Around the world: the Taliban’s finest

Plus, a fugitive penguin in Japan and a fine over facial hair copyright in Russia

Afghanistan: A mid-level Taliban commander hoping to collect the bounty on his own head turned himself in to police. Mohamad Ashan was wanted for planning IED attacks on Afghan soldiers. Officials had offered a US$100 reward for his capture. But Ashan, evidently confused about how these things work, walked up to a police checkpoint, waved his wanted poster and demanded the cash prize, according to the Washington Post. The officers arrested him.

Japan: A Tokyo zoo has called off the search for a baby penguin who flew—or more accurately climbed out of—the coop. The bird is thought to have scrambled its way up a large rock to escape its enclosure. Zoo workers scoured a nearby river with no luck. They hope to start again in a few months when the penguin will have moulted and grown into its more distinctive, adult plumage.

U.S.: The State of California cancelled an annual report on Australia’s kangaroo harvest. Governor Jerry Brown highlighted the marsupial check-in as one of more than 700 unnecessary and expensive reports state bureaucrats file every year. Among others scheduled to be dropped is one on crocodiles and another on the Loma Prieta earthquake, which happened in 1989.

Australia: Excessive texting and a groggy first officer are being blamed for a near disaster on a flight to Singapore. According to a new investigation, the Australian flight crew forgot to lower the landing gear, and were forced to abort a landing barely 150 m from the ground. The pilot was apparently distracted after being inundated with text messages, while his co-pilot had just woken from a nap.

Russia: A prominent Russian mathematician was prevented from travelling abroad because of a dispute over a beard. A few years ago, Mikhail Verbitsky ridiculed ultranationalist Igor Pugach’s attempt to trademark a particular style of facial hair. Unbeknownst to him, Pugach sued and a judge awarded damages. When the Harvard-trained math whiz tried to leave the country recently, guards blocked him, citing the unpaid fine.