■ Hong Kong
Public wants tax cuts
Nearly seven out of 10 people want tax cuts in the government's budget in February to reflect the city's rising prosperity, according to a survey published yesterday. Sixty-eight percent of people said the government should trim salary tax or give a one-off rebate as a way of sharing the city's growing prosperity with taxpayers. More than half also believe that tax concessions withdrawn during a recent economic slump should be reinstated, the survey by the Democratic Party found. Growth has soared in the past two and a half years while unemployment has fallen, property prices have rebounded and the Hang Seng Index has climbed to a five-year high.
■ Hong Kong
Barrister calls for reform
The leader of barristers has called for an overhaul of colonial-era English laws that are so densely worded that few people can understand them, a news report said yesterday. Bar Association chairman Philip Dykes, quoted by the South China Morning Post, cited a passage of the Evidence Ordinance that is a single sentence of 351 words with only one colon, one semicolon and a sprinkling of commas to break it up. Another passage in the Magistrates Act contains one passage of 195 words with only two semicolons, eight commas and one period, he said in a speech at a legal function. "I have long marveled at the capacity of Victorian draftsmen to manage to write clauses of bills without, so to speak, drawing breath for punctuation," Dykes said. He said many written laws "make demands on the reader's powers of concentration which we, in the 21st century, are simply not up to."
No `Burning Love' for Elvis
An Australian woman faced charges in court yesterday for repeatedly stabbing her partner because he played an Elvis Presley song over and over again, police said. The 30-year-old woman was charged with unlawful wounding after her 35-year-old partner was stabbed with a pair of scissors in the back, shoulder and thigh at Northam, about 100km east of Perth in Western Australia state on Monday, police said. The man, whose injuries were described as "non-life threatening," had been repeatedly playing the song Burning Love, a police spokesman said.
Memory coach finds pi easy
For Melbourne resident Chris Lyons, reciting a 4,400 digit number was as easy as pi. Lyons, 36, recited the first 4,400 digits of pi -- a mathematical value that has an infinite number of decimal places -- without a single error at the 2006 Mindsports Australia Festival on Monday, organizer David Cordover said yesterday. The memory coach took two-and-a-half hours to complete the feat, Cordover said. Lyons said he spent just one week memorizing the digits before reciting them for judges at the festival. "With the right techniques and a bit of practice you can remember what ever you want," he said.
Man rescued from washer
An Australian man had to be rescued after becoming wedged in a washing machine while playing with his children, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday. Robin Toom, 38, had to be pulled from the 8kg capacity machine by a local fire officer after he became trapped while playing hide-and-seek with his children. "I just hopped in there and couldn't even get the lid down and the kids came in and said, `Ha, ha! We found you,'" Toom told the newspaper. Toom, who lives in the northern Queensland city of Townsville, waited for an hour with his knees pressed to his chest before being rescued by local fire squad member Dave Dillon, the newspaper said.