Three killed in shootings
Gunmen killed a tabloid newspaper photographer and two leftwing activists in three separate shootings in the Philippines, the national police said yesterday. Nearly 1,000 leftist activists, community organisers, lawyers and journalists have either gone missing or been murdered since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001 and her government has been criticized for failing to stop the killings. Photojournalist Vic Melendrez was walking down a narrow alley outside his house in a suburb north of Manila yesterday morning when three gunmen shot him in the chest and the back, the ninth murder of a journalist this year. "We're still verifying the motive for the killing," Moises Guevarra, the city police chief, told reporters.
Town in mercury nightmare
A town in southwest China is wrestling with a serious pollution problem after a thermometer factory contaminated its vegetable fields and rivers with mercury, local media said on Sunday. The residents of Dongyang town in Chongqing municipality may face the loss of 20 hectares of farmland because the mercury has seeped into the soil, the Chongqing Evening Post said. Farmers had for a long time used the water from nearby rivers, which are contaminated by the factory pollution, to irrigate their vegetables, corn and melons, the report said. The factory, which closed yesterday after filing for bankruptcy, had a section that produced mercury and droplets of the chemical can still be seen around the grounds of the complex, the report said.
■ New Zealand
Costly cash phased out
Small change got smaller yesterday with the official launch of the nation's new, leaner 50, 20 and 10 cent pieces -- and the elimination of the five cent piece. From Nov. 1, the old, larger 50, 20, 10 and five cent pieces will no longer be legal tender, said Reserve Bank project manager Alan Boaden. New Zealand phased out its one and two cent coins some years ago. The bank has distributed 83 million of the new coins. Low-value coins made from nickel and copper are beginning to cost more to make than their face value.
Police hunt cruel beggar
Police were hunting yesterday for a beggar who jabbed his burning cigarette into an 18-month old child's eye. New South Wales police said the random attack took place on Friday morning in Sydney's western suburbs. The man approached a woman with two children on a street corner and chatted briefly, before removing the cigarette from his mouth and pushing it into the boy's eye. The child was treated at the Sydney Children's Hospital and is not expected to have suffered long-term damage to his sight.
County orders death to dogs
A southwest county has ordered all 50,546 dogs to be killed in an effort to fight a rabies outbreak that has killed three people, state media said yesterday. Around 90 percent of the dogs in Muding County, Yunnan Province, had already been killed since the campaign began on July 25, the Beijing News said. Owners were ordered to kill their pets or face having teams of local police kill them, it said. From January through July, 360 people in the county had been bitten by dogs, with the three human deaths occurring since April, the Beijing Times said. Some owners have used methods including hanging their dogs, electrocuting them and clubbing them to death, while others used drugs, the Beijing News said.