Bronze offer brought threats
Yves Saint Laurent’s former partner, who infuriated China by auctioning two bronze sculptures claimed by the country, said he had received death threats over the historic statuettes. “I was the subject of many attacks, I was threatened — even with death,” Pierre Berge told RTL radio on Monday. “The police told me during the sale ... that I should have bodyguards follow me, which I did for a few days,” said Berge, also Saint Laurent’s former business partner. China says the two Qing Dynasty bronzes, of a rat and a rabbit head, were seized illegally in 1860 from Beijing’s Summer Palace when it was razed by invading French and British forces. Berge, who rejects China’s claim, had sold the pieces for 15 million euros (US$22 million) in February, but the Chinese bidders dropped out. They have since been sitting in a safe room in a Christie’s auction house, and Berge said he had considered donating them to a museum either in France or Taiwan.
Russians help preserve Ho
Hanoi officially thanked Russian medical experts and scientists for their help in preserving the body of founding Communist leader Ho Chi Minh, state media reported yesterday. Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh told a visiting delegation of Russian experts on Monday that Vietnamese “have always cherished” their support. The Vietnam News said that the delegation, led by Professor Vladimir Yagurin of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, was visiting to work on the body of the revered former leader. Ho Chi Minh’s body has been preserved for viewing in a mausoleum on Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square since soon after his death in 1969.
Sufferers try ancient cures
One in 10 people in the territory suffering chronic pain have resorted to ancient painkilling cures such as drinking urine and eating insects, a survey published yesterday claims. Around 90 percent of the 227 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers questioned in the survey admitted using unconventional methods to ease their pain. One in five said they “used bees to sting their aching parts in order to cure the pain” while others said they had drank urine or eaten crushed ants. The survey was carried out by the Hong Kong Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation to raise awareness of how chronic pain impacted on people’s lives ahead of World Arthritis Day on Monday. Foundation chairman David Yau Po-wing (游寶榮) said more than one-third of patients questioned said the pain had an intense effect on their social lives and daily activities, while 24 percent said it had led them to lose or change jobs.
Ex-minister jailed for graft
A court sentenced a former Cabinet minister to six years in prison yesterday on bribery, corruption and other charges — the country’s first lawmaker locked up for serious breaches of the law. Taito Phillip Field, the first New Zealander of Pacific Islander descent elected to Parliament and appointed to the Cabinet, was found guilty on 11 counts of bribery and corruption and 15 of willfully attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice. The charges related to Field’s use of Thai nationals to carry out mainly unpaid work on seven of his properties in return for immigration assistance between November 2002 to October 2005. He was accused of perverting justice and making false statements about work done to his properties in New Zealand and Samoa, encouraging others to make false statements and creating false documents.
‘Arctic Sea’ fate unclear
The fate of the Arctic Sea is still unclear as the cargo ship, whose alleged pirate hijacking sparked an international mystery, is being withheld from its owner, the head of Solchart Management said on Monday. “The situation is more than strange and complicated. The cargo ship is sitting for days now 60 miles [97km] east of Gibraltar, between Spain and Marocco,” Viktor Matveyev, director of the company that owns the ship, was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency. Russia was still willing to hand over the ship, but “we do not understand who we should negotiate with on handing over the ship, who bears responsibility for what is happening with it, I do not know,” Matveyev said. The ship was due to be handed over to Solchart Management on Sept. 17 in the port of Las Palmas in Spain’s Canary Islands, but the Russian navy, which has control of it, withdrew it from the area. Speculation has raged that the ship might have carried a secret cargo.
More teens using mobiles
Nearly half of French youths are using their mobile phones in class, with a majority saying they had answered calls during lessons, a survey published yesterday said. The survey of French youths aged 12 to 17 by TNS Sofres found that 73 percent have their own mobile phone, a figure that rises to 95 percent for 16 and 17-year-olds. A fifth said they have had their phones confiscated by school officials, the survey published in the daily Le Parisien said. Cellphones are not officially banned in schools, and administrators lack the legal authority to confiscate phones, the newspaper said. Some 7 percent of students surveyed said they had surreptitiously filmed their teachers. The survey questioned 500 French school students from Sept. 17-19.
