■ Hong Kong
Police look for sugardaddy
Hong Kong police are searching for a man who handed out HK$1,000 (US$125) notes to passersby on a busy street. The man, soberly dressed and in his 40s, is known to have handed out at least 7,000 dollars in the city's crowded Mongkok district but officers believe he gave over more. "We were alerted by members of the public who came forward and handed in the money -- seven of them spoke to us but we believe the man gave money to many more people," the police spokesman said. The money was not counterfeit and is not believed to have come from the proceeds of crime. "We just want to make sure he did not hand out the money under duress or while impaired by drink or drugs," the spokesman said.
Spermbank taps lawmakers
A leading Australian fertility expert said he has asked state lawmakers to help turn around dwindling sperm bank reserves by publicly signing up as donors. Professor Gab Kovacs, medical director of Victoria state's largest in-vitro fertilization clinic Monash IVF, sent letters to all male state lawmakers aged under 45 to pose the question, "have you ever thought of becoming a sperm donor?" "We hope that if some of the leading role models within our community become donors, others may follow suit," the letter said. Sperm stocks have dwindled; Monash IVF has only 13 sperm donors, with just five new men signing up last year. No lawmaker has yet responded to the letters.
Pygmy humans revisited
A growing number of scientists are challenging the sensational discovery last year of a new species of a 1m tall intelligent humans whose 13,000-year-old bones were said to have been found in an Indonesian cave. According to anthropologists, Homo floresiensis is a pygmy version of modern Homo sapiens. Professor Teuku Jacob said he would "compare the living and the dead. It is quite possible that there are pygmy people living in the area who are related to the people found in the cave." Others argue that bones found in the cave may be neither Homo sapiens, nor Homo floresiensis, but Homo habilis, an even older branch of the human family.
■ South Korea
Timing `ripe' for nuke talks
Stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program could resume as soon as US President George W. Bush finishes putting together his new diplomatic team, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said. Conditions were ripe for those talks but not yet for a summit between himself and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Roh said at a news conference. The nuclear talks would bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the US.
Fourth avian flu victim dies
An 18-year-old woman has died of bird flu in Vietnam, becoming the country's fourth fatality from the disease in the past fortnight. The woman from the rural southern Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang died in hospital in nearby Can Tho city. Since late 2003, at least 24 people in Vietnam have died after being confirmed to have contracted the H5N1 strain. The real figure is thought to be higher as tests were not carried out on some suspected cases. There are fears that the outbreak could spread before next month's Lunar New Year festivities when the demand for poultry is expected to boom.
Madam donates takings
A German brothel owner has been so moved by the plight of survivors from Asia's tsunami disaster that she is donating part of her takings from clients. "It's not every day you can make a charitable gesture by going to a brothel," said Mercedes Mueller, who is giving five euros (US$6.60) of the 39 euro (US$51) entrance charge clients pay. "It's so terrible what happened there and I wanted to do something," said Mueller, who owns the Happy FKK Club in the western city of Dortmund. Mueller said clients, prostitutes and the public had all responded with great enthusiasm to her gesture, and that about 1,300 euros (US$1,700) had been raised so far.