‘Planker’ left in a coma
A man was in a coma yesterday after falling off a car reportedly while “planking” as three others were charged for taking part in the Internet craze on the roof of a moving vehicle. Simon Hallam, 20, may never recover from horrific head injuries after falling heavily onto the road from a fast-moving car as he attempt to “plank,” according to local reports. The “planking” craze involves someone lying flat on their stomach with their arms against their bodies in unusual and sometimes dangerous situations, with photos of their exploits posted on social media sites. Hallam’s father, Terry, told the Brisbane Courier-Mail that what happened to his son was a strong warning to others thinking about joining the craze. “The Internet and Facebook, they’re just dreadful things ... they encourage this sort of behavior among the young ones,” he said. Separately, Queensland police charged three men in their 20s with public nuisance for “planking” on the roof of a moving car. Toowoomba District Acting Inspector Jim Fenton said he was in disbelief. “We would question their level of intelligence and due regard to self-preservation,” he told reporters.
Students consider sex work
One in three university students in Berlin would consider sex work as a means to finance their education, a study by the Berlin Studies Center said on Wednesday. The figure in Berlin was higher than students surveyed in Paris (29.2 percent) and in Kiev (18.5 percent), the three cities included in the report. The study found about 4 percent of the 3,200 Berlin students surveyed said they had already done some form of sex work, which includes prostitution, erotic dancing and Internet shows. The results surprised the authors, who said they undertook the study because student prostitution had been often reported, but little was known about its relationship to education policy. “It’s possible that because educational reforms have increased student workloads, they have less time to earn money. Coupled with higher student fees, in this instance, [that] leads students into prostitution,” said Eva Blumenschein, one of the study’s authors and a 26-year-old student at Berlin’s Humboldt University.
Crocodiles delay voters
A crocodile-infested river forced election officials to delay the opening of a polling station in Limpopo Province on Wednesday, the local elections chief said. Officials running the voting station for the country’s local elections had to wait for a special army vehicle to ferry them across the perilous Olifants River, delaying the poll opening by two hours, provincial election officer Nkaro Mateta said. “It is really quite dangerous. If you cross on foot then you will be attacked by crocodiles,” she said. Another station “on top of a mountain” also opened two hours late because a helicopter had to be used to take election staff there, she said.
Suicidal patient shoots monk
Police say a suicidal hospital patient has mistakenly shot dead his roommate, an 87-year-old monk. Police in the eastern canton of St Gallen say the 80-year-old man was handling a gun on Monday when he triggered a shot that injured his fellow patient. The monk from a nearby Benedictine abbey died shortly afterwards. The incident happened at a hospital in Uznach, about 30km east of Zurich. Police spokesman Hans Peter Eugster was unable to say on Wednesday how the man managed to take a firearm into the hospital undetected or whether he would face charges.
Obama birth mug on sale
President Barack Obama has seen off the “birther” conspiracists who hyped rumors he was not American — now he is trying to rake in campaign cash from the row with a “Made in the USA” campaign mug. The white mug comes with a picture of the beaming president on the front and a reduced rendition of his birth certificate, released by the White House in a successful attempt to quell the controversy, on the back. “Last year, the President said, ‘I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead,’” Obama’s campaign manager Julianna Smoot told supporters in an e-mail. “This is about as close as we can get.” The limited edition mug to help supporters “stay caffeinated for campaign events (and everything else)” is available on Obama’s 2012 campaign Web site, for a US$15 donation.
Chatty woman kicked out
A young woman who insisted on noisily chatting on her cellphone throughout a marathon 15-hour train ride was forcibly removed by police following numerous passenger complaints. The woman was traveling on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, which runs between Los Angeles and Seattle, Washington, and was speaking loudly enough to annoy surrounding passengers, Amtrak spokesman Vernay Graham said. “I guess she got into some sort of confrontation with others passengers that were sitting around her,” said Graham, adding that the train had almost reached its destination when the conductor decided to call local police after the train pulled into the station at Salem, Oregon. “We consider them unruly passengers when we’ve asked them to stop doing some kind of behavior and they continue on,” Graham said.
Local hero to the rescue
“I revile injustice,” said Menganno (SuperSomebody), a local superhero who dons a blue mask, pads and shield in the hope people can change — for the better. Menganno really is a hero to the people he helps; he patrols the streets of Lanus, a town on the southern fringe of metro Buenos Aires, on a motorbike offering help to anyone in need. “I am a real superhero: flesh and bones. My goal is for all of us to be better people and to care more about each other. That is what I am fighting for,” he said in an interview. He does not seek glory, which is why he chose the name Menganno — the Spanish-language equivalent of “Tom, Dick and Harry.” He admits his wife and two sons know about his unusual pastime, and apparently are helping him keep his identity under wraps. On a typical day, he tools around on his bike assisting locals, delivers shoes to the needy and chatting with adoring kids.
Valentim is world’s oldest
Maria Gomes Valentim, a great-great grandmother, is the world’s oldest living person at the age of 114 and 313 days, Guinness World Records said on Wednesday. Valentim is the first Brazilian to hold the title after her claim was authenticated by the world records authority. Previous titleholder, Besse Cooper from Monroe, Georgia, is 48 days younger and is now the “Oldest Living North American.” Valentim was born in 1896, when Queen Victoria was still on the throne of England, in the town of Carangola, where she still lives. She was widowed in 1946 after a 33-year marriage and has five great-great grandchildren. According to the Guinness World Records Web site, she attributes her longevity to a healthy diet that includes a roll of bread every morning with coffee and fruit — and the occasional glass of wine.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against