Long-winded speeches out
No flowers, no banquets, no gifts, no welcoming ceremonies and more importantly no useless long-winded speeches — state media yesterday laid out strict instructions for this year’s annual meeting of parliament. Normally a bastion of sycophancy, as the hand-picked delegates seek to out-compete each other in lauding the Chinese Communist Party, Xinhua news agency said that would change when the largely rubber-stamp parliament meets in March. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) has made cutting back on extravagance and waste a key theme of his first few weeks in office since becoming party chief in November last year, seeking to assuage anger at corruption and restore faith in the party. “Deputies will be encouraged to focus on key issues and avoid empty talk,” Xinhua cited a government statement as saying. “All deputies will eat at buffets without expensive food or alcohol, while extravagant galas, gifts and performances will not be arranged.”
Tibetans launch campaign
The Tibetan government-in-exile on Tuesday announced plans for a four-day campaign to bring global pressure on China in a bid to end a string of self-immolations in their Himalayan homeland. Penpa Tsering, speaker of the exiled Tibetan parliament based in Dharamshala, said the drive would include rallies and meetings, and begin in New Delhi yesterday. “The situation is getting more and more grim,” Tsering said at a joint press conference with Lobsang Sangay, who in 2011 took over political duties from revered Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and was named prime minister. The two leaders said 99 Tibetans had set themselves on fire between 2009 and Jan. 22 this year in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. Of that number, the government-in-exile says 83 have died. “Instead of trying to address the main causes as to why self-immolations are taking place, as to why Tibetans are protesting in various other forms, the Chinese government has resorted to a blame game,” Sangay said. “They blame us for the tragedy in Tibet, which is absolutely baseless because Tibet has been under China’s occupation for the last 50 years.”
Men scream their feelings
Love was in the air in a Tokyo park as normally staid husbands gathered to scream out their feelings for their wives, promising gratitude and extra tight hugs. With modesty and reticence traditionally valued over outspokenness, expressing deeper feelings such as love has long been hard in Japan. That is why dozens of men gather once a year ahead of Jan. 31, which in Japanese is a play on the words for “beloved wife,” to let their feelings fly. Declarations at the Tuesday night event ranged from a simple “I’ll love you forever” to expressions of gratitude for homemade lunches. “I’m sorry that I’ve gained weight over the last seven years, but that’s because the meals you cook are so delicious,” a suit-clad man yelled. The event, in its fifth year, was thought up by Kiyotaka Yamana with the support of a flower shop. “The economy is getting better in Japan and I see a lot of Japanese married couples getting more active in deepening their relationships,” Yamana said. Wives in the audience laughed and clapped, especially when one man got down on his knees to offer his wife a bouquet. “He’s very fabulous and manly today,” said Yuko Todo, 33, after her husband Takeshi’s performance. “It just reminded me how macho he used to be — I’d forgotten that in the eight years we’ve been married. My heart pounded.”
Museum ousts poor family
The culture ministry has demanded an explanation from the Musee d’Orsay after a family visiting as guests of an anti-poverty group were asked to leave because fellow visitors complained that they smelled. ATD-Quart Monde, who had treated the hard-up couple and their 12-year-old child to a tour of the museum on Saturday, described the family’s ejection from the museum as blatant discrimination. “It shows what the poorest people have to put up with on a daily basis,” said Typhaine Cornacchiari, the group’s spokeswoman. “When poverty is written on your face, you do not get treated the same way. Women who stink of perfume don’t get asked to leave. No-one calls security when you see people pontificating in front of paintings.” According to Cornacchiari, the family were first asked to leave a room dedicated to the works of Van Gogh after being told “their smell was bothering other visitors.” The family moved to a less crowded space, but were shortly approached by four security guards who surrounded them and escorted them to the exit.
Dreadlocks stolen at club
A Zimbabwean man was recently robbed of his dreadlocks at a Johannesburg nightclub to feed a growing demand for human hair extensions, the Times reported on Tuesday. The paper said Mutsa Madonko had his long locks, which he had grown for 10 years, cut off while partying. Natural dreadlocks are sold as hair extensions for anything between 200 rand (US$22) and 2,500 rand depending on the length, the paper said. One hair stylist in downtown Johannesburg, John Wushe, told the paper that dreadlocks “are becoming very popular. On a busy day, we get 10 people [wanting] to extend their hair.”
Nude-hunting hacker caught
A man’s unusually complicated hunt for nudity on the Internet may land him in prison for more than 100 years after federal prosecutors say he hacked into hundreds of social media and e-mail accounts to coerce more than 350 women into showing him their naked bodies. Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, 27, of Glendale, was arrested on Tuesday after he was named in an indictment on Friday alleging 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, Assistant Attorney Tracy Wilkison said. Prosecutors accuse Kazaryan of hacking into the women’s accounts and searching Facebook messages, e-mails and other files for nude or semi-nude pictures of them. He then posed as a friend, persuading them to strip while he watched via Skype, captured images of them, or both. When the women discovered that Kazaryan was posing as a friend, he often blackmailed them with the nude photographs he had fraudulently obtained to coerce more stripping, prosecutors said.
Actor arrested in bar fracas
Dazed and Confused actor Jason London has been arrested in Arizona and charged with assault and disorderly conduct over a bar room fracas in which he is accused of throwing punches and later defecating in a patrol car on his way to jail, a police report showed on Tuesday. The 40-year-old actor, who played the main character of Randall “Pink” Floyd in the 1993 coming-of-age film, responded on Twitter that he was attacked and injured and that the allegations against him were false. “I would never say or do the crap they are reporting,” he said in the message on Tuesday.