Dress code for cabbies
In a bid to spruce up the city's image, Nanjing authorities are banning taxi drivers who are bald, wear their hair too long, have moustaches or wear too much make-up, media said yesterday. The new rules are part of a 10-point plan to smarten up the city ahead of next month's 10th National Games, the news Web site www.sina.com.cn said yesterday, citing the Nanjing Morning Post. "Male taxi drivers cannot have long hair or strange hairstyles, cannot be bald and cannot grow moustaches or goatees," the report said. "Women drivers must not use too much make-up and should wear appropriate clothes." The report did not mention penalties for drivers that break the rules.
■ Hong Kong
Suspected gangsters quizzed
Police questioned 50 suspected triad members yesterday who were arrested outside a newly opened mortuary as they prepared to fight for control of the funeral business racket with rival gangsters. The arrests were made on Monday by some 60 anti-triad officers after learning that rival gangs were preparing to battle for supremacy at the Kwai Chung Mortuary in Kowloon. A police spokesman said the victorious gang would have assumed the right to prey on grieving relatives visiting the morgue to identify dead loved ones, touting the business of legitimate undertakers and claiming a cut of earnings.
Better anti-abuse laws urged
The government needs to pass legislation specifically against domestic violence, law experts were cited as saying by state media yesterday, criticizing current laws as being inadequate in protecting women. Experts said present legislation that refers to domestic violence was too abstract, the Xinhua news agency said. Chen Mingxia, a law researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says the definition of domestic violence fails to clearly outline whether psychological damage, economic control and verbal threats qualify. The coverage also does not extend to divorced couples or lovers, she said.
Unpopular coin recalled
The government will withdraw the frequently counterfeited and little-used 1 ringgit coin (US$0.25) as legal tender on Dec. 7, and has urged people to exchange their stock of the coins for bank notes. A statement dated Monday posted on the Web site of the central bank said people can turn in their coins at designated banks from today until Dec. 6. The one-ringget bank note will continue to be legal tender, said the statement by Bank Negara. The heavy, gold-colored one-ringget coin, minted and first issued in 1989, was never popular because of its weight.
Two-day weekend mandated
The government has ordered two-day weekends, starting this Friday, as part of an austerity drive to save fuel, officials said yesterday. But workers who were used to working six days a week will have to stay on the job an hour longer, from 9am to 5pm, to make up for the extra day off. Offices have customarily closed at 4pm.
A dozen insurgents killed
US and Afghan government forces killed 12 insurgents and captured nine in a operation in the south aimed at stopping militants from disrupting the Sept. 18 general election, the US military said yesterday. No Afghan or US troops were hurt, the US military said.
Historical records at risk
Federal troops have prevented specialists from rescuing some of the most historic documents in the city's history, from original land grants to slave sale records and title records. The New Orleans Notorial Archives hired Munters Corp, a Swedish document salvage firm that freezes and then freeze-dries records to slowly remove moisture from them, to rescue the documents. But Munters refrigerated trucks were turned away by troops as they tried to enter the city, said Stephen Bruno, the archives' custodian.
Blanco calls for aid
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco on Monday called for a Marshall Plan to rebuild her state after Hurricane Katrina, similar to the US-funded windfall for Europe after World War II. Blanco, hours after meeting US President George W. Bush, also made strenuous efforts to paper over a perceived rift between the federal government and her state administration, after a blame game emerged over the crisis. "I see Louisiana people working in a Marshall-like plan to rebuild Louisiana. We are going to put our state back together," Blanco said.
Troops to return
A National Guard unit based in New Orleans will return from the war in Iraq on Saturday to deal with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the flood that followed, a spokeswoman said on Monday. "We have got several hundred soldiers that are coming back from a year in combat to this," said Samantha Bingham, a spokeswoman for Fort Polk. "Many, many of them are from southern Louisiana," she said in a telephone interview. Several hundred members of the 2,800-strong 256th Army National Guard's 141st field artillery section are due to return early on Saturday morning, Bingham said.
Stayin' alive with Travolta
Actor John Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, delivered five tonnes of food for victims of Katrina on Monday. Travolta, an experienced pilot, flew the supplies in his own private jet to Baton Rouge, then toured New Orleans and visited rescue workers and shelters for evacuees. The two actors also brought along 400 doses of tetanus vaccines for rescuers. The star of Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction said he was coordinating with Oprah Winfrey to get even more relief for the more than a million people affected by one of the worst storms in US history.
Flood book in demand
A book about a deadly 1927 flood along the Mississippi River has become an online best-seller since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America was No. 11 on Amazon's best-seller list on Monday night. The book, written by New Orleans resident John Barry, describes the history and politics behind a flood that forced almost a million people to evacuate their homes. The title was first published in 1997. The publisher began to see increased demand for the title last week, said a Simon & Schuster spokesman. Rising Tide, is now going back to press to print additional paperback copies, he said.
Zhirinovsky to meet Tyson
Ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky said on Monday he will suggest to former heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson, currently in Moscow, that he stay in Russia. "I am happy to meet with him and we will talk about the death of America," said Zhirinovsky, who is known for his anti-US views. Tyson arrived on Monday evening in Moscow for a private, five-day visit. He was set to meet Zhirinovsky at a restaurant yesterday, the Ria-Novosti news agency said. Zhirinovsky said he would express his condolences to the boxer for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. "America is going to suffer even more," Zhirinovsky said. "I'm going to suggest he stay in Russia."
Putin cool on reform
Foreign pressure for reform in states of the former Soviet Union risks turning them into chaotic "banana republics," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in comments published yesterday. He said Western governments may have been mistaken in backing non-governmental organizations pushing for change during last year's "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine. "We are not against any changes in the former Soviet Union," Putin was quoted as saying by Britain's Times daily. "We are afraid only that those changes will be chaotic. Otherwise there will be banana republics where he who shouts loudest wins."
■ United Kingdom
Pig with a plot
A housing developer in Britain is offering a live pig as a pet to anyone who purchases a property from him, a spokeswoman said on Monday, adding that the unusual offer had already attracted two buyers. The rare Gloucester Old Spot pig will be fully house-trained before it is delivered to its new family. Those who do not fancy getting trotter marks on their carpets can opt to have their pig kept on a farm and turned into pork chops or rashers of bacon. Developer Jeremy Paxton promised to give a pig to anyone investing in a home on the exclusive Lower Mill estate, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, southwest England.
Cable-car probe starts
Experts started an investigation yesterday into the cause of a cable-car accident the previous day in the mountainous Tirol region that killed members of a German ski group, including six children. The investigation was concentrating on the holding device of a transport helicopter that was carrying a 750kg slab of concrete to a lift station at the top of a mountain, Austria's ORF television reported. The device opened, sending the concrete slab crashing onto a gondola carrying German tourists from a height of 200m, sending the car falling at least 50m. The vibrations on the line caused a neighboring gondola to swing violently, throwing a total of six people of out the windows to their deaths.
Chernobyl not so serious
The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl almost 20 years ago has claimed fewer than 50 lives, according to a study by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Development Program and the World Health Organization. But about 4,000 people could eventually die from exposure to radiation released when a reactor caught fire in the Ukrainian forest. "By and large ... we have not found profound negative health impacts to the rest of the population in surrounding areas, nor widespread contamination," Chernobyl Forum chairman Burton Bennett said.
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable