Jun 18 2014
NEW YORK, June 18 (UPI) --Collecting stamps might not always seem that exciting but it can certainly be lucrative.
The "world's most famous stamp" sold at auction for $9.5 million on Tuesday in New York City, Sotheby's said. With the sale, the 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta has now broken stamp auction records four times.
"We are thrilled with the extraordinary, record-setting price of $9.5 million -- a truly great moment for the world of stamp collecting. That price will be hard to beat, and likely won't be exceeded unless the British Guiana comes up for sale again in the future," said Sotheby's vice chairman David Redden.
Bidding for the stamp began at $4.5 million and the winning bid was phoned in to the auction house. The stamp was expected to sell for between $10 million and $20 million.
The sale got attention from both the media and stamp enthusiasts.
"I don't think they'd get that coverage for a van Gogh," stamp dealer Frank Buono told the New York Times. "And by weight and volume and size, it's the most valuable item in the world. Diamonds might fetch more, but they weigh more."
Before being displayed this spring in advance of the auction, the rare stamp had been out of public view since 1986.
The stamp's previous owner was John E. du Pont, heir to chemical company fortune, who paid $935,000 for it in 1980. He was later convicted of killing a wrestler, and was referred to by prosecutors as "the wealthiest murder defendant in the history of the United States."
"I'm a little sad to see it go -- when I was eight years old this was the most precious object in the entire world, and I never dreamed ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
BARNSTABLE, Mass. – School officials say a Barnstable elementary school teacher has been placed on administrative leave, and family members of a student say it's because the teacher bullied special needs students.
The Cape Cod Times reports that police and the state Department of Children and Families are investigating the alleged bullying at Centerville Elementary School.
Barnstable Public Schools Superintendent Mary Czajkowski confirmed that a teacher has been placed on leave but did not say why and did not provide the teacher's name.
The grandmother of a 5-year-old boy with autism who was allegedly bullied says the family was told by DCF that the bullying involved derogatory language and rough handling.
Police say they are investigating to determine whether a crime occurred.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – At least 60 people survived when a wooden boat carrying 97 Indonesians capsized and sank early Wednesday after leaving Malaysia's west coast, but 32 others are still missing and five bodies have been recovered, Malaysia's maritime agency said.
The boat sank shortly after midnight about 2 nautical miles from shore on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur while trying to leave Malaysia illegally for Aceh province in Indonesia, said agency official Mohamad Hambali Yaakup.
He said survivors included 12 women and a child. Those dead were a woman and four men, he added.
The Indonesians, suspected to be illegal immigrants, were believed to be heading home ahead of the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
They were being questioned by police and immigration authorities, and Indonesian embassy officials were also on the scene.
A ship, eight boats and a helicopter were searching for further survivors. Police Superintendent Azman Abdul Razak said 100 personnel were involved in the rescue effort.
Mohamad Hambali said authorities are still investigating why the boat sank but rough sea and an overloaded boat could have been factors. Some survivors also claimed the boat was leaking, he said.
Tens of thousands of Indonesians work illegally in plantations and other industries in Malaysia. They often risk dangerous journeys in poorly equipped boats to return home.
The area the boat sank is in the Strait of Malacca directly across from Indonesia.
A Minnesota high school student has filed a lawsuit against his school district and his hometown's police chief, claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was suspended over a message he posted on Twitter.
Reid Sagehorn was suspended by the Elk River School District after he responded to an anonymous tweet claiming he had kissed a young gym teacher at Rogers High School. Thinking it was a joke, Sagehorn said he sarcastically replied, "Actually yes." A parent who saw the tweet reported the matter to authorities.
The case was investigated by local police for possible criminal defamation charges; however, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office declined to press charges due to insufficient evidence. Authorities also confirmed there was never an inappropriate relationship between the two.
While prosecutors dropped the case, the lawsuit says the school district suspended Sagehorn for five days for violating school policy against "threatening, intimidating or assault of a teacher, administrator or other staff member." The suit claims that the district extended the suspension to ten days and moved toward expelling Sagehorn, forcing him to enroll in a different high school just four months before graduation.
