Melons sell for US$12,500
Two cantaloupe melons have been sold at auction in Japan for ￥1 million (US$12,500). The unknown buyer snapped up the Yubari melons on the first day of the buying season, splashing out the equivalent of a small car. The eye-watering figure reflects the buyer’s desire for prestige as well as a degree of sympathy for the town that produces them, which went bust in 2007. Yubari melons are perfect spheres with a smooth, evenly patterned rind and a T-shaped stalk. In 2008 a pair of Yubari melons sold for ￥2.5 million at auction.
Air collision kills four pilots
Two air force light aircraft collided in mid-air yesterday, killing four pilots on a routine training mission northwest of Islamabad, police said. It was the sixth Pakistan Air Force crash in seven months and the second in a week, raising concerns over the safety of its largely Chinese and locally made fleet. “Four pilots were killed, two were trainee pilots and two were instructors,” district police officer Mohammad Hussain said. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. One of the two-seater propeller planes crashed on a house, injuring a girl and an elderly man, and the second fell in nearby fields.
Gay pride march canceled
Gay rights activists accused police of homophobia yesterday after the first ever planned pride march through the Pacific nation’s capital was canceled at the last minute. Roshika Deo, of rights group Oceania Pride, said they received a permit last month to hold the march but police told them on the morning of the event that it had been canceled. “They said we cannot march today because they did not realize they had given a permit for gays to march,” Deo said. The event was to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and the decriminalization of homosexuality in Fiji in 2010. Deo alleged that police told her the official who had vetted the permit did not what the word “homophobia” was. Fiji police said the march was stopped because of concerns about the safety of participants. “At the end of the day, the safety of all Fijians is the main priority for the police force,” commissioner Ioane Naivalurua said in a statement.
Bombs go off at Dhaka strike
Bomb blasts and arrests have been reported in Dhaka as an opposition alliance enforces a general strike protesting a court order sending 33 of its leaders to jail. No injuries were reported. A court on Wednesday had denied bail to 33 leaders in the 18-party opposition alliance who were charged with involvement in an arson attack during an anti-government strike last month. The United News of Bangladesh agency says police arrested at least 17 activists who have been protesting the disappearance of an opposition leader last month and allege government forces were involved.
Soldiers seal off village
Security forces have sealed off an eastern village and denied entry to human rights workers a day after the fatal shooting of a teenager in the latest violent eviction aimed at clearing land for development. On Wednesday, about 400 police and soldiers raided the settlement after community leaders rejected demands to vacate their farmland. The incident is the latest in widespread evictions and land grabs that have sparked unrest nationwide.