Royal hoax show canceled
The radio show behind a hoax telephone call to the London hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was being treated has been canceled. The show and the two DJs behind the prank last month were widely condemned after the death of a nurse who answered the telephone and helped the DJs get confidential information about Kate Middleton’s health. The Hot 30 program was taken off air following the death of the nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, and the Australian Associated Press reported on Monday that Southern Cross Austereo, the parent company of radio station 2DayFM, announced the program had been formerly canceled. The DJs impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and her son Prince Charles as they phoned London’s King Edward VII hospital in the early hours of Dec. 4 to ask about the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge, who had been hospitalized there after suffering from severe morning sickness. The DJs’ shaky upper-crust accents were apparently enough to fool Saldanha, who put them through to a colleague, who in turn described the details of Kate’s condition. The call went viral and was broadcast the world over, but the incident took a darker turn after Saldanha’s body was found hanging in her room three days after the prank. It was an apparent suicide that many have assumed was related to stress from the call.
PM’s partner in hot water
The partner of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose fiery speech against sexism last year made global headlines, apologized yesterday for making a quip about an “Asian female doctor.” Tim Mathieson made the comment during a reception at The Lodge in Canberra on Monday night attended by members of the West Indies cricket team. Mathieson, who has worked to raise awareness about men’s health issues, brought up the need for men to have regular checks for prostate cancer. “Go and get that exam that none of us like to have done, but we know we should,” Mathieson said. Gillard was standing behind him at the time. “We can get a blood test for it, but the digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate, so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small Asian female doctor is probably the best way.” The comment was met with laughter at the time, but the opposition said Mathieson’s remark was in bad taste and he later apologized. “It was meant as a joke and on reflection I accept it was in poor taste,” he said in a statement.
Pygmy elephants found dead
Ten endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in a forest under mysterious circumstances and wildlife officials said yesterday that they were probably poisoned. Carcasses of the baby-faced elephants were found near each other over the past three weeks at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, said Laurentius Ambu, director of the wildlife department in Sabah State on Borneo island. In one case, officers rescued a three-month-old calf that was trying to wake its dead mother. Poisoning appeared to be the likely cause, but officials have not determined whether it was intentional, Sabah Environmental Minister Masidi Manjun said. Though some elephants have been killed for their tusks on Sabah in past years, there was no sign that these animals had been poached. “This is a very sad day for conservation and Sabah,” Masidi said in a statement. “If indeed these poor elephants were maliciously poisoned, I would personally make sure that the culprits would be brought to justice and pay for their crime.”
Man has arms transplant
A soldier who lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack in Iraq has received a rare double arm transplant, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, said on Monday. The infantryman is one of just seven people in the nation who have successfully received the complex transplant. The transplant was paired with an innovative treatment to prevent rejection of the new limbs, which involved an infusion of the deceased donor’s bone marrow cells.
Queen to abdicate
Queen Beatrix said on Monday that she would abdicate in favor of her son Crown Prince Willem Alexander after 33 years in power. “It is with the greatest of confidence, that I will hand over the throne on April 30 to my son Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange,” Beatrix said in a televised address. The queen, who turns 75 tomorrow, said her birthday and this year’s 200th anniversary of the monarchy “were the reason for me to step down.” Beatrix’s abdication will end more than 100 years of female reign on the Dutch throne. Willem-Alexander is a 45-year-old father of three young daughters, an International Olympic Committee member, a pilot and a water management expert. Over the years, he has struggled to win the affection of his nation’s 16 million people, but his immensely popular wife, the Argentine-born Maxima, has helped him gain more acceptance.
Wave carries off woman
A woman drowned after she was swept out to sea by a large wave in the third such tragedy in Northern California this season, authorities said. Humboldt County Coroner David Parris on Monday identified the victim as Susan Archer, 32, of Shelter Cove. Archer was walking on a rocky beach near her home with her boyfriend and dog on Sunday when the wave pulled her into the ocean, Parris said. Archer’s boyfriend was hurt when he was thrown against the shoreline rocks, but he was not swept up by the wave, officials said. Her dog was pulled into the water, but was able to swim back to shore.
‘Maternity tourism’ targeted
Los Angeles County is planning a crackdown on makeshift maternity wards where pregnant women, mostly from Asia, stay while giving birth so their children will be US citizens. The county has received 60 complaints about such facilities in the past month, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday. That compared with just 15 complaints in the previous five years. County Supervisor Don Knabe wants to develop a law that would outlaw such facilities. “They’re a moneymaking machine. They’re totally unsafe,” Knabe said. “It’s so obvious that they jeopardize not only the health of the baby, but the mother as well.”
Video urges forgiveness
An order of Roman Catholic priests has produced a video urging relatives of drug cartel victims to forgive killers. The 10-minute, video entitled Brother Narco, tells the story of Miri, a 13-year-old girl who cowers in her bedroom as a gunman murders her parents. The video ends with the girl hugging the killer. The scriptwriter, Father Omar Sotelo, said on Monday that such acts of forgiveness may be improbable, but represent a way to “rehumanize” vicious killers.