Insulting boss allowed
It's OK to use derogatory and vulgar language about your superiors in the office as long as it is done behind their backs, a court has ruled. The Industrial Court said that a secretary at Malaysia National Insurance Bhd was not guilty of misconduct when she sent e-mails from the office computer to friends, griping about her superiors, the national news agency Bernama reported on Friday. Court chairman Syed Ahmad Radzi Syed Omar said that Ratnawati Mohamed Nawawi's sacking for misconduct was unjust. The court awarded her back wages and compensation amounting to US$18,570.
Condoms too big
Condoms designed to meet size specifications used internationally are too big for many men as their penises fall short of what manufacturers had anticipated, a study has found. The Indian Council of Medical Research, a leading state-run center, said its initial findings from a two-year study showed 60 percent of men in Mumbai had penises about 2.4cm shorter than those condoms catered for. For a further 30 percent, the difference was at least 5cm. A poor fit meant the prophylactics often didn't do the job they were bought for.
Containers for US screened
The government has announced measures to more closely screen shipping containers bound for the US in a move to keep nuclear material and illicit weapons from the wrong hands, a newspaper reported yesterday. The island-state already checks cargo for radioactive material and uses powerful sensors to scan steel containers. The stricter new measures, to start next month, are in response to the US-led Secure Freight Initiative. The US Department of Homeland Security launched the first phase of the initiative on Thursday.
Nationalist theme park open
Authoritarian leader Saparmurat Niyazov on Friday formally opened an amusement park named after himself. Niyazov, who has ruled the country for 20 years, has created an extensive cult of personality around himself, including ordering citizens to call him Turkmenbashi, or Father of All Turkmen. The 33-hectare amusement park in the capital is named "The World of Turkmenbashi Tales." It has 54 rides including a Ferris Wheel echoing designs of Turkmen jewelry and a roller coaster swooping over a model of the Caspian Sea, the source of Turkmenistan's rich oil and gas reserves.
Wildfires disrupt flights
Smoky skies disrupted flights through the main airport in Victoria state yesterday, as firefighters battled what many fear will become the state's worst wildfires in almost 60 years. More than 20 towns were warned they could soon be threatened by the blazes, though no injuries or property damage had been reported. The country's largest airline, Qantas Airways, reported flight delays of up to an hour through the airport in Victoria's capital, Melbourne. Heavy smoke across much of the eastern part of the southern state reduced visibility and triggered fire alarms in the airport's baggage handling area and control tower. More than 170,000 hectares of drought-stricken farmland and forests have been incinerated by 18 major fires.
Soldiers, Islamists clash
Islamists and pro-government soldiers shelled each other in a second day of fighting yesterday, witnesses said, a major escalation of violence many fear will erupt into all-out war. The fighting occurred in Maddoy village about 40km from the interim government's headquarters in Baidoa, the only town it controls in its own country. The two sides fought in the area on Friday, killing at least two bystanders. "The war restarted about 30 minutes ago," Maddoy resident Ahmed Mohamed Adan told reporters by telephone.
■ United States
Space chic the final frontier
You've booked your seat on the spaceship and passed the medical -- but what to wear for that flight into the final frontier? Orbital Outfitters has the answer. The new Los Angeles-based company on Thursday promised to dress the first space tourists and crew members in style. "When someone puts on an IS3 [sub-orbital space suit], they will be protected by the best technology we cam muster, yet they will look like they've stepped off the set of a science fiction movie," Orbital Outfitters president Rick Tumlinson said. Tumlinson said Orbital Outfitters planned to be on the leading edge of space suit fashion in a tourism industry expected to blast off around 2008.
Storm knocks out power
A powerful storm with gusting winds lashed on Friday, knocking out power to 400,000 homes and one pedestrian was killed when a billboard collapsed in Paris. The northern, western and central regions of the country were the worst hit, with the weather service saying that wind gusts reaching 148kph and 137kph atop the Eiffel Tower. Authorities raised the weather alert to orange -- the second the highest of four levels -- for 26 out of the country's 95 regions. A pedestrian was crushed to death on Friday morning by a falling billboard, Paris firefighters said.
■ United Kingdom
DNA tests on Diana driver
DNA tests on blood samples back up initial findings that the chauffeur of Princess Diana's car was drunk on the night she died in a Paris crash in 1997, the BBC reported late on Friday. The BBC said on its Web site that the tests indicate that the samples taken from driver Henri Paul just after his death were indeed his and show him accurately to have been three times over the French drunk-driving limit. A source close to the French authorities said the DNA tests were done in France within the last year, adding that DNA taken from Paul's blood samples matched with that of his parents. Diana, 36, and Dodi Fayed, 42, were killed with Paul when their high-powered Mercedes crashed in Paris.
■ United States
Youth indicted for murder
Authorities on Friday indicted an 18-year-old in Arizona with the murder of a female Japanese tourist earlier this year. Randy Wescogame is accused of stabbing 34-year-old Tomomi Hanamure to death after robbing her on the Havasupai Indian Reservation on May 8. Wescogame, a member of the 650-strong Havasupai tribe, has been in Indian tribal custody on unrelated assault charges since May and was transferred to federal detention on Friday. He has been charged with five counts of murder, robbery and kidnapping and faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.
A long line of people on Sunday snaked across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travelers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination booth. Sweating under the afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card. People had come from all over Latin America — Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela — where the vaccine rollout has been slow and hampered by supply shortages. “In my country, [COVID-19] is getting out of hand and there’s
US actress Scarlett Johansson on Saturday urged the film industry to “step back” from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) as criticism of the opaque film industry group, which controls the Golden Globe awards, continues to mount for sexism and racism. The Avengers star said in a statement that the “HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition.” Johansson said that “as an actor promoting a film,” participating in the organization’s news conferences and award shows “has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on
Remnants of China’s largest rocket launched last week were expected to plunge back through the atmosphere late yesterday or early today, a US federally funded space-focused research and development center said. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday that most debris from the rocket would be burned up on re-entry and is highly unlikely to cause any harm, after the US military said that what it called an uncontrolled re-entry was being tracked by US Space Command. In a Twitter post sent on Friday evening in the US, the Aerospace Corporation said that the latest prediction for the re-entry of
A string of lights that lobbed across the night sky in parts of the US on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday had some people wondering if a fleet of UFOs was coming, but it had others — mostly amateur stargazers and professional astronomers — lamenting the industrialization of space. The train of lights was actually a series of relatively low-flying satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX as part of its Starlink Internet service earlier last week. Callers swamped TV stations from Texas to Wisconsin reporting the lights and musing about UFOs. An e-mail to a spokesman for SpaceX was not returned on Saturday,