New hula hoop record set
Nearly 5,000 contestants are celebrating after setting a world record for the most people dancing with hula hoops simultaneously in one place. Guinness World Records adjudicator Seyda Subasi-Gemici said on Tuesday that 4,483 people had swung hula hoops to music for seven minutes without interruption. The event, organized by the Public Health Ministry’s Department of Health, was aimed at creating health awareness among Thais. The previous world record was set in Taiwan in 2011 when 2,496 participants swung hula hoops for two minutes.
Politician explains remarks
A politician offered a qualified apology yesterday for saying young Muslim men were a terrorist threat who should be banned from flying on Western airlines. After his remarks were condemned across the political spectrum, Richard Prosser of the New Zealand First party said he had failed to acknowledge that the vast majority of Muslims were law-abiding and did not support extremism. Prosser said his call for all males aged between 19 and 35 who were Muslim, looked Muslim or came from Muslim countries, to be banned from flights was too broad, but said he still supported “targeted profiling” of airline passengers.
Emu theft causes concern
Keepers at a wildlife park yesterday said they were concerned and baffled at the theft of an emu in a night raid, saying it would be frightened and possibly injured. The female bird was discovered missing from Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney’s western suburbs early on Tuesday. Her enclosure contained a large quantity of feathers, indicating a struggle. “It’s unbelievable,” park curator Chad Staples told national broadcaster ABC. “I understand to a degree when you’re talking about an animal that has significant monetary value, but an emu?”
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Police stop ‘witch’ burning
Police have rescued two women accused of sorcery who were about to be set alight, a report said yesterday, days after a young mother accused of witchcraft was burned alive by a mob. Sorcery cases have been a priority for authorities after the horrific case of a 20-year-old woman who last week was stripped naked, doused with gasoline and set alight before a crowd, Highlands Divisional Police Commander Teddy Tei told the National newspaper. The newspaper said in the latest incident on Monday, two elderly women were tied to poles and people were preparing to set them alight over the death of an eight-year-old girl. The girl’s relatives believed the women caused the death of the child using sorcery, but Tei said she had been “gang-raped and killed by two known suspects” and these suspects were part of the mob attacking the older women.
Fried rice record smashed
Members of the nation’s Chinese community celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Snake by setting the world record on Tuesday for the largest amount of fried rice ever cooked. Briton Ralph Hannah, an inspector with Guinness World Records, certified the win after putting the giant meal — enough to feed some 7,000 people — on a set of scales. The official weight: 837kg, which nearly doubles the previous record. Some 735kg of rice was used, along with 200kg of chicken, 120kg of ham, 20kg of Chinese sausage, hundreds of eggs and vast amounts of chopped vegetables.
Aid workers guilty of fraud
Two aid workers have been convicted of fraud for trying to bring 103 children from central Africa to the country for adoption, claiming they were orphans from Darfur. The court also sentenced Eric Breteau and Emilie Lelouch of the charity Zoe’s Ark to two years in prison on Tuesday. Four other members of the group were given suspended sentences. The six workers were arrested in Chad in 2007 as they sought to put the children on a plane. An investigation found they were from Chad, not neighboring Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, and most were not orphans. The workers were sentenced to eight years’ forced labor in Chad for kidnapping. However, they were later repatriated and pardoned by Chad’s president, clearing the way for the trial.
Gay marriage bill advances
The country on Tuesday came a step closer to legalizing gay marriage when the lower house of parliament approved a highly controversial bill allowing same-sex couples to wed and adopt children. The legislation, a key election pledge of Socialist President Francois Hollande, was passed by 329 votes to 229 in the National Assembly and must now win final approval in the Senate, or upper house of parliament. The vote came 10 days after lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to adopt its key article, which redefines marriage as a contract between two people, rather than between a man and a woman. The Senate will debate the proposed law from April 2.
Woman kills dogs, self
A woman who lived with 13 dogs shot dead 10 of her pets and then killed herself on Tuesday when authorities came to take away the animals, police said. Three police officers and four local officials knocked on the door of the 49-year-old’s house in the small town of Friesen to reclaim her pets after authorities had decided she was maltreating them. She slammed the door in their faces and soon afterward, shots were heard. The police forced their way into the house and, upon discovering three dead dogs on the ground floor, sealed the premises and the surrounding area. The officers called a special commando team for back-up and this unit found the dog owner shot dead along with seven more Australian Shepherds.
Bikini photos anger royals
An Italian magazine has infuriated the royal family after publishing paparazzi pictures of a pregnant Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing in a bikini on a private holiday in the Caribbean. The publication of the first royal “baby bump” photographs comes months after the same gossip magazine, Chi, published topless pictures of the duchess on a private holiday in France. A royal spokeswoman said the publication was “a clear breach of the couple’s right to privacy.”
Satellites find water loss
Satellites have detected a large loss of fresh water reserves in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins during a seven-year period beginning in 2003, a new study has found. The river basins, which water parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, have lost almost as much water as is in the Dead Sea, the study found. Part of the loss was attributed to a 2007 drought that dried out soil and shrank snowpacks, and another part to the loss of surface water from lakes. However, most of it — about 60 percent — was traced to the pumping of groundwater, which typically increases during and after a drought.