Mengele diaries to be sold
A Connecticut auction house has announced it will put under the hammer the journals of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, the so-called “Angel of Death” who decided life or death and directed gruesome medical experiments in concentration camps during World War II. The Connecticut-based Alexander Autographs said tomorrow’s auction would include 3,500 pages of “hidden journals” of the doctor at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The items are expected to fetch between US$300,000 and US$400,000. The identity of the owner was not indicated. Alexander Autographs, which specializes in historical manuscripts, said the auction would include a “historically important” lot of 31 manuscripts in various forms, including bound journals.
Many people skip work
One in three workers admits to skipping work — mainly because they are bored with their jobs, according to research by global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). A third of 1,190 respondents to a survey conducted by PwC said they had taken time off work under false pretenses. That prompted the consultants to conduct a second survey, which received responses from 1,200 people who all said they had skipped work. More than 80 percent of those who said they skipped work said they offered illness as an excuse for their absence and 61 percent said they ditched work because they were bored or depressed.
Window models cause stir
Models appearing in shorts and bikinis in the window of a department store in central Milan caused a stir over the weekend, with Italy’s trade unions denouncing the merchandization of the human body. The male and female models first appeared last week in the windows of the Coin department store to promote the summer sale on bathing costumes, prompting the Filcams CGIL trade union to criticize work deemed degrading. On Monday, the models were gone, but Coin chief executive Stefano Beraldo, speaking at the group’s general assembly in Mestre near Venice, congratulated himself on the free publicity the union offered his group and said they had provided an employment opportunity for young people. “We have given these kids a job and we paid their costs. They prefer to work rather than staying idle on the streets. So what? And what about the pin-ups reading the news? Or Big Brother?”
Alleged Nazi found not guilty
A 97-year-old in Budpest, until recently the world’s most wanted Nazi war crimes suspect, went free from court on Monday after being cleared of ordering the execution of more than 30 Jews and Serbs in 1942. The prosecution had demanded at least a prison sentence for Sandor Kepiro, who until his arrest topped the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most wanted Nazi criminals. However, the defense said there was no tangible evidence that Kepiro had carried out war crimes. The Wiesenthal Center denounced the court’s decision as a “scandal.” A one-time Hungarian gendarmerie captain, Kepiro faced a life sentence for his alleged participation in a raid by Hungarian forces — then allied to Nazi Germany — in the now Serbian town of Novi Sad from Jan. 21 to Jan. 23, 1942, in which more than 1,200 Jews and Serbs were murdered.
Teen convicted of seal killing
A teenager has admitted bludgeoning to death 25 seals, including newborn pups, because he thought they were “pests,” reports said yesterday. Jason Trevor Godsiff pleaded guilty on Monday to charges arising from the seal killings in November last year at Ohau Point, a popular tourist spot near the South Island town of Kaikoura, the Marlborough Express reported. When questioned by police about why he clubbed the seals with a metal pipe, the 19-year-old would only say he believed they were pests, the newspaper reported.
Investigative team shut down
One of the nation’s leading newspapers, the China Economic Times, shut down its respected investigative unit yesterday, an apparent victim of a broad clampdown on political dissent and the media. Xie Baokang (謝寶康), assistant to the editor-in-chief at the China Economic Times, said the team — led by veteran muckraker Wang Keqin (王克勤) — had been “dismantled.” “The correspondents haven’t left, they still work at the newspaper, but in different departments,” he said, refusing to comment on the reasons behind the move. Wang’s report last year on children who fell seriously ill after being given allegedly faulty vaccines in Shanxi Province made waves around the country. Soon after that story, the paper’s editor-in-chief, Bao Yueyang (包月陽) — a keen supporter of Wang — was fired. Wang —who just recently offered a positive assessment of the growth in watchdog journalism on his blog — could not be reached by phone, and did not immediately respond to e-mails.
