Pakistani PM to visit shrine
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will visit India for the first time this week for a day-long pilgrimage to an Islamic shrine, a senior government official said in New Delhi yesterday. “Pakistan’s prime minister will be in India on Saturday. This is a private visit and he will be accompanied by his family and other officials,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “He is not expected to meet any Indian political leaders. This is clearly a religious and spiritual trip.” Ashraf and his family are expected to pray at the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif, about 400km west of New Delhi. It will be the most senior visit from a Pakistani official to India since April last year when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari embarked on a similar pilgrimage and had a lunch meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Oldest woman turns 115
The world’s oldest woman celebrated her 115th birthday yesterday in a nursing home with her favorite mackerel sushi dish. Misao Okawa, a descendant of Osaka kimono merchants, told a broadcaster she had never expected to live to such a great age, but had managed it “thanks to everybody.” Late last month, Okawa received a certificate from Guinness World Records confirming her status as the oldest living woman. Okawa was born on March 5, 1898, and married in 1919. She had three children, two of whom are still alive and in their 90s, media reported. The centenarian, who has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, has reportedly never had major health problems, but broke her leg when she was 102. The world’s oldest living person is a 115-year-old man who lives in Kyoto.
Shiraz gets wine ‘Oscar’
Influential journal Wine Advocate has awarded the nation’s 2008 Penfolds Grange shiraz an unsurpassable 100 points, a score chief winemaker Peter Gago yesterday said was like winning an Academy Award. The US-based Wine Advocate, which is considered the pinnacle of wine reviewing and rarely hands out a perfect score, described the Grange shiraz as “clearly a wonderfully opulent and a magic vintage for this label.” “The 2008 Grange puts forward a very complex nose packed with aromas of mulberries, layers of baking spices, cloves and cinnamon with nuances of minced meat, anise, potpourri and whiffs of dried mint and chocolate,” it said. While Grange wines have been consistently rated highly, it is the first time in more than 40 years that one from the Australian vineyard has been deemed perfect. “In terms of ratings in the world of wine, it really doesn’t come any better than such a score in the Wine Advocate,” Gago said. The wine will be released to the public in May at about A$685 (US$701) a bottle.
Fire kills nine children
Nine children were burnt to death in a fire that broke out while they were sleeping in a crowded room at a Koranic school in Dakar, witnesses said on Monday. The fire occurred late on Sunday while about 40 children were asleep in a single room inside a decrepit building with wooden walls and zinc roofing in Medina District, locals said. “When the fire started, a fire brigade truck came, but could not get access to the site because of the narrow road leading to the house,” restaurant worker Saliou Gano, 45, told reporters. Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall told RFM radio that the ramshackle development of the capital made it impossible for emergency services to operate.
Drug lord off ‘Forbes’ list
The nation’s top drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has dropped off Forbes magazine’s billionaires’ list after four years on it. Guzman first made the list in 2009 with a fortune listed at about US$1 billion and stayed on it through last year. Guzman heads the Sinaloa cartel, the nation’s most powerful international drug trafficking network and has been in hiding since escaping from a prison in a laundry cart in 2001. Forbes senior wealth editor Luisa Kroll said in a statement that the decision to drop Guzman was based on suspicions that “an increasing chunk of money is going to protect him and his family.”
Priest burns Benedict photo
A local priest set fire to a photo of former pope Benedict XVI during Sunday Mass in protest against his abdication, telling a shocked congregation that the former pontiff had abandoned his flock. “It was wonderful,” Reverend Andrea Maggi from Santo Stefano Protomartire church in the small northern village of Castel Vittorio told La Repubblica daily. He compared Benedict, who resigned as pope on Thursday, to Captain Francesco Schettino, who is accused of abandoning the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized off the Italian coast. Mayor Gian Stefano Orengo told local radio the action prompted half of the congregation to walk out.
Fake cardinal ejected
A man dressed up in fake ecclesiastical robes was escorted out of a meeting of cardinals by Swiss Guards on Monday after trying to sneak into the closed-door Vatican meeting. The man, whose real name is Ralph Napierski, had told reporters that his name was “Basilius” and that he was a member of the “Italian Orthodox Church,” which does not exist. Before he was discovered, the “bishop” told reporters that Catholic bishops had “made a mistake by moving priests” who were accused of pedophilia around different parishes. Napierski claims on his blog that he is a founder of the Corpus Dei Catholic order. He also says he invented “a system to enable persons to control computers with the power of thoughts” and promotes something called “Jesus Yoga.”
Imam funded terrorism
The imam of a Miami mosque was found guilty on Monday of funneling thousands of US dollars to the Pakistani Taliban, the US Justice Department said. After a two-month trial, Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 77, originally from Pakistan, was convicted on several counts of conspiring to support and providing material support to foreign terrorist groups for murders, maimings and kidnappings. Khan could face up to 15 years in prison for each of the charges when he is sentenced on May 30.
‘Batman’ catches suspect
A man dressed as Batman walked into a police station in the middle of the night on Thursday and told officers: “I’ve caught this one for you!” as he handed them a crime suspect. Wearing the full costume of the shadowy comic book hero, including a cape, he then “promptly vanished into the night to fight crime and the fear of crime in Bradford,” police in West Yorkshire said. The force has released a CCTV photograph of the “caped crusader,” who is of stocky build, arriving at the police station with his captive. The force said the 27-year-old crime suspect had been wanted in connection with a string of crimes and has now been charged with handling stolen goods and fraud-related offenses.