Surrogate mother wants Gammy's sister returned

Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua holding baby Gammy, who was born with Down Syndrome, at the Samitivej hospital in Thailand's Chonburi province on Monday.

The Thai surrogate mother of seven-month-old Gammy has asked for the baby's twin sister to be returned to her.

Her request came after it was revealed that the biological father has convictions for child sex offences.

Australian Associated Press said court documents show that the Australian man, 56, had been convicted for sexually molesting three girls.

State broadcaster ABC added that he was jailed for sexually molesting two girls under the age of 10 when he was in his 20s. He was also accused in 1997 of another six charges of indecently dealing with a child.

Other reports said child protection services had been called in to investigate his “suitability", although they were unable to confirm this to AFP and police had no comment.

The Guardian reported Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua​ as saying: "I am very worried about my baby girl. I need help from anyone who can bring my girl back to me as soon as possible... This news make me sick. I will take care of my twin babies. I will not give her or him to any family that wants a baby."

The revelations came as the Australian couple claimed that Ms Pattaramon had misled the world over what happened.

The pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had hired Ms Pattaramon and paid her AS$16,000 (S$18,600).

Ms Pattaramon claims they rejected the boy, who has Down Syndrome and a heart problem, taking only his healthy twin sister back to their home in Bunbury, south of Perth.

The couple have come under heavy criticism for their alleged actions, which include asking Ms Pattaramon​ to abort the boy.

The Australian couple said in a statement, issued through a friend to their local newspaper the Bunbury Mail, the allegations were false and they did not know he had Down Syndrome, although they were aware he had a congenital heart problem.

“Gammy was very sick when he was born and the biological parents were told he would not survive and he had a day, at best, to live and to say goodbye,” the friend, a woman, told the newspaper, without saying who told them this.

The birth of the twins was supposed to take place at a major international hospital in Thailand but Ms Pattharamon went to another facility, which made the surrogacy agreement void, according to the newspaper.

This meant that the couple had no legal rights to the babies although the surrogate mother finally agreed to hand over the girl, the report said.

"The biological parents were heartbroken that they couldn’t take their boy with them and never wanted to give him up, but to stay would risk them losing their daughter also," the friend said.

She added that allegations that the couple “ignored” Gammy when they visited the hospital were untrue and they had bought gifts for both infants.

The friend said the couple spent two months in Thailand but due to military unrest at the time felt they had no option but to leave without Gammy.

“This has been absolutely devastating for them, they are on the edge,” she said.

Sources: AFP, The Guardian 

Murray happy with new coach Mauresmo

Britain's Andy Murray (L) laughs with his French coach Amelie Mauresmo (R) during a session on the practice courts on day eight of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships.
Britain's Andy Murray (L) laughs with his French coach Amelie Mauresmo (R) during a session on the practice courts on day eight of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships.

Andy Murray returns to action for the first time since surrendering his Wimbledon crown this week, insisting his coaching liaison with Amelie Mauresmo is long-term.

The Scot began working with Frenchwoman Mauresmo shortly before Wimbledon but a disappointing grasscourt season raised question marks about the longevity of their partnership.

Murray, however, says he has enjoyed working with the former Wimbledon champion at his training base in Miami as he prepares for the US hardcourt season, which concludes later this month with the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

"We've agreed to work together and I think from both sides we're willing to do what it takes to make it work long term," Murray, 27, was quoted on the BBC's website ahead of the Rogers Cup in Toronto, where he is seeded eighth.

"I really enjoy working with her, she's helped me a lot.

"She integrated well with the rest of the team. It's been a good start. Now it's about me producing the results."


Andy Murray and new coach Amelie Mauresmo during training. Photos: Reuters

The next few months are critical for Murray, who dropped down to 10th in the world rankings following his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat by Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.

Murray is without a title for more than a year and is also struggling to qualify for the year-ending World Tour Finals in London with the likes of Dimitrov and Canada's Milos Raonic beginning to make deep inroads into the top 10.

Mauresmo's task will be to help Murray return to the kind of form that saw him win the US Open in 2012, when he beat Novak Djokovic in an epic final.

"I sat down with her the day after Wimbledon, we made a plan for the next few months, in the build up to the US Open," Murray said. "(Hitting partner) Dani (Vallverdu) and Amelie will both be there at the U.S. Open.

