Pink Star diamond fetches record $83m at auction

A diamond known as the Pink Star has sold for $83m (£52m) at auction in Geneva — a record price for a gemstone.

The diamond measures 2.69cm by 2.06cm and is set on a ring.

The Pink Star was sold to Isaac Wolf, a well known New York diamond cutter who has renamed it the Pink Dream.

The winning bid surpasses the $46.2m paid for the Graff Pink diamond three years ago, which was half the size of the Pink Star.

The $83m includes Sotheby’s commission — via

Politics, Rights, World

The Impossible Refugee Boat Lift to Christmas Island

I first heard about the passage from Indonesia to Australia in Afghanistan, where I live and where one litmus test for the success of the US-led war now drawing to a close is the current exodus of civilians from the country. (The first boat people to seek asylum in Australia were Vietnamese, in the mid-1970s, driven to the ocean by the fallout from that American withdrawal.) Last year, nearly 37,000 Afghans applied for asylum abroad, the most since 2001. Afghans who can afford to will pay as much as $24,000 for European travel documents and up to $40,000 for Canadian. (Visas to the United States, generally, cannot be bought.) Others employ smugglers for arduous overland treks from Iran to Turkey to Greece, or from Russia to Belarus to Poland.

The Indonesia-Australia route first became popular in Afghanistan before 11 September, mostly among Hazaras, a predominantly Shiite ethnic minority that was systematically brutalized by the Taliban. After the Taliban were overthrown, many refugees, anticipating an enduring peace, returned to Afghanistan, and for a while the number of Afghans willing to risk their lives at sea declined. But by late 2009 — with Afghans, disabused of their optimism, fleeing once more — migration to Australia escalated. At the same time, Hazaras living across the border in Pakistan, many of whom moved there from Afghanistan, have also found relocation necessary. In a sectarian crusade of murder and terror being waged against them by Sunni extremists, Hazara civilians in the Pakistani city of Quetta are shot in the streets, executed en masse and indiscriminately massacred by rockets and bombs.

I wondered whether anyone else shared my deluded hope: that there was another, larger ship anchored somewhere farther out, and that this sad boat was merely to convey us there.

In 2010, a suicide attacker killed more than 70 people at a Shiite rally in Quetta. Looming directly above the carnage was a large billboard paid for by the Australian government. In Dari, next to an image of a distressed Indonesian fishing boat carrying Hazara asylum seekers, read the words: All illegal routes to Australia are closed to Afghans. The billboard was part of a wide-ranging effort by Australia to discourage refugees from trying to get to Christmas Island. In Afghanistan, a recent Australian-funded TV ad featured a Hazara actor rubbing his eyes before a black background. Please don’t go, the man gloomily implores over melancholic music. Many years of my life were wasted there [in detention] until my application for asylum was rejected. In addition to the messaging campaign (and the hard-line policies it alludes to), Australia has worked to disrupt smuggling networks by collaborating with Pakistan’s notorious intelligence services, embedding undercover agents in Indonesia and offering up to $180,000 for information resulting in a smuggler’s arrest. The most drastic deterrence measure was introduced this July, when the Australian prime minister at the time, Kevin Rudd, announced that henceforth no refugee who reaches Australia by boat would be settled there. Instead, refugees would be detained, and eventually resettled, in impoverished Papua New Guinea. Several weeks later, the resettlement policy was extended to a tiny island state in Micronesia called the Republic of Nauru.