His suspension sparked student protests and emotional comments from concerned parents at school board meetings, and it even inspired a social media campaign to bring him back to Rogers High School, located in a suburb approximately 25 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
Now, the controversy has hit the courtroom.
"Students have a right to free speech," attorney Steven Aggergaard, who is not connected to the case, told Fox 9 News. "Even more outside the school site and grounds."
But even though the speech in question occurred in the online realm, Aggergaard says the school still may have been justified because educators ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Jun 16 2014
A professional singer said on Monday she sang through a throat surgery carried out under hypnosis in France to ensure that doctors did not harm her vocal cords.
Singer Alama Kante, 31, who is from Guinea and specializes in traditional African songs, revealed the operation more than two months after it took place in April, saying she was now fully healed.
"I remember (during surgery) this voice singing all the time, my voice going around in my head because I said to myself it is out of the question that I lose my voice," Kante, who lives in France and is the niece of Guinean singer Mory Kante, told Reuters.
The procedure to remove her thyroid gland - whose cells had become enlarged and thus a cancer risk - was unorthodox. The operation is usually conducted under anaesthetic, with a tube inserted down the throat.
Recognizing that any damage to vocal cords and important nerves by the tube, and during the tumor extraction itself could truncate Kante's singing range, Dr. Gilles Dhonneur opted for medical hypnosis to allow the patient to remain awake and able to respond during the procedure.
Dhonneur, head of anaesthesiology at the Henri-Mondor de Cretail Hospital outside Paris, has been perfecting the technique of medical hypnosis for two years.
"The pain of such an operation is unbearable if you're conscious," Dhonneur told Le Parisian daily. "Only medical hypnosis would allow someone to tolerate such an ordeal."
Kante remembers the hypnotist telling her that the pain she felt was that of childbirth, and remembers the song lyrics she sang to help control it: "Fight, never give up..."
"There was a moment where I really felt pain ... and it passed, the pain passed and afterwards it was normal, as ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
DETROIT, June 16 (UPI) --A Detroit man who was shot in the face while waiting for a bus early Monday morning walked home so his wife could take him to the hospital.
The unidentified victim is in critical condition at St. John Hospital after being shot at a bus stop at Morang and Harper.
"The victim was standing at the bus stop when an individual walked up and just shot him in the face," Officer Adam Madera told the Detroit News. "According to the victim, he didn't know the shooter and no words were exchanged."
Due to the victim's condition, police have not been able to interview the 44-year-old or get a description of the suspect.
"Unfortunately, we don't have a description. There's not a whole lot that we have to go on right now," Madera told the Detroit Free Press.
Police are investigating this incident and are hoping to find a motive or suspect.
JACKSON, Miss. – KFC Corp. says it's investigating allegations that a restaurant employee in Jackson, Mississippi, asked a 3-year-old to leave because her facial injuries disturbed other patrons. The company is also giving $30,000 toward Victoria Wilcher's medical bills, a spokesman said Sunday.
The allegation about KFC was made Thursday on "Victoria's Victories," a Facebook page following Victoria Wilcher's recovery from a pit bull attack in April. The administrator posted a photo showing Victoria smiling shyly in spite of her facial scars and cartoon-decorated eye patch, and wrote, "Does this look scary to you? Last week at KFC in Jackson MS this precious face was asked to leave because her face scared the other diners."
KFC posted an apology the next morning, requesting details.
"As soon as we were notified of this report on Friday, we immediately began an investigation, as this kind of hurtful and disrespectful action would not be tolerated by KFC," spokesman Rick Maynard wrote Sunday in an email to The Associated Press. "Regardless of the outcome of our investigation, we have apologized to Victoria's family and are committed to assisting them. The company is making a $30,000 donation to assist with her medical bills. The entire KFC family is behind Victoria."
Her grandmother Kelly Mullins said Victoria had just been to a doctor's when they stopped at the restaurant. She ordered mashed potatoes for Victoria because she thought the hungry child could swallow the soft food without chewing.
She says she was then approached by an employee. "They just told us, they said, 'We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers,'" she told WAPT-TV.
