■ ChinaNineteen people die in crash
A bus full of tourists and a truck collided in eastern China, killing 19 people, the government said yesterday. The truck driver and everyone on the bus -- 15 tourists from the central province of Henan, two drivers and a guide -- died in the crash near Rizhao city in Shandong Province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The only survivor was a passenger in the truck, it said. The collision occurred at 6:30am Thursday on an expressway between Rizhao and Dongming county, Xinhua said.
Fighting terror essential: PM
The armed forces must contribute to global peace to secure safety at home, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said yesterday amid signs his government will extend an unpopular military deployment in Iraq. "From now on, to secure our own country's safety and prosperity, it is necessary to positively contribute to the peace and stability of the international community," said Koizumi, a fervent supporter of the US-led "war on terror." The beheading last month of a Japanese hostage in Iraq, after Koizumi rejected demands to withdraw Japanese troops, has fuelled a debate about whether the soldiers should extend their mission past Dec. 14.
Chinese brides offered
Chinese brides from Indonesia are the latest to be offered to lonely Singaporean men by matchmakers who claim their ability to speak Chinese makes make better wives than Vietnamese, The Sunday Times reported. The brides-to-be from Kalimantan speak various Chinese dialects, can whip up Chinese meals and adjust to Singapore more easily, according to Simon Sim, manager of the Maybe Marriage Agency. Sim and a business partner started the agency after finding out about the communication problems their friends had who opted for Vietnamese spouses.
Tax evaders to be penalized
Authorities plan to crack down on tens of thousands of companies and individuals who have failed to settle their taxes, news reports said yesterday. Tax dodgers will face large fines and have their names published in newspapers to shame them, said Zainol Abidin Abdul Rashid, director general of the Inland Revenue Board. "I would like to send out a message to tax defaulters that 2005 will be a year of enforcement," Zainol Abidin was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper. At least 33,000 companies nationwide are believed to owe back taxes, Zainol Abidin said. He did not provide figures for personal tax payers.
Zoo animals denied chicken
There will be no chicken this winter for lions and tigers and bears in the Guangzhou Zoo. Zoo officials in the southern Chinese city said the animals will only be fed beef, mutton and rabbit as a precaution against an outbreak of avian influenza, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The new diet, which will last for three months, will hopefully lower the chance of the animals getting sick, especial-ly with so many birds from the north migrating to the warmer southern regions, Xinhua said, citing Chen Honghan, deputy manager of the zoo. "The inflow of so many birds from other areas adds to the possibility of an epidemic," Chen was quoted as saying. Bird flu ravaged poultry farms across Asia this year, killing or forcing the culls of tens of millions of chickens and other birds.
■ IsraelBeslan survivors on visit