Golden gun on display
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was truly the man with the golden gun. And to prove it, the Australian military handed over a golden Tabuk rifle to the Australian War Memorial yesterday. The military had received the rifle from US troops in thanks for taking part in the Iraq war. The rifle was found by US soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division while clearing buildings around Kirkuk, Iraq. The museum put the rifle on display.
■ SOUTH KOREA
Tycoon testifies in court
One of the nation's richest businessmen told a court yesterday he beat karaoke bar workers in the head in retaliation for a suspected attack on his son, and his bodyguards continued the assault when he got tired of punching. Prosecutors have said Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-youn and several bodyguards stormed into an upscale Seoul karaoke bar seeking those who had supposedly beat up his son in an early March incident. He then seized several workers, shuttled them off to a remote mountain area and forced them to their knees while he beat them, they said.
Passenger shirks order
Police arrested a suspected gangster on Sunday after he ignored an aircraft captain's order to turn off his five mobile phones as the plane was taking off, police said. Naoyuki Shimoda, a 34-year-old DVD sales clerk, was arrested for violating the Aviation Law for ignoring the captain's order when he was on board an aircraft taking off from Tokyo's Haneda airport, a spokeswoman from the police said. Following the captain's order, Shimoda said "Shut up! Why don't you call police," while continuing to use his mobile phones.
Needles found in boy
Doctors in Guangzhou City were planning to perform surgery on a one-year-old boy whose parents took him to a hospital because he had been unusually fussy and learned he had six sewing needles in his body, newspapers reported yesterday. The child's parents, who are migrant workers, said they had no idea how the needles ended up in their son, nicknamed Xiao Yu. The parents said they took Xiao Yu to a hospital on June 2 after he cried for three or four nights in a row and ate less than usual. X-rays revealed two needles inside the boy's chest, two in his scrotum, one embedded in his head and another in his abdomen. The parents said no strangers have come into contact with the boy.
Manta ray makes history
An aquarium in Okinawa is celebrating a special new arrival this week -- a giant manta ray keepers say is the world's first ever born in captivity. Video footage shows the 1.9m baby being squeezed out of her mother's body rolled up like a carpet, before unfurling her fins and flitting gracefully across the tank at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. "My heart was heavy at first because I thought it had been still-born, but we were so relieved when she finally started swimming around," the aquarium's manta ray breeder, Minoru Toda said. The birth on Saturday followed a pregnancy of more than a year after the 4.2m mother ray mated with a male manta also kept at the aquarium. Aquarium workers will use their intuition when caring for the new baby, because scientific knowledge about their development is limited, Toda said.
`Architect of fashion' dies
Designer Gianfranco Ferre, known as the "architect of fashion" for his structured, sculpted shapes and for his groundbreaking tenure at Christian Dior, died on Sunday, a hospital said. He was 62. Ferre was taken to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan on Friday after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage. The hospital, in a statement authorized by Ferre's family, said he died at 9pm on Sunday. Ferre started his career as an accessories and jewelry designer and then moved on to clothes. His unofficial title as the country's architect of fashion came thanks to the degree in architecture he obtained in 1969 from Milan's Polytechnic Institute that inspired his designs.
Bunnies threaten airport
Make like bunnies! The wild hares at Milan's Linate airport have taken that to heart -- so much so that officials on Sunday mounted an unusual operation to keep the furry creatures off the runways. Some 200 volunteers with reflective vests and whistles snared 57 hares and four wild rabbits, part of a twice-annual capture to keep the airport hare population under control. The animals were put in wooden crates and transferred to a nearby wildlife preserve, officials said. The province of Milan has to routinely catch the fertile hares because they interfere with takeoffs and landings. They can also cause false alarms with the airport's radar system.
■ UNITED STATES
Oral sex recruiter confesses
A 30-year-old military recruiter who pleaded guilty to offering to help a 16-year-old girl get into the Army in exchange for oral sex was sentenced to a year in jail. Army Sergeant Robert Scott was also ordered on Friday to register as a sex offender, serve five years of probation and pay fines totaling US$3,020. Scott pleaded guilty April 17 to a count of third-degree criminal sexual assault. The charge stems from a March 15 incident in which he made sexual advances toward the girl, a high-school student. Scott acknowledged that he offered to help her get enlisted more easily if she gave him oral sex.
■ UNITED STATES
Topless case settled
A New York artist arrested by police when she went on a topless stroll two years ago has accepted a US$29,000 settlement from the city, her lawyer says. Jill Coccaro, 27, was charged briefly with indecent exposure despite a 1992 state appeals court ruling that women had the right to be topless if men were allowed to take off their shirts. Coccaro, who now goes by the name Phoenix Feeley, bared her breasts on Aug. 4, 2005. Feeley remained in custody for 12 hours before she was told prosecutors were not going to pursue charges.
Cuban refugees intercepted
The navy has intercepted two boats carrying 58 Cuban refugees in the waters of the Caribbean near the Cancun tourist resort, officials said on Sunday. The government was investigating the incident as a possible human trafficking operation run by the ships' crews. Local media on Thursday gave unconfirmed reports of the arrests of the Cuban refugees, as well as four crew members from the two vessels identified by the Attorney General's office as two Mexicans and two Cubans. Authorities did not issue an official report about the arrests until Sunday.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent