■ Hong KongTung rejects referendum
Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader has refused to allow a referendum on universal suffrage in the former British colony, pro-democracy legislators said yesterday. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) is also believed to have cautioned them that they might be breaking the law if they attempted to arrange an unofficial referendum on the subject. Legislators spoke after meeting Tung on Monday, saying they were "disappointed" at his lack of commitment towards broadening democracy in Hong Kong.
US to clarify China remarks
The State Department will ask the Chinese government about a former senior Chinese official who was quoted as accusing US President George W. Bush of trying to "rule over the whole world." The quotes in the China Daily, an English language state newspaper, were attributed to Qian Qichen (錢其琛), a former vice premier and former foreign minister. A Chinese embassy spokesman cast doubt on the authenticity of the lengthy commentary, saying Qian was not interviewed by the China Daily nor did he write an article for the newspaper. Qian was quoted as saying the invasion of Iraq "destroyed the hard-won global anti-terror coalition."
Speeding train kills two
A woman and her daughter were killed by a speeding train when the two went too close to the tracks to get better reception on a cellular phone, a news report said yesterday. The pair were killed in a remote village in the eastern state of Kelantan on Sunday, the day the mother, Zurianawati Abas, celebrated her 23rd birthday, the Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia reported. Zurianawati had walked to the tracks with her two-year-old daughter from her home where she couldn't get a signal on her phone.
Coca-Cola used as pesticide
Farmers have come up with what they think is the real thing to keep crops free of bugs. Instead of paying hefty fees to international chemical companies for patented pesticides, they are reportedly spraying their cotton and chilli fields with Coca-Cola. In the past month there have been reports of hundreds of farmers turning to Coke in Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh states. But as word gets out that soft drinks may be bad for bugs and a lot cheaper than anything that Monsanto, Shell and Dow can offer, thousands of others are expected to switch. Gotu Laxmaiah, a farmer from Ramakrish-napuram in Andra Pradesh, said he was delighted with his new cola spray, which he applied this year to several hectares of cotton.
Hospital sued over infection
A woman infected with hepatitis through a blood transfusion in northern China won a law suit against the hospital responsible, a news report said yesterday. The woman initially lost her case against the hospital in Yitong County, Jilin Province, because a court ruled there was not enough evidence that the hospital was accepting untested donor blood. So the woman dressed as a beggar and lived with a group of down-and-outs involved in illegal blood selling to gather evidence, the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily reported. She was awarded 83,600 yuan (US$10,000) in compensation.
■ GermanyQueen asked for apology
Germany's biggest selling tabloid, Bild, on Monday called on Queen Elizabeth to apologize for Britain's wartime destruction of German cities, ahead of her state visit to Germany today. In a provocative double-page spread, the newspaper urged the queen to utter a "few suitable words of regret" during her three-day trip for the thousands of German civilians killed during British air raids. The tabloid's campaign comes at a tricky moment in Anglo-German relations -- and when the idea that Germans were also victims of the World War II is for the first time being more broadly debated. On Monday British officials said there was no prospect of the queen apologizing during her visit to Berlin.