‘Selfie’ named word of year
Michelle Obama shared one with her “first dog” Bo, Hillary Clinton tweeted one with her daughter, Chelsea. Now “selfie” — the smartphone self-portrait — has been declared word of the year, according to Britain’s Oxford University Press. The publisher of the Oxford dictionaries said yesterday that “selfie” saw a huge jump in usage in the past year, bursting from the confines of Instagram and Twitter to become mainstream shorthand for any self-taken photograph. Researchers behind the renowned dictionaries pick a prominent word or expression in the English language each year that best reflects the mood of the times. Judy Pearsall, the editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, said “selfie” appeared to have been first used in 2002 on an Australian online forum and the hashtag selfie appeared on photo-sharing Web site Flickr in 2004. “But usage wasn’t widespread until around 2012, when ‘selfie’ was being used commonly in mainstream media,” she said. The term beat other buzzwords including “twerk,” the sexually provocative dance move that got a huge boost in usage thanks to an attention-grabbing performance by pop star Miley Cyrus; “showrooming,” the practice of visiting a shop to look at a product before buying it online at a lower price; and “Bitcoin,” the digital currency.
Gunmen shoot teen in legs
Masked gunmen shot a 15-year-old schoolboy in the legs in Northern Ireland on Monday in an attack widely blamed on paramilitary groups. Matthew Campbell was shot after the gang forced their way into a house in a staunchly pro-British “loyalist” area of Coleraine, a town in the north of the British province. There have been a string of security alerts in recent weeks, including the attempted murder of a former policeman with a bomb under his car, while petrol bombs were thrown at the Belfast office of the centrist Alliance Party at the weekend. Monday’s shooting revived memories of the so-called “knee-cappings” that were frequently used by both loyalist and Catholic republican paramilitaries during the Troubles. The teenager underwent emergency surgery after the early morning attack and was in a stable condition, Belfast Health Trust said.
Bounty placed on salmon
Fish farming giant Marine Harvest promised an US$80 reward on Monday for any recaptured salmon after a violent storm over the weekend allowed thousands to escape. The unusual move comes after western Norway was whipped by strong winds, causing damage to the huge submerged cage in which 127,000 of the fish are kept by the world’s largest salmon producer. Marine Harvest deployed nets in the surrounding areas in an attempt to catch the swim-aways, but is also offering 500 kroner (US$80) for each fugitive returned. The escapees are damaging to the marine ecosystem because the farmed salmon weaken the genetic makeup of their wild cousins if they reproduce with them.
Trotters thrown into mosque
Assailants threw pig’s trotters into a mosque near Stockholm after smashing the windows of its main door, police said on Monday. “Shortly before 11am, we received a call from the mosque” in Fittja, police official Ulf Lindgren saud. “The person had just arrived and found pig’s trotters inside.” In Islam, pork meat is considered impure. Police are looking for witnesses in the area and have no suspects so far. “In Sweden, pig’s trotters are a traditional dish at Christmastime. You can buy them easily,” Lindgren said.
Two protesters out on bail
A St Petersburg court on Monday ordered two Greenpeace crew members released on bail, but kept another one in jail following a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic. The three were among 30 people on a Greenpeace ship seized by the coast guard on Sept. 18. The judge ordered the release of freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov and ship doctor Yekaterina Zaspa on bail of 2 million rubles (US$61,500) each, but declined to free Australian Greenpeace activist Colin Russell. Investigators had asked St Petersburg courts to extend the detention period of all 30. Hearings for others on the Greenpeace boat are expected in the coming days.
Seagal adopts stray
Actor Steven Seagal showed his soft side when he “adopted” one of Bucharest’s street dogs. The dogs have been in the news after a four-year-old boy was fatally mauled by a stray in August and parliament passed a law permitting Bucharest’s 64,000 street dogs to be euthanized. Seagal visited a dog shelter south of Bucharest on Sunday and adopted a seven-month-old black and tan puppy in the long-distance adoption program, which costs 60 lei (US$18) a month. The dog will remain at the shelter.
Image of dead teen on map
A man wants Google Maps to remove an aerial image that shows the body of his 14-year-old son, who was shot and killed in 2009. Jose Barrera told KTVU-TV over the weekend that he became aware of the image of his son, Kevin, earlier in the week. He said he wants Google to take down the image out of respect for his son, but it was not clear whether he had asked Google directly to take it down. “When I see this image, that’s still like that happened yesterday,” Barrera told the news station on Sunday. “And that brings me back to a lot of memories.” The image shows what appears to be a body on the ground near a rail line with several other people, presumably investigators, and what looks like a police car nearby. It was visible on Google’s Web site on Monday. Kevin’s slaying remains unsolved.
Fallen man’s body found
Miami-Dade police say they have confirmed that a body found in waters off south Florida is that of a man who fell from a private plane. An autopsy on Monday confirmed that the body found in a mangrove area on Saturday morning was that of 42-year-old Gerardo Nales. Investigators were not immediately releasing a cause of death, but no evidence of foul play has been reported. The pilot called for help on Thursday afternoon, radioing “mayday, mayday, mayday” and telling an air traffic controller that a door was open and a passenger had fallen from the plane. The Piper PA 46 had just taken off from Tamiami Executive Airport.
Man sets ‘Pong’ record
A college professor who played a supersized video game on the side of a Philadelphia skyscraper now holds a Guinness world record for the feat. Drexel University professor Frank Lee recreated the classic Atari game Pong on the 29-story Cira Centre last spring. The building essentially became a 5,575m2 screen as hundreds of embedded LED lights replicated the familiar ball and paddles, which were controlled by a joystick about 1.6km away. Drexel officials learned on Friday the project earned Lee the Guinness World Record for largest architectural video game display.