"That's the plan for now, but I plan on working with her for longer than post-US Open, for sure." - Reuters

He took $100,000 pay-cut... to up the pay of lowest-paid employees

Mr Raymond Burse chose to have a pay cut of $90,000 to boost the salaries of the lower-paid workers.
Mr Raymond Burse chose to have a pay cut of $90,000 to boost the salaries of the lower-paid workers.

Talk about paying it forward.

The interim president of an American university, Raymond Burse, elected to take a pay-cut of US$90,000 (S$112,000) to boost the salaries of the lowest-paid campus employees.

It was reported that the US$90,000 will increase the salaries of 24 Kentucky State University (KSU) employees, some of whom were only earning a mimimum wage of US$7.25 an hour. They will now receive US$10.25 an hour.

Burse's annual salary had been set at about US$350,000 and he will now earn US$260,000.

The new salary will remain for future presidents as well.

Burse, who has been praised for his action around the campus, said that this was something he had been thinking for a while.

 

 

 

 

"This is not a hobby. But in terms of the people who do the hard work and heavy lifting, they are at the lower pay scale," he said.

Source: Lexington Herald-Leader

 

 

Sandra Bullock is Hollywood's 2014 top-earning actress

Sandra Bullock, best actress nominee for her role in Gravity, topped the Forbes 2014 list as the top earning actress.
Sandra Bullock, best actress nominee for her role in Gravity, topped the Forbes 2014 list as the top earning actress.

Oscar winner Sandra Bullock is Hollywood's highest paid actress with estimated earnings of US$51 million (S$63.5 million) over 12 months, Forbes magazine said on Monday.

Bullock, 50, had a big hit last year with space thriller film Gravity, which won seven Academy Awards including best director for Alfonso Cuaron, and made more than US$716 million(S$891 million) worldwide.

The best actress Oscar winner in 2010 for The Blind Side, Bullock jumped from seventh place on the previous Forbes earnings list to the top spot between June 2013 and June 2014.

"Gravity star Sandra Bullock didn't win best actress this year but she did walk away with a ton of money," according to Forbes.com.


Photo: Warner Brothers

Hunger Games actress  Jennifer Lawrence, 23, came in second for the second consecutive year with estimated earnings of US$34 million(S$42.3 million), while  Jennifer Aniston, 45, climbed one spot to No. 3 with US$31 million(S$38.6 million).

Forbes compiled the list by estimating earnings from the actresses' film work, endorsements, residuals and advertising work, and by talking to agents, managers and lawyers.

Gwyneth Paltrow, 41, who made an estimated US$19 million(S$23.7 million), and Angelina Jolie, with US$18 million(S$22.4 million), rounded out the top five. Jolie, 39, dropped from No. 1 last year.

Although all of the actresses pulled in hefty incomes, Forbes said women still earn less then men in Hollywood. While the 10 highest earning actors took home a combined total of US$419 million(S$521.5 million), Hollywood's 10 best paid actresses made a total of US$226(S$281.3 million) million during the same time period.

Here are the top 10 highest earning Actresses and Actors of 2014:

Actresses

  1. Sandra Bullock - US$51 million (S$63.5 million)
  2. Jennifer Lawrence - US$34 million (S$42.3 million)
  3. Jennifer Aniston - US$31 million (S$38.6 million)
  4. Gwyneth Paltrow - US$19 million (S$23.7 million)
  5. Angelina Jolie - US$18 million (S$22.4 million)
  6. Cameron Diaz - US$18 million (S$22.4 million)
  7. Scarlett Johansson - US$17 million (S$21.1 million)
  8. Amy Adams - US$13 million (S$16.2 million)
  9. Natalie Portman - US$13 million (S$16.2 million)
  10. Kristen Stewart - US$12 million (S$15 million)

Actors

  1. Robert Downey Jr - US$75 million (S$93.4 million)
  2. Dwayne Johnson - US$52 million (S$64.7 million)
  3. Bradley Cooper - US$46 million (S$57.3 million)
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio - US$39 million (S$48.5 million)
  5. Chris Hemsworth - US$37 million (S$46 million)
  6. Liam Neeson - US$36 million (S$44.8 million)
  7. Ben Affleck - US$35 million (S$43.6 million)
  8. Christian Bale - US$35 million (S$43.6 million)
  9. Will Smith - US$32 million (S$39.8 million)
  10. Mark Wahlberg - US$32 million (S$39.8 million)

Sources: Reuters, Forbes

Sneaky hotel charges $500 for negative online reviews

Union Street Guest House said that it would charge $500 for every negative review.
Union Street Guest House said that it would charge $500 for every negative review.

