Thursday, November 1 2018

Hey, don’t we need yet another Madiba statue?

India inaugurated the world’s tallest statue on Wednesday amid an outcry over the soaring cost of the 182m sculpture of independence hero Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. More than 5,000 armed police guarded the huge site in a remote corner of Gujarat state. Protesters have condemned the decision to spend 29.9 billion rupees ($400m) — much of it public funds — to build the statue over a nearly four-year period. The statue is more than twice the size of New York’s Statue of Liberty and also dwarfs the 128m high Spring Temple Buddha in China, the world’s next-biggest statue. It is made up of nearly 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel. India is also working on a giant statue of 17th-century warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji, riding a horse and brandishing a sword, which should dominate the Mumbai shoreline from 2021. The current design would make it 212m high. — AFP

Trade in your old Sinclair for one of these

Apple has unveiled a new version of its MacBook Air laptop, this time made of recycled aluminum and plastic, as well as a new Mac Mini and an iPad Pro, all pricier than their predecessors. Nearly 10 years after the launch of the first MacBook Air, the latest version of this PC is just 1.56cm thick, compared to 1.94cm. Last year Apple announced it would aim for a circular production system for its iPhones, which would allow for making new products with recycled materials. A report by Greenpeace last year called Apple among the best performers in the industry in terms of going easy on the environment. The MacBook Air will be available on November 7 in the US at a price of $1,199, which is $200 more than the simplest current version of the computer. The Mac Mini will go for $799, compared to $499 for the most affordable version today. — AFP

Wannabe necrophiliac cannibal bust in Texas

A Texan has been arrested after advertising online that he wanted to try necrophilia and cannibalism with a young girl. Alexander Barter, 21, was arrested after an undercover cop posing as a father willing to offer his daughter responded to the post on the dark web. The investigation began when a police officer noticed a bizarre ad on the internet. ‘I’d like to try necrophilia and cannibalism and see how it feels to take a life,’ Barter’s post read. The officer contacted Barter and made out that he was a man willing to make his underage daughter available to him. ‘I’m not into role playing. I want to actually rape, kill and cannibalise her,’ Barter warned as he accepted the man’s offer. The officer travelled to Texas to meet Barter, who put up no fight as he was arrested on October 19. — AFP

Italy’s weird land-for-babies scheme

Italy’s populist government plans to reward parents who have a third child by awarding them a piece of land in a bid to reverse the country’s plummeting birth rate. The plan, cooked up by the far-right League and included in the draft budget for next year, would see the state concede parcels of agricultural land for 20 years to parents who have a third child between 2019 and 2021. Italy has the lowest birthrate in Europe. Last year some 464,000 births were registered, a record low, leaving Italy with a significantly older population and a demographic time bomb. The land-for-children idea will be limited to married couples, rather than those in civil unions. Foreigners interested in the offer would need to have been resident in Italy for at least 10 years. — AFP

Thalidomide-type nightmares haunt France

France has launched a probe into incidents of babies being born with either missing or malformed arms after abnormal rates of birth defects have sparked a public health scare. Authorities reported an additional 11 cases in the Ain area near the Swiss border between 2000 and 2014 which had not previously been made public. A relatively small number of cases have been detected so far in total — about 25 over the past 15 years in the regions of Brittany, Loire-Atlantique and Ain. So far, no explanation has been found for the deformations despite tests on the mothers to see if they were exposed to common substances. Some have claimed pesticides or other chemicals could be to blame — the cases are clustered in rural areas. In the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of babies around the world were born with missing or stunted limbs linked to the use of the drug thalidomide, which was used to treat nausea in pregnant women. It was banned in the 1960s. — AFP

Grisly find in the Vatican could solve mystery

The family of a teenager who went missing in Italy in 1983 has called on the Vatican to provide more details on the discovery of human remains in one of its properties. The bones were uncovered on Monday by builders refurbishing a building owned by the Vatican in Rome, in a potential breakthrough for police investigating one of Italy’s darkest mysteries. Since the grisly find, speculation is that they could shed light on the fate of two teenagers who went missing in the 1980s. The remains were discovered in a building in the leafy grounds of the Holy See’s embassy to Italy. The property had been left to the Vatican in 1949 by a Jewish businessman who belonged to the Nazi party and later converted to Catholicism. Both girls were underage when they went missing separately in Rome in 1983. — AFP

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