Bush appears for jury service
Former president George W. Bush appeared in court on Wednesday to serve on a jury, but he was not picked and instead spent his time posing for selfies. The 43rd president surprised fellow potential jurors when he arrived to fulfil the civic duty at a courthouse in Dallas, Texas. The former commander-in-chief, who was president from 2001 to 2009, posed for photographs with star-struck Texans before being told he was not needed.
A priceless Stradivarius stolen 35 years ago from a concert violinist and music professor has been recovered, his daughter said on Thursday. The violin — made in 1734 — had been lifted from the office of Roman Totenberg at a music school in Boston in 1980. Totenberg died in 2012 at the age of 101 after a life that saw the Polish-born virtuoso, who emigrated to the US in 1938, play for a host of major US symphony orchestras. His daughter, NPR public radio justice reporter Nina Totenberg, said she received a telephone call from an FBI agent in June, informing her that the violin had been located. In an NPR blog, she said it turned up in a locked case in the home of the widow of a musician named Phillip Johnson, who died in 2011. The elder Totenberg had long suspected Johnson to be the actual thief, but police did not pursue the lead, his daughter wrote.
Surgery music unsafe: study
A surgeon on the job is five times more likely to repeat a request when music is playing in the operating theater, according to a study, casting doubt on the wisdom of the common practice. “Music in the operating theater can interfere with team communication, but is seldom recognized as a potential safety hazard,” said the study, which was published on Wednesday in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. More than 50 percent of surgical operations are performed against a backdrop of music. Some surgeons say they play music to reduce stress, block out white noise, or enhance concentration during procedures. Imperial College London senior researcher Sharon-Marie Weldon and her colleagues filmed 20 operations in Britain over a six-month period, some with music and some without. They identified more than 5,000 instances in which a request requiring a response was made by a doctor or other staff member. The results showed that “repeated requests were five times more likely to occur in cases that played music than those that did not.”
Teen sentenced for robbery
A teenager who, with her twin sister, robbed an octogenarian they met on an Internet dating site was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison. The woman, Shaina Foster, 18, had pleaded guilty to one count of robbery in exchange for the five-year sentence in a deal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. She and her sister, Shalaine Foster, admitted that they tied up Paul Aronson, 84, in his house and took his cash and credit cards after he had taken them both on a dinner date. Citing the seriousness of the crime, Justice Michael Obus of state Supreme Court in Manhattan said he would not grant Shaina Foster youthful offender status, which would have made her eligible for a lesser sentence. Aronson lay helpless on his living room floor, bound with zip ties, unable to eat or drink, from 8:15pm on Oct. 1 last year until the next morning, when a neighbor discovered him. “Far worse results could have happened if the victim had not been rescued,” Obus said.
Kim creates new time zone
Leader Kim Jong-un is following the lead of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in changing time, marking the anniversary of the nation’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule by moving the clock back by half an hour. The change is to take effect on Saturday next week, on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said yesterday, citing a parliamentary decree. The Korean Peninsula was divided into North Korea and South Korea in 1948, and the two nations have since had the same time zone as Japan. KCNA said Japan deprived Korea of its standard time after it annexed Korea in 1910 and that the country would take “practical steps” to implement the change. Under the time zone change, it will be 9:30am in Pyongyang when it is 10am in Seoul and Tokyo.
Xi warns over suicides
Prosecutors are to be punished if officials they are investigating for abuse of office commit suicide, authorities said, after several suspects caught up in an anti-corruption drive killed themselves. Under President Xi Jinping (習近平), a much-publicized anti-graft campaign has ensnared a long list of senior and junior officials. Some have committed suicide, escaping possible criminal proceedings and seizure of ill-gotten gains, to the benefit of their families. In the latest example, the head of a multibillion-dollar state-owned Chinese heavy machinery manufacturer was found hanging in his office on Monday as anti-corruption investigators probed his firm. Business news outlet Caixin in January said that at least 50 party and government officials have been publicly declared to have died of “unnatural causes” since 2012.
First ant map launched
The world’s first ever ant map showing the distribution of the tiny industrious creatures around the globe was launched on Thursday by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in a bid to shed more light on the insect world. The colorful interactive online map (antmaps.org), which took four years to complete, displays the geographic locations of nearly 15,000 types of ant with the Australian state of Queensland home to the highest number of native species at more than 1,400. “[Insects are] one of the main groups we need to focus on when we talk about biodiversity,” said Benoit Guenard, one of the cofounders of the map and a professor at HKU’s school of biological sciences. “Ants are very important in most ecosystems,” he added, as they cycle soil nutrients and help in seed dispersal. Antmaps, a joint project between HKU and the Okinawa Institute of Sciences and Technology, also differentiates ants that are native to a region and species which were imported.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
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”