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WELLINGTON: A needle has been found in a strawberry in New Zealand, police said Monday (Nov 26), the second incident to hit the country two months after a contamination crisis erupted in Australia.
The needle was found in a punnet sold in the small South Island town of Geraldine over the weekend, a New Zealand police spokesman said.
The supermarket owner Garry Sheed said he had since taken all strawberries off the shelves but would not comment on whether the punnet was from Australia or New Zealand.
This is the second such incident in New Zealand since the scare was sparked in September, when more than 200 reported incidents of needles hidden in strawberries were reported in Australia.
Some of those cases were found to be hoaxes or false complaints.
A 50-year-old woman who worked at one of the strawberry farms where the tampered produce was grown has since been arrested in Queensland and charged with contaminating goods.
The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the person who found the needle in Geraldine was not harmed.
"The matter has been referred to the police who are leading the criminal investigation," a ministry spokesman told reporters.
"At this stage, MPI does not have any reason to believe this is more widespread than the single discovery. However, as a precautionary measure the store has removed strawberries from shelves."
SINGAPORE - She and her family had travelled to Shanghai, excited for her opportunity to walk the runway for an international fashion house, representing Singapore for the first time.
Local socialite Chloe Ng, however, was left disappointed when the show at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre was cancelled at the last minute.
International fashion house Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) called off its Nov 21 fashion show, said to be the brand's biggest show in its 33-year history, amid a row over alleged racist remarks by one of the designers, Mr Stefano Gabbana.
Celebrities and brands from China have also declared a boycott of D&G, including actress Zhang Ziyi and Chinese e-commerce firm Yangmatou.
The controversy was sparked by videos posted by the brand on Instagram, first posted on Nov 17, depicting a Chinese model in a red D&G dress struggling to eat Italian food such as pizza and cannoli with chopsticks.
The narrator asks: "Is it too big for you?"
The campaign, to publicise the fashion show, was deemed racist and insensitive by many on social media. The matter was compounded by subsequent racist comments allegedly made by Mr Gabbana via Instagram messages to netizens.
Dolce & Gabbana is cancelling its Shanghai show after the company came under fire over racially offensive posts on its social media accounts.
Among other things, the designer allegedly called the Chinese, "China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia".
D&G later said in an apology posted in Chinese on Weibo that Gabbana's Instagram account had been hacked.
"We are sorry for the impact and harm these untrue remarks have had on China and the Chinese people," it said.
Ms Ng, 22, told The New Paper from Shanghai on Thursday (Nov 22) that while she thought the campaign videos themselves could have been an honest mistake, she was shocked by Mr Gabbana's alleged comments.
She said: "That was really racist. It makes its Chinese customers feel like the brand just wants their money and this is what it really thinks of the Chinese."
According to Icon magazine, Ms Ng would have been the first guest to represent Singapore at a D&G show.
It reported that the show was cancelled at about 3.30pm, six hours before the start.
Ms Ng said: "It is such a pity, it would have been a great opportunity for many of us, who have never had our countries represented, to represent our countries at such a large show."
She said the fashion house's other designer, Mr Domenico Dolce, had been dedicated to the show, taking time to work with every person walking the show.
She said: "It is such a pity to see all their hard work wasted just because of some stupid comments made (by Mr Gabbana). The irony is that the show was meant to be a tribute to China."
Ms Ng said the cancellation happened quickly, and some were not even told of it.
"People just started leaving, and a lot of them (people who were supposed to walk the show) just started leaving," she said.
"...There was no point in continuing with the show."
A counterfeit condom syndicate in China was busted by authorities recently following an investigation. The condoms, which were distributed to hotels, supermarkets and vending machine operators, were found to be using the names of major international and local condom brands such as Durex, Jissbon and SixSex
The 500,000 boxes of fake condoms amounting to 50 million yuan (over $7 million) were confiscated by the authorities. As per Zhejiang television via South China Morning Post on Nov. 20, 17 suspects are under criminal detention across the provinces of Hebei, Henan and Zhejiang on the suspicion of manufacturing and selling the said condoms.
As per the authorities, the counterfeit condoms were manufactured in Henan and Hubei. Such condoms pose a threat to public health, since they were made under substandard conditions.
"We found the workshops where the suspects made those condoms in rural areas in Henan and Hebei," Zheng Xidan of Cangnan police was quoted as saying. "They were very simple and crude."
Zheng added that the hygienic conditions where the condoms were manufactured were "very bad." He said, "We saw the condoms they were making - they blended the condoms with silicone oil in a bucket. It was totally below official manufacturing standards."
The condoms, as per the report, were sold with a wholesale price of one yuan. Real versions of the brands would cost around the ballpark figure of 20 to 150 yuan per pack. Condoms, as known, are some of the most counterfeited products in China, as well as international fashion brands.
