Most foreign booze fake
Nearly 60 percent of "foreign-brand" liquor found in four major Chinese cities is fake, according to a random check carried out by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. The administration inspected 40 bottles, mostly cognac and whisky, in 19 retail outlets and found 23 with Hennessy, Remy Martin, Martell and certain Scotch whisky labels were fake, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported yesterday. The counterfeit products were filled with substandard spirit and their packaging, including the "fake-proof" laser certificates, was realistic enough to fool ordinary consumers, the newspaper said.
■ Hong Kong
City gets bad air crown
Satellite pictures have confirmed Hong Kong's status as one of the world's most polluted cities, with stratospheric levels of smog, a news report said yesterday. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has teamed up with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration to give researchers access to daily satellite images of the region and the world, the Hong Kong Standard reported. "What surprised us is that when we compared pollution in Hong Kong on a normal day, it was always higher than other cities like Taipei, Paris and Washington," associate professor Janet Nichol told the paper.
Fire rages through slum
A huge blaze destroyed about 1,500 shacks in a slum in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao overnight but there were no reports of any deaths or injuries, city and fire officials said yesterday. Nearly 5,000 people were left homeless after the seven-hour fire, sparked at about 6:30pm by an unattended candle, ripped through the shanty town's narrow streets in the port of Zamboanga City. "It was an inferno," Zamboanga City mayor Celso Lobregat told reporters, saying blocked streets and low water pressure failed to contain the flames from spreading quickly to houses made of light materials.
Tibet to get new roads
With an historic train line to Tibet about to open, China is now planning to spend around US$700 million on a vast new road network for the Himalayan territory, state press reported yesterday. China will this year spend 5.7 billion yuan on road construction in Tibet as it starts building 21 highway projects, the Xinhua news agency said. Part of the money will pay for upgrading the highway connecting the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal with Tibet, a mountainous region which has long had poor roads.
Drug, rape scandal hits navy
Dutch naval personnel re-enacted the abuse of prisoners committed at the US prison at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad as a joke and took photographs of the scenes, the Telegraaf newspaper reported yesterday. The incident mimicking the notorious photographs took place aboard the supply ship Amsterdam, the national daily said. The report was published a day after revelations of sexual abuse, including rape, aboard another Dutch vessel, the frigate Tjerk Hiddes. Crew members acknowledged alcohol abuse, snorting cocaine and participating in acts of sexual abuse against women crew members.
Non-stop arousal studied
A health journal yesterday described a newly identified syndrome affecting women -- non-stop sexual arousal that can last for months and cannot be satisfied regardless of the number of orgasms. The paper, which appears in the International Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, tentatively calls it Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome, or PSAS. It seems to affect only a small minority of women, but the true extent is unclear. The study says that, despite the sniggering or smart remarks this condition may cause, the state of endless arousal can cripple a woman's life.