Eiffel Tower evacuated
The Eiffel Tower was evacuated on Saturday night after an anonymous caller called in a bomb threat, police said. Nearly 1,400 people were sent away from the tourist attraction following a request from tower operators after the warning, a Paris police official said. Police then searched the monument with sniffer dogs, and set up a security perimeter. No explosives were found and the site was reopened after about two-and-a-half hours. The government has stepped up counter-terrorism measures in recent weeks amid heightened concern about threats to France over its military campaign against al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Mali that began more than two months ago. The tower is occasionally evacuated because of such warnings — at least once last year and twice in 2011.
Shroud of Turin displayed
The Shroud of Turin went on display for a special TV appearance on Saturday amid new research disputing claims it is a medieval fake and purporting to date the linen some say was Jesus’ burial cloth to about the time of his death. Pope Francis sent a special video message to the event in Turin’s cathedral, but made no claim that the image on the shroud of a man with wounds similar to those suffered by Christ was really that of Jesus. He called the cloth an “icon,” not a relic — an important distinction. “This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love,” he said. “This disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest ... And yet, at the same time, the face in the Shroud conveys a great peace; this tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty.” Many experts stand by carbon dating that date it to the 13th or 14th century, but some have suggested the dating results might have been skewed by contamination and have called for a larger sample to be analyzed.
Thief takes Sun King tusk
A man broke into the Paris natural history museum early on Saturday and used a chainsaw to hack off the tusk of an elephant that belonged to King Louis XIV, officials said. Police arrested the man in a nearby street as he was making his escape and recovered the 3kg tusk, museum workers said. The elephant whose skeleton is preserved in the popular museum was given as a gift in 1668 by the king of Portugal to Louis XIV, who was also known as the Sun King. The animal’s tusks are not the original ones, but were added to the skeleton in the 19th century. Police made no immediate comment about why the man tried to steal the tusk, but the incident comes amid a series of thefts in recent years of ivory from European museums and zoos.
Bieber’s monkey seized
Canadian teen heartthrob Justin Bieber had his pet monkey Mally confiscated when he arrived with the animal at Munich airport, officials and media reports said on Saturday. Customs officials put the capuchin monkey in quarantine on Thursday because the 19-year-old pop sensation was unable to present the necessary documents for importing a live animal. Officials declined to confirm the monkey owner’s identity, but several media reports said it was the singer, who is on a tour of Germany and Austria.