First activist goes home
The first of 30 Greenpeace activists arrested after a protest over Arctic oil drilling has left Russia, the environmental group said on Thursday, with all expected to get clearance to leave Russia by yesterday. Soviet-born Swedish activist Dima Litvinov crossed the Finnish border after receiving an exit stamp in his passport. Thirteen others have also received the stamp which allows them to leave, Greenpeace said, with rest of the “Arctic 30” expected to go through the process yesterday. “Now I’m going home to my bed, my wife, my kids and my life,” Dima said in a statement. “I’m leaving Russia feeling like we won something here.”
Car rammed into palace gate
A theater director rammed a car into the rear gate of the French presidential palace on Thursday in a protest over cuts to government funding for the arts, police and state officials said. The 67-year-old Italian national was arrested as he attempted to force his way through the 19th century Grille du Coq, which leads into the gardens of the Elysee palace. A police source said the man was slightly injured in the collision and was being held in custody at a Parisian hospital. The source said the man was first arrested on Wednesday near the palace after pulling a model Harlequin — a comic theater character — from his car and setting it on fire. Police had arrested him, but let him go shortly afterwards. President Francois Hollande was working in the palace as usual at the time of the incident, a press officer said. The gate was now being given a fresh coat of paint, he added.
Santas rob jewelry shops
Four armed men dressed as Santa robbed a jewelry shop in a Tirana mall, police said on Thursday, while another “Santa gang” injured two people during a robbery in neighboring Kosovo. The four thieves, armed with automatic weapons, burst into the Tirana shop on Tuesday, threatening the owner at gunpoint as they filled sacks with luxury goods, Interior Ministry spokesman Florion Seriani said. Seriani said their abandoned car was found 2km from the mall. Police found two automatic weapons in a trash can near the mall, believed to belong to the thieves. In Kosovo on Thursday, two people were injured when three armed men dressed as Santa fled a jewelry shop after robbing it in the southern town Prizren.
Bus crash kills at least 29
A bus carrying New Year travelers plunged off one of the highest bridges in the kingdom’s northeast, leaving at least 29 people dead, police said yesterday. The accident occurred at about midnight on Thursday night in Lom Sak district, Phetchabun Province, while the bus was en route to the northern province of Chiang Rai. “We suspect the bus driver fell asleep,” said Major General Sukit Samana, police commander of Phetchabun Province. Twenty-eight bodies were found in the ravine and one died in hospital.
New record hottest peppers
Ed Currie holds one of his world-record Carolina Reaper peppers by the stem, which looks like the tail of a scorpion. On the other end is red fruit with a punch of heat nearly as potent as most pepper sprays used by police. Last month, Guinness World Records decided Currie’s peppers were the hottest on Earth, ending a more than four-year drive to prove no one grows a more scorching chili. The heat of Currie’s peppers was certified by students at Winthrop University who test food as part of their undergraduate classes. The science of hot peppers centers around chemical compounds called capsaicinoids. The higher concentration the hotter the pepper, said Cliff Calloway, the Winthrop University professor whose students tested Currie’s peppers. The heat of a pepper is measured in Scoville heat units. Zero is bland, and a regular jalapeno pepper registers about 5,000 on the Scoville scale. Currie’s world record batch of Carolina Reapers comes in at 1,569,300 Scoville heat units, with an individual pepper measured at 2.2 million. Pepper spray weighs in at about 2 million Scoville Units.