Non-existent day dawns
The Pacific island nation is poised to leap into the future, axing today — Dec. 30 — as it switches time zones to be closer to its major trading partners in Australasia. The plan to jump across the international dateline will take Samoa from being one of the last places to see the sun each day to being among the first. The dateline — which runs through the middle of the Pacific — currently runs to the west of Samoa, meaning that it is 11 hours behind GMT and is one of the last places on Earth to see out the day. Carols, prayers and a speech from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in the last hour of Dec. 29 were to lead Samoa up to midnight and then straight into Dec. 31. “In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we’re losing out on two working days a week,” the prime minister said, explaining the change. “While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand and when we’re at church Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.” The switch reverses a decision made 120 years ago to move to the east of the international dateline because most of Samoa’s trade at the time was with the US and Europe. Guests staying in Samoa’s hotels this week will not be expected to pay for a day that does not exist, but employers must still pay staff for the Friday that never was.
Boy escapes tight squeeze
An infant was attacked by a python which wrapped itself around his body and attempted to suffocate him, his terrified mother said yesterday, recalling his “blood-curdling scream.” The two-year-old boy was chasing a ball around his Port Douglas backyard in the nation’s tropical north when the snake struck, biting his leg before looping itself around his body, his mother told the Cairns Post. “I heard this blood-curdling scream,” she said. “The snake was biting his leg and was wrapped around his whole body, to his chest. It started constricting.” She was unable to pull the snake from her son, but neighbors who heard her cries came to his rescue and managed to lift the snake off. The boy suffered four bite wounds, but the snake was not poisonous and he was released from hospital after 24 hours’ observation.
Man handed death sentence
A court in the south sentenced a man to death yesterday for setting off explosives at a tax office which killed four people, media reported. The blast in July of last year in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, also injured 17 people, Xinhua news agency said. Suspect Liu Zhuiheng fled the scene of the attack and was caught a few days later in the neighboring region of Guangxi, the report added. “His actions were his way of venting anger over his business losses,” Xinhua said, without elaborating.
Romance goes viral
After watching an emotional video of Timothy Tiah propose to his girlfriend, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest hailed it as a heartwarming coda to the year. Singer Christina Perri confessed that it made her cry. Celebrity endorsements have helped the creatively crafted clip rack up nearly 4 million views online within a week. The video has turned Tiah and his now-fiancee into unexpected role models for numerous young romantics worldwide. The 27-year-old Internet entrepreneur told The Associated Press this week that it was a surreal twist for him because he has long been allergic to the idea of marriage. The video shows Tiah surprising his girlfriend at an Italian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.