‘Spa’ clients take a licking
Dodgy “spas” are dispensing with massage oil in favor of cream cheese in a kinky new offering in the erotic massage industry, a report said. Sunday’s edition of Malay-language tabloid the Harian Metro said its reporters discovered that some spas near Kuala Lumpur were offering customers the option of being smeared with cream cheese. The cheese is then licked from the customer’s body by their scantily-clad “masseuse,” likely a sex worker from China, Indonesia or Vietnam, the paper said. In a follow-up report yesterday, Harian Metro quoted an official in Kuala Lumpur suburb Subang Jaya as saying massage parlors would face stern action if found to be offering “irresponsible activities.” “This activity is a serious disease in today’s society,” Subang Jaya Town Council official Azfarizal Abdul Rashid said.
School demolished for resort
A rural elementary school built using charity money has been torn down to make way for a sprawling, US$1.6 billion “international resort,” local media reported yetserday, provoking outrage online. The school, which mainly served children from farming families in Yanling County, Hunan Province, was torn down less than two years after it was built, the Beijing Youth Daily reported. The 900,000 yuan (US$150,000) cost of construction had been funded by Project Hope, a charity group that promotes educational projects in poverty-stricken parts of the country. It had 28 students who are now studying in prefabricated buildings within sight of the rubble of their former classrooms, the newspaper said. The Daily quoted county officials as saying the site will soon be home to the Shennong Valley International Cultural Tourism Resort, a project with an estimated price tag of 10 billion yuan. According to previous state media reports, the “high-end cultural tourism” project includes health and fitness facilities, a museum and an “original ecological hotel.”
Sites hacked over spying
Activist group Anonymous Indonesia yesterday claimed it had defaced more than 170 local Web sites to protest reports that Canberra’s overseas diplomatic posts were involved in a vast US-led surveillance network that targeted Jakarta in 2007. “Hundreds of Australian Websites Attacked for #OpAustralia By Indonesian Hackers,” it posted on Twitter, listing the sites, which appeared to belong mostly to small businesses. Calling up the pages was met with the message: “Stop Spying on Indonesia” underneath an Indonesian flag imprinted with a black graphic of the face of Guy Fawkes, whose image is used as a mask by Anonymous internationally. The sites were seemingly selected at random, covering businesses from catering to dry cleaning.
Court adjourns Morsi trial
A court yesterday adjourned to Jan. 8 the trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi over his alleged involvement in the death of protesters during his year in power. Morsi, in his first public appearance since the army deposed him in July, rejected the proceedings and told the court: “I am Dr Mohamed Morsi, the president of the republic... This court is illegal,” a foreign correspondent attending the trial reported. He slammed his overthrow and called on military leaders to face trial. “This was a military coup. The leaders of the coup should be tried. A coup is treason and a crime,” he said. Morsi and 14 others are charged with inciting the deaths of protesters in December last year. They face execution or life sentences.
Art looted by Nazis found
Nearly 1,500 priceless paintings, including works by Picasso and Matisse, that were stolen by the Nazis have been discovered in an apartment in Munich, a news report said on Sunday. Local weekly Focus said police came upon the paintings during a 2011 search in an apartment belonging to the octogenarian son of art collector Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had bought them during the 1930s and 1940s. The search was carried out because the son, Cornelius Gurlitt, was under suspicion for tax evasion, Focus said. The report said the works were thought to be worth about 1 billion euros (US$1.3 billion) on today’s market. The paintings lay hidden in Gurlitt’s apartment for more than half a century, the paper said. Gurlitt, a recluse without a job, had sold a few over the course of the years, living off the proceeds, the paper reported. His father, despite having a Jewish grandmother, had become indispensable to officials in the Third Reich because of his art expertise and his vast network of contacts. Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, put Gurlitt in charge of exporting the art, which the Nazi party considered “degenerate.” The collection also included many of the great masters of the 20th century, among them the German painters Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Max Beckmann and Max Liebermann.
Thirteen killed in gunfights
Thirteen people were killed in shootouts on Sunday around Matamoros, in one of the worst recent outbreaks of violence in an area ravaged by drug gangs. Three gunfights took place around the city opposite Brownsville, Texas, two of which were exchanges between gunmen and the armed forces, according to a statement from the Tamaulipas State Government. Eight men died in the fighting with marines after four men and one woman were killed in an earlier clash between unidentified armed groups, the state government said. None of the dead have yet been identified.
‘Zombies’ rob jewelry store
Authorities say armed thieves dressed as zombies and other scary Halloween characters robbed a jewelry store in Mexico City. City police say the robbers barged into the store on Saturday night with handguns and rifles and rounded up the employees. The thieves carried hammers they used to smash showcases and made off with chains, rings and bracelets with a total estimated value of more than 1 million pesos (US$76,500). Police say unarmed private security guards at the shopping center in Mexico City’s central district arrived, but the robbers threatened them with their weapons and fled.
Bust nets 1,450kg cocaine
US and local anti-drug agents cooperated in a massive bust in the southern Caribbean that led to the confiscation of 1,450kg of cocaine, authorities said on Sunday. Police said they tipped off their US counterparts that a “go-fast” boat suspected of carrying the drugs, allegedly belonging to Los Urabenos gang, had departed from the town of Manaure in Guajira. “After we shared the info with the US DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], they alerted the US Navy, which intercepted the [Colombian] boat in international waters,” they said in a statement. The boat had been bound for the Dominican Republic and was carrying 1,450kg of cocaine, the statement said. So far, four Venezuelans and a Colombian have been detained in the case. The five suspects were transferred to Tampa, Florida, where they are expected to be charged.
Australian scientists have raised questions over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in establishing herd immunity, calling for a pause on its widespread rollout as the country recorded one new case of the virus yesterday. Opposition to the vaccine casts a cloud over Australia’s immunization plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on hand. “The question is really whether it is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don’t know how long that will take,” Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology president Stephen Turner said. Turner added
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client