Since then, there have been more boats, more drownings. In late September, a vessel came apart shortly after leaving Indonesia, and dozens of asylum seekers — from Lebanon, Iran and Iraq — drowned. That people are willing to hazard death at sea despite Australia’s vow to send them to places like Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Nauru would seem illogical — or just plain crazy. The Australian government ascribes their persistence partly to misinformation propagated by the smugglers. But every asylum seeker who believes those lies believes them because he chooses to. Their doing so, and continuing to brave the Indian Ocean, and continuing to die, only illustrates their desperation in a new, disturbing kind of light. This is the subtext to the plight of every refugee: Whatever hardship he endures, he endures because it beats the hardship he escaped. Every story of exile implies the sadder story of a homeland — via


Turning Detroit into Farms and Forests

The story of Detroit is a familiar one for anyone living in the so-called rust belt of the USA, where the once-mighty automotive manufacturing industries have left many towns and cities shadows of their former selves. Now bankrupt, Detroit’s population has halved over the last fifty years. No one actually knows just how many buildings are abandoned, but it is estimated at over 1/3 of all structures. In the midst of this urban decay, farming has started to fill the hole left by industry.

Local businessman John Hantz just bought 600,000 square meters of land from the city of Detroit with an option to buy an additional 700,000, promising to demolish all the existing (abandoned) buildings, clean up the land, and plant hardwood trees. The Bank of America announced plans to demolish 100 homes and donate the land to urban agriculture. They’re not alone, as other small-scale urban farmers are adapting what’s left of the city to meet their needs. Detractors are quick to point out that urban farming will never be a large-scale, mass-produced operation that could compete with big agriculture, but urban farmers have a different goal in mind. Greg Willerer of Detroit says that he isn’t trying to save the world, just to save his city — via


Emergency warnings in place for New South Wales bushfires

An unknown number of homes have been lost as New South Wales suffers one of its worst bushfire days in years.

Emergency warnings have been issued for bushfires burning out of control near Lithgow, Wollongong, Newcastle, Muswellbrook, Wyong and the Blue Mountains.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says if we get through with less than 100 homes destroyed today, we have been lucky.

Total fire bans are in place until midnight for areas including Greater Sydney, plus the Central Ranges, North Coast and North Western districts.

The weather bureau has forecast temperatures will hit the mid-30s and that wind gusts could reach up to 90 kilometres per hour — via

Politics, Rights, Technology, World

The most embarrassing news interview ever

This must be the most cringe-inducing interview by a senior journalist I’ve ever seen.

It’s conducted by Kirsty Wark, one of the BBC’s top presenters, and takes places on Newsnight, the BBC’s flagship nightly current affairs programme.

It truly makes me more ashamed of the profession of journalism than I already was — and I didn’t think that was possible.

Throughout the interview, Wark abandons even the pretence of doing what journalism is supposed to be about: interrogating the centres of power and holding them to account.

Instead Wark mimics adversarial journalism by interrogating the US journalist Glenn Greenwald about his role in the NSA leaks, as though she’s a novice MI5 recruit. To do this she has to parrot British government misinformation and fire at him questions so childish even she seems to realise half way through them how embarrassing they are — via


Obituary: Mark ‘Chopper’ Read

One of Australia’s most notorious standover men and self-confessed hit-man Mark Chopper Read has died.

The 58-year-old had been diagnosed with liver cancer last year.

Read claimed to have killed 19 men, but he was never convicted of a single murder.

Following a hard upbringing in Melbourne, Read was a ward of the state by his early teens.

He turned to a life of crime, stealing from drug dealers, and later kidnapping and assaulting criminals who had outstanding debts.

In 1987 he shot and killed a man outside a St Kilda nightclub but was acquitted on the grounds of self-defence.

Read spent nearly half his life in jail but made efforts to rehabilitate after he was released from a Tasmanian prison in the 1990s.

He became a household name in Australia after the eponymous film Chopper, starring Eric Bana, became a cult hit — via

Photo: Patrick Rivere / Getty Images


At 77 He Prepares Burgers Earning in Week His Former Hourly Wage

It seems like another life. At the height of his corporate career, Tom Palome was pulling in a salary in the low six-figures and flying first class on business trips to Europe.

Today, the 77-year-old former vice president of marketing for Oral-B juggles two part-time jobs: one as a $10-an-hour food demonstrator at Sam’s Club, the other flipping burgers and serving drinks at a golf club grill for slightly more than minimum wage.

