California students given cookies baked with grandfather’s ashes: media

A California high school student is accused of baking her grandfather's cremated remains into a batch of cookies and handing them out to classmates who ate them. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2018
0

California students given cookies baked with grandfather’s ashes: media

  • Police say some of the Da Vinci Charter Academy students were fully aware and ate the cookies anyway

LOS ANGELES: A teenage girl in California allegedly baked her grandfather’s ashes into cookies and handed them out to her school friends, local media reported on Wednesday.
The student is said to have given her baked goods to at least nine students, the Los Angeles Times said, citing police in Davis, near the state capital Sacramento.
Some ate the cookies without knowing about the macabre extra ingredient and were horrified, Lt. Paul Doroshov said, according to the Times.
In a bizarre twist, others among the Da Vinci Charter Academy students were fully aware and ate the cookies anyway, Doroshov told the newspaper, adding that he found the claims credible.
Student Andy Knox told local television station KCRA he was on his way into class when the unidentified young baker offered him one of her treats saying they contained a “special ingredient.”
“I thought that she put drugs in it or something. So I asked her if like, ‘Is this a weed cookie or something?’” he was quoted as saying.
“And she said ‘No.’ She said it was her grandpa’s ashes. And then she kind of laughed. And I was really, I was kind of horrified.”
Police are investigating the October 4 incident, according to multiple media reports, but have not made any arrests or taken action against the girl.
The Davis Joint Unified School District said in a statement its students were safe and there was “no health risk” to anyone involved.
“This recent case has been particularly challenging and we have responded appropriately and in the most respectful and dignified way possible,” it went on.
“Those who were involved are remorseful and this is now a personal family matter and we want to respect the privacy of the families involved.”


Soviet-era motorcycle sidecars add to Cuba’s retro appeal

Updated 21 March 2019
0

Soviet-era motorcycle sidecars add to Cuba’s retro appeal

  • Ranging from rusting relics to the pampered and the pristine, hundreds of old motorcycle sidecars rattle through the streets of Havana

HAVANA: Cuba’s love affair with 1950s-era American cars is still intact, but the communist-run island also has a lingering attachment to a stalwart of Soviet-era leftovers, the motorcycle sidecar.
Ranging from rusting relics to the pampered and the pristine, hundreds of old motorcycle sidecars rattle through the streets of Havana.
The retro appeal gets a lot of attention from tourists “but here it’s common, normal,” says Enrique Oropesa Valdez.
Valdez should know. The 59-year old makes a living as an instructor teaching people how to handle the sidecar in Havana’s traffic, where riders seem able to squeeze the machines through the narrowest of gaps.
And they’ve built up an intense loyalty among the mend-and-make do Cubans.
“They’re very practical,” according to Alejandro Prohenza Hernandez, a restaurateur who says his pampered red 30-year-old Jawa 350 is like a second child.
Cheaper and more practical than the gas-guzzling, shark-finned US behemoths, the bikes are used for anything from the family runabout to trucking goods and workers’ materials.
“A lot of foreigners really like to take photos of it,” says Hernandez. “I don’t know, I think they see it as something from another time.”
Cuba lags several decades behind the rest of the world due to a crippling US embargo, so the makers’ badges on the ubiquitous sidecars speak of a bygone world.
Names like Jawa from the former Czechoslovakia and MZ from the former East Germany, as well as antiquated Russian Urals, Dniepers and Jupiters.
Havana’s military acquired them from big brother Moscow at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s and 70s, for use by state factories and farms. Over the years, they gradually filtered down to the general public.
That’s how Jose Antonio Ceoane Nunez, 46, found his bright red Jupiter 3.
“When the Cuban government bought sidecars from the Russians in 1981, it was for state-owned companies,” he said.
Later, the companies “sold them on to the most deserving employees,” he said. His father, who worked for a state body, passed the bike on to him.
“Even if the sidecar gets old. I’ll never sell it because it’s what I use to move around. It’s my means of transport in Cuba, and there aren’t many other options,” said Nunez.
Valdez himself has a cherished green 1977 Ural.
“I like it a lot, firstly because it’s the means of transport for my family, and secondly because it’s a source of income.”
And it costs less than a car, still out of reach of many Cubans.
Settled on the island with his Cuban wife, 38-year-old Frenchman Philippe Ruiz didn’t realize at first how ubiquitous the motorcycle sidecar was.
“When I began to be interested, I suddenly realized that I was seeing 50 to 100 a day!”
Renovating a house at the time, he saw that many sidecars were being used to transport building equipment.
Through an advert on the Internet, he bought a blue 1979 Ural a few months ago for 6,500 euros.
“It’s a year older than me and in worse shape,” he said. “Soon he had to strip the bike down and “start repairing everything.”
With few spare parts available in Cuba, “people have to bring them in from abroad,” which slows down repairs.
But he has no regrets. An experienced motorcyclist, he’s discovered a whole new side to his passion by riding the Russian machine.
“It’s very funny, it’s a big change from the bike because we cannot turn the same way, we can’t lean, so you have to relearn everything but it’s nice.”
“It’s especially nice with the family because you can put a child in the sidecar, my wife behind, and suitcases,” he said.
In future he hopes to take advantage of the interest in the old bikes to rent it out.
“I think it will be a bit of a change from all the convertibles here.”