Wed, May 19, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Shanghai
Toxic tide hits coast

Shanghai residents should avoid seafood because of a massive concentration of toxic algae off China's eastern coast, state media said yesterday. The growth of algae -- known as a red tide -- affects an area up to 20,000km2 off the coast of neighboring Zhejiang province, and is one of the biggest in years, the newspaper Shanghai Daily reported. The dense growths of bacteria and algae are increasingly common due to heavy pollution from sewage and industries along the densely populated east coast and the Yangtze River, the report said. The microscopic algae affects the nervous system of fish and seafood and is toxic to humans.

■ Hong Kong

Maid battles for residency

Hong Kong's government tried but failed to stop a Filipino maid's request for residency in a court battle that could have implications for thousands of foreign workers here. Hong Kong typically requires foreigners to live here for seven years to get permanent residency, but it doesn't allow foreign domestic helpers to count the time they work here toward residency. Julita Raza has lived here for 12 years -- 11 of them working as a maid -- and recently sought residency but was rejected. Raza then filed a lawsuit in the High Court that says the rules unfairly discriminate against maids, but Hong Kong asked Judge Michael Hartmann to throw out her case. The judge refused on Monday, though he told Raza to first pursue her claims before a local tribunal that handles residency matters, Raza's lawyers said by telephone yesterday.

■ Hong Kong

Suspect gulps down knife

A man in western China swallowed an eight-centimeter-long knife and walked around with it lodged in his throat for eight months, a news report said yesterday. Mao Qiang gulped down the knife as police searched him after he was arrested in Chengdu, Sichuan province, last year, according to the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily. The folding knife, which was 1.5cm wide, lodged in his trachea and was eventually removed by surgeons, the newspaper reported.

■ China

Suicide fines introduced

Threaten to kill yourself, pay a fine. Trying to stop a rash of suicide attempts, a western Chinese city says it will fine or jail people who seek help for personal problems by threatening to jump from high-rise buildings. Police in Xi'an say such incidents, which often attract crowds, "disturb public order and produce a negative impact on society," the official Xinhua News Agency said yesterday. Violators will be fined up to 200 yuan (US$24) or jailed for 15 days, Xinhua said. The fine is equal to more than a week's pay for many Chinese.

■ Australia

Tourism campaign launched

Australia moved to project a more sophisticated image of itself to the rest of the world yesterday with the launch of a A$360 million (US$245 million) tourism campaign featuring art, literature and fine food. Shunning the knockabout appeal of Paul Hogan's "put another shrimp on the barbie" ads in the 1980s, the new campaign attempts to sell Australia as more than a destination for sun, surf and partying. Under the slogan "Australia -- a different light," the campaign features a range of personalities showcasing what they love about Australia. Most are global unknowns, except veteran British broadcaster Michael Parkinson, best known for his Yorkshire roots than his connections Down Under.

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