New law requires visits
The government has passed a new law stipulating that family members should pay regular visits to their elderly relatives, according to the government’s official Web site. The ruling, approved by China’s National People’s Congress on Friday, is part of a package of amendments to the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly legislation and will come into force on July 1 next year. “Family members who live separately from the elderly should visit them often,” the law says, adding that “employers should guarantee the right to home leave in accordance with relevant regulations.” The law mentions no specific penalties for those who fail to visit frequently, nor elaborates on what “often” means. However, it does state that if the rights and interests of the elderly are violated, they or someone on their behalf can seek official help or file a lawsuit.
Explosion caught on video
Dramatic video footage has captured the moment a 30-tonne shark tank exploded in a Shanghai shopping center, engulfing onlookers in a torrent of water and glass and injuring 15 people. The clip from closed circuit television footage at the Orient mall, which shows the wall of the aquarium shattering and water gushing over bystanders, has been widely viewed all over the world with more than 600,000 hits on YouTube. Seconds before it explodes, four people are shown standing meters away from the tank, one of them taking a photo. As the aquarium breaks, the bystanders try to jump out of the way as water surges towards them. One apparently injured person is carried from the debris of a cosmetics counter which collapses as a result of the explosion, and fish are seen flipping about amid the broken glass from the tank. The Xinmin newspaper said 15 shoppers were taken to hospital with “minor injuries” after they were showered with glass. Three sharks, dozens of turtles and other marine life died, the paper said.
Toxic cough syrup kills 16
At least 16 people, mostly drug addicts seeking a fix, have died after drinking toxic cough syrup, officials said yesterday. The deaths started occurring Wednesday in Gujranwala, police and doctors said. “We have received 54 patients at hospital who said their condition deteriorated after taking cough syrups and 16 of them have died,” hospital chief doctor Anwar Aman told reporters. Senior police official Azam Mehr confirmed the toll and said samples of cough syrups available at local pharmacies have been collected and sent to laboratories.
Inmates seek prior notice
Death row inmates want to be told of their execution in advance, instead of on the day they are to be hanged, a lawmaker’s survey said. A majority of those sentenced to die would also like the present method of administering punishment to be reviewed, with the largest bloc saying their preferred choice would be lethal injection. The survey was carried out by Mizuho Fukushima, deputy chairwoman of the nonpartisan Parliamentary League for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, between September and last and was published on Friday, Kyodo News reported. It covered 133 people on death row, two of whom were executed at the end of September, taking this year’s total to seven. Of the 78 who replied, 51 said they wanted to know ahead of time that they would be put to death, with opinions varying from a day to a month in advance.
Soldiers to be tried for theft
Four soldiers accused of stealing bank cards from the site of a 2010 plane crash in the Smolensk region that killed then-Polish president Lech Kaczynski and other senior officials are going to stand trial, the Investigative Committee said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. The soldiers were able to withdraw 59,000 rubles (US$1,942) from the cards, which had the equivalent of 379,000 rubles available, before limits on them were reached, according to the statement. No date for the trial was given.
Mandela ‘not dying’: family
Former South African president Nelson Mandela is “doing great” and is enjoying time at home with his family after being discharged from hospital, his daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini said on Friday. Mandela left hospital on Wednesday, after nearly three weeks of in-patient treatment for a recurrent lung infection and surgery to have gallstones removed. The 94-year-old is now convalescing at his Johannesburg home, where he received visits from friends, family and a handful of well-wishers delivering flowers and other gifts. Family members have asked for their privacy to be respected. They called for an end to speculation that he has been sent home to die. “That is absolutely not true. My grandfather is well,” Mandela’s granddaughter Zaziwe Manaway said on Friday. “It can be very, very hurtful for us to hear these messages out there in the social media that our grandfather is going to go home to die. It is insensitive.”
