Mangoes sell for US$3,000
A pair of mangoes grown in the nation’s south sold yesterday for a whopping ￥300,000 (US$3,000), a record price for the fruit’s first auction of the season, Kyodo news agency reported. The “Taiyo no Tamago” (Egg of the Sun)-brand mangoes were set to be airlifted from Miyazaki in the far south to a department store in Fukuoka, where they were to go on sale, the agency said. To qualify as a “Taiyo no Tamago” mango, each fruit must weigh at least 350g and have a high sugar content, according to the Miyazaki Agricultural Economic Federation. Fruit is routinely expensive and it is not unusual for a single apple to cost upwards of US$3, while a presentation pack of 20 cherries can set you back US$100. However, all pale in comparison with the eye-watering US$25,000 price tag for a pair of cantaloupe melons auctioned in 2008.
Guard poisons children
A woman has been detained for killing two children at a preschool nursery and making 30 others ill with poisoned food, state media said. The woman — a security guard at the premises, angered over having to leave her living quarters — “put poison into a bag of snacks and left it in the classroom,” Xinhua said on Wednesday, citing police in Qiubei in Yunnan Province. Two girls aged four and five died, following the poisoning on March 19. Another five pupils were in a critical condition immediately after the poisoning, and a further 25 received hospital treatment. A Qiubei local official said yesterday that all the sickened pupils had been released from hospital. The suspect, 44-year-old Zhao Jianzhi (趙建芝), had admitted the crime, the Xinhua report said.
Mafia boss hospitalized
Jailed former Sicilian Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano has been taken to hospital in Milan from a maximum security prison suffering from “neurological pathologies,” media reported on Wednesday. The 81-year-old, who was arrested in 2006 after 40 years on the run during which he communicated with his lieutenants by word of mouth or typewritten notes, is serving several consecutive life sentences. Provenzano’s detention in solitary confinement was extended last month, while the supreme court last week also rejected an appeal from his lawyers that he be released from prison due to ill-health. Nicknamed “The Tractor” for his propensity for violence and stubbornness, Provenzano became the uncontested head of the Cosa Nostra after the incarceration of his predecessor Toto Riina in 1993. Provenzano was the nation’s most-wanted man for many years.
More than 3,600 raped: UN
More than 3,600 women, children and men were subjected to rape and other sexual violence over a four-year period by the country’s defense and security forces or armed rebels, according to a UN report released on Wednesday. The report by the UN’s human rights office said the period from 2010 through last year “has been characterized by the persistence of incidents of sexual violence that were extremely serious due to their scale, their systematic nature and the number of victims.” About half the 3,645 attacks were by rebel groups and half by government forces, though the percentages varied year by year, the report said. The victims ranged in age from 2 to 80 years old, with 73 percent women, 25 percent children and 2 percent men, it said.