Former vice mayors executed
Xu Maiyong (許邁永), the former vice mayor of Hangzhou, and Jiang Renjie (姜人傑), the former vice mayor of Suzhou, were executed yesterday morning for taking millions of dollars in bribes, the Supreme Court and state media said. “Xu used his official power to interfere with project contracts and to help companies and people obtain land, promotions and tax breaks,” Xinhua news agency said. He received 145 million yuan (US$22.4 million) in bribes and embezzled another 53.59 million yuan from a state-owned property development firm, it said. Jiang took bribes, including more than 108 million yuan in cash, from property developers, and was convicted of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, Xinhua said.
Transsexual’s bid rejected
A transsexual who underwent sex-change surgery has lost her bid to officially change her gender, with a court ruling that a person’s sex is determined at birth. Lawyer Horley Isaacs yesterday said the high court ruled on Monday that 26-year-old Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz’s sex-change surgery was merely external. Ashraf underwent a complete sex-change operation in Thailand in 2008 and had sought a court declaration that she was a woman after authorities refused to update her name and gender on her identity card.
Navy drone crashes
A navy surveillance drone crashed near an oil refinery in Karachi after hitting a bird on a routine flight yesterday, Commodore Irfan Ul Haq, spokesman the navy said. Another navy spokesman said there were no casualties and that the drone had been on a surveillance flight when a bird accidentally flew into the aircraft and it came down in the Karachi suburbs.
Thousands join ukulele fest
When Roy Sakuma first rounded up ukulele players for a festival at a Waikiki Park, he gathered 50 musicians and had an audience of 100. This year, about four decades later, 900 people strummed and plucked their wooden four-string instruments in front of several thousand people lounging on benches and under tents on a sunny day at Kapiolani Park. “That sweetness and charm of this instrument, just attracts you,” said Sakuma, on the sidelines of the 41st Annual Ukulele Festival on Sunday. The players ranged from novice five-year-olds attending Sakuma’s ukulele schools on Oahu to stars like Jake Shimabukuro, who first performed at the event as a child decades ago. The musicians were also international, including artists from Thailand, Italy and South Korea. Sakuma said many people have long failed to take the ukulele seriously because they thought it was a toy, but he said that’s changing as more people encounter it. “When people hear that it makes them feel young, it makes them feel like a kid,” he said. “That’s wonderful because it brings a different type of joy to you and that joy is infectious.” Mainstream artists, such as Eddie Vedder, the leader singer of Pearl Jam, have taken it up.
Teen ‘hitman’ on trial
A court has begun the trial of a 14-year-old US citizen accused of working as a hitman for a drug cartel. The defendant is identified only as Edgar. He was born in San Diego and raised in Mexico by a grandmother. Proscutors say that after his December arrest the teenager confessed to killing four people whose decapitated bodies were found in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. The trial that opened on Monday is being held behind closed doors for security reasons. The teen faces up to five years in prison if convicted of murder and other charges.
Dora threatens in Pacific
Tropical storm Dora, the fourth named storm of the Pacific hurricane season, strengthened off the coast of Central America on Monday, threatening to dump heavy rains on the coffee and sugar growing region. The storm, with winds of about 75kph, could reach hurricane strength last night, but was not forecast to make a direct hit on land and there were no coastal warnings in effect, the US National Hurricane Center said. Dora is located south of Guatemala and southern Mexico and is moving up the Pacific coastline, which does not have major oil installations. Heavy rains have already drenched Central America this year, putting the vulnerable countries at risk of floods and landslides that could also affect export crops. Two people died and three were missing in Guatemala due to rains last week, national emergency officials said.
Marijuana fields burned
Hundreds of soldiers have finished burning thousands of plants at a massive marijuana plantation discovered last week in Baja California. The government has called the 120 hectare marijuana field the biggest such plantation ever found in the country. The field had escaped detection for several months in part because it was covered by shade cloth. The defense department said on Monday that 472 soldiers pulled up all the plants. They burned them in giant bonfires at the clandestine plantation south of the town of San Quintin. The army said the plantation was capable of producing about 120 tonnes of marijuana worth about 1.8 billion pesos (US$160 million).
‘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
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched