x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

News You Can Lose: Cassowary caution in Queensland

Large aggressive birds, only about 1,000 of which still survive in the Australian wild, are scavenging for food since Cyclone Larry.

First the floods, now giant man-mauling birds. Australians recovering from the effect of disastrous floods caused by Cyclone Larry have been warned to stay away from giant hungry flightless birds that are capable of disembowelling a human with a single blow.

Called "the most dangerous bird in the world" by the Guinness Book of Records, several cassowaries have been seen foraging near towns on the coast of Queensland after the storms stripped trees of the leaves that are their main food source.

The birds may become aggressive, striking out with huge clawed feet, the authorities have warned. Only about 1,000 cassowaries still survive in the wild, and there are fears that up to one third of the population may have perished in the cyclone.

UK issues shisha warning

Shisha cafes in Britain have been warned they face prosecution after an explosion caused by an attempt to light a pipe using a blow torch.

The owner of a shisha cafe in Blackburn suffered flash burns when gas leaking from a cylinder attached to the torch ignited.

Mohammed Wasim Natha was later fined £2,000 (Dh11,700) for breaking health and safety laws.

An official said using the blow torch was "a serious risk both to public safety and employees". He added: "I hope this case acts as a warning to anyone else who allows shisha-smoking on their premises."

Minister's UN speech snafu

India's foreign minister has rejected calls for his resignation despite accidentally giving a speech to the UN written for the Portuguese minister. It was three minutes before S M Krishna realised the error, defending his actions later by saying he had picked up the wrong piece of paper by mistake and that there was "nothing wrong in it". Opposition parties are now demanding an inquiry, saying Mr Krishna has lost his "moral right" to continue in the post.

In 2009, Barack Obama, the US president, accidentally gave a speech intended for the Irish prime minister at another UN summit.

'Lazy' civil servant returns

A Chinese official dubbed the world's laziest civil servant has been ordered to return to work after an absence of eight years.

Jiang Jinxiang claimed he had been suspended after questioning the quality of work on a construction project in the eastern province of Fuijan in May 2002.

His employers continued to pay him a salary, now totalling 150,000 yuan (Dh84,000), on "humanitarian grounds".

Mr Jiang has been forced to go back to his office after his case was highlighted by Chinese bloggers complaining about inefficiency in the civil service.

He has not been welcomed back with open arms, though. "It seemed as if all my colleagues are still shunning me as if I'm some kind of alien," Mr Jiang complained.

jlangton@thenational.ae