Photos lead to man’s death
A 69-year-old British tourist was trampled to death by an elephant in India on Thursday as he was engrossed in taking photographs, according to reports. The tourist, named by the Press Trust of India (PTI) only as Collins, was near the wildlife resort town of Masinagudi in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. He was taking a photograph of an elephant in a river when two others attacked him from behind, PTI cited police as saying. PTI reported that Collins was “fully focused” on taking pictures and did not hear warnings from other tourists. One of the elephants trampled his legs and abdomen, the report said. He was rushed to hospital, but pronounced dead. Indian elephants can grow up to 6.4m long and 3.5m tall and weigh up to 5 tonnes, according to the WWF.
Murakami is Nobel favorite
Japanese literary superstar Haruki Murakami is favorite for this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, betting odds showed yesteday, after repeatedly being mentioned as a contender for the prestigious global gong. Online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com was yesterday offering odds of 3 to 1 on the novelist scooping up the prize, which will be announced in Sweden next month. Murakami, who has a large and loyal following worldwide, has been a regular nominee for the prize for many years, and was Ladbrokes’ top bet at one point last year, when he lost out to China’s Mo Yan (莫言). In the odds offered by Ladbrokes, Murakami is followed by US writer Joyce Carol Oates at 6 to 1. Murakami, who spends much of his time in the US, is known for writing lyrically and surreally about Japanese who refuse to toe the line in a homogenous society, peppering his works with pop culture references.
Putin gives Berlusconi tips
Russian President Vladimir Putin rallied behind his old friend Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday, saying the former Italian prime minister would not have faced trial for having sex with a minor if he were gay. “Berlusconi is being tried because he lives with women. If he were homosexual, no one would lift a finger against him,” he told a gathering of journalists and Russia experts. Putin’s comment provoked laughter in the audience over what appeared to be a reference to criticism abroad over a law he signed this year banning the spread of “anti-gay propaganda” among minors.
Blair’s daughter held up
The daughter of former prime minister Tony Blair was held up at gunpoint during an attempted robbery as she was out walking in London, local media said on Thursday. Kathryn Blair, 25, a barrister, was targeted as she walked down a central London street with her boyfriend and a group of friends, the BBC reported. Police confirmed an incident involving two male suspects with a gun took place in central London on Monday evening. “The victims were a man and a woman; the suspects were two males,” they said in a statement, adding the incident was being linked with another attempted robbery nearby 30 minutes earlier. “None of the victims were injured and nothing was stolen,” police said. Investigations were under way, but no arrests had been made, they said.
Renoir items fetch US$1.3m
Nearly US$1.3 million worth of art and personal items belonging to the French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir were sold at a New York City auction. Heritage Auctions says 143 lots were sold on Thursday, including Renoir’s Grande Venus Victorieuse.
Condoms for arthritis?
The elderly are discarding pills for boxes of condoms in the belief that the lubricant oil on the latex helps alleviate arthritis-related pain, a daily reported yesterday. They rub the condoms on the painful joints and claim to feel instant relief, the Sowetan said. “This oil is No. 1,” Elizabeth Moyo told the paper after demonstrating how she uses the condoms. “I am tired of the pills.” Condoms are readily available, often for free, in the nation. Medical experts say there is no scientific evidence that condoms help with pain relief.
Shoe poisoner jailed
A man was sentenced yesterday to seven years in jail for slipping corrosive poison into the shoes of a colleague he was stalking, causing her to have the tips of her toes amputated. Tatsujiro Fukasawa, 41, poured hydrofluoric acid into the woman’s shoes late last year after she turned down his romantic overtures, media reports said. “This was a vicious crime because he used a chemical that can kill people,” Jiji Press quoted Judge Takafumi Miyamoto of the Shizuoka District Court as saying.
Canada ambassador named
President Barack Obama named a Goldman Sachs executive and large campaign contributor as ambassador to Canada on Thursday amid potential rifts between the allies over the Keystone pipeline. Bruce Heyman, managing director for private wealth management at the investment bank, lives in Obama’s base of Chicago and is a so-called “bundler” who raised funds for the president’s campaigns. In a statement announcing Heyman and nominees for unrelated posts, Obama called them “experienced and committed individuals.” Heyman requires confirmation by the Senate.
Suspected gang assets seized
Police and security forces on Thursday seized bank accounts and assets worth millions of dollars belonging to a gang of suspected drug traffickers singled out by the US government, an official said. US ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske said on her Twitter account the seized assets were worth at least US$500 million. They included hotels, luxury houses, gas stations, and the biggest zoo in the Central American country. An official at the attorney general’s office said the assets were worth considerably less than Kubiske’s estimate. The assets belonged to a group known as Los Cachiros, which the US Treasury Department said trafficked narcotics for organizations including the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug-running outfits in Mexico.
Officer held in kidnappings
Mexico City authorities say they have arrested a police officer and another man in the abduction and killing of 12 young people who were taken in May from a bar near the US embassy. Mexico City Attorney General Rodolfo Rios says the two suspects helped kidnap the group, whose decomposing bodies were found last month buried in a ranch near the capital. Rios says the police officer worked in the Zona Rosa, a touristy area of bars and restaurants where the 12 were kidnapped.
Snakes found at man’s home
An animal-control officer had hundreds of snakes, including two 1.8m Burmese pythons, at his home, where he ran an illegal side business selling them, authorities said on Thursday. There were 850 snakes worth half a million US dollars in a detached garage at the Shirley home of Richard Parrinello, including the Burmese pythons, which are illegal in New York state, officials said. “There is a reason why Burmese pythons are illegal,” Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said, citing the deaths of two young boys in New Brunswick, Canada, who were killed by an African rock python while they slept last month.
Allende pans jail privilege
The daughter of toppled president Salvador Allende says that those convicted of human rights violations during the nation’s long dictatorship should be moved to common prisons, and out of the relatively luxurious lockup where they are serving multiple life sentences.
Among those held is Manuel Contreras, the former spy chief of General Augusto Pinochet. Contreras gave interviews ahead of the 40th anniversary of the coup claiming that all of the thousands of disappeared were armed leftists killed in gunfights. Senator Isabel Allende also said in an interview on Thursday that the claim is a lie that shows Contreras does not deserve any privileges.