■ AustraliaOpposition leader resigns
The embattled leader of the opposition Labor Party resigned yesterday, a victim of his failure to dent Prime Minister John Howard's supremacy in opinion polls. ``It's been a pretty sleepless night but when I got up this morning I decided to call a ballot for the leadership of the parliamentary Labor Party next Tuesday and I won't be a candidate,'' Simon Crean said in a nationally televised statement in Canberra. Shortly after, Crean's predecessor Kim Beazley -- who lost two straight elections to Howard's conservative coalition in 1998 and 2001 -- said he will again seek to lead the party to a national election, expected mid to late next year.
Sex in cars puzzles police
Booming vehicle ownership in southern China has left police puzzled over how to deal with the new problem of couples having sex in cars, a news report said yesterday. Until recently this notion was virtually unheard of in China as traditionally most people used bicycles and motorbikes. But the explo-sion in car ownership has seen increasing numbers of couples using their cars as a convenient location to have sex. In Guangzhou, amorous couples have been caught having sex in their cars in local scenic spots at night, according to the South China Morning Post. Law-yers have advised police that the best policy in most cases is to leave the couples to it, the paper said.
Nightclub bothers embassy
A new nightclub next to
the Chinese Embassy is keeping the staff awake and affecting their job perfor-mance, a newspaper reported yesterday. The Spark Entertainment Center, a hit with Cambodia's rich and influential, opened last week across from the embassy compound in Phnom Penh. Most embassy staff live in the compound. The club starts at midnight and is open all night, an unidentified embassy official told The Cambodia Daily. "Staff members can't fall asleep. This affects our government. Our people can't work well," he said.
■ HONG KONG
Tse's appeal dismissed
Canto-pop star Nicholas Tse (謝霆鋒) failed yesterday to overturn a conviction for conspiring to pervert the course of justice by allowing his driver to act as a stand-in after a car crash last year. High Court Judge Claire-Marie Beeson dismissed an appeal that the singer had not played an active part in the conspiracy, and was therefore innocent, a court official said. Beeson said Tse had full knowledge of what was occurring at the time but had done nothing to stop it. Tse and policeman Lau Chi-wai, 28, were found guilty in October last year of allowing Tse's former chauffeur to present himself as the driver of Tse's black Ferrari.
■ New Zealand
Santa's knee out of bounds
The small South Island town of Mosgiel has banned children from sitting on Santa's knee because organizers fear liability if anything goes wrong, organizers said yesterday. Instead, the children would be asked to sit next to Santa on specially decorated "elf chairs," as they discuss their Christmas wish list. Gail Thompson, secretary of the Mosgiel Business Associa-tion, which is organizing the event, said the precaution was "ridiculous" but necessary. "None of us really want the risk of someone saying in 15 years' time `When we sat on Santa's knee at market day ... ,' so they are sitting on elves' chairs."
■ South AfricaPolitical parties sued