Cage fighter gets 18 years
A cage fighter was sentenced on Monday to 18 years in jail after admitting involvement in the nation’s biggest ever cash robbery, a £53 million (US$84 million) raid at a security depot. Paul Allen, 31, who fled to Morocco and lived a life of gambling and drug-taking after the raid, pleaded guilty last week to three charges of conspiracy to kidnap, rob and possess firearms. Allen was arrested in the Rabat area in June 2006 and extradited in January last year. Five men have already been convicted over the 2006 robbery in Tonbridge, southeast England, from which police have recovered just £21 million. During the raid, the depot manager and his family were kidnapped and 14 members of staff were tied up at gunpoint. US film director Darren Aronofsky is reportedly set to make a Hollywood movie about the robbery.
Rare primate found
One of the world’s most endangered primates, the greater bamboo lemur, a species endemic to Madagascar, has been found in an area where it was feared extinct, environmental organizations said on Monday. The species, prolemur simus, has been found at 11 sites in a swathe of forest in the east of the island. This finding opens “a new chapter for the species and for the places we can protect it by preserving the forest as the main problem is loss of habitat,” said Mahaoly Ravaloharimanitra, a research assistant at the Aspinall Foundation. Specialists say that while this type of lemur was once found throughout this Indian Ocean island, no more than 300 now exist. As its common name suggests, prolemur simus feeds mainly on bamboo, which limits its habitat options.
Jurors see Travolta tape
A jury on Monday watched a hidden-camera videotape of negotiations between a lawyer for John Travolta and a former Bahamas senator accused of trying to blackmail the movie star. The tape shows politician Pleasant Bridgewater telling Travolta’s lawyer that a paramedic who treated the actor’s son wants at least US$20 million as payment to not release a private document to the media. Bridgewater and ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne have pleaded not guilty to extortion charges at the trial that began on Sept. 21.
Stalker released on bond
An Illinois insurance executive accused of secretly making nude videos of cable TV sports reporter Erin Andrews apparently uploaded videos of other unsuspecting nude women to the Internet, a federal prosecutor said on Monday. Michael Barrett, 47, of Westmont, was released on US$4,500 bond but was ordered to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet, to adhere to a strict curfew and not to use the Internet. He is due in US District Court in Los Angeles on Oct. 23 to face federal charges of interstate stalking.
VP claims accord signed
The government said it would consider changes to draft mining and water laws that provoked a clash with Indians last week, claiming a protester’s life. Vice President Lenin Moreno said an accord signed with Indian leaders would bring down Amazon roadblocks that have been up for a week. But Indian leaders said after six hours of talks on Monday that before acting they needed to consult with their communities, who account for roughly one in three Ecuadoreans.
Woman killed by bear
A woman was mauled to death by a captive 160kg black bear in front of her children as she cleaned the animal’s cage, officials said on Monday. The woman’s husband was an exotic pet dealer in rural northeastern Pennsylvania who was operating with an expired license, an official with the Pennsylvania Game Commission said. Kelly Ann Walz, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene, said Tim Conway, an information and education supervisor with the commission.
Raccoon victim in hospital
A 74-year-old woman, seriously injured by raccoons when she tried to shoo them away from her central Florida home, remains hospitalized, authorities said on Monday. Gretchen Whitted of Lakeland, Florida, was in stable condition two days after the attack. She told rescue personnel she tried to wave the animals away when she saw them near her back patio; a few minutes later, she spotted them at her front door and tried to run them off again. Then they attacked. A neighbor called for help after hearing the woman’s cries and seeing her covered in blood.
Tiger bites man’s arm
A man suffered injuries to his arms after he and a friend hopped the fence at a zoo early on Monday and stuck his hands into the tiger exhibit, zoo officials said. The Calgary Zoo said the two men snuck into the facility after midnight and headed to the Siberian tiger enclosure, where one of the men climbed over an outer fence. Security guards took the alleged intruders to their office, where the injured man was treated before being rushed to hospital.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
CHANGING PERCEPTIONS: In its tender, the Hong Kong administration said that it had failed to ‘mobilise the community to support law enforcement actions’ The Hong Kong government has agreed to pay millions of pounds to a discreet London-based PR firm to counter coverage of the territory in the international media. Consulum, which has also represented Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was on Monday awarded the ￡5 million (US$6.2 million) one-year contract to improve Hong Kong’s reputation — the same day that China passed national security legislation targeting the territory. The Mayfair-based PR business was founded by Tim Ryan and Matthew Gunther Bushell, two former employees of Bell Pottinger, an agency that has been criticized for representing some governments and leaders that other businesses