While Palome worked hard his entire career, paid off his mortgage and put his kids through college, like most Americans he didn’t save enough for retirement. Even many affluent baby boomers who are approaching the end of their careers haven’t come close to saving the 10 to 20 times their annual working income that investment experts say they’ll need to maintain their standard of living in old age.

For middle class households, with incomes ranging from the mid five to low six figures, it’s especially grim. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, what little Palome had saved — $90,000 — took a beating and he suddenly found himself in need of cash to maintain his lifestyle. With years if not decades of life ahead of him, Palome took the jobs he could find — via

Rights, Wildlife, World

Hawaiian woman’s long name forces ID card redesign

A Hawaiian woman with a 35-letter surname has persuaded the US state’s authorities to change their official ID card format, because her king-sized name will not fit.

Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele, whose traditional Hawaiian name comes from her late husband, said she would never consider using a shortened version, and so used local media to press officials to take action.

I love the Polynesian culture I married into, I love my Hawaiian name. It is an honour and has been quite a journey to carry the names I carry, Ms Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele, whose maiden name was Worth, said.

For years she has carried two forms of identification: her driving licence, which only has room for 34 characters, and her official Hawaii state ID card, which in the past had room for all 35 letters.

But the problem came after Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele’s state ID was renewed in May — and came back the same as her driver’s licence, with the last letter missing, and with no first name — via

Politics, World

What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria

Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorisation — via

History, Politics, World

9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask

The United States and allies are preparing for a possibly imminent series of limited military strikes against Syria, the first direct US intervention in the two-year civil war, in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

If you found the above sentence kind of confusing, or aren’t exactly sure why Syria is fighting a civil war, or even where Syria is located, then this is the article for you. What’s happening in Syria is really important, but it can also be confusing and difficult to follow even for those of us glued to it.

Here, then, are the most basic answers to your most basic questions. First, a disclaimer: Syria and its history are really complicated; this is not an exhaustive or definitive account of that entire story, just some background, written so that anyone can understand it — via

Spy law passed in New Zealand

New spy laws legalising domestic communications interception were narrowly passed in New Zealand yesterday by a vote of 61 to 59 in Parliament.

The Government argued the laws are necessary to clarify the powers of the Government Communications Services Bureau (GCSB), New Zealand’s cyber security agency, when it is asked to assist law enforcement agencies such as Police and the Security Intelligence Service.

That clarification was needed because, in a major embarrassment to the Government, surveillance mounted against Mega Upload founder Kim Dotcom in late 2011 and early 2012 at the request of the FBI was subsequently found to be illegal.

Opponents fear the law has done more than just clarify existing rules, however, and has broadened interception capabilities to allow the mass collection of domestic communications metadata and content.

The law’s passage through Parliament coincided with Edward Snowden’s ongoing disclosures about international communications interception which revealed data collection and mining on an unprecedented scale — via

The Daily Mail and Lord Dacre appeasing again

But there’s form here. The Mail still can’t quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything — large and small — from Picasso to equal pay for women. Because it has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality). Of course they’ll leap on a Stephen Lawrence bandwagon once the seeds of their decades of anti-immigration racism (read a 1960s or 1970s Daily Mail) have been sown, but deep down they have always come from the same place and had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.

Most notoriously of all, they loved Adolf Hitler when he came to power, and as the Czech crisis arose they were the appeasement newspaper. And woe-betide any liberal-minded anti-fascist who warned that the man was unstable and that consistently satisfying his vanity, greed and ambition was only storing up trouble. The whole liberal left, not to mention Winston Churchill, were mocked and scorned for their instinctive distrust of Hitler. The Daily Mail knew better.

In January 1934 Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, younger brother of the paper’s founder Alfred Northcliffe (the 4th Viscount Rothermere is chairman of the company that still owns it) wrote an article called Hurrah for the Blackshirts. He was sending congratulatory telegrams to My dear Führer as he liked to call him, right up until a few months before the outbreak of war. For more details read this article by Richard Norton-Taylor.

