x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Angels, aliens and Qadafi

The world's oldest dog goes to the big kennel in the sky, Japan's next first lady claims she was abducted to Venus in a UFO, cross-dressing robbers hit on women's stores in Sharjah and Libya's leader throws a bash to celebrate 40 years in power.

A performer, front, depicting Muammar Qadafi rides a horse at a lavish outdoor theatrical performance in Tripoli celebrating the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought Qadafi to power. Ben Curtis / AP Photo
Miyuki Hatoyama, above, the wife of the next prime minister of Japan, claims she was abducted  by aliens and taken to Venus in a UFO.
A performer, front, depicting Muammar Qadafi rides a horse at a lavish outdoor theatrical performance in Tripoli celebrating the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought Qadafi to power. Ben Curtis / AP Photo Miyuki Hatoyama, above, the wife of the next prime minister of Japan, claims she was abducted by aliens and taken to Venus in a UFO.

The cost of the Dubai Metro was revealed to have increased by 75 per cent, or by Dh12 billion (US$3.2bn) since it was first proposed. Transport officials said the higher price was the result of adding more pedestrian bridges, extra stations and major design changes. The Red Line will open next Wednesday, but with only 10 of the 29 stations in operation at first. Completion of the Green Line has also been pushed back three months, but the Roads and Transport Authority says all the funds are in place to complete the project.

The world's oldest dog died in New York at the age of 21. Chanel, a wire-haired dachshund, was given the title by the Guinness World Records at a birthday party last May. According to her owners, Denice and Karl Shaughnessy, she would have been 147 in dog years and enjoyed a diet of butter sticks and chocolate. The couple said she had lived so long because: "Dogs are God's angels sent here to look for us."

Libya began a week of celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought Col Muammar Qadafi to power. Col Qadafi, wearing a general's uniform, watched a military parade behind bulletproof glass while jets flew overhead. Highlights included helicopters pulling banners bearing his portrait and a lavish banquet by the sea followed by a dancers and musicans re-enacting 5,000 years of Libyan history, including an actor playing the leader riding a white stallion. The Libyan leader was joined by Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. Western dignitaries boycotted the event after the welcome given to Abdelbaset Ali al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, following his release from a Scottish prison.

South Africa's ruling ANC party described a decision by a Canadian court to give a white South African man refugee status as "racist". Brandon Huntley, 31, told Canadian officials he could not return home after a series of attacks, that included three stabbings, which he attributed to the colour of his skin. He claimed the police had refused to take action. A spokesman for the ANC, Ishmael Mnisi, said that: "Canada's reasoning for granting Huntley a refugee-status can only serve to perpetuate racism."

President Barack Obama held an iftar in the State Dining Room of the White House. He told guests that: "For well over a billion Muslims, Ramadan is a time of intense devotion and reflection. Tonight's iftar is a ritual that is being carried out this Ramadan at kitchen tables and mosques in all 50 states." White House iftar dinners have become a tradition in recent years, with President George W Bush also hosting several gatherings.

Four members of the Iraqi security forces were sentenced to death for their part in a bank robbery which left eight guards dead. A court in Baghdad found the men guilty of the US$5 million (Dh18m) theft from a bank in the city's Karrada district. The dead guards had been bound and gagged and then shot in a basement. Among the accused were two former bodyguards of the Iraqi vice president.

All schools will have to start their day by singing the National Anthem and raising the UAE flag, the Minister of Education has ruled. While many national state schools already sing the anthem, the requirement will have much more impact on the private sector. Humaid al Qattami, the Minister of Education, said:" Raising the flag and playing the national anthem are a must for students when attending school because it reflects their national sentiments towards their nation, leadership and land." The ministry did not give details about when the decree would come into force, or how the flag-raising ceremony would be carried out.

BP announced it had discovered a "giant" oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico. The Tiber field is the deepest in the world and was drilled to a depth of around 10,685 metres, or more than the height of Mount Everest. It is believed to contain at least three billion barrels of oil, equal to the entire output of Saudi Arabia for a year, and will double the region's output in 10 years. News of the discovery boosted the value of BP shares to nearly Dh600 billion (US$163bn).

A ban on male guards working in women's shops in Sharjah has led to a spate of robberies by a cross-dressing gang. Robbers disguised in abayas targeted stores with female employees, threatening them at knifepoint and making off with money, clothes and jewellery. Police have since arrested seven Afghan men after studying closed- circuit television footage of one of the robberies.

The wife of the next prime minister of Japan claimed she was once abducted by aliens. Miyuki Hatoyama, 62, says she travelled to the planet Venus in a "triangular shaped UFO". Mrs Hatoyama also says she knew the American actor Tom Cruise in a previous incarnation when Cruise was Japanese. The claims are in a book she published last year which has become a bestseller following the election of her husband Yukio Hatoyama.

A young nurse became the fourth person in the UAE to die after contracting swine flu. The latest victim was a 26-year-old Indian woman in the eighth month of her pregnancy who died in Al Ain Hospital after being admitted with breathing complications. Her baby had already been delivered by caesarean section and was said to be healthy. Two of the fatalities have been women in the late stages of pregnancy. The first person to die was a 63-year-old man in mid-August. Health officials say that the disease is now being spread internally rather than cases of people who contracted swine flue while out of the country.

Police announced they had issued thousands of traffic tickets to motorists rushing home for iftar. Abu Dhabi Police said they had caught nearly 20,000 motorists speeding in the first 10 days of Ramadan. Other offences including not wearing a seat belt, disturbing traffic flow and double parking in front of mosques. A police spokesman said: "During Ramadan, people are in a hurry to catch iftar, so speeding and crossing the red light increases."

jlangton@thenational.ae