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Arms and umbrella

Berlin, Feb. 16 (AFP): It makes the arm of choice for guerrillas around the world. Now the Kalashnikov brand could also make their umbrellas.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, 83, the Russian godfather of the world’s favourite assault rifle, has bought 30 per cent of the MMI company in Germany, the Weltam Sonntag newspaper reported. MMI specialises in umbrellas.

“There’s a similarity between their products and my gun,” Kalashnikov told the paper. “They’re reliable, easy to use and low-maintenance.” The retired general — whose automatic rifle has sold over 100 million in hot spots around the world — has bought 30 per cent of MMI, based in Solingen, Western Germany, according to MMI’s chief Thomas Herriger.

Sour tunes

Peshawar (AFP): For many singers and dancers in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), an Islamist-led crackdown on musical performance has meant a humiliating return to prostitution. “The ban has forced me to become a prostitute again after 12 years,” lamented Mahjabeen, 30, an accomplished singer of Pashtu-language ghazals in Peshawar. “It has frightened my audience away. They are too scared to organise musical evenings. My sole source of income was singing, so now I have no option but to revert to prostitution to support my family.” Since the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance of pro-Taliban Islamic parties swept nwfp in the October polls and won control of the provincial parliament, police have been waging an anti-obscenity drive by arresting video store owners and locking up singers.

Print censor

Denver (AP): Editors of leading scientific journals have announced they would delete details from published studies that might help terrorists make biological weapons. The editors, joined by several prominent scientists, said they would not censor scientific data or adopt a top-secret classification system similar to that used by the military and government intelligence agencies. But they said scientists must face the paradox that many of their impressive breakthroughs can be used for sinister purposes.

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