Of course I know Putin isn’t Hitler. But then Hitler wasn’t the full Hitler we now think of in back in 1935 either. The death camps and atrocities were years away. He became the Hitler of 1939 because we never stopped him. All historians agree now on how doubtful and uncertain he was in 35, 36, 37, and 38. The occupation of the Rheinland provinces of Alsace Lorraine and the annexation of Austria went unchallenged. The Olympic games reinforced his huge status at home — via

Police investigate crash and shooting – Parramatta

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a crash and alleged shooting incident in Sydney’s west.

About 7.50pm yesterday (Wednesday 7 August 2013), emergency services received reports of a multi-vehicle crash and shots being fired at the intersection of Hunter and Marsden Streets, Parramatta.

Officers arrived a short time later and found two vehicles had collided, with two men trapped in one of the vehicles.

A 22 year-old male pedestrian was also injured as a result being struck by the vehicles involved in the crash — via

Former primary school teacher David Kramer jailed for sexually assaulting students at Yeshiva College

A former teacher at a Jewish primary school in Melbourne has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail for sexually assaulting four students.

David Kramer, 52, pleaded guilty to five charges of indecent assault and one of an indecent act with a child under 16.

The offences were committed against four boys aged between 10 and 11 at the Yeshivah College in St Kilda East between 1989 and 1992 — via

Japan Suspends Some Imports of US Wheat

Japan has suspended some imports of wheat from the United States after genetically engineered wheat was found on an Oregon farm.

The Agriculture Department announced the discovery on Wednesday. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for American farming.

Japan is one of the largest export markets for American wheat growers. Katsuhiro Saka, a counsellor at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, said Thursday that Japan had cancelled orders of western white wheat from the Pacific Northwest and also of some feed-grade wheat.

In most countries the unapproved genetically modified wheat would be a target of concern, Mr Saka said. The Japanese people have similar kinds of concerns.

In addition, the European Union said it would test incoming American shipments and block any containing genetically modified wheat — via

Amazing island for sale for $3.8m

If you have a spare few million lying around, you can buy your very own Scottish island.

A small Scottish island has been put up for sale for STG2.5 million ($A3.82 million).

Tanera Mor is the largest and only inhabited island in the Summer Isles archipelago 1.5 miles off the north-west coast of Scotland.

The 800-acre island is currently managed by Lizzie and Richard Williams, who took it on from Mrs Williams’ family, the Wilders.

The Wilders bought the island in 1996 after selling their dairy farm in Wiltshire — via

100-year-old church burns down in Sydney

A 100-year-old church in Sydney’s inner-west is still smouldering after it burnt down early on Sunday morning.

Firefighters were called to the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Dulwich Hill just before 4.00am (AEST).

Inspector Chris Sedgewick says the old architecture made it especially hard to fight the fire.

He says the nearly 100-year old building could not be saved — via

Customs admits to 700 staff corruption complaints

The Australian Customs Service has confirmed there were more than 700 complaints made by employees about potential corruption within the department over a three-year period.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show there were 724 internal complaints, allegations and concerns reported to Customs that related to the service’s staff between 2007 and 2010.

Customs has released a statement saying there was no proof of criminal conduct in 500 of those cases.

The statement goes on to explain it is impossible to work out whether the staff involved were internally disciplined in 300 of the matters, because there has since been changes to record-keeping systems — via

British Muslims Save Jewish Synagogue

Extending their hands to their Jewish neighbours to save their worship place, Muslims in the northern British city of Bradford are rallying efforts to raise funds for preserving the last remaining synagogue in the city.

In Bradford we are working hard to bring people of different faiths together, and to support one another as good neighbours, Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council for Mosques, told Telegraph & Argus.

The umbrella group said it would raise funds for local authorities to help renovate the Bradford Reform Synagogue, the last remaining Jewish worship place in the city — via

Burundi: Catholic sect clashes with police kill six

At least six people have been killed and 35 wounded in clashes in northern Burundi between police and a Catholic sect, an official has said.