​Bad reviews online are the bane of businesses - especially in the service industry.

But one hotel went a little too far to combat these pesky reviews.

The Union Street Guest House charged couples, who booked weddings or parties, $500 for every bad review posted online by their guests.

And if you take down that negative review, you will be offered a refund.

Not surprisingly, the internet has reacted to this ridiculous clause by flooding their Facebook and Yelp page with comments and... bad reviews (guess they didn't mind the risk of paying $500).

The hotel's rating on popular review site Yelp plummeted to a measly one and a half stars after word got out about their approach towards bad reviews.

 

The hotel has since come out to say that it was only joking. "The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced," said the hotel in an e-mail to CNBC.

But this review on Yelp posted last year suggests otherwise.

Looks like bad reviews are the least of the Union Street Guest House's problems now.

Sources: Washington Post, Esquire, New York Post

Tags: hotel, guests and fine

Bird-hit Tiger Airways jet lands safely in India

Ninety-four passengers and five crew members of Tiger Airways' Singapore-Trichy flight underwent some anxious moments after the plane suffered a bird-hit that damaged its windshield while landing at Trichy airport on Monday morning.

The passengers of the Airbus A320 flight were shaken when the windshield in the cockpit cracked due to the bird-hit, creating a pressure imbalance during landing, reported The Times of India (TI).

Officials told the newspaper the experienced flight crew skillfully landed the plane, and even managed to stick to the scheduled arrival time of 10.30am.

While airport authorities described it as a "technical snag", passengers on board the flight said they felt a big jerk. 

If the incident would have occurred during departure, the impact would have been unimaginable, officials from Tiruchy airport told the Indian Express.

Grounded for repairs

The Tiger Airways return flight that was scheduled to leave for Singapore at 11.15am (1.45pm Singapore time) with 171 passengers was grounded due to the incident.

An airline official told TI: "The passengers have all been offered accommodation in a nearby hotel and flight maintenance is underway". 

Experts say food waste dumped near the airport attracts birds. Airport Authority of India guidelines stipulate that an area of 10km from the runway should be free from any kind of garbage dumps, meat and chicken shops. But these norms are not followed in Trichy airport. 

Grounded by eagle

In July, an Indigo flight from Kolkata to Mumbai had to be turned around after a collision with an eagle damaged the engine blades. The passengers and crew had to endure 25 minutes of uncertainty before the pilot managed to safely land the plane at Kolkata air​port. 

Source: Times Of India, Indian Express
 

Man Utd come from behind to beat Liverpool 3-1

Darren Fletcher of Manchester United and (right) Wayne Rooney of Manchester United lift the winners trophy following their 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the Guinness International Champions Cup 2014 Final at Sun Life Stadium on Aug 4, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Steven Gerrard scoring a penalty that gave Liverpool a 1-0 lead over United in the 14th minute.

Manchester United ended their US pre-season tour on a high note on Monday, rallying for a 3-1 triumph over English Premier League rivals Liverpool.

In the final of the International Champions Cup friendly tournament, Louis van Gaal’s men overturned an early Steven Gerrard penalty – the third spot-kick United have conceded on tour – to claim victory through second-half goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, at the end of their own pre-season tour of the United States, provided easily the biggest test of United’s pre-season so far as the old foes clashed before 51,104 fans at Sun Life Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

United were perhaps less sharp than in their previous matches on the tour, but improved in the second half and head home with five victories from five matches under new manager van Gaal.

Captain Rooney to the rescue

Wayne Rooney turns away from Martin Skrtel. Photo: AFP

Rooney captained Manchester United for the first time on the tour.

Liverpool got the ball rolling when Gerrard beat David De Gea from the penalty spot in the 14th minute– after Raheem Sterling drew a challenge from Phil Jones.

