‘Kiss apples’ proposed
In the home of kimchi and other pungent, garlicky food, having fresh breath for life’s big moments — such as a kiss — is a major concern. However, researchers may soon have a natural, portable answer — a “Kiss Apple” tiny enough to be stashed in a pocket or purse for quick eating prior to locking lips. “We can mass produce the species with stronger functions that control food odors in as few as two years,” said Hwang Hye-sung, a researcher at the Rural Development Administration. However, potential consumers were skeptical, saying sudden chomping down on an apple might not do much for romance.
City has ‘circumcision party’
Officials say hundreds of boys in Marikina, east of Manila, have turned out for a daylong “circumcision party.” The event aims to promote safe circumcision in a region where the surgery is sometimes performed by non-doctors using crude methods. Some boys cried in their mothers’ arms, while others bit their shirts to stifle sobs as doctors carried out the free surgery yesterday on dozens of makeshift operating tables inside a sports stadium. Outside, other boys lined up to await their turn. Officials say at least 1,500 boys from 9 years old and up registered and more than 500 were circumcised before noon. Marakina Vice Mayor Jose Fabian Cadiz says the city has applied for a Guinness World Record for most people at a circumcision event.
‘Batman’ seeks sidekick
A 91-year-old war veteran says he has been forced to put his new career as a modern-day Batman on hold because he is not allowed to be out fighting crime alone at night. John Bray believes he is more than qualified to deal with the evildoers in Waipawa, having served with a reconnaissance and raiding unit in north Africa in World War II. So he enlisted as a member of the local community patrol, an organization that acts as “the eyes and ears” of the police, cruising the streets at night, reporting any suspicious activity. He started out with a partner, but decided to go solo when his Robin equivalent, a man in his late 80s, kept falling asleep. Now he has been told that he must find a new sidekick.
Great Wall ruins uncovered
Archeologists have uncovered previously unknown Great Wall ruins in a mountainous area in the northeast, state media reported yesterday. The bricks and stones that once formed a section of the wall were found in mountains in Suizhong County in Liaoning Province, Xinhua said, citing a report by provincial relics and mapping authorities. The section of walls was rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644, but substantial parts had disappeared or eroded after years of neglect, the report said. Generations of local farmers did not know the bricks and stones were part of the Great Wall and sometimes used them to build houses, local authorities said.
Lebanon indictment amended
The prosecutor for a tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri has amended his indictment to include “substantive new elements,” the tribunal said on Friday. The Lebanon tribunal, the world’s first international court with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism, was set up to try those accused over the Beirut bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others. It gave no details about what was added to the indictment.
Wedding a YouTube hit
Britain’s royal wedding attracted 72 million live streams on YouTube in 188 countries and more than 100 million views on the big day itself, the Google-owned video-sharing site said on Friday. YouTube said the top five countries watching live streams of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on the site’s Royal Channel were Britain, the US, Italy, Germany and France. “The total streams on April 29, 2011, reached 101 million as romantics around the globe tuned in to watch the fairytale ceremony, the procession and the final balcony kiss,” YouTube said.
Senior envoy resigning
The State Department said on Friday that Arturo Valenzuela would leave in a few months to return to a teaching post at Georgetown University in Washington after serving since 2009 as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. Spokesman Mark Toner said the administration would start looking for a successor, and it was deeply appreciative of Valenzuela’s service. However, Valenzuela’s tenure was criticized by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She said Valenzuela had not done enough to counter rising anti-Americanism in the region led by presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Raul Castro of Cuba.
Boy mauled by leopard
An elementary-school student on a class field trip to a zoo was mauled by a leopard after climbing a 1.5m railing and approaching the animal. The Wichita Eagle reported that the animal grabbed him around the head with both paws and tried to bite him. A woman on the zoo’s tram saw what was happening and jumped off the tram and spooked the leopard. The child suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to his head and neck. He was listed in fair condition.
Climate change cuts yields
Climate change has stunted the worldwide increase in corn and wheat yields since 1980 by 3.8 and 5.5 percent respectively, a new study in the journal Science said. Without global warming, total harvests of both crops would have been significantly larger than they were, the statistical analysis found. The shortfall equals the annual yield of corn in Mexico, about 23 tonnes, and wheat in France, about 33 tonnes. One of the countries with the largest crop loss was Russia, where wheat production fell about 15 percent. The study estimates that the global drop-off in production may have caused a 6 percent hike in consumer food prices since 1980.
California split on shark fin
A California proposal to outlaw the title ingredient in shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy, has turned into a recipe for controversy in San Francisco, home to the US’ oldest Chinatown. A bill moving through the state legislature would ban the sale, distribution and possession of shark fins. Supporters say shark finning is inhumane and a threat to the ocean ecosystem, but critics say the consumption of shark fins is a cherished part of Chinese culture. In San Francisco, the debate has pulled in Chinese basketball star Yao Ming (姚明), who appears in anti-finning ads on city buses and billboards. Shark fins may prove an unexpected ingredient in this year’s mayoral race, which includes three prominent Asian-Americans. Two have come out for the ban, while one opposes it.