Scientists ‘read’ dreams
Scientists said yesterday they have found a way to “read” people’s dreams, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to unlock some of the secrets of the unconscious mind. Researchers have managed what they said was “the world’s first decoding” of nighttime visions.In the study, published in the journal Science, scientists at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto used MRI scans to locate exactly which part of the brain was active during the first moments of sleep. They then woke up the dreamer and asked him or her what images they had seen. These answers were compared with the brain maps that had been produced. Researchers were then able to predict what images the volunteers had seen with a 60 percent accuracy rate, they said.
Fugitive returned to Seoul
A woman wanted in her home country for running a US-based prostitution ring has been arrested in California and handed back to authorities in Seoul, officials said on Thursday. Eun Suk-sun, 37, the subject of a warrant issued in May 2011, was flown from Los Angeles to Seoul under escort by officers from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She is accused of operating a prostitution business in Los Angeles.
PM assets probe halted
A commission said it would stop investigating asset concealment allegations against the prime minister after finding no grounds to the claims. National Anti-Corruption Commission chief Klanarong Chanthick said on Thursday that the commissioners agreed unanimously that there were no irregularities in Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s asset declaration.
S&M brothel auctions ‘stuff’
Shackles, whips, chains and even a stretching rack will go on sale next week, with the reputable auction house Lawsons charged with selling off the contents of a closed Australian brothel. About 250 items of furniture, clothing and books and accessories from Salon Kitty go on sale on Friday, after the Sydney establishment closed its doors last month after dominating the city’s bondage scene for 27 years. Lawsons’ Shauna Farren-Price said her first instinct on being approached about the sale — which includes unusual items such as a fat suit and genital weights — was that it might be a bit too racy. “My second reaction was ‘why not?’ It’s a reflection of the human psyche. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. It’s really hard to determine whether people are going to put their money where their mouth is, but there’s certainly something for everyone,” she said.
Stranger admits to killing
A stranger has pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of an Irish immigrant he attacked as she walked home from a bar in Melbourne. The death of Jill Meagher shocked the city. A week after she died in September, 30,000 people rallied against violence near the laneway where she was strangled. The 29-year-old had been drinking with colleagues and was walking home when she was attacked. She was born in Drogheda, Ireland, and held an administrative job at the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Adrian Ernest Bayley, 41, pleaded guilty to rape and murder in a Victoria state court yesterday. Bayley lived near inner-suburban Brunswick, where he randomly abducted Meagher only a few hundred meters from the apartment she shared with her husband.
Queen receives film award
Queen Elizabeth II has received an honorary British Academy award in recognition of her support of British film and television. John Willis, chairman of the British Academy Film and Television Awards, joked that the prize was also in honor of the queen’s performance as the “most memorable Bond girl yet” during the London Olympics opening ceremony. He was referring to the moment when a stuntman dressed as the queen parachuted into the Olympic Stadium during a skit involving James Bond, the legendary spy.
Arsonist father sentenced
A judge sentenced the father of six children who died in a house fire to life, with a minimum of 15 years in prison, describing him on Thursday as the “driving force” behind setting the blaze. Judge Kathryn Thirlwall leveled most of the responsibility for the fire on Mick Philpott, describing him as a dangerous man. His wife, Mairead, and family friend Paul Mosley each received 17 years for manslaughter. Prosecutors say the couple hatched a plan to start a gasoline-fueled fire and then rescue the children, pinning blame on Philpott’s mistress so he could gain advantage in their child custody battle. However, the plot quickly went wrong, because the fire was far bigger than expected and the father was unable to smash a window to get in. Five of the children — aged between five and 13 — died at the scene, while the sixth died later in a hospital.
Sex offender’s art removed
Tate gallery has removed more than 30 prints by artist Graham Ovenden from its online collection after the 70-year-old, whose major works feature young girls, was found guilty of sex offences against children. The internationally acclaimed artist was found guilty by a court in Truro, southwest England, on Tuesday of six charges of indecency with a child and one count of indecent assault. The artist and photographer’s images of children, some nude, have triggered several legal actions over the years, but his work was highly regarded in the art world and displayed in galleries globally including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Mandela is doing ‘fine’: wife
Nelson Mandela’s wife has said the 94-year-old icon is “fine” and his health is improving after he was hospitalized more than a week ago for pneumonia, a report said yesterday. “Madiba is fine, Madiba is getting better and better,” Graca Machel said late on Thursday, referring to 94-year-old Mandela’s clan name, the private eNCA news channel reported. On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said that he had visited his predecessor and that doctors had said he was showing continuous improvement.
Mujica in microphone gaffe
President Jose Mujica was left red-faced on Thursday after disparaging remarks apparently aimed at Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and her late husband were picked up by an open microphone. Buenos Aires swiftly responded with an official protest, calling the comments “unacceptable.” “This old hag is worse than the cross-eyed man,” Mujica was caught saying at the start of a news conference, while speaking quietly with another official. El Observador newspaper, which posted the audio on its Web site, said Mujica was referencing Fernandez and former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner and did not realize that the microphones were already on. Kirchner died suddenly of a heart attack in 2010 and had a lazy eye. Word of the slip-up shut down the paper’s Web site, which recorded historic traffic, according to the outlet’s digital content manager. An hour later, Mujica told the online version of La Republica newspaper that he had not talked about Argentina and was not going to clarify anything.
Movie critic Ebert dies
The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that its film critic Roger Ebert has died. He was 70. The paper says on its Web site that the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic died on Thursday. Ebert was known for his thumbs-up, thumbs-down TV reviews that influenced moviegoers across the US. Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002 and later had surgery for cancer of the salivary gland. He lost his chin and his ability to speak. However, he later resumed writing full-time and eventually even returned to television. Ebert started as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. In 1975 he became the first movie reviewer to get the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.
Rembrandt van Rijn’s masterpiece The Night Watch is back in pride of place at the newly renovated national museum, along with works by artists Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen and thousands of other Dutch cultural and artistic artifacts, as the museum prepares to reopen after a massive 10-year, 375 million euro (US$480 million) renovation. In a preview on Thursday ahead of the Rijksmuseum’s opening on Saturday next week, director Wim Pijbes said the improvements would justify the long wait. The 19th-century building’s red-brick exterior, which resembles a fairy-tale castle, has been left intact. Inside, a central courtyard has been crafted to let natural light pour in, creating a bright heart at the center of the museum. The museum expects annual visits to nearly double to 2 million after the renovation.
Government denies link
The government yesterday strenuously denied it had any link to an arms-laden ship that Egypt said its navy seized as it sailed from Eilat to Togo in West Africa. “Nobody in Israel knows anything about this ship. It’s clear that it did not come from Eilat or any other Israeli port,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told reporters. Egyptian security officials said on Thursday that the navy intercepted the vessel and detained its crew who had set off from the Red Sea port of Eilat en route to Togo. Officials said that the ship, “which was flying the flag of an African country,” was intercepted after it strayed into Egyptian territorial waters. The vessel with a crew of 14 and a cargo of 105 crates of unspecified weapons and ammunition, belonged to an African security company, the officials said.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after