Minister targets police
Police were on Saturday urged to report corruption in their ranks seen as part of the violent crime crisis, after a former beauty queen was slain. Minister of the Interior Miguel Rodriguez gave out his cellular number during an address and asked police to call him to report corruption. “New police will always have some great superiors, well-prepared ones. But they also are going to get some bad eggs. Report them fearlessly because their [corruption] undermines police authority for the Venezuelan people,” Rodriguez said in an address carried on state TV. “Just give me the information right away, and we will rip the head off that immoral police superior.”
Kimmel stays: White House
The White House has responded to a petition calling for an apology and the removal of Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show by saying the comedian cannot be forced off the air. More than 105,000 people signed the petition on the White House Web site. It followed a broadcast in October last year of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live featuring a segment in which Kimmel spoke to young children about US government debt owed to China. One boy said: “Kill everyone in China,” when Kimmel asked how the US should repay the Asian power. In its response, the White House said that ABC and Kimmel have apologized, and that the TV network has removed the segment from future broadcasts and its online platforms. The White House also said that the constitution protects free speech, even when it is offensive.
Rhino-hunt auction panned
A permit to hunt an endangered African black rhino sold for US$350,000 at a Dallas auction held to raise money for conservation efforts, but was criticized by wildlife advocates. Steve Wagner, a spokesman for the Dallas Safari Club, which sponsored the closed-door event on Saturday, confirmed the sale of the permit for a hunt in the African nation of Namibia. Dallas Safari Club executive director Ben Carter has defended the auction, saying all money raised will go toward protecting the species. He also said the rhino that the winner will be allowed to hunt is old, male and nonbreeding — and that the animal was likely to be targeted for removal anyway because it was becoming aggressive and threatening other wildlife. The auction drew howls from critics, including wildlife and animal rights groups, and the FBI said it was investigating death threats against members of the club.
Cat survives in pipe
A cat that spent at least three winter days in a northwest Ohio drainpipe has been rescued after initially refusing attempts to lure it out with tuna, the classic call of “here, kitty, kitty,” and even a cellphone app that meowed. The Courier newspaper reports a resident in Findlay heard the cat’s cries on Wednesday last week. Groundskeepers at a school cut through the pipe on Friday to free the orange cat, which was muddy, emaciated and hypothermic. The male cat has been named Piper. It has a broken leg and other injuries signaling it has had a rough time lately. However, things are looking up, with a number of people volunteering to adopt if it goes unclaimed. One veterinarian assessed the cat this way: “If they truly have nine lives, he probably has three left.”
Abe called military maniac
The nation yesterday lashed out at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for seeking to revise Tokyo’s pacifist post-World War II constitution, calling him a “militarist maniac.” In a New Year comment, Abe said Japan’s constitution could be amended by 2020, days after his visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo enraged Asian neighbors. The shrine is seen as a brutal reminder of Japan’s war-time aggression and failure to repent for its history. The Workers’ Party of Korea newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, yesterday said in an editorial: “What Abe said was dangerous outbursts, which brought to light the true colors of a militarist maniac.” Accusing Abe of seeking to “bring back the era ... when the Japanese imperialists could dominate Asia,” the paper claimed that Tokyo was taking the path of “self-destruction.”
Actress victim of fraud
Lust, Caution actress Tang Wei (湯唯 ) fell victim to a US$35,000 fraud after being persuaded over the telephone to wire money to a suspect, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Citing police, Xinhua reported that Tang was filming in Shanghai on Saturday afternoon when she received a call and was persuaded to go to a bank and wire 210,000 yuan (US$35,000). Xinhua said police were investigating after receiving a report from Tang. The actress shot to international fame playing a Chinese student activist who seduces a Japanese-allied spy chief in the World War II-era thriller Lust, Caution. Her politically sensitive role as a traitor in the 2007 movie led to a three-year reported blacklisting by film officials.
US hypnotist falls to death
A US stage hypnotist in Sydney as part of a touring magic troupe died after plunging several stories from an apartment balcony, reports said yesterday. Scott Lewis, a hypnotist-entertainer with a long-running Las Vegas show, fell to his death from a balcony on Friday night, according to widespread media reports. Lewis was performing at the Sydney Opera House, which confirmed his death in a statement. The Daily Telegraph newspaper said Lewis’ body was found on a fourth-floor balcony, seven floors below his apartment, on Saturday morning after he failed to join the company bus for an 11am matinee performance at the Opera House. Lewis was dead when police and ambulance crews arrived. His death is not being treated as suspicious, but police are investigating whether he fell while trying to climb to another balcony.
Legs bared on commute
Trains and trams in the nation’s major cities were awash with bare legs and briefs yesterday as pranksters traveled trouserless for the world’s 13th annual “No Pants Subway Ride.” Since its first staging by US group Improv Everywhere in New York in 2002 with just seven people, No Pants Subway Ride has gone global, with thousands of people now joining the stunt in capital cities across the globe. Commuters in Hong Kong and Beijing also participated yesterday. The premise is simple: Participants convene on a given transport route on Jan. 13 every year without trousers on, and ride the rails (or road) for shock value and laughs. Underpants must be worn and, although flashy designs are allowed, organizers prefer those involved to look — at least from the waist-up — as though they are going about their daily lives.