The 20-metre tall fiberglass Santa has been among the festive decorations in Auckland since 1960 but in recent years began to struggle with one of his eyes that was made to wink and a mechanical figure that moved in a welcoming gesture.
“There was a concern the guy did look a little creepy. It was the finger and the Sad Sack, winking, droopy eye,” Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney told local media.
The Santa, that stands on a street corner in the city centre, has undergone extensive facial work over the past four months.
His face remains bandaged ahead of a public unveiling on Sunday but his mechanical figure has been replaced with a static digit. –– Reuters.
SMOKING DIPLOMATS: Swedish police have arrested two North Korean diplomats on suspicion of smuggling 230 000 cigarettes into the Nordic country, the Swedish customs office said.
The pair, a man and a woman who have diplomatic status in Russia, were stopped by Swedish customs officers last Wednesday as they drove off a ferry from Helsinki, the Finnish capital.
Customs officials discovered Russian cigarettes in the car driven by the couple, Swedish customs spokeswoman Monica Magnusson said.
The two North Koreans claimed diplomatic immunity.
“They were accredited as diplomats in Russia, but had no accreditation in Sweden,” she said. “They were arrested on suspicion of smuggling.”
Magnusson added that the pair were still being held by Swedish police and that she was not aware of them having any contact with North Korean officials since their arrest.
Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of the arrests but would not comment directly on the matter, saying it was a criminal case and was being handled by the police.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Cecilia Julin said foreign diplomats are only immune from criminal prosecution in countries where they have been accredited with the authorities.
“If you come to Sweden and commit a crime, you’re just like any other foreign national,” she said.
Sweden is one of only seven countries to have an embassy in North Korea, treated by much of the world as a rogue state due to human rights abuses and its possession of nuclear weapons despite opposition by the international community.
The Foreign ministry said the arrests were primarily a police matter, but that the North Korean embassy in Sweden was in contact with the ministry over the matter.
An official at the North Korean embassy in Stockholm said he had no knowledge of the arrests. –– Reuters.
TWEETING INSULT: A Canadian MP learned the hard way last Tuesday that insulting a rival legislator by Twitter is not a good idea, especially if you’re sitting around the same table at the time.
Michelle Simson of the Liberals, unhappy at the behaviour of Conservative parliamentarian Dean Del Mastro during a committee meeting, sent a Twitter message saying “Del Mastro should grow up (not out)”.
Del Mastro, who is not slim, stood up in the House of Commons in front of hundreds of legislators to demand Simson say she was sorry.
“I apologise that I’m not perfect and perhaps my stature doesn’t meet the criteria that some members of the House might set but I have actually battled that problem since birth,” he said.
Simson then apologised publicly, saying she had been wrong. –– Reuters.