Man steals human remains
A man has admitted stealing human remains from graves to use in black-magic spells he believed would give him the power of flight and invisibility, police said on Monday. Police detained Resi Rokhis Suhana, 27, on Java on Sunday following reports that bones were stolen from graves, including those of twin babies. He was arrested in a banana plantation in Cilacap district in possession of bones, ripped white shrouds of the type used in Muslim burials, women’s underwear and a sickle, police said. “In preliminary questioning, he admitted robbing the graves to perfect a magical power called ‘Ultimate Magical Knight,’” police chief Andry Triaspoetra said. Following his arrest, Suhana was admitted to hospital to evaluate his mental health. Some still believe in black magic in the Muslim-majority nation. In 2003, a man was arrested for eating the flesh of a freshly buried old woman in what he believed was part of a ritual to make him invincible.
Kiwi probably an Aussie
In a finding likely to be a bitter blow for many New Zealanders, researchers have found the country’s iconic kiwi bird probably descended from an ancestor that flew in from Australia. Paleontologist Trevor Worthy of Adelaide’s Flinders University said fossilized remains suggested the flightless bird did not evolve from the extinct giant moa, as has long been assumed. Instead, he said an ancestor of the kiwi dating back 20 million years discovered in the South Island was more closely related to another giant flightless bird, the emu, which is still common in Australia. Worthy said it was not uncommon for birds to “jump” from Australia to New Zealand. New Zealanders have long complained about their trans-Tasman neighbors appropriating everything from champion race horse Phar Lap to actor Russell Crowe, and any Australian claim to the kiwi is likely to intensify the rivalry.
Bangkok mall tops list
Sure, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon have inspired many photographs, but a shopping mall in Bangkok has claimed this year’s crown as the world’s most photographed location on Instagram. In its top 10 year-end list, the photo-sharing app dubbed Siam Paragon as the planet’s most “Instagrammed” spot this year. It edged out No. 2 Times Square and No. 3 Disneyland, California, on the list that also includes New York’s Central Park and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Paris’ iconic steel tower got bumped off the list. The luxury mall is not exactly a world-famous landmark, but the mall is a trendy meeting place that claims to have more than 100,000 visitors a day. Suthasinee Tilokruanochai said her friends upload multiple pictures from every visit to the mall. “If you go to the Eiffel Tower, you go once. You take a picture and you leave,” said Suthasinee, a 22-year-old engineering student. “We come here every day after school.”
Suspected thieves blown up
Two suspected scrap-metal thieves trespassing on a testing field for an ammunition factory were killed when they set off a landmine, police said on Monday. The bodies of two men were found early on Monday, police said, refusing to reveal more details pending an investigation. Local media reported a group of four men cut through a fence into the testing ground of the Sloboda factory near the central town of Cacak late on Sunday, looking for unused ammunition to be sold as scrap metal. The two others reportedly fled after seeing their colleagues blown up.
Mafia pushing poinsettias
Police on Monday arrested four suspected mafia members who were forcing shopkeepers to buy Christmas flowers for up to 100 euros (US$138) each to raise money for jailed mobsters. The red poinsettia plants — a traditional Christmas gift in the country — usually sell for 3 or 4 euros and business owners who did not buy them at the vastly inflated prices faced retribution, the police said. The four are alleged to belong to the Mazzarella clan of the Camorra. Their victims were shopkeepers in a busy shopping area in the center of Naples. The investigation has been ongoing since Christmas 2011. The Christmas season is a peak time for mafia protection racket demands, although a devastating recession that has hurt many businesses has made it much harder to drum up revenue.
Customers storm bank
Angry depositors forced their way into a bank and attacked a manager in central Harare on Monday after the bank ran out of cash, witnesses said. A witness, who refused to identify herself, said the depositors were waiting in a line outside the bank when a quarrel broke out with the manager at Allied Bank, one of several battling to pay out deposits. “The people got angry and started shouting at the manager and kicked the door of the banking hall where the manager had retreated. They scattered when a [bank] security [guard] fired tear gas.” Another witness said he heard angry shouts and some thuds while he was standing across the road. Allied Bank chief executive Stephen Gwasira apologized for the incident, blaming it on “prevailing cash shortages” and said the bank was “making aggressive efforts to address the challenges.” In recent weeks the bank has been limiting daily cash withdrawals, resulting in lines at most of its branches.
X-ray finds stolen necklaces
A Florida man faces burglary and tampering charges after an X-ray machine revealed a dark mass near his stomach while he was being booked into jail. Sheriff’s officials say the mass turned out to be two necklaces stolen during a burglary on Tuesday last week. Joseph Ramos, 21, was arrested the following day when he was stopped for driving a vehicle that was stolen during the burglary. Various items from the home were inside the vehicle. When Ramos stepped on the SecurPass X-ray machine at the jail, the dark spot was identified as necklaces. He underwent surgery to remove them. The owner later identified the items.
President mulls adoptions
President Jose Mujica is planning to adopt more than 30 children so he can teach them how to farm, local media reported over the weekend. The down-to-earth leader, who eschewed the presidential palace in favor of his small farmhouse and donates most of his money to social projects, told journalists he wants to raise his adopted family when his term expires in March 2015. Mujica, 78, and his wife, Senator Lucia Topolansky, live on the outskirts of Montevideo. They married in 2005 and do not have children. He has long planned to establish a school on his farm. “I have the goal of getting together 30 or 40 poor kids and bringing them to live with me,” El Observador newspaper quotes him saying. Describing the role of state leader as a “heavy coat” that he must wear, Mujica said he hoped to go back to growing chrysanthemums and other flowers, his previous occupation before winning office.
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”
‘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
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
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