Cops smash fake bag ring
Police have arrested 73 people suspected of manufacturing and selling almost 1 million fake luxury bags. The Ministry of Public Security says police seized more than 20,000 fake Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Coach bags and closed 37 sites where the forgery ring made or sold the bags. Police say the ring sold more than 960,000 bags and exported many to the US and Middle East. The ministry said on Sunday that police in Guangdong Province uncovered the forgery ring in January. It said authorities seized assets worth 5 billion yuan (US$800 million).
Animals fly to new lives
Sixty dogs and cats that were displaced by Superstorm Sandy have arrived in San Diego following a cross-country flight. The plane carrying the animals landed at Lindberg Field on Saturday, and they were taken to a shelter in Rancho Santa Fe. A spokeswoman for the Helen Woodward Animal Center said the dogs and cats were facing euthanization at New York and New Jersey animal shelters that lost power after the storm struck last month. Jessica Gercke said her organization approached Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld to help rescue the animals. She said a pilot and crew donated their time, BP footed the gas bill, and animal handlers from Seaworld accompanied the animals on the flight.
Three die in bus crash
Three people died and 48 were injured in a crash involving two double-decker buses and a taxi in Hong Kong yesterday, police said. Rescue crews rushed to treat dazed and injured passengers at the scene of the pile-up. Several victims were trapped in the wreckage. “The taxi driver and the two passengers in his car were confirmed dead,” traffic police official Tam Wing-leung told reporters, adding the cause of the accident was under investigation. A passenger on one of the buses told reporters that the driver collapsed at the wheel before the crash.
Pilloried statue revamped
The city of Rome has inaugurated a revamped statue of Pope John Paul II after the first one was pilloried by the public and the Vatican. Artist Oliviero Rainaldi says he is pleased with the final product, saying it matches his original vision. He blamed foundry workers for a botched assemblage the first time around. When the statue was first unveiled in front of Rome’s main train station last year, it was widely criticized by passers-by as looking more like Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini than the Polish pope. Even the Vatican’s own art critic wrote that it looked like a “bomb” had landed. The revisions unveiled yesterday focus on the pope’s face: He smiles now and has a neck and more defined chin.
Ex-drugs czar in court
A former head of Singapore’s narcotics police admitted at his corruption trial yesterday that he had sexual relations with one of his agency’s contractors, but denied any wrongdoing. “We were having an affair, an extramarital affair,” Ng Boon Gay, 46, the former director of the Central Narcotics Bureau, testified on the witness stand at his sex-for-contracts trial. State prosecutors allege that Ng violated anti-corruption laws by demanding oral sex on four occasions from information technology executive Cecilia Sue, 36, in exchange for helping her win supply contracts from his agency. However, Ng testified that Sue “was a willing party.”
Pope denies doomsday
Pope Benedict XVI called on Christians on Sunday not to heed doomsday warnings that the world will end on Dec. 21. Several films and documentaries have promoted the idea that the ancient Mayan calendar predicts that doomsday is next month, on Dec. 21. However, Benedict said that Jesus “does not describe the end of the world, and when he uses apocalyptic images, he is not acting the prophet. On the contrary, he wants to stop his disciples of every epoch from being curious over dates, forecasts, and wants to give them the key to ... the right road to walk today and tomorrow to enter into the eternal life.”
Ferry passengers brawl
Two British passengers on a Dutch-bound ferry were airlifted to hospital in a serious condition after two separate fights onboard, including one over a slice of pizza, Dutch police said on Sunday. The incidents happened on the Pride of Rotterdam on an overnight trip from Hull in England to Rotterdam, the world’s fifth-largest port. The first incident happened around midnight when a 25-year-old Briton allegedly snatched a slice of pizza from another, sparking an argument. Two Britons, aged 23 and 27, were arrested in connection with the fight upon arrival in Rotterdam. In a second incident at about 3am on Sunday, four British men got into a fight in which an 18-year-old teen was stabbed in the neck with a piece of glass. A 26-year-old man and two other 18-year-olds were arrested on arrival in port, police said.
MOD defends pig shooting
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) on Sunday defended its practice of shooting pigs and giving the wounded animals to military surgeons to practice treating common battlefield injuries. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokesperson Klare Kennett said the training exercises, which take place twice a year in Denmark, were “abhorrent and shocking.” The ministry said the training gave surgeons “invaluable experience” and “helped save lives on operations.” The animals are heavily anesthetized before being shot at close range “to damage organs, but not kill the animals,” and are then operated on before being killed humanely, the ministry said. Animal rights campaigners said that life-like human simulator devices are more effective for medical training than live animals. The courses, which were suspended in 1998, were reinstated after a government-commissioned study found that “no equally effective alternative” existed.
Bond actor supports troops
James Bond actor Daniel Craig on Sunday surprised British servicemen at the Camp Bastion base in Afghanistan when he dropped in for a visit shortly before a screening of his new film Skyfall. Craig introduced the film to the 800 troops and then toured the camp, met soldiers and hospital patients before firing off some machine-gun rounds at the heavy weapons range, a Ministry of Defence statement said. “We get quite a lot of visitors here, but having James Bond was special,” soldier Rob Ingham said. The critically acclaimed new Bond movie swept North American box offices last week, taking in US$88.4 million in its first weekend of release, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “It was great for morale and the atmosphere in the tent when we were watching the film was buzzing,” soldier Shane Awbery said. “The film was really good too.”