Hashtag gets Gallic touch
The government is redefining “hashtag” with a Gallic touch. The country that has an academy devoted solely to the use of the French language has given its official seal of approval to a new word for the Twittersphere: mot-diese. Pronounced: “Mo-dee-YEZ,” it does not exactly trip off the tongue, but that is not the point. French law requires that government agencies use French terms and teachers are required to spread the word. New words are approved by the Academie Francaise and written into the lawbooks. The French word for “hashtag,” published in the official journal on Wednesday this week, follows the government’s somewhat successful redefinition of “e-mail” — courriel — and its less successful attempt to persuade people to avoid the word “weekend.”
Subway work uncovers gold
Excavation work during construction of a new subway network in the second-largest city has discovered an ancient wreath made of gold that was buried with a woman about 2,300 years ago. Archeologists say Friday’s find in Thessaloniki occurred on the site of an ancient cemetery in the west of the northern port city. A total 23,000 ancient and medieval artifacts have been found during archeological excavations connected with the construction since 2006. Archeologist Vassiliki Misailidou said the olive branch wreath made of gold was buried in a simple, box-shaped woman’s grave. It dates to the late fourth or early third century BC. Another eight golden wreaths were discovered in a single grave four years ago during subway work.
Diana image auctioned off
A previously unseen press photograph of a teenaged Princess Diana that a London tabloid deemed too hot to publish has sold for US$18,306, the auctioneers handling the sale said on Friday. The black-and-white image from the dawn of the 1980s shows Diana, possibly in a ski chalet, smiling at the camera as she lies comfortably in the lap of a like-aged, but unidentified young man reading a book. By the window stands a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky, but more intriguing are the words “not to be published” scrawled across the photo with the kind of grease pencil used by newspaper picture editors at the time. On the back, the photo is dated Feb. 26, 1981 — two days after Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince Charles and the commoner then known as Diana Spencer. The auctioneers did not identify the buyer.
Ballet star questioned
Police have questioned a star dancer as a witness over the vicious acid attack against the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet Sergei Filin, officials said on Friday. Nikolai Tsiskaridze, one of the Bolshoi’s best known male principal dancers, was questioned on Wednesday, police said in a statement. “Employees of the Bolshoi Theatre and relatives and acquaintances of Filin have also been questioned,” the statement said. Tsiskaridze, a flamboyant figure with flowing black hair who regularly appears as a judge on TV talent shows, last year lashed out at the Bolshoi’s leadership for not giving him enough lead roles. He has not been named as a suspect and on Wednesday he vehemently denied any link to the attack. “What happened [to Filin] is horrific,” Tsiskaridze told the RIA Novosti news agency while complaining of “systematic persecution” by the Bolshoi.
Dolphin dies in New York
A dolphin that lost its way and got stuck in one of New York City’s most polluted waterways died on Friday, witnesses and local media said. The dolphin was spotted in the Gowanus Canal, a notoriously hazardous stretch of water in Brooklyn, earlier on Friday. Local TV footage showed the mammal rising to breathe, then dipping back down into the gray waters of the canal. By nightfall, the animal was clearly in trouble, then quickly died, NY1 and CBS TV reported. The US Environmental Protection Agency calls the canal “one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies,” and cites coal tar, heavy metals and the results of “years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants.”
Amazon to be inventoried
The government says it is undertaking a four-year, US$33 million study of its vast Amazon rainforest to compile a detailed inventory of the plants, animals and people that live there. Environment Minister Isabella Teixeira on Friday signed an accord with the country’s national development bank, which is funding the study. The government says the inventory will help in formulating environmental policies aimed at preserving the forest and preventing deforestation. Last year, Brazil lost 4,656km2 of Amazon to deforestation.
Prison riot kills dozens
Media are reporting that dozens have been killed in a bloody prison riot, and the government says it is investigating. Vice President Nicolas Maduro called the violence tragic early yesterday on TV and said the authorities launched an investigation. He and other officials did not give a death toll from the riot at Uribana prison in Barquisimeto. The newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported on its Web site that 54 were killed. The TV channel Globovision reported about 50 killed. Both cited Central Hospital director Ruy Medina.
New ship to search for plane
The government says a specialized ship will help scan the sea floor for a plane that disappeared carrying the CEO of Italian fashion house Missoni. The BN-2 Islander plane dropped off radar screens soon after takeoff on Jan. 4 from the resort islands of Los Roques. It was carrying two crew members and four Italian tourists, including Vittorio Missoni, CEO of his family’s fashion company. Rear Admiral Elsa Gutierrez is minister of air and sea transport. She told state media on Friday that the specialized ship would arrive early next month. She said the ship would expand current search efforts by searching for the plane in deep waters off the islands. Gutierrez said Italian authorities leased the ship to contribute to the search.
No survivors in plane crash
Search helicopters have found the wreckage of a small plane that crashed, carrying three Canadians. Search crews said they were not able to land at the site, but that nobody could have survived the crash. Two helicopters reached the site late on Saturday after bad weather thwarted rescue efforts for three days. Crews said the wreckage was on a very steep slope near the summit of a mountain in the Queen Alexandra range. The propeller-driven de Havilland Twin Otter was flying from a US station near the pole to an Italian research base in Terra Nova Bay when it disappeared on Wednesday. One of the men aboard was Bob Heath from the Northwest Territories, an experienced pilot in both the Antarctic and Arctic.