Lawyers protest school ban
Dozens of rights lawyers and citizens have flocked to an eastern city this week to protest outside an elementary school for preventing the 10-year-old daughter of an activist from returning to class. Supporters have launched a public appeal to pressure the school in Hefei city to allow Zhang Anni, daughter of democracy activist Zhang Lin (張林), to resume lessons, saying the child should not be denied an education because of her father’s activism. Zhang said yesterday that authorities forced him and his daughter to temporarily relocate to another city in late February when China held legislative meetings to install the country’s new leadership. Zhang says they returned to Hefei this week but the school refuses to readmit Anni out of worries it cannot guarantee her safety.
E-cigarette warning issued
The nation’s health department warned the public yesterday against electronic cigarettes, saying the tobacco substitute could turn children into smokers. E-cigarettes have been gaining favor among Filipinos as higher tobacco taxes make smoking more expensive. Food and Drug Administration director-general Kenneth Hartigan-Go disputed what he said were claims by vendors that electronic cigarettes helped smokers kick the habit. “Wittingly or unwittingly, the electronic cigarette promotes smoking among children and the youth. It makes them less fearful of hazards and risks of smoking,” he said in a health advisory posted on its Web site yesterday. “The public is advised NOT to smoke at all and NOT to use cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigarettes,” Hartigan-Go said. A law that took effect this year will gradually raise the tax on cigarettes over five years, which would roughly double the price per pack to about 52 pesos (US$1.27) by 2017. A basic e-cigarette kit in the Philippines costs as little as US$24, featuring a battery-powered vaporizer that delivers a nicotine-laced mist.
Plane fall man identified
Police on Thursday identified the man who was found dead on a London street after falling from a plane in September last year as 30-year-old Mozambican Jose Matada. Detectives originally thought the man was Angolan due to currency found on his person, but a SIM card found in his jeans later revealed his true identity and nationality. The body of the suspected stowaway was discovered on Portman Avenue in the suburb of Mortlake, southwest London, on Sept. 9 last year and a post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as multiple injuries. Police believe the man fell from the undercarriage of an incoming flight to London’s Heathrow airport and are liaising with authorities in Mozambique to find his next of kin. The road where his body was found is directly under the main flightpath for incoming aircraft.
Belt buckle saves man
A man was saved by his belt buckle when he was hit by a stray bullet during a shootout outside a Philadelphia grocery store, investigators said. The shooting happened at about 4pm on Wednesday, WPVI-TV reported. Police said a man was shot in the stomach on the street and a bullet also hit an employee inside 8 Brother’s Supermarket. The 38-year-old employee, Bienvenido Reynoso, said he was about to take a hand truck outside when shots started flying. He hit the ground and surveillance video shows a snack cake being shot off the shelf above his head. He says he did not realize he had been hit until someone pointed out he had a hole in his shirt. That is when he found the bullet in his belt buckle.
Bank blunders on book quote
A gaffe by the Central Bank has caused 10,000 10-euro coins honoring Irish writer James Joyce to be minted with an extra word. The silver 10-euro coin issued by the bank to commemorate Joyce’s Ulysses misquotes a line from the modernist masterpiece. The coin features a portrait of the author and a short quotation taken from the book’s third chapter, into which an extra word was mistakenly added. The coin was launched at a private event at Newman House, St Stephen’s Green, where Joyce studied between 1898 and 1902. “The coin’s design, combining portrait and concept in an original manner, reflects Joyce’s standing as one of the leading figures in the modernist movement,” central bank governor Patrick Honohan said. The quote comes from a scene when one of the two main characters, Stephen Dedalus, is walking along Sandymount Strand in the writer’s native Dublin. “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read,” Joyce wrote. However, on the coin, the extra word “that” is inserted into the second sentence.
Thatcher street debate rages
Left-wing politicians on Paris’ city council have slammed a proposal to name a street in the capital after former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, suggesting instead that one be named after IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. City councilor Jerome Dubus of the right-wing UMP party has said he would propose naming a street after Thatcher, who died on Monday, at an upcoming city council meeting. However, councilor Ian Brossat, of the Communist-backed Left Front, denounced the move and said the city would do better to honor Sands, the Northern Irish prisoner, who died in a 1981 hunger strike while Thatcher was in office. “The cynicism of the Parisian right knows no bounds,” Brossat said. “Jerome Dubus’ proposal is a joke.”
Priest free to preach again
A Catholic priest banned from the pulpit for calling Islam “the worst thing ever” and gays “perverts” is free to preach again, media reported on Thursday. Karl Tropper from Sankt Veit am Vogau wrote last year in the parish magazine that homosexuality was a curable “illness” and that gays were “responsible for more than six million AIDS deaths.” In an interview with the Kleine Zeitung daily last month, the 75-year-old said that homosexuality was a “perversion” and that “in 50 years Vienna will be a Muslim city. The Votivkirche [a large Vienna church] will be a mosque.”