Cabbie finds, returns S$1.1m
A taxi driver has been heralded as a hero after he returned S$1.1 million (US$900,000) in cash to a vacationing Thai couple who left the money in his cab. Sia Ka Tian, 70, was shocked to find the money in a black paper bag on the back seat on Monday after he dropped the couple off at a shopping center. “When I saw the money, I thought trouble is here. I was sure there was at least S$200,000 in the bag,” the Straits Times quoted the 31-year veteran of the taxi business as saying. However, when he took the money to transport company ComfortDelGro’s lost-and-found office, his stunned colleagues counted S$1.1 million in thousand-dollar bills. “The money is unimportant to me. It doesn’t belong to me, so how can I use it?” Sia told the newspaper. The Thai couple reported the loss to the transport company and Sia was waiting for them when they arrived to claim the money. The report did not say what the couple were doing with that large a sum. The driver received an undisclosed cash reward from the grateful couple, whose names have been withheld, and the company also plans to give him an award for good service. “Finding 1 million dollars in cash is not an everyday affair and, in fact, we wonder how many people would have possibly been tempted [to pocket it],” company spokeswoman Tammy Tan said. “We are immensely proud of him and are glad that the passengers recovered their money.”
Facebook arrests criticized
Officials have arrested one young woman for a Facebook post criticizing the shutdown of Mumbai for the funeral of a powerful Hindu fundamentalist politician. Another young woman was arrested simply for hitting the “like” button next to the comment. Analysts and the media yesterday widely condemned the Maharashtra State Government for what they said were attempts to curb freedom of expression. Shops and transportation across Mumbai, India’s financial capital, closed on Sunday for the death of right-wing leader Bal Thackeray. The arrests of the two women on Sunday were seen as a move by police to prevent violence by Thackeray’s supporters. Both women were released on bail on Monday. The women apologized, but angry supporters ransacked an orthopedic hospital run by the uncle of one of the women.
Jay-Z goes truffle hunting
First it was Cristal champagne, Hennessy cognac and the expensive Mercedes Maybach. Now, white truffle traders are wondering if their rare, pricey and prestigious produce will be the next to see demand soar because of an endorsement from hip-hop artist Jay-Z. The multimillionaire rap star headed for Alba over the weekend with a group of friends to eat dishes such as egg, truffle and spinach ravioli and to spend about 15,000 euros (US$19,200) on more than 3kg of the precious food, according to La Stampa. The rap star, who grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn, even ventured into the woods of Piedmont with a local farmer and his dogs to search out specimens of the truffle.
Cope wins fractious poll
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives chose a right-leaning new leader on Monday in a razor-thin victory — 98 votes — and with so much rancor that some feared the party could break apart. Jean-Francois Cope, a Sarkozy ally who reached out to the far right by leading a legislative effort that banned Muslim veils, defeated former prime minister Francois Fillon in Sunday’s vote.
Jailed for Halloween coke
Three primary-school-age children in one English city reaped more than the usual harvest of sweets and chocolates on Halloween when they emptied their trick-or-treat goody bags and found several bags of cocaine. On Monday, the man who had mistakenly handed out his cocaine stash to the children instead of candy was given a community-service sentence in court. Apprentice panel-beater Donald Junior Green fished in his pockets for a bag of chewy sweets to give to the youngsters at his door on Halloween, but instead pulled out a plastic pack containing eight bags of cocaine he had bought for ￡200 (US$318) earlier that day, Oldham Magistrates’ Court heard. He dropped the drugs into the goody bags carried by the three children, aged eight, six and five, who were out trick-or-treating escorted by their father, an off-duty policeman. The 23-year-old defendant then closed the door, went back inside the house and put his hand in his pockets to get out his drugs — but instead pulled out the sweets. Green immediately realized what had happened and went on foot, then by car, scouring the streets of Oldham in northern England to find the youngsters. The officer, constable Simon Fowell, had taken his children home and, as they emptied their bags to share the spoils, he spotted the drugs and made a swift call to on-duty colleagues. Green was given a 12-month community order, ordered to do 130 hours community work and told he must pay court costs totaling ￡145.
Inmate will have to shave
A transgender inmate who won a court order for taxpayer-funded sex-change surgery has no medical need for further electrolysis treatments, a prisons department psychiatrist testified on Monday. Robert Diener testified during a hearing in a district court in Boston, Massachusetts, on Michelle Kosilek’s request to have additional hair-removal treatments. Department of Correction chief psychiatrist Diener said he evaluated Kosilek in 2010 and again last month, and concluded that Kosilek’s anxiety level has not changed, even though she has not had electrolysis treatments since 2008. “I continue to believe that it’s not medically necessary for this patient,” he said. Kosilek was born male, but has received hormone treatments and now lives as a woman in an all-male prison. Kosilek was named Robert when convicted in the 1990 murder of his wife, Cheryl Kosilek.
Christmas causes problems
A US judge ruled on Monday against Christians who are seeking to force municipal authorities to allow traditional Christmas nativity scene displays in Santa Monica, California. In the latest twist in a row between Christians and atheists — who last year put up a series of anti-religious displays in the sea-front town — the judge refused to grant an injunction to the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee. The committee has sued municipal authorities in Santa Monica, just west of Los Angeles, seeking to restore a nearly 60-year-old religious display to Palisades Park, which overlooks the ocean and Santa Monica Pier. However, Judge Audrey Collins denied their request for an injunction, which would force Santa Monica authorities to allow their nativity scenes over the holiday season, as the case proceeds. She set a date of Dec. 3 for the next hearing in the row. Last year, in a lottery to decide who got how many display spaces, atheists unexpectedly won 18 out of 21, squeezing the Christians — who in previous years had 14 plots — into just two.