The violence broke out after police tried to block followers of 30-year-old Zebiya Ngendakumana from praying in Kayanza region, the official added.

Ms Ngendakumana says she sees visions of the Virgin Mary on the 12th day of each month.

The authorities are worried her sect could threaten public order — via

Child sex abuse link to celibacy

Many Catholic priests take a flexible approach to celibacy, tolerated by church leaders, and some believe sex with children or men does not count, a former Melbourne priest said on Wednesday.

An enormous number of priests struggle with celibacy, Philip O’Donnell told the state inquiry into how the churches handle child sex abuse.

There’s a tolerance for imperfection in celibacy, and that may have led to a lessening of outrage at sex with children.

He said he had no training about celibacy in the seminary and that many priests were ill-equipped. Chosen celibacy is a gift, but mandatory celibacy is for many priests a millstone, he said.

Mr O’Donnell declined to speculate on what percentage of Catholic priests, who must vow to be celibate, were sexually active, but another Melbourne priest has separately suggested it is about half — via

Properties destroyed in NSW bushfire

Siding Springs Observatory Fire

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service says 12 properties have been lost in a bushfire west of Coonabarabran, which also damaged the Siding Spring Observatory.

The fire in the Warrumbungle National Park has burnt out up to 40,000 hectares and has already forced the evacuation of over 100 residents.

The fire is presently burning in a northerly direction away from Timor Road and is about a kilometre south of Bugaldie.

The Rural Fire Service confirmed this morning that 12 properties had been lost on Timor Road — via

Six more countries eliminate scourge of landmines

Six more countries have been added to the list of nations that have eliminated the scourge of landmines.

Congo, Denmark, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan and Uganda have declared all mined areas in their territories cleared of the deadly weapons.

The news was announced at a five-day meeting in Geneva, aimed at evaluating progress since the signing of the 1997 Ottawa Convention — via

RAR soldier awarded Victoria Cross for Afghan valour

A Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) soldier who exposed himself to enemy fire to save his comrades during a deadly ambush in Afghanistan has been awarded the Victoria Cross at a ceremony in Canberra.

Corporal Daniel Keighran, who was serving with the 6th Battalion RAR, was recognised for his extreme bravery during the three-and-a-half hour battle which claimed the life of his mate Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney in August 2010.

The medal — Australia’s highest military honour — was presented to Corporal Keighran by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House in Canberra this morning — via

Police slam Catholic Church

Victoria Police has launched a scathing attack on the Catholic Church, accusing it of deliberately impeding its investigations into child abuse.

In a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by churches, signed by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, police recommend that some of the church’s actions to hinder investigations be criminalised.

The submission lists a number of ways in which the church has hindered the criminal justice process, including dissuading victims of sexual crimes from reporting them to police, failing to engage with police and alerting suspects of allegations against them, which may have resulted in loss of evidence — via

Pakistani Activist, 14, Is Shot by Taliban

A spokesman for the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley took responsibility for the shooting on Tuesday of a 14-year-old activist who is an outspoken advocate of education for girls. The attack on Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head on her way home from school in Mingora, the region’s main city, outraged many Pakistanis, but a Taliban spokesman told a newspaper that the group would target the girl again if she survived.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, told Reuters in a telephone interview that Malala was pro-West, she was speaking against the Taliban and she was calling President Obama her idol. He acknowledged that she was young but said that she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas, referring to the ethnic group in northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan whose conservative values the Taliban claims to defend.

Another girl, one of two others wounded in the attack, said in a television interview with Pakistan’s Express News that a man had stopped the school bus and asked which girl was Malala before opening fire — via

Italian bicycle sales surpass those of cars

Italians bought more bicycles than cars in 2011 for the first time in decades, according to local media reports.

Last year some 1.75 million bicycles were sold, about 2,000 more than the number of new cars registered, La Repubblica newspaper reported.

