■ New Zealand
From tongue to lung stud
Sales of an imitation tongue stud have been banned after a 9-year-old girl inhaled one and had to undergo surgery to remove it from her lung, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs announced yesterday. The stud, which suctions onto the tongue without piercing, has been popular with teenagers and preteens. But it poses a choking hazard and can be inhaled into the lungs or airways of the wearer causing a potentially serious injury, said Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard, who signed a formal unsafe goods notice.
Seige killers on trial
Eight men went on trial yesterday in connection with the armed siege of an international school near the famed Angkor temples in which a 2-year-old Canadian boy was killed. Four of them involved in the June attack have been charged with premeditated murder, the kidnapping and illegal detainment of persons for ransom and illegal use of a weapon. The charges carry penalties ranging from 15 years to life in prison. Four masked men stormed Siem Reap International School on June 16 and held about 30 students and some teachers hostage for more than six hours.
Muslims robbed in hotel
A visiting delegation from the World Muslim League has had a suitcase containing US$300,000 in cash stolen as they rested in a hotel lobby in the Jakarta, a report said yesterday. The delegation, led by secretary-general Abdullah bin Abdul Muhsin at-Turki, arrived on Thursday and was due to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono later that day. The theft on Thursday was captured on security cameras at the hotel but the face of the suspected thief was obscured, the Detikcom news agency said. Central Jakarta police chief Sukrawardi Dahlan said language barriers were hampering the investigation.
■ Hong Kong
Schoolkids jump to death
A pregnant 17-year-old schoolgirl and her 16- year-old boyfriend leapt hand in hand to their deaths wearing their school uniforms, police said yesterday. Yu See-ka and, Yik Chun-wing, leapt from the 22nd floor of a housing estate in Tai Po district. Shocked residents spotted the girl dead on the first-floor canopy, with her boyfriend lying lifeless on top of her. The couple had reportedly told friends of their turmoil over the pregnancy before jumping. Police officers investigating the deaths say that the couple sought help from parents and teachers but were unable to find a way out of their dilemma. Suicide rates have climbed sharply in recent years and people are now killing themselves at a rate of more than three a day.
Robbery-free day recorded
Croatia registered its first robbery-free day in recent years, media in Zagreb reported on Thursday citing local police sources. "Between midnight and 7pm there was no such crime, which is an anomaly in recent years," police spokesman Zlatko Mehun was quoted as saying. The lull followed police action in central Zagreb on Tuesday in which two men were killed in an attempt to rob a post office. The tough police response was a mark of the new, energetic stance to a tidal wave of violent crime, which prompted a parliamentary initiative to arm police with rifles.
Porn tax mooted
Porn stars were up in arms on Thursday over plans by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government to introduce a tax on their work. The proceeds from the proposed new "porn tax" would go towards paying for working mothers to afford baby-sitters. The measure -- the brainchild of the National Alliance -- is due to be voted on in parliament next week. It is contained in the latest draft of next year's budget, which emerged from committee late on Wednesday. The porn tax would take the form of a 20 percent levy on the selling price or rental cost of pornographic videos and DVDs.