Painting proven a fake
A painting long thought to be the work of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh has been proven a fake after a series of tests by art experts in Amsterdam, Australian gallery officials said on Friday. The painting, titled Head of a Man, has been in the possession of the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia's second largest city of Melbourne since 1940 and was estimated to have been worth A$25 million (US$21.4 million) if authentic. Gallery officials Friday said while they were disappointed at the finding, experts at the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam found the work was painted during the artist's lifetime, although it had stylistic differences to van Gogh's work.
Indonesian fish banned
Aquatic products from Indonesia have been temporarily banned after bacteria and chemicals were found in excessive amounts in some imports from the Southeast Asian nation, state media said yesterday. All fish and other seafood products from Indonesia must be returned or destroyed, and those that have already entered the market must be checked again, the Beijing Times reported. The rule was introduced by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which cited various instances of tainted products, including salmonella in Indonesian eel.
Peak closed to recover
Tourism authorities have closed one of the peaks on popular tourist attraction Huangshan mountain for three years to allow vegetation to recover from the hordes of tourists who visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The barring of visitors to Danxia Feng, or "Purple Cloud Peak," is part of a revolving series of closures of sites on the mountain, located in Anhui Province, about 1,200km south of Beijing. Another of the mountain's scenic spots, Shixin Peak, reopened to tourists on July 1 after authorities restored trees and shrubs. In a brief report last Sunday, the official China Daily newspaper called the closure the "latest move to protect one of China's World Heritage Sites."
Pandas to be loaned to Spain
The government will fly a pair of giant pandas to Spain next month, state media reported yesterday, following through on a goodwill gesture promised during a visit by Spanish King Juan Carlos to Beijing earlier this year. The pair, seven-year old "Bingxing" and four-year old "Huazuiba" will be flown from their home in the southwestern city of Chengdu to Madrid on Sept. 8 by chartered plane for a 10 year stay, the Xinhua news agency said. The pair are due to go on display two weeks after their arrival.
Cars fight drunk driving
Beer-breaths beware. A new concept car with breathalyzer-like detection systems may provide even greater traction for efforts to keep impaired drivers off the road. Nissan's alcohol-detection sensors check odor, sweat and driver awareness, issuing a voice alert from the navigation system and locking up the ignition if necessary. Odor sensors on the driver and passenger seats read alcohol levels, while a detector in the gear-shift knob measures the perspiration of the driver's palm when starting the car. Other carmakers with detection systems include Sweden's Volvo, which has developed technology in which drivers blow into a measuring unit in the seat belt before an engine can start.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
A man who pinched the bottom of a TV presenter live on air has been cautioned, police said on Thursday. Sue Turton, who described the incident as "humiliating" and a "public goosing," was reporting on floods in Oxford last week on Channel 4 when a shaggy-haired Rufus Burdett strolled past and pinched her. Distracted for just a moment, Turton maintained her composure and completed her report. A video clip of the bottom-pinching has been viewed nearly 500,000 times on the Web site YouTube. Police used the footage to identify Burdett. Authorities had considered imposing an £80 pound (US$162) fine for a public order offence.
Respected priest probed
One of the country's most well-known priests, 82-year-old Pietro Gelmini, is being investigated for sexually abusing drug addicted young men treated at his charity rehabilitation center, the priest's spokesman said on Friday. Gelmini, a respected figure who counts powerful allies in politics, strongly denies any abuse, his spokesman Alessandro Meluzzi said. He has also not yet been accused of any crime by prosecutors, who under law are obliged to investigate all reports of illegal activity. Meluzzi, a former senator, said he believed the accusers were "four or five" men who were between the ages of 25 and 30 at the time.