Authorities first became suspicious after discovering a local man who sold the said condoms. The police conducted an investigation on the man's business partners before eventually raiding them last August.
PORT BLAIR, India - An American missionary killed in a hail of arrows by an island tribe untouched by modern civilisation was bent on converting them to Christianity, it emerged Thursday.
John Allen Chau, 27, was attacked last week as he illegally set foot on the remote North Sentinel Island in the Indian Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
He was crying: "My name is John. I love you and Jesus loves you... Here is some fish!" A statement attributed to his family posted on his purported Instagram account said that Chau "had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people. We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death." Chau had paddled his kayak towards the shore carrying fish and a football as gifts, according to a journal quoted by different media.
Tribespeople fired arrows at him, one of then piercing his Bible, and he returned to a fishermen's boat and spent the night writing about his experiences before going back to the island the next day.
He never returned.
North Sentinel, which is around the same size of Manhattan Island in New York, is home to the hunter-gatherer Sentinelese people, believed to number only around 150.
To protect their way of life - the few photos that exist show them all but naked carrying spears, bows and arrows - foreigners and Indians are banned from going within five kilometres (three miles) of the island.
The tribe is seen as hostile to outsiders, having reportedly killed two fishermen whose boat drifted onto the island in 2006, and to have fired arrows at a helicopter checking for damage after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Chau called himself an "outbound collective explorer" and "snakebite survivor" on his purported Instagram account.
Indian authorities say that Chau paid local fishermen to take him to near the island so that he could paddle the rest of the way himself.
"You guys might think I'm crazy in all this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people," the reports quoted a letter to his parents as saying.
"Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed," he said.
"I can't wait to see them around the throne of God worshipping in their own language as Revelations 7:9-10 states," he wrote, referring to the apocalyptic final book of the Bible's New Testament.
"God, I don't want to die."
Fishermen saw the tribe burying his body on the beach the following day, a fellow missionary wrote in an email to his mother, the Washington Post reported.
Indian police have consulted field experts including anthropologists and tribal welfare and forest officers to help them try and retrieve Chau's body.
"We have to take care that we must not disturb them or their habitat by any means. It is a highly sensitive zone and it will take some time," Dependra Pathak, local chief of police, told AFP.
He said that a helicopter and then a ship were sent to the area to identify where the incident took place, and that they were holding talks with experts on how best to handle the delicate situation.
"We maintained a distance from the island and have not yet been able to spot the body. It may take some more days and... (reconnaissance) of the area," Pathak said.
Since the Indian authorities keep away from the island, it was unclear whether Chau's killing will have legal repercussions.
Indian police said a murder case had been registered against "unknown" tribespeople and that the fishermen who allegedly helped Chau get to the island were arrested.
London-based Survival International, which defends tribal rights, said that the "tragedy" of the American's death "should never have been allowed to happen".
"The Indian authorities should have been enforcing the protection of the Sentinelese and their island for the safety of both the tribe and outsiders," it said.
WASHINGTON: A couple from Louisiana have more than a million reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving after discovering a long lost jackpot-winning lottery ticket with only two weeks left to claim it.
Harold and Tina Ehrenberg found the US$1.8 million winning ticket, which won the southern US state's Jun 6 Lottery Lotto draw, while doing some holiday cleaning.
"We have family coming into town for Thanksgiving, so I was cleaning up the house and found a few lottery tickets on my nightstand that we hadn't checked," Tina said, according to a statement by Louisiana Lottery.
The couple checked the Lottery's website and soon found one of the tickets matched all of the numbers listed, and were able to claim their prize with just two weeks remaining of the 180-day limit.
After state and federal taxes, the Ehrenbergs take home US$1,274,313, which they plan to put away for their retirement.
"We don't have any plans to buy anything crazy or go on any big trips," Tina said.
A single winner in the South Carolina town of Simpsonville took home a massive US$1.5 billion in the Mega Millions US lottery jackpot last month, dwarfing a previous record set in March 2012 at US$656 million.
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania: US immigration officials were preparing on Tuesday (Nov 20) to deport a Taiwanese exchange student who pleaded guilty to charges of threatening to shoot up the Catholic high school he attended in suburban Philadelphia.
An-Tso “Edward” Sun, 18, is being held in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. He is awaiting deportation to his native Taiwan, where his parents are prominent entertainers. He is permanently barred from re-entry.
“Armed with over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, he threatened a mass shooting,” Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M Copeland said in a statement. “We believe he would have carried out if not stopped.”
US District Judge Nitza Quinones Alejandro sentenced Sun on Monday to time served, approximately five months, and ordered his immediate deportation, which could take four to six weeks, according to the student's lawyer.
The attorney, Robert Keller, said on Tuesday that he was satisfied with the sentence.
“This was a young man who made a mistake," he said.
