Komodo dragon attacks two
A park official says two people have been hospitalized after being attacked by a giant Komodo dragon that wandered into the office of a wildlife park. An official at Komodo National Park, Heru Rudiharto, said on Wednesday that the 2m long Komodo dragon attacked a park ranger after walking into the office on Tuesday. It then attacked another park employee who came to help him. Both were badly bitten and were evacuated to a hospital on Bali. Rudiharto said the park ranger had also been attacked by a Komodo dragon in 2009.
Seoul targets taxi cheats
The Seoul City Government is offering a cash reward of 500,000 won (US$460) to anyone informing the authorities about taxi drivers who rip off foreign tourists. City officials said yesterday that the move was an attempt to curb a practice that is “still rampant,” despite previous crackdown efforts. Government official Kim Su-jeong said foreigners ripped off by taxi drivers could claim the reward themselves by calling an English-language hotline and reporting the driver. “Many taxi drivers unduly demand extra charges or do not use the taxi fare calculators in order to exact unfair charges from foreigners,” Kim said.
Xena hails ‘great victory’
Xena: Warrior Princess actor Lucy Lawless says she has won a “great victory” after a judge handed her a modest sentence, but declined to order costs sought by oil company Shell for her role in a protest aboard an oil-drilling ship. Lawless and seven other Greenpeace activists were yesterday each ordered to pay NZ$651 (US$547) costs to a port company and complete 120 hours of community service after earlier pleading guilty to trespass charges. In February last year, the activists climbed a drilling tower on the Arctic-bound vessel Noble Discoverer to protest oil exploration in the Arctic.
Chocolate stamps unveiled
The post office has launched a new stamp sure to delight chocoholics around the world. “We have added a chocolate taste to the glue of the stamps ... which you can taste when you lick it,” the postal service said. “The stamps are also imbued with the smell,” it said, while the design side carries pictures of chocolate in various forms. “It was not easy to get the scent and flavor of the dark chocolate right. In the end, people from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland all worked on it,” it said.
Teen handed job in brothel
A teenager looking for a job was told to report for duty in a brothel by the local labor office, the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Wednesday. The 19-year-old woman said she was horrified when she opened a job placement letter from the German Labor Office in Augsburg on Saturday informing her that it had lined up a waitressing job for her at the Augsburg Colosseum brothel. “I was looking for a decent housekeeping job — not working at a brothel bar,” the woman told the newspaper. “I was totally shocked when I read the letter. My mother even started screaming out loud when she read the letter.” The head of the Augsburg labor office, Roland Fuerst, said that the agency had made a mistake, even though it knew the Colosseum was a brothel. He said that the agency should have first called the woman to check to see if she might be interested in the brothel job, rather than simply sending her a letter.
Transsexual runs for office
A 30-year-old rights activist is vying to become the country’s first transsexual lawmaker. Diane Rodriguez is seeking to fill a vacant congressional seat as a candidate of the leftist Rupture 25 party in the South American country’s Feb. 17 presidential and parliamentary elections. If she succeeds, the psychology student would become the first transsexual to hold public office in this socially conservative nation where 85 percent of the population identifies as Catholic. Rodriguez, whose former legal name was Luis Benedicto, says she has struggled for years due to her sexual orientation. When she came out as a teenager to her parents, they kicked her out of the house, and for a brief time she survived as a prostitute before being allowed to return home.
Navy to punish chanters
The presidency gave the navy 24 hours to punish those responsible for a sailors’ nationalist chant that got posted on YouTube and threatens to upset the country’s neighbors. The recording shows sailors chanting: “I will kill Argentines, I will gun down Bolivians, I will decapitate Peruvians.” Government spokeswoman Cecilia Perez called the footage “shameful images” on Wednesday. Navy chief Edmundo Gonzalez and Deputy Defense Minister Alfonso Vargas said those responsible would be punished. He said Chile had been “a victim of similar situations in other countries and we didn’t like it.” He added that the chant does not conform with the country’s peaceful neighborly relations.
Woman flips off judge
A woman has been jailed on contempt charges after flipping off a judge during a drug possession hearing. Miami television station NBC 6 reported that 18-year-old Penelope Soto laughed on Monday when Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat asked how much her jewelry was worth as he inquired about her financial assets.
The judge told Soto to be serious and Soto said she was being serious. He set Soto’s bond at US$5,000 and said: “Bye-bye.” Soto laughed again and replied: “Adios.” He summoned her back and reset her bond at US$10,000. Soto asked whether the judge was serious and he said: “I am serious. Adios.” Soto flipped him off and blurted an expletive as she walked away. The judge summoned her again and sentenced her to 30 days in jail.
Hitchhiker becomes hero
An axe-wielding hitchhiker has become an online hit after recounting how he stopped an allegedly racist motorist, who claimed he was Jesus, from attacking a black man and other passers-by. Kai, who declined to give his full name, gave a colorful interview with a local TV station after the incident in the Californian city of Fresno. He had taken a ride with the motorist when the driver suddenly smashed the car into the back of a power company truck, pinning at least one of its black workers under the vehicle. The attacker began raving that he was Jesus, and that black people should be got rid off, witnesses said. He then grabbed a nearby woman in a bearhug, Kai said in a video with over 650,000 views on YouTube by Wednesday. “Like, a guy that big can snap a woman’s neck like a pencil stick ... So I ... ran up behind him with a hatchet ... smash, smash, suh-mash!” said Kai, demonstrating how he repeatedly hit the motorist. “I’m like, Bro, if you’re ... Jesus Christ, I’ll be the anti-Christ, man,” he added, using repeated expletives.