Help with adoption needed
Rights organizations say their government needs help monitoring US singer Madonna's planned adoption of a boy -- and a child welfare official agrees that the country's foreign adoption procedures need to be overhauled. Already, the country's Child Welfare Services office has missed one planned visit to London to check on how David Banda is doing with his celebrity family, as a result of a lack of money. Lawyer Justin Dzonzi, chairman of the coalition of rights groups, said it was unrealistic to expect the country to oversee the adoption without help, possibly from British child welfare authorities. Madonna took custody of David, then 14 months old, last October.
Bed bugs haunt night train
The national rail company said on Friday it had taken several sleeper carriages out of service to deal with an infestation of bed bugs. "Some passengers told us they were bitten," an official said, adding the parasites had been found on a night train going from the Mediterranean city of Nice to eastern Metz last week. "We took the affected carriages out to treat them." To prevent capacity problems, the company was not taking any reservations for night trains from Nice to Paris last week.
No sex means more work
Workaholics may be suffering from a lack of sex, a university study published on Friday said. A survey of 32,000 men and women by researchers at the University of Goettingen found more than 35 percent of those reporting unsatisfying sex lives tended to use hard work as a diversion. Some 36 percent of men and 35 percent of women surveyed said they were likely to put in extra time at the office and volunteer for extra assignments. The hard work ethic was even more pronounced among those who reported having no sex -- 45 percent of men and 46 percent of women said they voluntarily took on more responsibilities.
■ UNITED STATES
Ice cream man sells pot
An ice cream truck parked in front of a junior high school in New York City was offering up cocaine and marijuana along with the soft serve, police said. A police search of the vehicle uncovered a loaded pistol along with the drugs, police said on Friday after arresting 26-year-old Jermaine Jordan on charges including criminal possession of a weapon near a school and criminal sale of a controlled substance near a school.
■ UNITED STATES
Tommy Makem dies at 74
Irish singer, songwriter and storyteller Tommy Makem, who teamed with the Clancy Brothers to become stars during the folk music boom, has died of lung cancer. He was 74. Makem died on Wednesday in Dover, New Hampshire. The Irish-born Makem, who came to America in the 1950s to seek work as an actor, grew to international fame while performing with the band The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Armed with his banjo, tinwhistle, poetry, stagecraft and his baritone voice, Makem helped spread Irish culture around the world through stories and songs such as Four Green Fields, Gentle Annie and Red Is the Rose.
■ UNITED STATES
Office tyrant uncensured
In a study that was to be presented at a conference on management this weekend, almost two-thirds of the 240 participants in an online survey said the local workplace tyrant was either never censured or was promoted for domineering ways. "The fact that 64.2 percent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable -- remarkably disturbing," wrote the study's authors at Bond University in Australia. Despite their success in the office, spiteful supervisors can cause serious malaise for their subordinates, the study suggested, citing nightmares, insomnia, depression and exhaustion.
■ UNITED STATES
Murphy fathered Spice baby
Actor-comedian Eddie Murphy publicly acknowledged on Friday having fathered a child out of wedlock with Spice Girls singer Melanie Brown, who brought a paternity suit against him earlier this week. A brief statement from Murphy said: "Mr Murphy and Ms Brown dated very briefly and never made any plans of ANY sort ... He acknowledges paternity of the child Angel, and has paid child support to Ms Brown as well as covering the expenses of her pregnancy." A DNA test in June confirmed that Murphy is the father of Brown's baby, Angel Iris Murphy Brown, who was born in April. Brown, 32, known as Scary Spice as a member of the British pop phenomenon, listed Murphy as the father on the child's birth certificate.
■ UNITED STATES
NASA delays launch
NASA delayed the launch of space shuttle Endeavour by one day on Friday to allow time for workers to finish replacing a leaky valve in the spaceship's crew cabin, officials at the space agency said. Liftoff of the second shuttle mission of the year had been targeted for Tuesday, but was rescheduled for Wednesday at 6:36pm. "We understand the decision to delay until Wednesday and we agree with it completely," said Endeavour commander Scott Kelly, who arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida along with his six crewmates on Friday. The shuttle will carry a new beam to install in the main structural truss of the International Space Station.
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,