Darwin book returned
A first-edition Charles Darwin book returned to its origins last week, 122 years late, when it was handed back to the library to which it belongs. Insectivorous Plants was borrowed from the Camden School of Arts lending library on the outskirts of Sydney sometime in 1889, but it was only returned to the library earlier this month. The book had been in the collection of retired veterinarian Ron Hyne for about 50 years, and it was among items he donated to the University of Sydney last month. Hyne said he was not sure how he acquired the book.
Train speed ‘exaggerated’
A report says the Ministry of Railways has exaggerated how fast the new high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai is meant to run. The financial magazine Caijing cites a former top engineer at the ministry, Zhou Yimin, as saying the trains’ maximum speed should be 300kph, instead of the targeted 350kph. Zhou added that China lacks its own core technology. A ministry spokesman dismissed the comments, saying Zhou retired too early to know the current situation.
Tycoon to give baby bonus
Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee (李兆基) will give out US$2 million in bonuses to his 1,500 staff after his actress daughter-in-law gave birth to his sixth grandchild last week, company spokeswoman Bonnie Ngan said. “We will receive the money [HK$10,000, or US$1,285, each] at the end of this month,” Ngan said. Last October Lee also handed out HK$10,000 in staff bonuses when his eldest son, Peter, a bachelor, gave him triplet grandsons through a surrogate mother.
Young crash survivor dies
A young survivor of the recent air crash in the northwestern Karelia region died of multiple injuries, bringing the death toll in the tragedy to 45, a health ministry spokeswoman said yesterday. Anton Terekhin and his teenage sister Anastasia were among eight people who survived the Tuesday air crash, which instantly killed 44, including their mother. In conflicting reports, officials said earlier that the boy was nine, while the regional health ministry said he could be 10. His 14-year-old sister, who was transferred to Moscow for treatment along with other survivors, is in stable condition, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Elena Kokovurova said.
Picasso’s lovers top auction
Portraits of three different lovers of 20th-century master Pablo Picasso fetched the three highest prices at a London auction at Christie’s on Tuesday, the first in a key series of art sales over the coming weeks. Top lot on the night at the impressionist and modern art evening sale was a depiction of Dora Maar, who became Picasso’s lover and muse at the expense of Marie-Therese Walter. The 1939 work, which had been unseen in public since 1967, sold for ￡18 million (US$29.1 million), several times the pre-sale estimate of ￡4 million to ￡8 million. The second-highest price paid on the night was for Jeune fille endormie, a 1935 portrait of Walter that went under the hammer for ￡13.5 million. The painting, valued at ￡9 million to ￡12 million, was given to the University of Sydney last year by an anonymous donor on the condition that it was sold and that the proceeds went to the university to fund scientific research. In third place was Buste de Francoise (1946), which fetched ￡10.7 million. Francoise Gilot was an artist and author who became Picasso’s lover in the 1940s and with whom he had two of his children, Christie’s said.
Journalist stabbed to death
A journalist working for a regional television company in the north has been stabbed to death, investigators said yesterday. The body of Anatoly Bitkov, the 37-year-old chief editor of Kolyma Pluys regional television company, was found at his apartment in the city of Magadan earlier yesterday, regional investigators said. Bitkov most likely died from multiple stab wounds to his neck and body, investigators said in a statement. They added that the journalist’s murder was probably not connected to his professional activities, although all possible motives would be checked. Journalists in the country, particularly those working in the volatile North Caucasus, have repeatedly become targets of attacks.
Lenient sentencing dropped
Britain is to drop plans that would have allowed criminals to serve only half their sentences if they pleaded guilty at an early stage, media reported on Tuesday. The policy — which would have saved millions of pounds for a government striving to slash its deficit — had come under fire from the ruling coalition’s main party and from victims’ groups, particularly over fears it could apply to rapists. Media reports said confirmation the plan was being dropped was expected later on Tuesday. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke set out plans at the end of last year to slash the prison population by 3,000 in England and Wales and hand out tougher non-custodial sentences as part of efforts to make 20 percent cuts in his budget.
Film critic defends tweet
Film critic Roger Ebert on Tuesday defended an admonition against drunk driving he posted on Twitter in response to the death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn, who was photographed drinking before his car crash, but the influential Chicago Sun-Times movie critic, who has come under fire from Jackass star Bam Margera and online commentators, also expressed regret that his Twitter one-liner, which was posted on Monday, was considered cruel. Dunn died on Monday and Ebert tweeted: “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” Dunn, 34, a bearded daredevil who co-starred in the Jackass movie franchise featuring pranks and stunts, was killed along with his passenger Zachary Hartwell when the car Dunn was driving careened off a highway in Pennsylvania and burst into flames, police said. Dunn posted a photo to Twitter shortly before the crash, which seemed to show him drinking with friends. Ebert wrote an online blog post on Tuesday to explain and defend the tweet that some had considered insensitive. The critic began by offering his sympathy to the family and friends of Dunn and Hartwell. “I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel,” Ebert said. “It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true.”
Prison visitors to cover up
Skimpily dressed visitors to New York’s main jail complex can only see inmates if they cover up with an oversized, baggy, green T-shirt as part of a new dress code. The new rules at Rikers Island aim to maintain a “family friendly” environment at the jail. The city’s Department of Corrections has purchased 750 T-shirts in an easy-to-track shade of bright green. The shirts, all size XXL, are meant to be shapeless on all but the heaviest frames. “If a visitor is dressed provocatively, it could potentially spark a chain of events among inmates,” said Sharman Stein, a spokeswoman for the department. Prison officials hope to reduce the possibility of inmates making comments about other inmates’ visitors’ appearance — be they derogatory or too appreciative — that could lead to flared tempers and even violence. The rules also deal with the opposite concern — too much clothing which might be used to conceal contraband.
Mom charged with murder
Prosecutors say a New York woman beat her five-year-old son to death because he broke the television while playing a Nintendo Wii video game. Kim Crawford was charged with murder and manslaughter in Bronx Criminal Court on Tuesday. She was ordered held without bond. Prosecutors say she admitted hitting the boy hard in the back and stomach over the broken TV. Police found her son, Jamar Johnson, unconscious and not breathing at their Bronx home on Friday. An autopsy revealed internal abdominal injuries.
Cops make microwave arrest
Sacramento police arrested a 29-year-old mother on Tuesday after an investigation found her baby likely died from burns suffered in a microwave oven. Ka Yang was being held without bail on suspicion of murder and assault resulting in the death of a child. She was arrested three months after her otherwise healthy six-week-old daughter, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, was found dead in the family home on March 17. Police described the child as suffering “extensive thermal injuries.” Officer Laura Peck said the arrest took so long because investigators had to pinpoint the cause of death by looking for other cases involving similar injuries.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists