Snow snarls rail lines
Heavy snowfalls have caused chaos on China's railways, delaying hundreds of thousands of passengers as the annual travel boom for the Lunar New Year holidays neared its peak, state press said yesterday. As many as 200,000 passengers were delayed at rail stations in Beijing and Henan Province on Thursday, with as many as 90,000 stranded overnight, according to the reports and railway officials. Beijing's West Railway Station was put on "red alert" as additional security forces were called in for crowd control.
■ Hong Kong
Youth asked to report piracy
Thousands of Hong Kong youngsters were yesterday being recruited to report cases of Internet copyright piracy to customs officers. The city's Customs and Excise Department has begun training youth groups to use a Web page to report illegal file-sharing activities using BitTorrent technology. A customs spokesman said up to 200,000 youngsters were expected to be recruited in the campaign which is also aimed at raising awareness about Internet piracy issues.
Karaoke workers protest
Thousands of karaoke bar and massage parlor workers protested in China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen after their businesses were shut down in an anti-vice campaign, Hong Kong newspapers said yesterday. Four of the protest leaders were stripped to their underwear and taken away by police, another 25 were detained for 15 days, and about 1,000 were taken to police stations and made to register, the Ming Pao newspaper said. Some 2,000 police diverted traffic and surrounded some 5,000 protesters.
Transsexual spared the cane
A court has spared a Thai transsexual drug dealer from caning because the nation's law does not allow women to be sentenced to that punishment, The Straits Times reported yesterday. Thai prostitute Mongkon Pusuwan, 37, who underwent a sex change from male to female a decade ago, was instead sentenced on Wednesday to six years in jail after a medical report concluded that she was a woman, the report said. District Judge Bala Reddy handed down the sentence after Mongkon pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in cocaine and tablets containing ketamine, it said.
■ New Zealand
Burglar loses face
An incompetent burglar captured and hog-tied by elderly members of a petanque club was a "laughing stock" in prison and would never again be able to hold his head up in criminal circles, his lawyer said yesterday. Clinton Michael Dearman, 38, was captured and tied up by arriving members after he broke into the club in Christchurch on Dec. 11. The humiliation Dearman had suffered as a result of media publicity should be taken into account in sentencing, his lawyer said. But Judge Michael Crosbie showed little sympathy, sentencing Dearman to two years and four months in jail.
Better late than never
In a case of better late than never, a woman has collected A$100,000 (US$74,810) after cashing in a lottery ticket more than a decade after it was bought, an official said yesterday. The woman, who asked not to be identified, collected her winnings this week after discovering the ticket lodged in a greeting card she found in her home, a spokesman for New South Wales state Gaming Minister Grant McBride said on condition of anonymity. The lottery ticket was bought in 1992. The winner was doubly lucky as lottery officials are in the process of reining in the length of time people have to claim their winnings.