Reward offered for Homer
Two men believed to be over-exuberant fans of The Simpsons stole a life-sized figurine of Homer Simpson from a theater, more than a month before the premiere of the big-screen version of the US TV cartoon series, a studio official said yesterday. Police are investigating, but 20th Century Fox is offering a reward of 1,000 ringgit (US$285) to anyone who provides information leading to the fiberglass statue's discovery. The 1.2m figurine of Homer holding a TV remote control was part of a display that included the rest of the Simpson family in the lobby of a theater in a shopping mall near Kuala Lumpur.
Chinese sculpture falls
A severe storm caused the collapse of an 8m tall work by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at a major contemporary art show in Kassel on Wednesday, organizers said. Template, an archlike structure being exhibited outdoors, collapsed in on itself "in astonishingly aesthetic fashion," said Catrin Seefranz, a spokeswoman for the Documenta show. No one was injured. Seefranz said that Ai had seen the collapsed work and pronounced it more beautiful than before. She said Ai does not plan to restore it.
Chef said to ignore brother
British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is ignoring pleas for help from his brother who is on trial for drug possession in Bali, Ronald Ramsay's lawyer said yesterday. Ronald Ramsay, 39, is facing up to 10 years in prison for possession of 100mg of heroin he was allegedly found with when arrested in February. He is also charged with using heroin, which carries a maximum of four years in prison. Lawyer Erwin Siregar said his client clearly needed family support.
Chilly post mortem begins
Pathologists inspected the thawed remains on Wednesday of a long-missing Dublin criminal whose body was found, frozen rock solid, in the storage room of a fishmongers' shop. The owner of the Mermaid Fish Shop in Galway, last week found the body of Patrick McCormack, 52, concealed inside a long-neglected plastic container. An examination of the body of McCormack -- who appeared to have been badly beaten and had his hands tied behind his back -- has been repeatedly delayed at Dublin City Morgue because the body had not defrosted. But the work began Wednesday under the supervision of the assistant state pathologist, Michael Curtis.
Lottery legal claim rejected
A Dutch woman who claimed she suffered emotional damages due to not winning the lottery missed the jackpot in court too. Amsterdam District Court judges on Wednesday rejected the claim of Helene de Gier, who said she was traumatized by not winning the country's National Postcode Lottery, which she didn't enter, while her neighbors did. In the lottery, postal codes are chosen at random, and people who live there and enter can win prizes of up to millions. Proceeds go to charity. De Gier lived on a street in the small southern town of Heusden where seven entrants won 13.9 million euros (US$18.6 million) each on Jan 1, last year.
Town to hold naked run
Revelers will be able to streak with impunity in the western town of Kuldiga this weekend as the community holds a naked run to mark the midsummer festival, organizers said on Wednesday. "The nude run is for everybody, no matter their gender, age or race," said Ilze Dambite-Damberga, of the city council. "One can wear shoes or sneakers, as long as they don't go up to the armpits," she said. Sunday's run across the town's 150m 19th century brick bridge marks "Jani," the most popular holiday in the country.
Nursing home fire kills 10
A blaze swept through a nursing home in Siberia yesterday, killing at least 10 people, officials said, the latest in a series of deadly fires, many of them caused by rampant neglect of safety rules. Rescuers evacuated more than 300 patients from the nursing home in the Omsk region after the fire erupted in the early hours yesterday, but 10 patients died in the blaze, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said. He said the hospital fire alarm system functioned properly, but a nurse on duty was away at the moment it went off and failed to immediately alert patients and call firefighters.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Stonehenge pulls in crowds
Thousands of modern-day druids, pagans and partygoers were converging on Stonehenge late on Wednesday as people across the northern hemisphere prepared to welcome the summer solstice -- the longest day of the year. The sun will rise at 4:58am on Thursday, welcomed by an estimated 20,000 people expected to crowd around the ancient circle of stones in Wiltshire, southern England, to witness the event. Solstice celebrations were a highlight of the pre-Christian calendar and in many countries bonfires, maypole dances and courtship rituals linger on as holdovers from Europe's pagan past.
Two die in prison brawl
Two inmates were killed and about four dozen guards and prisoners were injured in a massive brawl between two rival gangs at a prison in Ciudad Juarez, authorities reported. The two gangs, the "Aztecas" and the "Mexicles," which have faced off before, began fighting after prison authorities relocated some of the prisoners to other cell blocks. Prison director Fernando Romero Magana said the fighting continued for about two hours, until 300 police and riot officers quelled the unrest.
■ UNITED STATES
Man who hid kid facing trial
A man accused of keeping a runaway in his home for a decade and having sex with her has been sent back to jail from a state hospital, where he has been since he tried to kill himself four months ago. The move paves the way for Thomas John Hose to stand trial on Tuesday. He was returned to jail earlier this month, according to the Allegheny County jail. Hose, 49, stabbed himself just before his trial was to start in February. The trial was delayed again last month, when his attorney said Hose had anxiety problems and wanted to hang himself. Hose is accused of taking in a 14-year-old girl and, for a decade, keeping her from leaving the tiny home he shared with his parents and son.
■ UNITED STATES
Conjoined twins doing OK
Conjoined twins surgically separated at their fused spinal cords were in fair condition in Salt Lake City, Utah. "That doesn't sound very good, but they are out of intensive care and improving," Primary Children's Medical Center spokeswoman Bonnie Midget said on Wednesday. Allyson and Avery Clark had surgery on Tuesday, a day before turning eight months old. It took 66 minutes from the first incision to separate them. Their spinal cords were joined at the lower back and made a U-shape. Nurses said the twins, in separate beds for the first time, had a good night and interacted with each other when awake, Midget said. "Everything is going very smoothly," she said.
■ UNITED STATES
Employers face clampdown
Employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants risk losing their state and local business licenses under a bill sent to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano for approval. Napolitano said she would look at the bill "with great interest" because efforts to address border and illegal immigration concerns includes dealing with the "underlying labor issue." Proponents said the measure was necessary because the federal government has failed to enforce existing law that prohibits employers from intentionally hiring illegal immigrants.
■ UNITED STATES
Historic school at risk
The Topeka City Council in Kansas gave preliminary approval to begin destruction of a school that was at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case that paved the way for the end of separate public schools for black students. Council and city staff members said on Tuesday they would like to save the Sumner Elementary School building at the center of the Brown v. Board of Education case, but the cost to the city forced them to consider other options. The school became a symbol of civil rights history when Oliver Brown, a black minister, tried to enroll his daughter in Sumner School in 1950. When the school turned them away, the Browns filed a lawsuit that eventually led to a case finding that separate schools for whites and blacks were unequal.
‘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
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big