Lean prisoner escapes
A prisoner lost some 14kg so he could squeeze through a hole he chiseled in a brick wall and escape from a maximum security jail in Sydney. Robert Cole, 36, who was serving time for stealing and assault, was being treated in the Long Bay prison hospital when he broke out of jail either on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. New South Wales state corrective services deputy commissioner Ian McLean told reporters it appeared Cole had deliberately lost weight so he could slip through the small hole next to a window in the hospital wall, scaled a wire fence crowned with razor wire and walked along a prison wall, before jumping to freedom.
`Devil' exports blocked
A christening gift for Denmark's newest prince could lead to the spread of a disfiguring disease among animals in the Scandinavian country, Greens lawmaker Nick McKim warned yesterday. Tasmania, the southern state where Denmark's Crown Princess Mary grew up, plans to send two Tasmanian devils to a Copenhagen zoo as a gift to Mary and Crown Prince Frederik's son, who is to be christened on Saturday. But McKim said authorities should rethink the decision because of an ailment called devil facial tumor disease that is ravaging the animals in the wild. The cancerous condition leaves the devils' faces disfigured by tumors, reducing their ability to hunt and kill prey.
■ Hong Kong
Health officials recall coil
More than 4,000 women fitted with a contraceptive device have been told to have them removed after several women reported cases of the devices breaking up, health officials said yesterday. The Family Planning Association has sent out letters to all women fitted with a type of intrauterine device, also known as the coil, and offered them replacements. The recall came after the association recorded five cases of breakage and expulsion of the coil. As a result, the family planning clinics contacted 300 women and discovered 20 more such cases. Four of the new cases reportedly needed surgery to remove the coil.
Fire officers get better pay
What's in a name? More money. At least for the country's 11,000 firefighters. "Firemen," the lowest ranking personnel in the country's fire departments, will now be designated "fire officers," a higher grade that also bumps up their starting monthly salary by 113 ringgit (US$30), a government announcement said yesterday. Under a new scheme starting Jan. 1, all new entrants will be taken in as "fire officers" with a monthly starting salary of 662 ringgit (US$176). In the earlier scheme, fire officers were a grade higher than "firemen," whose starting monthly salary was 549 ringgit (US$146).
Anti-theft injury purse offered
Miroza Leather, a feminine accessories company, is offering a so-called "anti-theft injury" handbag -- and free insurance to back up their claims that their product will prevent serious purse-snatching injuries. Hoping to cater to women worried about soaring purse-snatching incidents, the Giossardi handbag is designed to break free from both ends of its strap on being yanked hard. This will prevent victims from being dragged by the thief holding the bag, and falling to the ground, a company official said. The more than more than 50,000 ringgit (US$13,400) in insurance coverage would be provided by ING Insurance Bhd, officials said on Wednesday.