Holy man castrates himself
A holy man castrated himself in an apparent protest against the arrest of a popular spiritual leader on sex charges, police said on Thursday. Baba Premdas, 60, was found bleeding late on Wednesday in northern Uttar Pradesh State after severing his genitals in what reports said was a protest at last week’s arrest of Asaram Bapu, a self-styled Hindu holy man. “Why he did it is not clear. Some say it was because of Bapu’s arrest, some say it was because he feared ending up in Bapu’s situation. No one knows,” said Alankrita Singh, chief of police in the city of Amethi. Premdas has been transferred to hospital for plastic surgery and is in a stable condition, Amethi police official Mahendra Singh said. Police said the wounds appeared to be self-inflicted, but they planned to question Premdas. Since Bapu’s arrest over accusations the 72-year-old sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, hundreds of his supporters have protested outside a jail where he is being held.
Linguistic unity push failing
More than 400 million Chinese are unable to speak the national language Mandarin and large numbers in the rest of the country speak it badly, state media said on Thursday as the government launched another push for linguistic unity. The Chinese Communist Party has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of often mutually unintelligible dialects and numerous minority languages, but has been hampered by the country’s size and a lack of investment in education, especially in poor rural areas. A Ministry of Education official said that only 70 percent of the country could speak Mandarin, many of them poorly, and the remaining 30 percent, or 400 million, could not speak it at all.
Mandela’s power cut off
The house where former president Nelson Mandela is receiving intensive care was plunged into darkness by a power cut which has crippled parts of Johannesburg, a South African newspaper reported. A generator had to be used at the 95-year-old’s house, but officials denied that his health had been put at risk. Electricity was lost in the upmarket suburb of Houghton at 8pm on Wednesday, according to the Star newspaper. Mandela only returned home on Sunday after spending 12 weeks in hospital in Pretoria, where he was admitted with a recurring lung infection.
Skulls found in the street
Police in Prague said 15 human skulls were found in a wooden box on a street and another was found in a garbage bin. Spokeswoman Jana Roesslerova said police found the 15 skulls on Thursday morning near a garbage bin after they were alerted by a telephone caller. Roesslerova said each skull was numbered. She said another skull, also bearing a number, was found in a garbage bin on Wednesday by a homeless person. Police said it is not clear whether the two cases are connected.
Apology for forced dancing
Electronics retailer Currys issued an apology on Thursday after admitting that interviewees trying to earn a job as a sales assistant at one of its stores had been made to dance. The jobseekers, who were attending a group interview at a Currys Megastore in Cardiff, had to perform dance routines during team-building exercises that the firm said did not form part of its formal procedures. Alan Bacon, one of those at the selection day, told the BBC: “I ended up dancing to Around the World by [French electronic music act] Daft Punk, doing rubbish robotics in my suit in front of a group of strangers. Another middle-aged guy looked really upset as he danced to a rap song.”
Feminists urge site probe
A group of feminists on Thursday asked authorities to investigate a Web site offering advice on seduction that they described as tantamount to advocating rape. The legal action follows unsuccessful attempts to get the Ministry of the Interior to close down the French-language version of “Seduction by Kamal,” a site registered in Poland that also has an English edition. The move was triggered by an article entitled: “How to screw well: the three secrets of hard sex.” In it, readers are advised: “Don’t ask her if you can penetrate her like a wild animal, just do it. Show her that she does not really have a choice.” It adds: “She complains? Not for long!” Yael Mellul, a lawyer and member of the Collective of Feminists and Citizens, said: “The explicit terms used amount to an excuse for rape and the incitement of violence against women,” she said. “It is not some tiny blog — according to its creator, it gets 20,000 visitors per day and his Facebook page has 17,000 followers.”
Revelers behead dead geese
Young men ripped the heads off dead geese in an ancient folk festival in northern Spain on Thursday, clutching onto them as they dangled from a high wire until the birds’ necks snapped. On the annual Day of the Geese in the small Basque town of Lekeitio, about 20 participants took turns launching themselves from boats to grab hold of a goose hooked to a cable, which in turn was shaken up and down by those on shore. Watched by thousands of revelers, they hung on until they either lost their grip or the bird lost its head, sending both plunging into the water. Whoever manages to cling for the most up-and-down shakes of the cable is considered the winner. Some participants braced the bird’s neck under their arm as they tried to tug the head off. Any player who manages to decapitate the goose is allowed to take the whole carcass home, after dropping into the harbor and swimming to retrieve the head. Tourism promoters say the event, one of countless quirky folk festivals in Spain, is more than 300 years old. It is said to have formerly been carried out using live geese.
Rats trace gunshot residue
Ten brown rats have been recruited by police to help forensic firearms experts sniff out gunshot residue. The rats have a highly developed sense of smell, and are easier and cheaper to train than dogs, force spokesman Ed Kraszewski said on Thursday. “If we have a suspect, the forensic expert takes the residue from the hands and the rats can tell in a few seconds if it’s from a gun,” he said. Officers place the sample behind one of a number of holes in a box. When the rat scratches at the right hole, the experts send the residue off for a final check in a lab, he added. Rats are already used in some countries to sniff for landmines.