Sun earlier pleaded guilty to violating a federal law that bars aliens from purchasing ammunition. In June, he also pleaded guilty to a state charge, making terroristic threats.
According to court records, Sun in March told a fellow student at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Upper Darby to stay away from school on May 1 because he was going to shoot up the school. Then he added, “just kidding", according to official documents.
Just five weeks earlier 17 people had been killed in a school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and the friend immediately reported the incident to school officials, who notified police and Sun’s host mother.
She immediately hired a lawyer for Sun, according to court documents, then went home and removed from his bedroom a 9mm semi-automatic he had assembled from parts ordered online, and 1,587 rounds of ammunition, also purchased online. She gave the bag to the lawyer.
Police raided the home the same day and confiscated 20 more bullets, a suit of body armour, a crossbow, seven arrows, and four extended magazines for an AR-15 rifle and Glock pistol. Police found evidence on his iPad that he had researched how to buy an AR-15 online.
Sun had gone several times to a suburban Philadelphia gun range to practise shooting, according to court records.
His parents, actor and producer Peng Sun and actress and opera singer Ying Di, appeared together this year in a Taiwanese gangster movie, Gatao 2: Rise of the King, according to Internet Movie Database.
NEW YORK: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was a ruthless killer who ordered the murder of a man who had refused to shake his hand at a meeting, a prosecution witness told jurors at Guzman's US trial on Monday (Nov 19).
Jesus Zambada, the brother of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada who was Guzman's alleged partner in running the Sinaloa Cartel, gave his most dramatic testimony after three days on the witness stand as he described Guzman's involvement in a series of murders.
In a cross-examination, one of Guzman's defence lawyers launched an attack on Zambada's credibility, highlighting inconsistencies between his testimony and his original statements to US prosecutors.
Guzman, 61, was extradited to the United States in January 2017 and is accused of directing massive shipments of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana. He is on trial in Brooklyn federal court, charged with 17 criminal counts, and faces life in prison if convicted.
Guzman had ordered Rodolfo Carrillo, a member of the rival Juarez Cartel and brother of its leader, killed after he declined to shake Guzman's hand at a meeting, Zambada said. The 2004 killing, according to Zambada, fuelled a war between the cartels.
Zambada said another target was a corrupt police official, identified only as Rafita, who worked for rival drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva. Zambada said assassins working for El Mayo and Guzman killed Rafita after luring him out of his house by pretending they had hit his young son with a car.
"The boy didn't even realise that anything happened," Zambada said. "He just kept going on to school."
Zambada admitted under cross-examination by lawyer William Purpura that aspects of his account may have changed. However, he maintained that his court testimony was true.
Among examples of Guzman's deeds, Zambada had told jurors that Guzman was among the investors in a 20-ton cocaine shipment intercepted by the US Coast Guard as it was leaving Panama in 2006. Confronted by Purpura, Zambada conceded that he may not have mentioned Guzman as an investor in earlier statements he made to US authorities.
Zambada had also testified that he helped arrange for a helicopter to save Guzman from recapture following his 2001 escape from a Mexican prison. Under cross-examination, he admitted that he might not have mentioned the helicopter when he first described the escape to authorities, though he insisted the story was true.
Zambada was arrested in 2008 and extradited to the United States in 2012.
Guzman was one of the world's most wanted fugitives until he was captured in January 2016 in his native Sinaloa, after twice escaping prison. His trial is proceeding under heavy security.
THE HAGUE: A writer who thought she had found a masterpiece by Pablo Picasso stolen in an infamous art heist six years ago said Sunday (Nov 18) she was the victim of a "publicity stunt", the NOS Dutch public newscaster reported.
Picasso's "Harlequin Head" was one of seven celebrated paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 2012 during a daring robbery local media dubbed "the theft of the century".
The artworks have not been seen since.
Around 10 days ago, Mira Feticu, a Dutch writer of Romanian origin who wrote a novel based on the heist, was sent an anonymous letter.
"I received a letter in Romanian with instructions regarding the place where the painting was hidden," she said.
The instructions led her to a forest in eastern Romania where she dug up an artwork.
Romanian authorities, who received the canvas on Saturday night, said that it "might be" Picasso's painting, which is estimated to be worth €800,000 (US$915,000). Experts were checking whether it was authentic.
However on Sunday night Feticu told NOS that she was the victim of a performance by two Belgian directors in Antwerp.
Feticu said she received an email from the Belgian duo explaining that the letter was part of a project called "True Copy" dedicated to the notorious Dutch forger Geert Jan Jansen, whose fakes flooded the art collections of Europe and beyond until he was caught in 1994.
"Part of this performance was prepared in silence in the course of the past few months, with a view to bringing back Picasso's 'Tete d'Arlequin'," the directors wrote on their website.
Their production company "currently wishes to abstain from any comment" because it first wants to speak Fetuci, the statement said.