It attributed the change to a slump in car sales during the economic crisis and the rising price of petrol, as well as bikes coming back into fashion — via

Masked gang steals £1m of watches from Manchester Selfridges

Three brazen masked raiders stole designer watches worth £1m from a Manchester department store while the shop was busy with customers.

They used an axe and crowbar to smash into cabinets at Selfridges and removed about 100 watches.

The men, who wore high-visibility jackets and trousers, escaped in a black car driven by a fourth man on Wednesday evening.

The haul included brands like Audemars Piguet, Hublot and Cartier.

The raid took place in Exchange Square and the car was found abandoned just over a mile (1.6km) away in Robert Street, in the Strangeways area of the city — via

Widespread distrust of US extends beyond Middle East, poll shows

American influence on the world stage is being sapped by widespread distrust of US intentions, not just in the Middle East and south Asia but also among traditional European allies, according to a survey of global opinions.

Suspicion of America outweighed faith in its good intentions by large margins in the Arab world and Pakistan, and even its heavyweight European ally Germany was more sceptical than trusting, a YouGov survey found. British and French opinion was more positive but still deeply divided.

Negative Arab and Pakistani perceptions of America as overweening and untrustworthy clearly pose a daunting foreign policy challenge for the Obama administration. The fact that 78% of Pakistanis questioned by YouGov said they did not trust America to act responsibly underlines Washington’s serious lack of soft power in the region as it attempts to extricate itself from Afghanistan.

Attitudes towards the US in the Arab world were nearly as negative. Those respondents in the Middle East and north Africa who said they trusted America were outnumbered by more than two to one by those who said they did not, and 39% said they did not trust America at all — via

US soldiers ‘plotted to kill Obama’

A group of American soldiers formed an anarchist militia and spent $US87,000 ($83,922) on weapons in an elaborate plot to overthrow the government and ultimately assassinate the president, a court heard.

The soldiers allegedly made themselves into a group called FEAR, standing for Forever Enduring Always Ready, and bought land in Washington state from which to launch attacks.

They were said to have planned to blow up a dam and poison apple crops in Washington state, bomb a park in Savannah, Georgia, attack vehicles belonging to Department of Homeland Security employees, and take over an ammunition control point at the sprawling Fort Stewart army base in Georgia.

Prosecutors said its long-term goal was revolution; bringing down the US government and killing President Barack Obama. It is not known over what period of time this alleged plot would have taken place — via

Angola deports China ‘gangsters’

Angola has extradited 37 Chinese nationals, accused of extortion, kidnappings, armed robberies and running prostitution rings.

They allegedly targeted other Chinese, kidnapping businessmen for ransom and sometimes burying victims alive.

They lured women to Angola, promising well-paid jobs, but then forced them into prostitution, Chinese police said — via

Peruvian police seizes $2.3m in fake bills

Police in Peru say they have seized $2.3m (£1.5m) in counterfeit notes.

They say the notorious Quispe Rodriguez family clan is behind the production of fake currency.

Peruvian police chief, Raul Salazar, said the gang was planning to smuggle the counterfeit $50 bills into the United States, hidden inside Peruvian souvenirs.

The US says Peru is the largest foreign producer of counterfeit dollars — via

UN polio vaccine doctor injured in Karachi attack

Gunmen have attacked a UN vehicle, critically injuring a doctor who was administering polio vaccines in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.

The foreign doctor was in the run-down Sohrab Goth area of the city, officials say. His driver was also hurt.

No group has said it carried out the shooting, but the Taliban have issued threats against the polio drive and are thought to be active in Sohrab Goth — via

Where Wal-Mart departs, a library succeeds

A vast building in McAllen, Texas, was once home to a Wal-Mart — but no longer. When the discount superstore moved to a larger location, it left behind a vast empty building. The community took advantage of the space and converted the warehouse-like building into a public library.

