a policy of interaction with the Islamic republic to resolve the nuclear crisis. “It is the right time for the other parties to review their policy. Rather than countering Iran, they should interact with Iran,” foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told reporters. Ghashghavi also dismissed threats of additional sanctions on Iran if it fails to abide by international demands to halt uranium enrichment, a process which makes fuel for nuclear plants but can also be diverted to make the core of an atomic bomb. “Past experience has shown that sanctions are futile. Sanctions will not prevent us from pursuing our legal rights,” he said.
Israel envoy summoned
Egypt summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires on Sunday to protest the cross-border shooting of an Egyptian security officer by an Israeli patrol this month, a foreign ministry statement said. The Israeli embassy confirmed the charge d’affaires, Shani Cooper-Zubida, had been summoned but did not give details. The foreign ministry statement said Egypt formed a team to investigate the wounding in the middle of this month of the 21-year-old conscript and when “the mistake from the Israeli side” was confirmed, the ministry issued the summons. It said the charge d’affaires was informed about “Egypt’s strong condemnation represented in this irresponsible Israeli behavior on the border” and said Egypt requested an apology from the Israeli government. The Israeli military said the soldiers on patrol mistook the Egyptian for an enemy infiltrator.
King talks to Netanyahu
King Abdullah II on Sunday telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to urge him to create conditions conducive to the two-state solution, a statement from the Jordanian royal court said. The two leaders discussed “efforts under way to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state vision and within a regional perspective that leads to comprehensive and durable peace in the region,” the statement said. The monarch urged Netanyahu to “work intensively to create the conditions conducive to the re-launching of serious and effective negotiations at the earliest possible time and in accordance with the agreed references, particularly the Arab peace initiative,” it added.
Keyboardist Knechtel dies
Larry Knechtel, a Grammy award-winning keyboard artist who accompanied leading musicians and combos from Elvis Presley and Ray Charles to Elvis Costello and the Dixie Chicks, has died at 69. Knechtel died on Thursday at a hospital in Yakima, Washington, of an apparent heart attack. Knechtel performed live and in studio recordings with a wide range of artists, including Neil Diamond, Randy Newman, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams Jr and Elvis Costello. He earned a Grammy for his arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, played keyboard on the Dixie Chicks’ Grammy award-winning album Taking the Long Way and performed on the group’s tour of the same name.
Cars hit plane on freeway
The Federal Aviation Administration said a small airplane was struck by three vehicles just after it made an emergency landing on a California freeway. Agency spokesman Ian Gregor says the Piper PA-24 Comanche with two people on board was bound for Santa Barbara Airport on Sunday when the pilot told air traffic controllers he had no fuel remaining and landed on the southbound side of US Highway 101, about 1.6km northeast of the airport. California Highway Patrol Officer James Richards says three cars were unable to avoid the plane and crashed into it. The occupants of the plane and the cars were not injured.
Sea lions dying en masse
At least 200 sea lions have been found dead along the country’s northern coast near Iquique. The national fishing service says many of the dead apparently are young sea lions abandoned when their mothers were drawn too far offshore hunting food. It says the El Nino phenomenon has made prey scarce near shore. Environmental groups said on Saturday they suspect a local molybdenum plant or other industry may be to blame.
French teens killed in crash
Two French teenagers were killed and five other French nationals were injured when the driver of their van fell asleep, causing the vehicle to veer off the road and roll over, the California Highway Patrol said on Sunday. The accident happened on Saturday morning on State Route 190 in California’s Death Valley National Park, about 60km west of Las Vegas, Captain Tim Lepper said. The driver of the rented passenger van, 31-year-old Nassera Soudani of Levallois Perret, France, will likely be charged with vehicular manslaughter, Lepper said. “She admitted to being tired and falling asleep,” he said. “It’s a very desolate area out there. You drive for miles and miles before you see anything other than landscape.”
Chavez slams bases pact
President Hugo Chavez on Sunday charged that the controversial new US deal to use Colombian military bases means US troops can move anywhere within the South American country. “They are turning all of Colombia into a [US] base,” Chavez said in his TV and radio program Alo Presidente. “They cannot keep this a secret; the details are coming out. Gringo miltary staff have been authorized to operate anywhere in Colombia,” he said. He displayed a document that he said was from the US Air Mobility Command to justify his claims. He said he would bring it to a meeting of Latin American leaders on Friday in Bariloche, Argentina, which has been called to discuss the US military presence in Colombia.
‘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