 

Liverpool celebrating Gerrard's penalty goal. Photo: AFP

Then Rooney grabbed the equaliser in the 55th minute, when Javier Hernandez flew down the right and sent in a cross that he fired past Simon Mignolet.​

Captain Rooney celebrating his goal with Ashley​ Young. Photo: AFP 

Two minutes later, Luke Shaw’s pass found Mata, who beat Mignolet with a low shot to put United up 2-1.

Lingard completed the scoring in the 88th, blasting Young’s pass past Mignolet.

“It’s obviously great to win the game and win the tournament,” Rooney said.

“We’ve worked hard in the pre-season. Today in the first half Liverpool were the better team.

"We were poor, we didn’t move the ball quick enough. We knew we had to put that right. The second half we came out and played very well and deserved the win.” - AFP

 

Israel and Hamas agree to three-day ceasefire

Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour truce that will take effect on Tuesday afternoon.
Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour truce that will take effect on Tuesday afternoon.

Israel and Hamas have agreed on a new 72-hour truce that will start this afternoon at 1pm (Singapore time).

This comes after Hamas did not observe a seven-hour humanitarian truce that was unilaterally proposed by Israel following the shelling of a UN school in Gaza.

The breakthrough was announced during talks in Cairo on Monday, only days after a similar three-day truce miserably collapsed when violence resumed within hours of it taking effect.

The United States welcomed the three-day cessation of hostilities, adding that the onus was on the Palestinian militia to maintain the truce.

Images of the bloodshed – which has cost the lives of more than 1,800 Palestinians and 64 Israeli soldiers in and near Gaza as well as three civilians in Israel – have sent tensions in the region soaring, earning the Jewish state strong criticism.

Source: AFP

Tags: Israel, Gaza, conflict and Hamas

Man sticks needles into meat at supermarket

Ronald G. Avers was charged last Thursday with seven violations of a federal law against tampering with packaged meat.
Ronald G. Avers was charged last Thursday with seven violations of a federal law against tampering with packaged meat.

A 68-year-old Illinois man is in jail charged with food tampering after he allegedly inserted sewing needles into packages of meat at a grocery store multiple times in the past year, an official said on Friday.

Ronald G Avers was charged last Thursday with seven violations of a federal law against tampering with packaged meat, according to court documents. He will be in court again on Monday (Tuesday Singapore time) for a detention hearing.

Six customers and one employee at the Shop'n Save grocery in Belleville, Illinois in suburban St. Louis reported finding needles in hamburger, roast or steak products between May 2013 and July 14 of this year, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court.

One customer found a needle in her mouth and another customer reported getting one stuck in the hand.

Avers, who owned a pick-up bearing a disabled veteran license tag and shopped using a motorised scooter and oxygen tank, was seen on surveillance video handling meat products and putting them back on the shelves, the FBI said.

When police and the FBI questioned Avers outside the store on Tuesday, he admitted putting needles in meat, the FBI said. "Every now and then I would stick one in a hamburger," Avers told police, according to the affidavit.

Avers told investigators he didn't know why he put needles in the meat.

"It was stupidity. I didn't want to hurt nobody," he was quoted as saying.

Avers said he did not put needles in meat at any other stores, the affidavit said.

The charges against Avers each carry up to 10 years in prison and a fine of US$250,000 (S$311,400), said a news release from the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Illinois. - Reuters

Man accidentally shoots and kills himself while taking selfie

Oscar Aguilar accidentally shot and killed himself while trying to take a selfie.
Oscar Aguilar accidentally shot and killed himself while trying to take a selfie.

His love of selfies led directly to his death.

Oscar Aguilar, 21, from Mexico City often posted photos of himself posing with luxury cars and beautiful women.

But his latest attempt at taking an impressive selfie failed tragically.

He had borrowed a gun, unaware that it was loaded, and posed for a selfie.

It then accidentally went off and fatally wounded him.

According to the local media, Aguilar's neighbour Manfredo Paez had heard the shot.

He said: "I heard somebody screaming and realised somebody  had been hurt. I called the police straight away and when they arrived they found that he was still alive."

Aguilar died on his way to the hospital. 

Sources: Metro, Telegraph

Tags: selfie

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