Odds & Ends
Dateline: Singapore—The Southeast Asian nation of Singapore has been accused of hiring “sand smugglers” to steal valuable beaches from its neighbors. A recent report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail notes that the island city-state’s size has increased a suspicious 20 percent since the ’60s, even though sand-exporting bans in Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam have cut off supplies. Regional environmental groups claim that several of the 83 islands that border the north coast of Indonesia are in danger of disappearing into the sea in the next decade unless illegal sand smugglers are stopped. Environmental activists claim sand smugglers visit the beaches of these islands during the night in small barges. They dredge the sand and then sail directly into Singapore port, where they sell it to international brokers who work for Singapore’s many land developers. Last month, 34 Malaysian civil servants were arrested for accepting bribes and sexual favors to facilitate sand smuggling to Singapore. Malaysia’s former prime minister told the Daily Telegraph that upwards of 700 truckloads a day of illegal sand cross the border to Singapore. Last Monday, 37 trucks loaded with sand were abandoned on the main highway from Malaysia to Singapore after drivers learned of a customs operation at the border.
Dateline: England—At the start of an annual charity pancake run, St. Albans City Council Tourism Manager Charles Baker announced to contestants and spectators that—due to the concerns of health and safety advisors—running during the run was now banned. “Due to the wet weather conditions and health and safety regulation, in this year’s race, there will be no running allowed,” said Baker. “Only walking is permitted. Any team that runs will be disqualified.” According to the Daily Telegraph, 10 teams took part in this year’s Pancake Walk—which required contestants to flip a pancake in a frying pan while in motion. Three of the teams were disqualified for moving too fast. Hertfordshire National Health Service Community Partnership team captain David Emery, 34, whose team was disqualified in the final, told reporters, “This is health and safety gone mad. I have been disqualified from a running race for running.”
Dateline: Chile—The general manager of the Chilean mint has been fired after thousands of coins were issued with the name of the country spelled incorrectly. The 50-peso coins were released in 2008, but apparently no one noticed for nearly a year that the word “CHILE” had been spelled with two “I”s and no “L.” Since then, the “REPUBLICA DE CHIIE” coins have become collector’s items. Thousands have reportedly been hoarded by speculators, and the mint says it has no plans to remove the remainder from circulation. The mint’s general manager, Gregorio Iniguez, and several other employees were fired earlier this year over the gaffe. The misspelled coins were not the only error under Iniguez’ watch, either. Last October, someone sold a rare medal, which should have been housed in the institution’s museum, to a coin collector. A month later, another rare medal from the institution’s collection was sold on the open market. In a statement following his termination, Iniguez denied rumors that he intentionally sabotaged the coins. “I have been accused of having written the word ‘CHIIE’ deliberately, but it was an error spotted by neither myself nor the entire chain of people who saw and approved it afterwards,” he said.
Dateline: Idaho—A young bride might be reconsidering her “I do” after her 21-year-old groom was arrested not once but twice on their wedding night. According to the Lewiston Tribune, court records show Nathan Lewis of Lewiston was charged last Tuesday in Asotin County Superior Court with second-degree assault against his wife and interfering with a report of domestic violence. The couple married on Sunday, Feb. 14. Their Valentine’s Day bliss didn’t last too long, though. According to the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Lewis was arrested later that evening for drunken and disorderly conduct. Shortly after being released on bail, he allegedly assaulted his new wife at a home in nearby Clarkston, Wash. The bride told authorities she was slapped and choked during the altercation. Mr. Lewis is scheduled to be arraigned on March 1.