QUIRKY WORLD ... Tree of Pleasure fails to satisfy Milan officials

ITALY: A provocatively adorned outdoor Christmas tree in central Milan was just too naughty for city officials, who have ordered it denuded of its racy red sex toys.

The city said in an order that the Christmas season, “qualifying as a holiday for children and families, requires sobriety in urban decorations,” in particular when using “traditional symbols that distinguish Christmas”.

Norma Rossetti, who launched an Italian sex toy e-commerce website this year, complied immediately with the order. But she defended the so-called “Tree of Pleasure,” saying the objects chosen were elegant and not obviously X-rated. She said her goal is to break taboos by making sex toys “completely normal everyday objects”.

CHINA: An official sacked after a sex scandal was sentenced to 14 years in jail for bribery on Friday, state media said, in the latest fallout from a case that transfixed the country.

Han Shuming, a former district head in the southwestern city of Chongqing, was convicted of accepting bribes worth 4.4m yuan (€528,196), according to a local court ruling, Xinhua news agency said.

Han was one of more than 20 officials and executives at state-owned companies who were investigated after a gang blackmailed them with secretly recorded sex videos.

USA: A woman survived nearly three nights in bitter Alaskan cold by burning her snowmobile and huddling with her small dog, state troopers said yesterday.

Vivian Mayo, 57, of Cantwell, was found at about 1am on Wednesday, taking shelter under the burned-out hulk of her snowmobile and sharing body heat with Elvis, a small brown dog of unknown breed. She was severely hypothermic and in need of immediate medical attention.

She and her husband, Scott Mayo, 61, travelled on snowmobiles to a cabin near Mile 105 of Denali Highway, a mostly gravel east-west road east of Denali National Park and Preserve. The highway connects two paved highways but is not maintained during winter months and is not open to cars and trucks.

Scott Mayo departed the cabin by snowmobile Saturday to check on a trap line that started four or five miles away, Peters said. He had not returned by Sunday. The Mayos were not due back to Cantwell, a community at the west side of the Denali Highway, until Tuesday night, and Vivian Mayo made the decision to return to Cantwell and seek help for her husband.

She did not get far. Her snowmobile broke down on Sunday a mile from the cabin.

Family members called troopers on Tuesday. Rescuers headed out and found Vivian Mayo in about three hours, Peters said. Mayo was starting her third night in the frigid temperatures, which were well below zero. Scott was found a few hours later near a small fire as he prepared for his fourth night in the cold.

Both Vivian and Scott Mayo have since been discharged from hospital.

NORWAY: Five Picasso designs etched into concrete may face the wrecking ball at government buildings in Oslo that anti-Islam militant Anders Breivik bombed in 2011.

Spread across two buildings, including the prime minister’s 17-storey High Block office, the Picassos were etched in 1958. They are the first Picassos in concrete and four of them were designed especially for the site.

Norway is debating what to do with the damaged buildings after eight people were killed in the bombing, after which Breivik killed 69 more people, mostly teenagers, at the ruling Labour party’s summer camp.

The works, discoloured from years of cigarette smoke, were etched into the concrete by Picasso’s friend, the Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar whose own works also decorate the buildings.


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