Swallowed gem recovered
Police on Saturday said they had recovered a stolen diamond worth US$13,600 that was swallowed by a Chinese man at a gem exhibition after he was administered a dose of laxatives. The 32-year-old man swallowed the 1.5-carat diamond on Wednesday while at a stall at an annual gem and jewelery show in Colombo. The man swallowed the diamond while showing interest in buying gems from the exhibition stall. He was administered laxatives in hospital. The diamond’s owner, Suresh de Silva, of the Belgrade International gem store, said the man had offered to pay for the 7.2mm-diameter stone, but exhibition organizers wanted to press charges.
Prize nominees announced
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Thailand’s prime minister and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among those nominated for an alternative “peace prize.” Organizers of the Confucius Peace Prize yesterday announced the nominees for the accolade. The China International Peace Research Center launched the prize in 2010 in an apparent attempt to counter that year’s Nobel Peace Prize which went to jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for co-authoring an appeal for political reform. Liu’s win enraged the government and nationalists, who accused the Nobel committee of interfering in the country’s legal system as part of a plot to bring the nation down in disgrace. The award’s sponsors are professors and academics who say they are independent of the Chinese government. The 2010 prize went to Taiwan’s former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) for having “built a bridge of peace between the mainland and Taiwan.”
President amuses crowd
President Barack Obama was winning laughs at a packed Florida restaurant on the campaign trail on Saturday, where he was introduced to a boy born in his home state, Hawaii. At a bustling eatery Gator’s Dockside, the president sidled up to a table of 10 people, including five children, at which a woman signaled to Obama that one youngster was born in Hawaii. “You were born in Hawaii? You have a birth certificate?” Obama said to the boy, whose table burst into laughter. The president long has been a target of “birther” theorists who have suggested his Hawaii birth certificate was a fake, and he was perhaps ineligible for high office.
Man stores human remains
A former medical examiner has been arrested on charges of keeping human remains in a rented storage unit in the Florida Panhandle. Michael Berkland, 57, was arrested on Friday on charges of improper storage of hazardous waste, keeping a public nuisance and driving with a suspended license. He was released from jail on US$10,000 bail. Berkland’s attorney, Eric Stevenson, told the Pensacola News Journal that he and Berkland will start preparing their defense this week. US State Attorney Bill Eddins said more charges may be filed. Crudely preserved brains, hearts, lungs and other organs and specimens were discovered in more than 100 containers last month in a Pensacola storage unit that Berkland had rented for about three years. The unit was auctioned off after Berkland defaulted on his payments, according to an arrest affidavit. Berkland had declared the contents to be household goods and equipment.
Paul McCartney given award