‘Grotesque’ plant flowers
A “grotesque” plant that mimics the smell of rotting flesh to attract flies has gone on display in Wellington’s Botanic Gardens. The Dracunculus vulgaris, commonly known as the voodoo lily, began flowering on Thursday and will emit a strong stench of putrid meat for about a week, botanic gardens general manager David Sole said. “It’s quite pretty when the flower begins to emerge, then becomes more grotesque,” he said. “A spadix [spike] about 700mm grows, it’s a deep wine violet and smells like carrion.” Sole said the plant, native to the Aegean, originally belonged to a member of the public, who donated it to the botanic garden because of the overpowering odor.
Students in acid fight
A Chinese university student was in a critical condition in hospital on Friday after a fellow PhD student allegedly threw acid in his face and then hit him over the head with a hammer. Police said a 26-year-old man had been charged with attacking a 25-year-old fellow student at a chemistry research laboratory at the University of New South Wales in Sydney on Thursday. “It’s alleged one student threw a chemical, believed to be sulfuric acid, in another student’s face before hitting him on the head with a hammer during an altercation,” police said in a statement. Both men are Chinese nationals studying for their PhDs, the university said. The victim, named by media as Cheng Xiaoyu, was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital’s Burns Unit where he is in a critical condition in an induced coma. His alleged attacker, Zhang Rui, appeared in a Sydney court yesterday. Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge said that Zhang would be transferred to a mental health facility for evaluation before appearing in court again on Nov. 29.
Militant suspects arrested
Police have arrested three Muslim militants suspected of planning terror attacks in New Delhi during a major Hindu festival season that starts later this month, a top police official said on Thursday. The three are alleged members of the Indian Mujahideen, an Islamic militant group, police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said. The group has links to Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has claimed responsibility for previous terrorist attacks in India. The three suspects were arrested in New Delhi over the past two weeks, Kumar said. He said they were responsible for several small explosions in the western city of Pune in August in which one person was injured. A Pune cafe popular with foreigners was also the target of a 2010 bombing that killed 17 people. Police recovered explosives, detonators, batteries and nails used in making bombs from the suspects, Kumar said.
US pastor denied entry
Authorities have denied entry to US pastor Terry Jones, whose congregation held a Quran-burning ceremony in March last year that triggered deadly protests in Afghanistan, a spokeswoman said. Stephanie Sapp said her husband, Wayne Sapp, a fellow pastor along with Jones, were turned back at the Michigan-Ontario border on Thursday after being detained for several hours. Jones, who leads Florida’s tiny Dove World Outreach Center, and Wayne Sapp were scheduled to attend Freedom Showdown, an inter-faith debate on Thursday evening outside the Ontario Legislature. Stephanie Sapp said Jones was denied entry because of a fine he received in Germany almost 20 years ago for using the title “doctor” there. He had received an honorary doctorate in theology from a California university in 1993.