Presidential hopeful shot
A longshot candidate for the presidency was shot in the chest by an unidentified gunman late on Thursday, officials said. Paruir Airikian was hospitalized in stable condition as police searched for the shooter, while the speaker of parliament suggested the election could be delayed. Airikian was shot outside his house in the capital, Yerevan, just before midnight. A neighbor who heard gunshots and cries for help called the police. Airikian is one of eight candidates in the Feb. 18 presidential vote, which incumbent Serge Sarkisian is expected to easily win. Recent opinion polls show Airikian getting just more than 1 percent of the vote.
Canberra protests incursion
Canberra yesterday lodged a protest with Tokyo after a ship from the Japanese whaling fleet entered its exclusive economic zone in the Southern Ocean near Macquarie Island. The Japanese fleet left for the Southern Ocean in late December, and the Shonan Maru No. 2, a support vessel, strayed into the economic zone on Thursday. “Australia has made it clear to Japan on a number of occasions that vessels associated with its whaling program are not welcome in Australia’s exclusive economic zone or territorial sea,” Environment Minister Tony Burke said. “Our embassy in Tokyo has conveyed these sentiments directly to the Japanese government.” Japan’s Fisheries Agency said it was aware of the Australian statement. Asked if a ship had entered the Australian zone, an official said: “We are carrying out the mission under international law.”
Police used chemical: probe
An independent investigation has found that white phosphorus caused the severe burns monks and other demonstrators suffered during a November crackdown by police on a protest against a mining project in the northwest, a lawyer said on Thursday. The crackdown left more than 100 people with burns that authorities said were caused by tear gas and smoke grenades. However, an analysis at a Bangkok laboratory found traces of white phosphorous in canisters that were left by police and later recovered by a group of lawyers at the Letpaduang copper mine, Aung Thein said.
Condom delivery launched
Need a condom delivered to your doorstep in an hour? Then Dubai is the place to be. Starting this week, users can call up Durex and Buzzman Middle East’s service called SOS Condoms to have the product delivered within an hour to anywhere in the city from 4pm to 4am. Buzzman spokeswoman Sandrine Girard said on Thursday that the service would expand to other cities, with the next city decided by a contest on SOS Condoms’ Facebook page.
Flashed PM orders inquiry
The prime minister, who was flashed by a model without underwear masquerading as a television interviewer, has launched an investigation into how he became the target of the prank, an aide said on Thursday. The video of Ivica Dacic being interviewed by a model from Croatian Playboy, who uncrosses her legs in a scene reminiscent of actress Sharon Stone in the film Basic Instinct, has been viewed 2.7 million times on YouTube. The episode, set up and filmed by a private production company, was not aired. The prank drew on a scene in the 1992 film in which Stone, without underwear, crosses and uncrosses her legs to unsettle her police interrogators. Serbs were divided over the clip, which commentators said reflected the dubious mix of politics and low-brow pop culture, a phenomenon that emerged during the wars and sanctions of the 1990s as federal Yugoslavia collapsed.
Pussy Riot member unwell
One of the jailed members of punk protest collective Pussy Riot has been moved to a prison with a hospital after suffering headaches and fatigue, a bandmate said in remarks broadcast on Thursday. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, is one of three women sentenced to two years in prison for a “punk prayer” in the country’s main cathedral in February last year in which they called on the Virgin Mary to rid the country of President Vladimir Putin. Tolokonnikova was sent to Corrective Colony No. 14 after losing her appeal in October last year. Her bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich said Tolokonnikova had suffered headaches for months and was exhausted from labour at the prison. Samutsevich said she believed Tolokonnikova was being monitored, but not actively treated.
Firm appeals to cookie thief
One of the country’s most famous biscuit-makers has appealed to an extortionist dressed as “Cookie Monster” to return its golden biscuit emblem. The Bahlsen biscuit company’s emblem has hung above its headquarters in Hanover since 1913 and was first reported stolen a week ago. Days after it went missing, a ransom note arrived at a newspaper which included a photo of the thief dressed as Cookie Monster from children’s television series Sesame Street, pretending to take a bite from the golden biscuit. In a message posted on Facebook on Thursday and addressed to the monster, Bahlsen promised to donate 52,000 packets of biscuits to charities if the 20kg golden biscuit was returned. The ransom note demanded that Bahlsen give biscuits to children in hospitals across Hanover and donate a 1,000 euro (US$1,400) reward for the emblem’s return to an animal home.
Diapers lure foreign buyers
The south of the country is experiencing a diaper shortage after a supermarket price war lured enterprising bulk shoppers from eastern Europe who have cleaned out the shelves, customs officials and retailers said. Supermarkets trying to lure local customers by undercutting rivals on the price of diapers inadvertently made it profitable enough for residents of nearby countries to start trading in them. Customers come into the country from Sweden, drive along the coast to fill their cars, then take a ferry back to the continent, said Helge Breilid, the chief of customs in Kristiansand on the southern coast. Some have been stopped with diapers worth up to 50,000 crowns (US$9,100), about 80,000 diapers, a legal shipment even though Norway is not part of the EU.