Vacuum cleaner talks
It looks just like iRobot’s Roomba vacuuming machine, except the new circular roaming vacuum cleaner from Sharp Corp is trilingual. Cocorobo, which can also send photographs taken from your home to your cellphone, says 36 phrases, including: “Long time no see” and “Hello,” in Japanese, English and Chinese. The Japanese electronics maker said yesterday that the robot also speaks the Kansai dialect of southwestern Japan. However, its linguistic abilities are designed for fun, not for following complex orders or lengthy dialogue.
Workers fell to their deaths
Three men plunged to their deaths from the 69th floor of the country’s tallest building on Monday when the platform they were using to install advertising split after a supporting cable snapped, police said. Two other workers were left clinging to the structure suspended high above Bangkok’s streets in the accident at the Baiyoke Tower on Monday afternoon. “Three men fell to their deaths ... while another two were rescued from the 68th story — probably one floor lower than where they had been working,” police Lieutenant-Colonel Thamarak Reungdit said. The 304m Baiyoke Tower is a distinctive feature of the capital’s skyline and houses a hotel on its uppermost floors.
Rebel leader wanted
The government has asked authorities in Myanmar to arrest an ethnic rebel leader who was recently added to a list of most-wanted drug dealers by Bangkok, a senior minister said yesterday. Na Kham Mwe, head of a faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, allegedly issued a “threat” to Thais living in Tak Province bordering Myanmar in response to his inclusion on a list of 25 top narcotics traders. The Office of Narcotic Control Board, which has offered a 1 million baht reward (US$32,000) for Na Kham Mwe without giving details of the charges against him, has now asked Myanmar’s chief of police to arrest the rebel fighter.
Maids die cleaning windows
Eight Indonesian maids have fallen to their deaths from high-rise apartments in the city-state this year and officials at the Indonesian embassy are pushing for a ban on cleaning outside windows. Indonesian embassy Counsellor Sukmo Yuwono yesterday said that he has asked employment agencies to include a clause in work contracts that prohibits maids from cleaning the outside of windows or hanging laundry from high-rise apartments. Yuwono said the maids are “dying for nothing.” Yuwono said Singapore’s Manpower Ministry is working with Indonesian officials to identify and possibly blacklist agencies and employers who do not ensure maid safety.
Morrissey wants zoo closed
British singer Morrissey called on the government yesterday to immediately shut down a notorious zoo in eastern Java where hundreds of animals have died or disappeared. The former frontman of seminal indie band The Smiths, whose 1985 album is entitled Meat is Murder, made the request in a letter to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan before a solo performance in Jakarta tomorrow. “There can be no justification for seemingly endless debates and delays while animals continue to suffer and die. Please take immediate action to close the Surabaya Zoo and transfer its animals to more suitable environments,” Morrissey said.
Meow the 18kg cat dies
A cat that got national attention for tipping the scales at 18kg has died from apparent complications of his morbid obesity, an animal shelter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, said on Monday. The orange and white tabby named Meow, who was between two and five years old, was taken to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society last month after his 87-year-old owner could no longer take care of him. The shelter put Meow on a diet and posted all his weigh-ins on a Facebook page that got national attention. Meow had lost 0.9kg and was doing well when he began having breathing problems on Wednesday, shelter director Mary Martin said on Monday. Meow underwent a battery of tests, including X-rays and a cardiac ultrasound, and was put on oxygen. Despite the shelter’s best efforts, Meow died on Saturday. “It was a shock and a horror for all of us,” Martin said through tears. “We all fell in love with him.”