Family recovers savings
Newspapers are reporting that a family who hid 40,000 euros (US$57,768) in a pair of old shoes, then threw them away by mistake, has recovered the bulk of its savings. Newspapers Evenimentul Zilei and Gandul reported on Wednesday that a man from the city of Alba Iulia hid the savings in the shoes without telling his wife. The papers say the wife cleaned house before Christmas and threw the shoes away. The papers reported that the couple informed police, who discovered that a woman found the shoes — and bought a 22,000 euro cottage. The family recovered 11,000 euros from the woman and 19,000 euros from the people who sold the house.
China to develop port
China will finance the building of a second port in the east African nation, a transport corridor and the upgrading of a railroad linking Mombasa port and the Ugandan capital, a statement said on Wednesday. The second port is to be built in the coastal town of Lamu, the statement from President Mwai Kibaki’s office said without giving figures. Initially, the port was to be financed by Qatar under a deal to lease swathes of arable land to the Gulf state, but the agreement was shelved. The road could provide a route to export Chinese oil from southern Sudan.
Affairs Web site growing
Britons snowed in by wintry weather have been flocking to an extra-marital dating site in the last 24 hours. Illicit Encounters, which provides a platform for married people to conduct affairs, said on Wednesday it has seen an unexpected increase in visitors over the past 24 hours, and received a record number of new profiles on Wednesday morning. The Web site said most new members are registering from areas worst hit by this week’s extreme weather, including Hampshire, Berkshire and the West Country, and the site has taken on several temporary staff members to cope with the rush. The Web site said it has gained 2,567 new members in the last six days, suggesting that this month will be its busiest month ever.
Churchgoers gunned down
Three men in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd of churchgoers in the south as they left a midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas, killing at least seven people in a drive-by shooting, the church bishop and security officials said. The Interior Ministry said the attack on Wednesday just before midnight was suspected as retaliation for the November rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man in the same town. The statement said witnesses have identified the lead attacker. The attack took place in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province, about 64km from the famous ancient ruins of Luxor.
‘Obligations will be honored’
The country will “honor its obligations” over the more than US$5 billion owed to the UK and the Netherlands that was lost in failed savings banks, President Olafur Grimsson told British television. The parliament had approved a deeply unpopular bill to cover compensation already paid out by the British and Dutch governments to holders of “Icesave” accounts after banks that collapsed in 2008. Grimsson stunned international financial markets and the government on Tuesday by refusing to sign it and forcing a referendum on the issue.
Contractor was spy: Havana
A US contractor detained last month in Cuba for distributing satellite communications equipment worked for US “secret services” and is being investigated, a top Cuban official said on Wednesday. Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon shed no light on what the government plans to do with the prisoner, who President Raul Castro has cited as evidence that the US continues its five-decade long campaign to subvert the island’s communist system. The man, arrested early last month, has never been publicly identified. US diplomats were permitted to visit him on Dec. 28, but they have provided little information. He worked for a Maryland-based company called Development Alternatives Inc that said he was involved in a US government program to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Cuba. “This is a man hired by a company that contracts for the American secret services and that is the object of investigation,” Alarcon told reporters. He said the contractor was part of a trend toward “privatization of war” by the US, which hires people to be “agents, torturers, spies.” Asked if the prisoner was in good condition, Alarcon said: “I can assure you that he is much better — much, much better — than the victims of those contractors all over the world.”
Sculpture mystery solved
The mystery of a missing 4 tonne sculpture outside a Utah motorcycle shop has been solved. It disappeared over the weekend, and apparently the sculptor took it back. Springville sculptor Jeffrey Decker’s attorney said Decker owns the statue and was legally entitled to remove it, the Daily Herald reported. Lawyer Randall Spencer said on Tuesday a loan agreement made it clear that the sculpture was on loan to Timpanogos Harley-Davidson. The US$100,000 sculpture depicts an old-time speed racer. It was erected two years ago at the store in Lindon. Employees who showed up for work on Saturday found that the statue and the granite block it was mounted on were gone.
Sentence me here: Polanski
Roman Polanski sent a letter from house arrest in Switzerland asking a Los Angeles judge to sentence him in a sex case without making him return to the US, but a ruling was postponed on Wednesday. The notarized letter signed by Polanski on Dec. 26 in Gstaad was filed by his lawyer. It said Polanski understood he had the right to be present at all legal proceedings, but “I request that judgment be pronounced against me in my absence.” Deputy District Attorney David Walgren objected to the request and demanded he “show his face” in court before he was sentenced. The director fled the US in 1978 on the eve of sentencing after pleading guilty to one count of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Espinoza accepted the letter but said he wanted to see legal briefs that state why sentencing Polanski in absentia was appropriate.
Dogs flown to new homes
More than a dozen Chihuahuas from San Francisco are flying in style to new homes in New York. The 15 animals are flying in the main cabin of Virgin America flights scheduled to leave from San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday morning. San Francisco animal control officials say Chihuahuas are in abundance at California animal shelters, but they’re in demand in other states like New York. Experts say pop culture is to blame for the overpopulation of the dogs in California, with fans imitating Chihuahua-toting celebrities like Paris Hilton.
Three years after a deadly virus struck India’s endangered Asiatic lions in their last remaining natural habitat, conservationists are hunting for new homes to help booming prides roam free. The majestic big cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, were once found widely across southwest Asia. Hunting and human encroachment saw the population plunge to just 20 by 1913, and the lions are now found only in a wildlife sanctuary in India’s western Gujarat State. Following years of concerted government efforts, the lion population in Gir National Park has swelled to nearly 700, according
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
DMZ SWIM: Over more than three hours, South Korean surveillance cameras caught him eight times and audible alarms sounded twice, but border guards did not notice A North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins during a daring six-hour swim around one of the world’s most fortified borders and was only caught after apparently falling asleep, a Seoul official said. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious exploit, despite his appearance several times on surveillance cameras after he landed and triggered alarms, drawing heavy criticism from media and opposition lawmakers. Even after his presence was noticed, the man — who used diving gear to make his way by sea around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula — was not caught for another
The Paris prosecutor’s office on Tuesday said that French actor Gerard Depardieu was in December last year charged with rape and sexual assault after authorities revived a 2018 investigation that was initially dropped. Depardieu was not detained when he was handed the preliminary charges on Dec. 16 last year, the office said. The prosecutor’s office addressed the charges after the case was leaked to the media. Media reports have said that the charges relate to allegations made by an actress in her 20s that date back to 2018. An initial inquiry against the star was dropped in 2019 because of lack of evidence, but