‘Ladyboy’ airline grounded
Months after taking to the skies with Thailand’s first transsexual air crew, PC Air has suspended services over financial troubles that left passengers stranded in South Korea. “The airline informed the Department of Civil Aviation on Friday that they cannot operate their charter flights due to business problems,” Thai Deputy Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said. The move is expected to last until at least the end of the month. PC Air hit the headlines earlier this year when it hired four transgender cabin attendants. However, last week the carrier’s only aircraft was unable to take off from Seoul’s Incheon Airport because the company could not pay its service and fuel fees.
‘Double agent’ cleared
A court yesterday posthumously acquitted a man executed 50 years ago on spying charges, deeming that he had been wrongfully convicted of acting as a double agent for North Korea. Shim Moon-kyu, a South Korean trained by Seoul as a spy, was secretly sent to the communist North in 1955 where he was captured, retrained as a double-agent and sent back to Seoul two years later. On his return, he immediately turned himself in to the authorities, but was still charged with working as a double agent and eventually executed in 1961. According to the Yonhap news agency, the court found no clear evidence to support the original verdict that Shim had ever actually operated as a double agent after being retrained by Pyongyang. “This court offers a sincere apology for the judiciary failing to faithfully carry out its duty,” Judge Lee Won-bum was quoted as saying.
Morgue may become motel
A businessman is hoping to turn a disused morgue which once served psychiatric patients into a unique motel — offering autopsy slabs for weary heads. The morgue in the state of Tasmania has been idle for more than a decade, after the Willow Court mental hospital was closed down. Owner Hadyn Pearce is now looking to turn it into accommodation. “It’s still got its terrazzo slabs, and it’s still got its pull-out fridge, it’s a beautiful thing,” he said yesterday. A previous owner is believed to have had plans to turn it into an ice-cream parlor and child minding center, but Pearce thinks visitors might be intrigued enough by features such as the stainless steel bathtub for washing cadavers to want to spend the night there. “We’ll be looking at putting a double bed in one of the rooms and then we have three slabs and two pull-out fridges which could be used,” he said.
Bizarre records tumble
Pakistan can now lay claim to world records in chapati-making, plug-wiring and chessboard-arranging. A weekend of bizarre record attempts in the city of Lahore culminated on Sunday as Mohammad Mansha went flat out to set a new record for making chapati breads — mixing, kneading, spinning and cooking three in three minutes and 14 seconds — while 12-year-old Mehek Gul took just 45 seconds to arrange the pieces on a chessboard using only one hand. Neither feat had been attempted before under the watchful eye of a Guinness World Records official. However, Ahmed Amin Bodla broke a more established record when he landed 616 martial arts kicks on a punchbag in just three minutes, beating the previous best of 612. Mohammad Nauman wired a household plug in a dazzling 35 seconds and Saddi Muhammad set a record by using his moustache to pull a 1.7 tonne pickup truck a distance of 60.3m.
Girl mistaken for skunk, shot
Police say a costumed nine-year-old girl was accidentally shot outside a western Pennsylvania home during a Halloween party by a relative who thought she was a skunk. New Sewickley Township police say the girl was over a hillside and wearing a black costume and a black hat with a white tassel. Chief Ronald Leindecker says a male relative mistook her for a skunk and fired a shotgun, hitting her in the shoulder on Saturday night. Leindecker tells the Beaver County Times that the girl was alert and talking when she was flown to a hospital in Pittsburgh. Her condition was unavailable. Leindecker said the man had not been drinking and he did not know if charges would be filed.
Men steal vans, bodies
Police said on Sunday they had arrested two men involved in stealing vans in Germany, including a vehicle that was carrying 12 bodies bound for a crematorium. The two men, aged 25 and 27, were arrested on Thursday and Friday and are Polish nationals. “We are sure that it is them who committed this crime, we have proof,” police spokesman Andrzej Borowiak said. Three vehicles were stolen on Oct. 15 in Hoppegarten, Germany. Police later found one van belonging to a building firm. Police were searching on Sunday for the other vehicles, including the van that was meant to supposed to take the bodies to a crematorium in Meissen in Saxony. Two other people are also being sought. A reward of 5,000 zlotys (US$1,592) has been offered for information leading to the arrest. A Protestant pastor in Berlin has called on the thieves to return the bodies. “Please, think how you would feel if you could not bury your mother or your father,” Markus Droege said in an appeal reported by German newspapers.
Healer’s certificate valid
A labor appeals court has validated a “medical certificate” written by a traditional healer, the Sunday Times reported. After being denied unpaid leave by her Pretoria employer in 2007, Johanna Mmoledi had produced a note from a traditional healer stating somewhat cryptically that she had been “diagnosed with a perminisions of ancestors.” According to court proceedings, she left her job for a month to follow a course by a sangoma — or traditional healer — who helped her appease the “wrath of her ancestors.” The appeals court ruled that her dismissal was “substantively unfair” and argued that the country was a multicultural society where traditional forms of healing should be recognized. Speaking to the Sunday Times, labor law expert Tony Healy voiced surprise that the certificate was validated when there was no legal framework for sangomas’ activities.
Driver charged with murder
Police on Sunday charged a man with murder after one woman died and 13 other people were injured in a series of hit-and-run incidents in the Welsh capital, Cardiff. The 31-year old suspect was also charged with 13 counts of attempted murder following the rampage in Ely, Cardiff, on Friday, South Wales Police said. He was due in court in Cardiff yesterday. Seven children were among those injured after a white van mounted the kerb at five different locations, before police eventually stopped a vehicle, witnesses and emergency services said. Nine of the injured remain in hospital. Karina Menzies, a 32-year-old mother, was killed when she was hit by the vehicle, Superintendent Julian Williams of South Wales Police said.