Mrs Berlusconi gets millions
A court has ordered former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to pay his second wife 3 million euros (US$3.96 million) a month alimony as part of a legal separation settlement opening the way for their divorce, media reports said on Friday. Veronica Lario filed for divorce in 2009 after revelations that Berlusconi, notorious for his dalliances with other women, had attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring blonde model who called him “Daddy.” She described Berlusconi as “a dragon to whom young virgins offer themselves,” accused him of being “unwell” and said she could not stay with a man “who frequents minors.” While the former actress — who first met Berlusconi in a theater dressing room in 1980 — is to net 100,000 euros a day in alimony, the court ruled that the estate should go to the media magnate.
Madonna builds schools
Former Material Girl Madonna has built 10 primary schools this year, her charity announced on Friday. Two years after abandoning a US$15 million girls’ academy, the pop diva said projects this year would educate 4,871 children in the tiny southern African country. The projects were carried out by her charity Raising Malawi and the global non-profit organization buildOn. “I am overjoyed that my commitment along with buildOn’s to help educate the children of Malawi has come to fruition,” Madonna said in a statement. The schools, which had been scheduled to be built over 18 months, were completed six months ahead of schedule. The charity said six of the schools are already in use and all 10 would be up and running next month for the first day of school in the new year. Madonna is no stranger to Malawi. In 2006 she adopted toddler David Banda under controversial circumstances and two years later adopted another child, Mercy James.
Australian tourists found
Five Australian tourists who got lost in the Salar de Uyuni salt flat were found on Friday, but their local guide is still missing, police said. “We have found the van with the five tourists unharmed, but the driver is missing” after going to look for help, Potosi Department of Tourism director Francisco Quisberth told reporters. The tourists, between 21 and 31 years of age, went missing after leaving Tupiza on Thursday, Potosi police commander Colonel Denis Duchen said earlier. There are no roads in the Salar, the world’s largest salt flat. It is located near the crest of the Andes, about 3,650m above sea level, and spread across a desolate expanse of 12,000km2. Visitors usually navigate their way around the treacherous landscape by relying on tracks left by previous vehicles, but these can be washed out by heavy rain.
Woman charged over guns
Authorities have charged a 24-year-old woman in connection with the guns used in the Christmas Eve ambush slaying of two volunteer firefighters responding to a house fire in upstate New York. Attorney William Hochul says Dawn Nguyen of Rochester faces federal charges of knowingly making a false statement. She was hit earlier on Friday with a state charge of filing a falsified business record. State Police Senior Investigator James Sewell says the charges are connected to the purchase of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun that William Spengler had with him on Monday, when firefighters Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were gunned down. Three other people were wounded before the 62-year-old Spengler killed himself.
Old burial site found
Archeologists uncovered the bones of 12 children and adults who may have been buried 800 years ago, a National Institute of Anthropology and History expert said. The skeletons were discovered as the archeologists supervised the installation of a new drain in an old neighborhood of Cholula, a city located 120km north of the capital. The first skull was found at the site on Dec. 8 and by Thursday, the experts had identified the remains of 12 individuals. The ethnic origin of the bodies is also yet to be determined, though archeologist Ashuni Romero Butron said that 800 years ago, the area was home to people from the Tolteca-Chichimeca and the Olmeca-Xicalanca cultures. In April, another burial site with 17 skeletons, some 700 years old, was found nearby.
Activists settle circus suit
An animal rights group will pay Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus US$9.3 million to settle a lawsuit the circus filed after courts found that activists paid a former circus worker for his help in claiming the circus abused elephants. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said on Friday it was not admitting any wrongdoing in settling the lawsuit. The New York-based animal rights group was one of several involved in a lawsuit filed in 2000 against the circus’ owner, Feld Entertainment Inc, claiming elephants were abused. Courts later found that the animal rights activists had paid a former Ringling barn helper who was involved in the lawsuit at least US$190,000, which made him “essentially a paid plaintiff” who lacked credibility.