‘Christmas spirit’ vandalized
Vandals have burned down for the 27th time a giant straw goat meant to symbolize the Christmas spirit. The 13m high and 3.6 tonne heavy straw goat was engulfed in flames early on Saturday after unidentified assailants attacked it in the town of Gavle, 150km north of Stockholm. The straw goat is a centuries-old Scandinavian yule symbol that preceded Santa Claus as the bringer of gifts. Since 1966, when the tradition of erecting the giant straw goat in the town square was introduced, vandals have burnt it down 27 times.
Gandalf scene re-enacted
It is almost like in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf stands in the way of the Balrog and tells him to “go back to the shadow” to buy time for fleeing Frodo Baggins and his companions. However, the scene is Warsaw, not the Mines of Moria. A prankster dressed as Gandalf stops a city tram, which represents the Balrog, and recreates the scene with several others dressed as Middle-earth characters. Tolkien’s Gandalf almost died in the confrontation, but the Warsaw practical joker, called SA Wardega, just irritated the tram driver. A YouTube video of the prank posted last week has gone viral with nearly 3 million views by Saturday, just days before Poland’s premiere of the The Hobbit film sequel.
Factory owners charged
Police yesterday charged the owners and 11 others over the nation’s worst garment factory fire that killed 111 people, after wrapping up an investigation 13 months after the tragedy. Police charged owners Delwar Hossain and his wife, along with security guards and managers over the blaze in November last year that gutted the Tazreen factory where workers stitched clothes for Western retailers including Walmart. “[Owners] Delwar and his wife Mahmuda Akter ... and 11 others have been charged with death due to negligence,” said A.K.M. Mohsinuzzaman Khan, police investigator in the case. The factory, on the outskirts of Dhaka, supplied clothes to a variety of international brands including US giant Walmart Stores Inc, Dutch retailer C&A and ENYCE, a label owned by US rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Military removes Nazi image
The military has removed a picture from an army Web site in which one of its soldiers deployed in the Central African Republic was sporting an insignia with a Nazi slogan. The picture showed a soldier with his gun in his hand wearing a shoulder insignia bearing the French flag, the number 32 and the motto of Adolf Hitler’s SS — “My honor is called loyalty” — news channel BFMTV said. The army took the photo down on Friday. “This is an unacceptable attitude that doesn’t reflect the reality of the armed forces,” army spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron said. He said the soldier would be “immediately suspended” as soon as he had been identified. “This soldier was wearing a shoulder insignia that isn’t part of the military uniform and which bore an inscription concerning an ideology that is unequivocally condemned,” he said. BFMTV said the army had posted the photo on its Facebook page for its overseas operations. The nation has deployed 1,600 soldiers to the Central African Republic, a former French colony, to bolster an African peacekeeping force that was struggling to deal with an outbreak of Christian-Muslim violence following a March coup by a mainly Muslim rebel group.