"We will be back with more details on this issue within the next few days."
WASHINGTON: Mira Ricardel, the White House deputy national security adviser, was forced out of her job on Wednesday (Nov 14) after President Donald Trump's wife, Melania, said Ricardel did not deserve the honour of working for her husband.
Ricardel "will continue to support the president as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. Sanders did not elaborate on what Ricardel's new job would be.
Trump, after congressional elections last week in which his Republican Party saw its power eroded, is also preparing to oust Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as part of a post-election Cabinet shakeup, several U.S. officials said.
Ricardel is a former Commerce Department official hand-picked by Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, to serve as his deputy.
She ran afoul of Melania Trump and her staff in negotiations over the first lady's trip to Africa in October and the use of government resources for the trip, a senior administration official said.
Ricardel has also built a reputation in the White House for berating staff, several sources said.
Melania Trump’s office took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement on Tuesday saying that Ricardel should be ousted. While first ladies historically have been known to pressure their husbands over official business, they do not typically issue statements about it.
“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, had said.
Bolton had fought behind the scenes to keep Ricardel from being forced out but ultimately lost the battle, two officials said.
PARADISE: The remains of six more victims were found on Tuesday (Nov 13) in and around a northern California town overrun by flames last week, raising the death toll to 48 in a wildfire disaster already ranked as California's most lethal and destructive in state history.
The latest tally of casualties from the Camp Fire was announced by Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea as forensic teams with cadaver dogs combed through a ghostly landscape strewn with ash and charred debris in Paradise, California, in the Sierra foothills about 280km north of San Francisco.
The intensified effort to locate victims came on the sixth day of a blaze that incinerated more than 7,000 homes and other buildings, including most of Paradise, a town once home to 27,000 people.
Honea had previously said that 228 people were listed as missing, and his office also was working to determine the fate of nearly 1,300 individuals whose loved ones had requested "well-being checks" on their behalf.
Thousands of firefighters battled blazes in northern and southern California as body recovery teams searched the remains of houses and charred cars for victims of the deadliest wildfires in the history of the US state.
Paradise, which is home to many retirees and has experienced an unusually dry fall, was virtually razed to the ground by the fast-moving Camp Fire blaze.
Residents have recounted harrowing tales of fleeing the fires on foot with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Others escaped by driving through tunnels of smoke and fire as flames licked at their vehicles on gridlocked roads dotted with abandoned cars.
Melissa Schuster, a member of the Paradise town council, told reporters that the entire town "is a toxic wasteland right now."
"We have teams - you know, coroner teams - that have to go house to house and vehicle to vehicle," Schuster told reporters. "There are 6,400 homes that were burnt.
"That's a lot of homes they have to go through to ensure that there are no human remains there, not to mention the hundreds of vehicles that are burned out and just strewn all over the roads," she said.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS FLEE
The Camp Fire, which erupted on Thursday, has ravaged 50,585 hectares of land and is 30 per cent contained, according to Cal Fire.
Firefighters hoped to make progress against the flames on Tuesday although no rainfall is forecast for the next few days.
Butte County has seen less than an inch of rainfall in more than 30 weeks.
The Camp Fire has destroyed more than 6,500 homes and 260 commercial properties. Battling the blaze are 5,100 firefighters, some from Washington state and Texas, backed by more than 600 fire engines and 21 helicopters, Cal Fire said.
The Woolsey Fire, which also began on Thursday, has razed 38,976 hectares and has been 35 per cent contained.
Cal Fire said 3,592 firefighters were battling the Woolsey Fire assisted by 22 helicopters.
"We're starting to get a handle on this fire," said Captain Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department in an online briefing. "I'm not feeling nearly the amount of wind and it's a little bit cooler this morning."
The Woolsey Fire has destroyed 435 structures including the 100-year-old Paramount Ranch where HBO's "Westworld" and other popular television shows and movies were filmed.
The fires have forced a quarter of a million people to flee their homes and seven evacuation shelters have been set up in Butte County, three of which are already full, according to the authorities.
On Monday, President Donald Trump - at the request of state authorities - declared that a "major disaster" exists in California.
The declaration provides for federal assistance to aid state firefighting and recovery efforts in the counties of Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles.
Trump had earlier earned the ire of state officials with a claim that "gross mismanagement" of forestry in the state was responsible for the damage.
California Governor Jerry Brown said he expects the fires could be worse in the years to come.
"Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that the dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they're going to intensify," Brown said.
The Woolsey Fire on the southern end of the state has devoured mansions and mobile homes alike in the coastal town of Malibu.
Over the weekend, the Woolsey Fire engulfed parts of Thousand Oaks, where a Marine Corps veteran shot dead 12 people in a country music bar on Wednesday.
Among those who lost their homes was the pop star Miley Cyrus, who tweeted that her "house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong."