Pizza outlet attacked as India, U.S. fail to cool diplomat row

Published: Friday, December 20, 2013 @ 7:30 AM
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013 @ 7:30 AM

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Indian protesters ransacked a Dominos Pizza outlet in a Mumbai suburb on Friday, demanding a ban on U.S. goods as officials from the two countries struggled to defuse a row over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.

Police and the Indian franchise of the U.S. chain said no-one was hurt in the attack, which came amid unrelenting rage in India over the arrest and subsequent strip-search of Devyani Khobragade for visa fraud and under-payment of her housekeeper.

India has demanded that the charges be dropped against the diplomat and her father threatened to start a fast if U.S. authorities pressed ahead with the case.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed regret over the case in a phone call to India's national security adviser this week, but U.S. prosecutors have defended the investigation against Khobragade and her treatment.

Police in Mumbai said they were stepping up patrolling of major U.S. outlets including McDonald's after workers of the small Republican Party of India attacked the Dominos store. The group sent pictures to media organizations showing a broken glass door.

"The fact is that (the) American authorities have behaved atrociously with an Indian diplomat. And obviously, America has to make good for its actions," said Manish Tiwari, minister for information and broadcasting.

"So therefore, I think it is a legitimate expectation, that if they have erred, and they have erred grievously in this matter, they should come forth and apologize."

Khobragade was arrested last week and released on $250,000 bail after giving up her passport and pleading not guilty to charges of visa fraud and making false statements about how much she paid her housekeeper. She faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

The U.S. Justice Department confirmed that Khobragade was strip-searched after her arrest. A senior Indian government source has said the interrogation also included a cavity search, although U.S. officials have denied this.

"I want these false and fabricated charges to be dropped," said Uttam Khobragade, the diplomat's father, adding that he would go on a hunger strike if his demands aren't met. "That will be my last option."

Protesters also gathered at the U.S. consulate in Hyderabad for a second day on Friday, shouting slogans, local media said.

Furious that one of its foreign service officers had been handcuffed and treated like "a common criminal", India on Tuesday removed security barriers outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi and withdrew some privileges from U.S. diplomats.

But the reaction was even more intense because none of the political parties preparing for next year's election wanted to be seen as weak against a superpower.

Politicians, including the leaders of the two main parties, refused to meet a delegation of visiting U.S. lawmakers.

"Because of the election, they will try to outdo each other," said Neerja Chowdhury, a political analyst and a former political editor of Indian Express newspaper.

"They don't want to be seen as weak on the issue when the mood in the country is one of huge anger about this."

The party that runs India's most populous Uttar Pradesh state urged Khobragade to stand for parliament, highlighting how public outrage has turned the case into a battleground for votes.

"Whatever happened with her is condemnable," said Azam Khan, the state's urban development minister, according to media reports. "If she returns to India, we are ready to give her a ticket for the 2014 polls."

Breathless and indignant coverage by Indian TV news channels has added to a sense that national pride has been wounded.

There has been little focus, however, on the predicament of the housekeeper, whose lawyer says was denied her wages, underpaid and now feels it would be unsafe to return to India.

"One wonders why there is so much outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian national accused of perpetrating these acts, but precious little outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian victim and her spouse," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement on Wednesday.

Student didn't think he'd graduate, teacher proves him wrong

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 3:00 PM

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A Georgia high school senior was brought to tears after his teacher surprised him with his cap and gown.

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Jamias Howard, 19, is a student at Griffin High School and is ecstatic about this Saturday, when he will be graduating high school.

Griffin High School special needs teacher Kimberly Wimbish told WSB-TV that she was just doing her job, ensuring that all of her students succeeded. But to Howard, what she’s doing is far from that.

A semester before graduation, Howard was no longer able to make it to class. Wimbish didn’t go into details as to why, but said Howard had some problems.

Although Howard was devastated by the fact that he had only a handful of credits left to complete before graduation, Wimbish didn’t give up on him.

Each day after school, the teacher volunteered her time and met with Howard. She met him at the park, Burger King --anywhere.

"Sometimes, you have to meet them where they are to get them where they need to be,” Wimbish said.

Based on the struggles Howard has had -- and dropout statistics -- Wimbish wanted to make sure he was going to finish. She wanted him to know that he was worthy of help and that someone was in his corner.

“I want so much for these babies,” Wimbish said. “They have to have a fighting chance.”

Wimbish said this is just what she does every day, but to the children her actions mean much more – as evidenced by a video Wimbish posted on her Facebook page Friday evening.

The high school teacher drove by Howard’s house and surprised him with his cap and gown. Howard had made it to the end and was going to be graduating.

Running to the car, Howard tells his teacher in the video, “I love you so much.” Then, she reminds him of when rehearsal is and starts to wipe tears from his eyes.

Howard will be graduating Saturday at 9 a.m. at Griffin Memorial Stadium.

Flea market bargain ring really the real thing: a $450,000 diamond treasure

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 2:58 PM

This 26.27 carat diamond was found in a ring in a flea market in England 30 years ago and bought as a piece of costume jewelry. The buyer wore is for three decades never realizing its true value. It could sell for as much as $450,000 when it goes up for auction next month at Sotheby’s.

A flea market find in England 30 years ago has turned into the stuff dreams are made of.

A woman paid the equivalent of $15 for a piece of costume jewelry three decades ago, or so she thought, but she liked the ring and wore it all the time, The Associated Press reported.

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It turns out the gem was the real deal, a 26.27 carat white diamond, according to Sotheby’s.

The auction house is selling the ring next month as part of jewelry sale and expects the ring to sell for as much as $450,000. Not bad for a $15 investment.

The buyer apparently had no idea the ring was real because 19th century diamonds were cut very differently from today. The cut did not show off the stone’s clarity or brilliance.

The owners asked not to be identified. 


Watch: Melania Trump appears to slap away president's hand in Israel

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 2:37 PM

US President Donald Trump and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin walk during welcome ceremony in Tel Aviv, Monday, May 22,2017. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Oded Balilty/AP

An awkward moment played out on the tarmac of an airport in Israel on Monday after President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived as part of the couple’s first trip abroad since the president’s inauguration.

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As news crews from around the globe documented the couple’s walk from Air Force One, Donald Trump reached back to offer his wife his hand. After he turns to look forward, Melania Trump appears to swat the president’s hand away.

Donald Trump smooths over his tie and adjusts his coat after the rejection.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz slowed down the moment for anyone who missed the flick. No doubt echoing the thoughts of an untold number of viewers, the newspaper tweeted the video with a single word: “Ouch.”

It’s not the first time Melania Trump’s reactions to her husband have come under scrutiny.

>> Related: Melania Trump’s scowl on inauguration day sparks ‘Free Melania’ hashtag

A clip of the first lady went viral in January after Donald Trump’s inauguration. In the clip, Melania Trump shoots a bright smile at her husband as he appears to mouth words at her. As soon as the president turned his back, however, the smile slipped from his wife’s face.


Hamburglar who stole Ronald McDonald statue arrested, police say

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 10:04 AM

Police believe that they have found the hamburglar who swiped a Ronald McDonald statue from a New Jersey McDonald’s restaurant.

Thomas Roman, 56, was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property, the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office said Saturday, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.

"We're really excited," Philip Koury, who has owned the restaurant with his wife Diane since 1991, told the Star-Ledger. "But it's not for us, it's for our thousands of customers. He has been a member of our family for the last 20 years. Customers young and old always enjoy sitting with Ronald and taking pictures."

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The statue was going to be taken to a safe place when construction crews started work April 24 on refurbishing the restaurant. However, the company had to reschedule the pickup for the next day. The statue was reported missing shortly after that. 

The couple first thought it was taken by young people as a prank. But it weighs about 250 pounds and is too large to hide from parents. 

The statue was recovered about a week later. Police did not give Koury any information about where it was found or why it was taken.

The statue is no longer made. About 3,000 of the plastic statues were created through 1997. The Kourys purchased theirs in the early 1990s for $7,000. 

They plan to have the statue restored before putting it back in the restaurant.

"We're going to clean him up and put him back in his place of honor in the dining room,” Koury told the Star-Ledger. “We want him to look his best for our customers in the future."