Mouth-shaped urinals offend
A sumptuous new French restaurant in Sydney said yesterday it would remove two urinals designed to resemble a lipsticked mouth, apologizing for any offense they have caused. The Ananas Bar and Brasserie said the bright red-lipped urinals shaped like an open mouth were “a commonly used European design piece from female Dutch artist Meike van Schijndel.” “We sincerely apologize if they have caused offense. They are being removed today,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. The stylish restaurant opened three weeks ago, with the Sydney Morning Herald’s food reviewer describing the urinals as “no real surprise here at Ananas, merely adding to the extraordinary collision of statements and intent.” However, former political adviser and writer Anne Summers said the design was offensive. “Misogyny is very widespread and this is just an example of misogyny,” Summers said. “The concept is pretty challenging and confronting. They’re asking men to put their dicks in these mouths as urinals.”
Magazine to be prosecuted
A popular children’s magazine is to be prosecuted for telling its young readers how to make a petrol bomb, officials said on Tuesday. The latest edition of Qaws Quzah, Arabic for “Rainbow,” featured a piece about the history of petrol bombs in its “Knowledge Corner,” including detailed instructions and a diagram. “It is an improvised weapon that is often used in riots and acts of sabotage, because it is easy to make and use,” the article read. The magazine, read for decades by boys and girls aged five to 15, has no political orientation, but the article touched a raw nerve in a country still seeking to tame the unrest stirred up by last year’s successful revolution, the first of the Arab Spring. The Ministry for Women and Family Affairs said the article “encourages violent and terrorist thought,” as well as endangering children’s lives by “encouraging the use of Molotov cocktails in acts of vandalism or terrorism.” It said it would ask a magistrate to open a case against the publishers.
Local government sacked
The Cabinet on Tuesday sacked the entire local government of the southern city of Reggio Calabria to stop it from coming under the direct control of the local mafia. Mayor Demetrio Arena and all 30 city councilors were sacked under the provision announced in Rome by Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri. It was the first time that the government of a provincial capital had been dismissed en masse because of suspected links to organized crime. The action was taken after inspectors from Rome determined that a number of councilors of the city, which has a population of 180,000 people, had ties to the ’Ndrangheta, the local version of the Sicilian mafia.
Arrests over kidnap stunt
Police in Zurich started a manhunt to find the victim of an armed kidnapping, only to discover it was a re-enactment by two fans of scenes from detective films using replica air guns, authorities said. Passers-by called police late on Monday after seeing a man pulled into a car. After a search, authorities found the car and two Airsoft guns, which looked very similar to real weapons. Police arrested the two occupants of the vehicle, a 20-year-old Swiss man and a 22-year-old Spaniard, who during questioning revealed the whole episode had just been for show. The two men were released from custody, but face charges for carrying weapons illegally.
Polanski teen pens memoir
The former teen whom Roman Polanski was convicted of having sex with — leading to one of Hollywood’s most notorious scandals and the director’s flight from the US — is writing a memoir. Samantha Geimer, now 47, has a deal with Atria Books for The Girl: Emerging from the Shadow of Roman Polanski. Atria, a Simon & Schuster imprint, announced on Tuesday that the book will come out next fall. According to Atria, Geimer will provide “insight into many dimensions of the story that have never previously been revealed.” “I am more than ‘Sex Victim Girl,’ a tag the media pinned on me,” Geimer, who long ago identified herself as Polanski’s victim, said in a statement released through Atria. “My friends in junior-high [school], scolded by their parents to stay away from that girl, also labeled me. I offer my story now without rage, but with purpose — to share a tale that in its detail will reclaim my identity... ”
Man tries to be imprisoned
A man tried to rob a bank of US$1 because he hoped to be sent to a federal prison nearby, police said. Jeffrey McMullen, a 50-year-old regular customer of an AmeriServ bank in the western Pennsylvania town of Northern Cambria, handed notes to two tellers on Friday demanding one dollar, according to a police complaint reported by The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown. The tellers thought it was a joke, police said. Police say McMullen apparently wanted to be prosecuted federally so he could be taken to a prison in central Pennsylvania. Police could not immediately say why. McMullen awaits a preliminary hearing, and court records did not list an attorney. Under terms set by a Northern Cambria district judge, he must undergo a mental evaluation and post US$50,000 bail in order to be released from jail. One note given to tellers said, “FBI custody. Preferbly [sic] Loretto Pennsylvania. No press. Seal all files,” according to the complaint. Police took that to be a request that McMullen hoped authorities would not publicize his case. The other said, “Federal bank robbery. Please hand over US$1.00.”
Wind stops Red Bull dive
An Austrian daredevil called off his death-defying skydive from a balloon 37km over the New Mexico desert on Tuesday because of winds at the launch site. Felix Baumgartner, a 43-year-old helicopter pilot, hot-air balloonist and professional skydiver, had been preparing to break a longstanding altitude record. However, his team announced the launch had been aborted moments after Baumgartner’s balloon was set to carry him aloft over Roswell, New Mexico. “Mission aborted due to gusty winds,” a statement on the Web site of sponsor Red Bull said. It gave no details and it was not immediately clear when a new launch attempt might be made. Winds were about 27kph when the launch was called off at 1:43pm.
Convicted sheriff keeps job
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi will keep his job despite his conviction in a domestic violence case involving his Venezuelan actress wife. Four members of the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to allow Mirkarimi to remain in office. The decision came nearly seven months after Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment stemming from a dispute with his wife, Eliana Lopez. Prosecutors originally charged Mirkarimi with misdemeanor domestic violence, but dropped that and other counts in exchange for his plea.