Court orders paralysis
Amnesty International has condemned a reported court ruling that a young man should be paralyzed as punishment for a crime he committed 10 years ago, which resulted in the victim requiring a wheelchair to get around. The London-based human rights group said Ali al-Khawaher, 24, was reported to have spent 10 years in jail waiting to be paralyzed surgically unless his family pays one million Saudi riyals (US$270,000) to the victim.
Author Banks has cancer
Scottish writer Iain Banks, 59, said on Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with late-stage gall bladder cancer and has just months to live. Banks says it is “extremely unlikely” he will live more than a year and that his latest novel, The Quarry, will likely be his last. “As a result, I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honor of becoming my widow. Sorry — but we find ghoulish humor helps,” Banks said in a statement posted on his publisher’s Web site. Banks writes general fiction and science fiction — the latter under the name Iain M. Banks. Banks published his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987. In 2008, he was named one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 in a list compiled by the Times of London.
Nobel Peace Prize stolen
Police say thieves have stolen a gold Nobel Peace Prize awarded in the 1930s. Northumbria Police say burglars broke into the cellar of the Newcastle Lord Mayor’s house overnight between Monday and Tuesday, and stole “a number” of very uncommon items valued at about ￡150,000 (US$225,749). Police say the thieves made off with a large amount of antique silverware in addition to the Nobel, which was awarded in 1934 to former British foreign secretary Arthur Henderson for his work on international disarmament.
Tutu gets religion prize
The John Templeton Foundation says it has awarded archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu one of the world’s leading religion prizes. The organization says Tutu, 81, is the winner of the 2013 Templeton Prize for his “lifelong work in advancing spiritual principles.” The honor comes with a ￡1.1 million (US$1.5 million) award. The foundation said yesterday that Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will receive the prize at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on May 21.
Grimaldis save elephants
They once faced imminent death, but have now been offered princely accommodation — two zoo elephants who had been ordered put down are moving to a ranch belonging to Monaco’s ruling Grimaldi family. Baby, 42, and Nepal, 43, had faced an execution order since last year over a suspected tuberculosis infection deemed a threat to the health of other animals and visitors to the Tete d’Or zoo in the city of Lyon. However, after a nationwide outcry — spearheaded by animal rights defender and ex-cinema icon Brigitte Bardot — the threat of execution was lifted in February. Rhone region prefect Jean-Francois Carenco said he had met Princess Stephanie of Monaco last month, who had promised him she would take care of the two elephants. Baby and Nepal will move to the Grimaldi family’s property Roc Agel in the Alpes Maritimes.
Obama returns 5% of salary