■ Hong Kong
Arsonist receives life
A 68-year-old man began a life sentence on Thursday after being found guilty of setting fire to a commuter train during rush hour, the South China Morning Post said. The man, Yim Kam-chung, ignited a bottle of solvent in a train carriage in February as it left a busy station in Tsim Sha Tsui, the daily said. The fire was extinguished by a passenger who stamped on the bottle and alerted fellow passengers. Yim later told police he had set out to "cause a tragedy" because the government has confiscated six of his vehicles.
■ Hong Kong
Old food seller arrested
A street hawker has been arrested for selling tins of food out-of-date by up to six years scavenged from trash cans, officials said yesterday. The 47-year-old woman was buying foodstuffs and other items collected from rubbish collection points by scavengers for around a US$1 a bag. She was then selling them on at prices well below the normal market value. They included tea, dried noodles, soy sauce and potato chips. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department was alerted to the case when a woman became ill after eating soup she bought from the hawker that had an expiry date three years earlier.
■ South Korea
Agent Orange makers lose
The Seoul High Court yesterday ordered two US manufacturers of the defoliant Agent Orange to pay US$62 million in medical compensation to South Korean veterans of the Vietnam War and their families. The court ordered Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan, and Monsanto Company in St. Louis, Missouri, to pay the compensation to about 6,800 people. The herbicide was widely used to destroy jungle cover used by communist troops during the war, but South Koreans, Vietnamese and many US veterans later blamed their exposure to the chemical for a variety of illnesses and reproductive disorders, including miscarriages, birth defects, cancers and nervous disorders.
Rebels battle each other
Fighting broke out between rival factions of the largest Muslim separatist group on Mindanao island on Thursday, highlighting what analysts have said could be a split in the rebels. Hundreds of people have fled a remote village in Maguindanao province after some 200 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) occupied the area following two days of fighting, a rebel spokesman and army officials said. An army spokesman said the fighting was between MILF's radical faction.
Farmer dumps chicks
A farmer abandoned 10,000 newly hatched chicks to their fate on a desert road east of Cairo fearing they might be infected with the deadly bird flu virus, a police official said on Wednesday. Shocked motorists traveling on the road about 130km east of Cairo contacted police after seeing the chicks running loose on the tarmac on Tuesday, the official added. Health officials gathered the chicks and confirmed after testing that they were not carrying the virus. The farmer has taken back the birds and would not be facing legal proceedings, the official said.
Alleged spies urged to stay
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday said that four British diplomats accused of espionage in Moscow should not be expelled, as their replacements might be cleverer than they were and harder to catch. Putin said he wanted the Russian security services and the foreign ministry to suggest a line of approach to the Kremlin, but questioned the wisdom of expelling the four men. The diplomats were shown on Russian state television on Sunday allegedly retrieving data from a Russian agent, by palmtop computer, via a transmitter hidden in a fake rock. The program claimed that Britain was using spies to fund and communicate with Russian non-governmental organizations.