Royals have magical day out
The nation’s young royals had a magical day out on Friday with a visit to the studio where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry toured Warner Bros Studios Leavesden near London. The royals, accompanied by 500 children and adults from charities they support, had a wand lesson, visited the Great Hall of Hogwarts School and saw props, costumes and models from the Potter series in the company of the boy wizard’s creator, author J.K. Rowling. In a speech to Warner Bros executives, 30-year-old William said he was “over the moon just to have seen the real Batmobile and Batpod.” “On the other hand, Harry is just excited to see a real life talking owl in the Harry Potter studios,” William said of his 28-year-old brother. “I haven’t told him yet that Harry Potter is fictional, so please keep the secret for a little longer?”
Churchill to be on bank note
Here is a choice not likely to be too controversial: Officials say wartime prime minister Winston Churchill’s portrait will be featured on a new ￡5 note. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King made the announced on Friday at Chartwell, Churchill’s former home, surrounded by members of the late leader’s family. King called Churchill “a truly great British leader, orator and writer.” The bank says the note is likely to be issued in 2016. It will be based on a famous portrait photographed by Yousuf Karsh in Ottawa in 1941. The note will also bear Churchill’s wartime declaration that he has “nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
Tunisian makes best baguette
If you want the best baguette in Paris, go see Ridha Khadher. The 42-year-old baker has been turning out the long, golden rods of bread since he was 15, and has just been awarded the Grand Prix for his labor. Khadher, born in Tunisia, said on Friday that he had decided at the last minute to enter the annual competition for the best traditional baguette in the city. He was among 203 candidates, though 52 were swiftly eliminated for failing to meet strict criteria that include length of the baguette. Besides the acclaim, and likely extra business, the winner gets to deliver his baguettes to the presidential palace for a year. His secret is not the ingredients, because they do not change, he said. “The secret is hard work,” he said. Khadher came to France at the age of 15 and quickly entered the bakery business with his brother, becoming an artist of the most French of symbols.
Gender-neutral space opened
Officials in a liberal Stockholm suburb that discourages gender stereotypes have decided to open a gender-neutral changing room in a local high school to avoid students being classified as male or female. Patrik Biverstedt, headmaster of the Soedra Latins upper secondary school, says they decided on the cubicle where one person can change at a time after students proposed it last year. It will be ready by May 6. Students’ union member Camille Trombetti says the changing room is not only “for transsexual” students, but any student who wants privacy when changing for school activities. Soedra Latins is in the same affluent Sodermalm district where children at the Egalia preschool are encouraged to avoid using “him” and “her” and to call others “friends” instead of girls or boys.
‘Pulp Fiction’ car recovered
Authorities say the classic Chevrolet convertible featured in the film Pulp Fiction has been found nearly two decades after it was stolen. The San Bernardino County Sun reports movie director Quentin Tarantino’s 1964 Chevelle Malibu was recovered in the San Francisco Bay area earlier this week. John Travolta’s character drove the cherry red car in the movie. Sheriff’s Sergeant Albert Anolin said an investigation into an old Malibu in the desert city of Victorville on April 18 led detectives to another Malibu in the Oakland area. They then confirmed that vehicle belonged to Tarantino and was reported stolen in 1994. Authorities say the car’s current owner is not believed to be involved in its theft and is considered to be a victim of a fraud.
Manning will not be marshal
The army private charged in a massive leak of secrets to the WikiLeaks Web site will not be an honorary grand marshal of San Francisco’s annual gay rights parade after all. San Francisco Pride Board president Lisa Williams announced in a statement on Friday evening that an invitation extended to imprisoned intelligence specialist Bradley Manning this week had been the work of an employee who acted prematurely based on internal discussions. Williams says a committee of former San Francisco Pride grand marshals did select the 25-year-old Manning, who is openly gay, for the distinction. However, she says the Pride Board decided his nomination was a mistake. The parade recognizes about a dozen celebrities, politicians and community organizations as honorary grand marshals each year for their contributions to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Tsunami debris confirmed
A Japanese fishing boat washed across the Pacific following the 2011 tsunami has been confirmed as the first piece of debris to reach the coast of California, officials said on Friday.
The 6m skiff, found this month near the northern Californian coastal town of Crescent City, belonged to the Takata High School in the Japanese city of Rikuzentakata, in Iwate Prefecture. Japan’s consulate in San Francisco helped the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirm where the boat came from, after it was spotted washed up on a local beach. The boat was covered in pelagic gooseneck barnacles. Experts at California’s Humboldt State University also helped to identify it, said NOAA spokeswoman Keeley Belva. The vessel is the 27th item of debris so far confirmed on the US West Coast, and the first in California.
Robbers burn dentist
A dentist died in her suburban Sao Paulo office after three robbers set her alight with alcohol because they could steal only US$15 from her, a police spokesman said on Friday. The spokesman said that three assailants burst into the office of 46-year-old Cinthya Magaly Moutinho de Souza on Thursday and demanded money. The trio stole the dentist’s credit card, but were only able to withdraw US$15 from a nearby automated teller machine. They returned to the office to demand more money from the dentist, who said she had none, the spokesman said. “The suspects then set the dentist alight. Military police who rushed to the scene found her dead,” he added. The spokesman said a witness saw the assailants escape in a black car and police were still hunting for them. He said one of the suspects was identified thanks to security cameras.