Photograph sparks protests
A photograph of an actor posing naked as Christ with a religious painting over his private parts sparked a petition signed by more than 40,000 people who brand it blasphemous, the protesters said. They urged Madrid City Hall to ban the work by photographer Sergio Parras from a municipal exhibition at the national Spanish Theater. The offending photograph shows an actor preparing for his role as Christ with a wound in his side and a reproduction of religious masterpiece Christ Crucified by the Spanish painter Diego Velasquez covering his genitals. Conservative religious rights group Mas Libres said it has given city hall a petition signed by 41,600 people protesting at the inclusion of the image in a publicly funded exhibition. “It is a photograph that offends religious sensibilities, which is a crime under the penal code in Spain,” Mas Libres spokesman Nicolas de Cardenas said. Madrid city hall said it would not cede to the petition, reiterating recent comments to the media by the authority’s arts director Fernando Villalonga, who said the exhibition includes a warning about the photo’s content.
Elephants killed for meat
A new taste for eating elephant meat — everything from trunks to sex organs — has emerged in the country and could pose a new threat to the survival of the species. Wildlife officials said that they were alerted to the practice after finding two elephants slaughtered last month in a national park in the west of the country. “The poachers took away the elephants’ sex organs and trunks ... for human consumption,” wildlife agency director-general Damrong Phidet said in a telephone interview. Some meat was to be consumed without cooking, like “elephant sashimi,” he said. Poachers typically just remove tusks, which are most commonly found on Asian male elephants and fetch thousands of dollars on the black market. However, a market for elephant meat could lead to killing of the wider elephant population, Damrong said. Damrong said the elephant meat was ordered by restaurants in Phuket.
Children found in trunk
A court has banned a man from driving for a year after he was caught traveling with four children in the trunk of his car. The Press Association news agency said on Thursday that police found 11 people in Zoltan Lakatos’ Audi A4 when they stopped him in Leicester last year. One passenger was in the front seat, three adults and two children were squeezed into the back, and officers discovered four more children in the trunk. The news agency says Lakatos was convicted of endangering his passengers and of driving without insurance earlier this week at Leicester Magistrates’ Court.
Boy, 10, caught driving
A 10-year-old boy was apprehended by police on Thursday after taking his father’s car and trying to drive it to school when he missed the bus. The boy, who brought along a nine-year-old friend who also missed the bus, managed to make it more than 2km in his father’s Renault Megane before crashing into a roadside pylon, police in the southeastern town of Valence said. “I had my seatbelt on,” the boy pleaded to police when they arrived at the scene. Neither of the boys was injured during the crash. Police said the boy could face charges of driving without a license and damaging public property, but that prosecutors would decide whether to press ahead with the case.
Disney kidnap hoaxer jailed
A Pennsylvania woman who faked her own kidnapping while actually going to Disney World was sentenced on Thursday to more than eight years in prison for swindling her employer and family members out of more than US$600,000. At the sentencing in the US District Court in Philadelphia, Bonnie Sweeten, 40, was ordered to pay more than US$1 million in restitution, in addition to eight years and four months in prison, the US Attorney’s office in Philadelphia said in a statement. In 2009, Sweeten triggered an all-out search by federal and local authorities by making a phony 911 call to say she and her nine-year-old daughter had been kidnapped by two black men in a truck. In reality, prosecutors said, she had taken her daughter to Disney World in Florida.
Swastika brand men jailed
Two men have been sentenced to prison for branding a swastika on the arm of a developmentally disabled Navajo man with a metal coat hanger in April 2010. Federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Paul Beebe and 25-year-old Jesse Sanford entered pleas in July to federal hate crime charges, acknowledging there was enough evidence for a conviction, but not admitting guilt. Beebe was sentenced on Wednesday to eight-and-a-half years in prison followed by three years’ supervised release. Sanford was sentenced to five years in prison followed by three years’ supervised release. A third defendant has yet to be sentenced after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime.
Artist to bury Boeing 727
A Swiss artist plans to bury an intact Boeing 727 jetliner in the Mojave Desert and build a tunnel to give visitors a chance to see it. Christoph Buchel has applied for a permit that will allow him to bury the 46m long decommissioned airliner. The Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported the project, called Terminal, has already been approved by the local planning department.
Inmate refused to leave
Most people cannot wait to leave jail, but one northern Arizona inmate has been charged with trespassing after refusing to leave the Coconino County lockup. Coconino County sheriff’s Office spokesman Gerry Blair said 44-year-old Martin Batieni Kombate was arrested in Flagstaff last week for trespassing and was scheduled for release on Monday on his own recognizance. However, when detention officers from the sheriff’s office showed up to escort him out, Kombate allegedly said he was not leaving because he couldn’t find his wallet. Blair said that Kombate was disorderly in a jail cell and would not leave, so the police were called and he was arrested.
Father tapes up toddler
A man who bound his 22-month-old daughter with tape and posted the photo on Facebook has pleaded not guilty to aggravated domestic battery and unlawful restraint. A spokesman for the Cook County state attorney’s office in Chicago said 21-year-old Andre Curry entered his plea during a brief hearing on Thursday morning. Curry remains in custody and was scheduled to return to court yesterday for a hearing on his attorney’s motion to reduce his US$100,000 bond. Curry’s attorney has said his client was just trying to be funny with the photograph and that he did not harm his daughter. The child’s mother told WMAQ-TV that Curry was just joking and added that he is a great father.