Sina bans ‘yellow duck’
Popular microblogging service Sina Weibo banned searches for “yellow duck” after users circulated a mocked-up image of a famous 1989 Tiananmen Square tank protest with the military vehicles replaced by plastic ducks, results yesterday showed. The picture, a parody of the iconic “Tank Man” photograph of a civilian staring down a long row of tanks, circulated on Tuesday, the 24th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tiananmen protests. A large yellow duck artwork is currently on display in Hong Kong, and imitations have been put up in several mainland cities.
Women told to cover up
Police in Beijing have warned women not to wear miniskirts, hot pants or other skimpy clothing on buses and subways during the hot summer to avoid sexual harassment, the China Daily reported yesterday. Women should also shield themselves with bags or newspapers, and sit or stand in lower areas rather than in raised seats to avoid being surreptitiously photographed, according to guidelines issued by the traffic department of the Beijing Public Security Bureau. Women often complain of groping and other harassment in Beijing’s crowded buses and subways. Most buses in the capital do not have security cameras so it is difficult for authorities to collect evidence of harassment, police officer Xing Wei was quoted as saying.
More nuclear tests faked
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission has identified two more nuclear power plants that used parts with forged test certificates, a source at the agency said yesterday. The two reactors are under construction, and the findings will not immediately affect current power supply, which is already short due to the lack of nuclear power supply, the source said. Seoul last month warned of power shortages and rolling blackouts due to the closure of two reactors and the extended shutdown of a third to replace parts supplied using fake documents. The move will crimp power supplies and likely lead to more imports of natural gas to generate electricity. The nation operates 23 nuclear reactors.
Thousands flee subway fire
Seven commuters were hospitalized and about 4,500 people were evacuated yesterday from the Moscow metro after a high-voltage electric cable caught fire, filling station platforms with smoke at the height of the rush hour, emergency officials said. The affected section of the metro was shut down for 40 minutes as firefighters worked to put out the blaze, the emergencies ministry said. A total of 47 people sought medical attention and seven were hospitalized, the emergencies ministry said, while the fire was extinguished in just over 40 minutes.
Men strip in tax protest
Five businessmen stripped off their trousers and protested outside parliament in Rome on Tuesday, demanding the abolition of a tax collection agency they blame for the suicides of scores of their peers. The men posed for the cameras in their shirts and underwear, carrying signs that read: “You are killing thousands of jobs.” Their business lobby, Cobas Imprese, is one of two groups demanding a referendum to abolish Equitalia, an agency that collects back-taxes and fines. They accuse it of exacerbating the economic crisis by hounding the indebted owners of failing businesses.
Minister in laughing fit
A reference to “penetration” in a speech to parliament caused the education minister to burst into a laughing fit that went viral on Tuesday. Education Minister Shai Piron, who is also a rabbi, could not get past the first sentence of his address, on a proposed law against smuggling mobile phones into prisons, before beginning to chuckle. “Mr chairman, distinguished parliament, the aim of this legislation is to deal with a serious phenomenon — the penetration of prohibited objects into prisons,” he said on Monday. He briefly recovered, but broke down again over the perceived sexual innuendo when the word “penetration” came up in the text for a second time. Struggling to continue, Piron wiped tears from his eyes, took a sip of water, then finally went back to his seat, unable to read on. He later explained to reporters that he had been caught off-guard by the phrasing in the speech.
Maths prize hits US$1m
A Texas banker is upping the ante to US$1 million for whoever solves a tricky problem that has been dogging mathematicians since the 1980s. The Providence, Rhode Island-based American Mathematical Society on Tuesday said US$1 million would be awarded for the publication of a solution to the Beal Conjecture number theory problem. Dallas banker Andrew Beal first offered the Beal Prize in 1997 for US$5,000. Over the years, the amount has grown. American Mathematical Society spokesman Michael Breen says a solution is more difficult than the one for a related problem, Fermat’s Last Theorem, which did not have a solution for hundreds of years.
House votes to keep Gitmo
The House of Representatives has voted in favor of keeping open the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The vote on Tuesday broke mostly along party lines and upheld a law that blocks the use of taxpayer funds to build or renovate facilities in the US to house suspected terrorists and other prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. It was the first vote since President Barack Obama said last month that he was still determined to close the facility.
Shooter pleads insanity
A judge on Tuesday accepted a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity by James Holmes, the alleged gunman accused of killing 12 people in last year’s Colorado theater massacre. Judge Carlos Samour accepted the plea after reading out a list of conditions, including that the 25-year-old had agreed to undergo a court-ordered “sanity examination.” Holmes is accused of wounding another 70 people when he allegedly opened fire in July last year in a packed midnight screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.
Lizard named after Morrison
A giant lizard that lived 40 million years ago at a time when Earth was a hothouse has been named in honor of rock singer Jim Morrison, paleontologists said yesterday. About 1.8m from snout to tail and tipping the scales at up to 27kg, the plant-eating reptile is one of the biggest known lizards ever to have lived on land. A fossil of the beast, found in sediment in Myanmar, has been dated to the late-middle Eocene period. The paleontologists have named the long-extinct species Barbaturex morrisoni. Barbaturex means “bearded king,” after the team found ridges on the underside of the jaw. Morrisoni is in tribute to Doors frontman Morrison, famed for his fascination with reptiles and shamanism.