■ The Philippines
Journalist toll rises to 13
A journalist was bludgeoned to death in the north, making him the 13th member of
the press to be killed this year, police said yesterday. Stephen Omaois, 24, a reporter for the provincial news weekly Guru Press
and for government-run radio DZRK, was found dead by police on the outskirts
of Tabuk town on Saturday, police investigators said.
He had head injuries, appa-rently from rocks that were found beside the body, said
a provincial police official. No arrests have been made and the motive is unknown. Arthur Alad-iw, vice chair-man of the National Union
of Journalists in the Philip-pines, claimed Omaois had been abducted last Friday. Family members only identified his body yesterday after it had been lying at a local mortuary for five days.
Rich-poor gap widening
The gap between rich and poor, triggered by 20 years of economic reforms, is getting wider, the official Economic Information Daily said yesterday. The annual dis-posable per capita income of a high-income family grew
13 percent last year to 17,472 yuan (US$2,111), while that of a low-income family rose 8.7 percent to just 329.5 yuan, the paper said, quoting the National Bureau of Statistics. It did not detail how many Chinese families fall into the high-income bracket. Government leaders, wary of the potential for social unrest, have declared war on poverty and pledged to narrow the yawning gap between the rich and the poor.
Jizo helps town stay clean
The town of Nagato in the mountains of central Nagano prefecture has found divine help in ridding its car parks and roadsides of litter dis-carded by tourists passing through on their way to nearby ski resorts. Nagato authorities placed statues
of Jizo, whose role in Bud-dhism is to help others find enlightenment, at parking spots on a main road through the town. In the four months since the appearance of the statues, carved by local residents, litter has almost disappeared, public broad-caster NHK said yesterday.
"I can't drop litter now, not with the statue looking at me," NHK quoted one driver as saying.
Crime-fighters wear kimonos
Bar hostesses clad in ki-monos have joined forces with police in a symbolic move to crack down on rising crime in Tokyo's fashionable Ginza enter-tainment and shopping district. Complaining of
what they say are rising rates of pick-pocketing and mug-ging, several kimono-clad hostesses have started to patrol the district once a month. "Men patrol the streets too, but we feel it's our duty to help out to take care of our town and return it to a place of safe streets like it used to be," said Kie Kittaka, a bar owner, wear-ing a kimono with a green sash reading: "Protect our town." The women visit bars in the evening to hand out flyers aimed at raising awareness of crime in the district.
■ Hong Kong
Tougher air-rage law sought
The government is seeking a legal amendment enabling it to prosecute unruly pas-sengers on all planes bound for the territory. The law allows authorities to pro-secute crimes committed on Hong Kong-controlled air-craft regardless of where they are located. But the government wants to expand its jurisdiction over crimes that involve unruly behavior to all planes that are destined for Hong Kong.
■ United States
Lava lamp kills man
A Washington state man who placed a lava lamp on a hot stove died when the lamp exploded and a glass shard pierced his heart, police said on Tuesday. Phillip Quinn, 24, was found dead in his trailer home on Sunday night in Kent. "There appeared to have been an explosion that was centered on the stove top. There were glass fragments all over, embedded in the walls," said Paul Petersen, a Kent police spokesman. A lava lamp features blobs of wax in liquid that rise and fall in a container when heated by a bulb at the base of the lamp. Quinn was probably standing in front of the lamp when it exploded, then stumbled into his bedroom and died.