Victoria wept all the way home and now is embarrassed by her appearance — something that wasn't the case ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Jun 14 2014
A fireman has been sacked China after going for a drunken joy ride in a brand new £500,000 fire engine - and wrecking it.
Sozzled Chen Huangxin, 32, got behind the wheel of the state-of-the-art machine after a night of heavy boozing in Yunlin county in south-eastern China.
He ended up crashing the vehicle and causing extensive damage. When he was pulled from the wreckage he was found to be three times over the drink-drive limit and said: "I am sorry. I just wanted to see green fields and trees."
In his one man destruction derby, Chen managed to smash into a lorry, knock down a pole carrying overhead electrical wires, hit several parked cars and then overturn the vehicle, smashing in the cab and injuring himself in the process.
The Finnish-made fire engine is now out of service until parts can be shipped from Europe.
A spokesman for the fire service where Chen was employed said: "It is hard to think of anything worse he could have done. This engine was our pride and joy, the best in our fleet. And he managed to almost destroy it. He will never work again for us."
Chen is facing a plethora of charges that could see him jailed for up to two years.
After his monster hangover left him he told local media: "I don't know what got into me. Normally I would never want to go driving when I have had so much to drink. But the urge was upon me and I couldn't stop myself.
"I realised I have brought disgrace upon me and the service I loved. I am truly sorry."
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Washington teenager was on the phone with her mother as she hiked alone on a mountain in Alaska, saying she was nervous about the slippery terrain before her mother heard a scream, and then silence. The 18-year-old had fallen 30 feet from a cliff.
The mother, Shelly LaGrou, said Tuesday that she waited, roughly 1,500 miles away in Omak, Washington, to hear her daughter's voice again.
"I'm still living it," she told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Daughter Cherelle LaGrou, who is working in Alaska this summer, came back on the phone after a while, saying she had slipped down the slope and couldn't climb back up. She was hysterical and crying, telling her mother she wasn't ready to die.
Shelly LaGrou tried to keep her daughter calm Sunday while her husband frantically called the teen's employer, Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, which alerted Alaska State Troopers. That call set in motion a dramatic 45-minute rescue near Denali National Park that was captured by the National Geographic Channel reality show "Alaska State Troopers." It's expected to air this fall.
The teen said that before her rescue, she believed she was staring death in the face and thought about everything she would miss in her life.
Instead, she sustained only minor scratches.
"It feels like it was something out of a movie," she said, laughing when reminded that in a way, it was. "It was all just so unreal that it was actually happening."
Shelly and Cherelle LaGrou were talking for about 15 minutes before the teen fell from a ridge atop Fox Creek. The mother suggested Cherelle switch the phone to the hands-free option, which she did.
She told her mother she had reached the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
A father is blasting his young son's school after a cafeteria worker at Kent, Washington's Mill Creek Middle School threw away the kid's lunch because he was 26 cents short.
"He gets up to the front and they say there's not enough in his account, so they take his food, and in front of him, throw it away," Jimmie Keys, the boy's father, told Komo News.
Keys's son told him this had happened twice in the past week, prompting his irate dad to confront school administrators. Lunches at the school cost 40 cents, and are paid for using a meal account system similar to a debit card. Parents are supposed to be alerted when meal funds are running low, but Keys said he was never notified.
"My first instinct was to get a huge jar of pennies, and get it ready," Keys said. "I was going to take it down to the school and throw it on 'em."
He didn't do that, but school district spokesperson Chris Loftis was quick to describe the incident as a terrible mistake. He also said that cafeteria workers, far from throwing out a child's food, are actually required to give students a free yogurt or cereal when they're short on funds.
"I just have to say sorry to this student, sorry to the parents," he said. "We made a mistake, we need to fix it, we're sorry."
Apparently, this is tied into the school's end-of-year effort to encourage parents to pay outstanding debts on meal accounts; the cafeteria worker, Loftis said, simply took the dictum too far. He added that in the future, parents will be given more time to add funds to their kids' meal accounts.
"We forgot the humanity of it," Loftis said. "We've learned ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)