The size of more than two football fields, the McAllen Public Library is the largest single-story library in the country, the website PSFK writes. Its conversion from vast warehouse space to functioning library has recently made it the winner of the 2012 Library Interior Design Competition by the International Interior Design Assn — via

Tyrannosaur allegedly smuggled to US to be returned to Mongolia

The United States Attorney’s office has intervened in a dispute over a dinosaur that went up for auction at the end of May with a demand that the skeleton be turned over to the US government, so that it can be returned to Mongolia.

Palaeontologists and Mongolian officials have maintained that the skeleton, which belongs to a type of tyrannosaur called a Tarbosaurus bataarwas taken illegally from their country.

The skeletal remains of this dinosaur are of tremendous cultural and historic significance to the people of Mongolia, and provide a connection to the country’s prehistoric past. When the skeleton was allegedly looted, a piece of the country’s natural history was stolen with it, and we look forward to returning it to its rightful place, Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement — via

Cuban names: Please call me… Canned Meat

In many Latin American countries, traditional names like Jose or Isabel remain popular, but in Cuba anything goes. Parents just love to experiment.

As a journalist in Cuba, posing certain questions can be tricky, but I never thought asking a person’s name would be one of them. My problem is, I hardly ever understand the response. And it is not just because I am English. My Cuban colleagues are often just as baffled.

It turns out it is rare to encounter a simple Maria or a Miguel these days — instead, parents choosing a baby’s name like to let their imagination run wild — via

Sisters refused bail over child prostitution ring

Two Sydney sisters accused of forcing girls to prostitute themselves have been refused bail, with a magistrate describing the case as appalling and distressing.

Adrienne Garner, 22, and her 19-year-old sister Thalia waved at their mother from the dock, where they faced more than 40 charges.

The pair are accused of taking in girls as young as 12 and running a child prostitution racket from their Warwick Farm home in Sydney’s south-west.

The court heard the girls were repeatedly raped — via

Millionaire jeweller’s son jailed for life for murder of 17-year-old girlfriend

A wealthy jeweller’s son who murdered his 17-year-old girlfriend in a jealous rage has been jailed for at least 16 years.

Elliot Turner, 20, part of a gang of rich young men who called themselves The Firm, strangled Emily Longley in his bed after becoming suspicious that she was seeing other men and wanted to end their relationship.

Jailing Turner for life, Mrs Justice Dobbs said: Emily was a lovely, kind, fun-loving girl who brought a ray of sunshine to those she touched. That light has been extinguished suddenly and needlessly by you — via

Free bicycles help keep Indian girls in school

The daily trip to high school was expensive, long and eventually, too much for Indian teenager Nahid Farzana, who decided she was going to drop out. Then, the state government gave her a bicycle.

Two years later, she is about to graduate from high school and wants to be a teacher.

The eastern state of Bihar has been so successful at keeping teenage girls in school, the bike give-aways have spread to neighbouring states. Now the Indian government wants to expand it across the country in hopes it might help improve female literacy — via

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak weighs in against tech giant on price discrimination

Apple co-founder Steve Woz Wozniak has sided with Australian consumers on the contentious topic of price discrimination, saying we shouldn’t have to pay more for technology goods that cost much less in the United States.

His comments, made on ABC radio this morning ahead of a sponsored speaking tour of Australia, come as the federal government readies for an inquiry that will ask tech giants like Apple to explain why Australians pay more for goods such as music, TV and game downloads from iTunes than overseas customers.

Other companies like Microsoft and Adobe will also be asked to explain — via

For sale – but Who would buy 22 Tardises?

They have been a feature of Edinburgh’s streets for 80 years, the city’s unique variation on the police box beloved by Doctor Who fans.

Now, people are being given the chance to own one of 22 of the blue police boxes, which are being put on sale today by police who said they were surplus to requirements.

Would-be buyers have been given no guide price on which to base their offers, and if successful, will either have to obtain council permits to keep them in situ or make alternative arrangements for the two-ton structures.

A total of 12 of the boxes are listed, so the council would have to approve their removal — via