Minister sorry for boot row
The government apologized to the Egyptian ambassador on Wednesday after a fracas with police over security screening at the island’s main airport. Egyptian ambassador Menha Mahrous Bakhoum was involved in an argument with police when she was asked to undergo security checks to enter a departure terminal on Saturday, where she was seeing off members of her family. Local media reported the ambassador agreed to undergo security screening, but objected to removing her boots. In a heated debate that followed, media reported, a police officer was slapped and the ambassador was manhandled by police. An apology released on Wednesday lauded the country’s “brotherly relations” with Egypt.
Ship stable: coast guard
A coast guard official who flew over a petroleum drilling ship grounded on a remote Alaskan island says there are still no signs of any fuel sheen or environmental impact and the rig appears to be stable. The drill ship Kulluk ran aground in a fierce North Pacific storm on Monday off an uninhabited island near Kodiak. Calmer weather conditions on Wednesday also allowed a team of five salvage experts to be lowered by helicopter to the rig to conduct a structural assessment. Officials say their information will be used to formulate salvage plans. Also taken to the Kulluk was a state-owned emergency towing system for use in the operation.
Woman stuck in supermarket
While others were celebrating the start of the year, an elderly woman spent New Year’s Eve trapped in a supermarket after being locked inside, officials said. The 73-year-old was stuck inside the supermarket in the northern city of Roubaix after emerging from the toilet to find the shop closed and the doors locked, local firefighters said. She set off the alarms several times throughout the night, but there was no answer. She was only discovered the morning of New Year’s Day around 10:30am.
Sperm donor fights request
A man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is fighting efforts by Kansas state authorities to force him to pay child support for the now three-year-old girl, arguing that he and the women signed an agreement waiving all of his parental rights. The state argues that because William Marotta did not work through a clinic or doctor, as required by state law, he can be held responsible for about US$6,000 that the child’s biological mother received through public assistance — as well as future child support. Marotta answered an ad in 2009 from a local couple. The three signed an agreement relieving Marotta of any financial or paternal responsibility. However, instead of working with a doctor, Marotta agreed to drop off a container with his sperm at the couple’s home and the women successfully handled the insemination themselves.
Mantel wins book award
Writer and two-time Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel has been named novelist of the year at Britain’s Costa Book Awards for Bring Up the Bodies. Mantel’s achievement for her blood-soaked Tudor saga makes her the first author to win both the Costa novel award and Booker Prize in the same year. Other winners included Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie for The Overhaul and Francesca Segal for her first novel, The Innocents. Severely dyslexic writer and illustrator Sally Gardner won the children’s book prize for her fifth novel, Maggot Moon.