Ant scam proves profitable
A company in the northeast raised US$379 million from gullible members of the public by promising big profits from a project to breed ants, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The Donghua Ecological Breeding Co in Liaoning Province offered returns of 35 percent to 60 percent on investment in the bogus project, Xinhua said. The state agency cited the Public Security Ministry which had detailed the case as an example of how fraudsters were becoming more imaginative.
ATM thieves jailed
Six Sri Lankan men were handed jail terms of up to 11 years for stealing money from automated cash machines using cloned credit cards, court officials said yesterday. The six were sentenced on Thursday in the Subordinate Court after they were arrested in May with more than S$350,000 (US$225,806) of stolen money in their possession. The Sri Lankans, who were residents in London, swiped the money over a four-day period before they were caught, the Straits Times reported.
Water shortage severe
Two-thirds of Chinese cities face water shortages, state media reported yesterday, one of the top problems facing the rapidly urbanizing landscape. More than 400 cities had water shortages, with 100 of them "in serious trouble," lacking enough water to support industry or daily life, the China Daily quoted an unnamed official from the Ministry of Water Resources as saying. The problem was compounded by pollution, with 45 billion tonnes of untreated waste water pumped directly into lakes and rivers, it said.
Poultry imports suspended
The nation has temporarily suspended South Korean poultry imports due to a suspected bird flu outbreak that has killed around 6,000 chickens and prompted authorities to cull thousands more, the top government spokesman said yesterday. The government has asked Seoul for more details about the outbreak in the country's southwest. Japan imported 289 tonnes of chicken meat from South Korea last year, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.
Drought reducing wine glut
The severe drought could have an upside for winemakers by reducing the wine glut, the government's industry regulator said yesterday. The Australian Wine and Brandy Corp, which regulates and markets the nation's A$2.8 billion (US$2.17 billion) wine export industry, yesterday slashed its estimate for excess wine stocks by more than half. Water restrictions imposed because of the drought and frosts in the southern grape-growing regions were eating into production and stockpiles that have built up in the past two years, the organization said.
Stars rate rebel for sexiness
Guerrilla leader Prachanda's move into mainstream politics after signing up to the country's recent peace deal has brought unexpected scrutiny of his status as a pin-up. Weekly news magazine Nepal ran a feature on Thursday asking five of the nation's best known performers, beauty queens and disc jockeys whether Prachanda is hot. Popular singer Riza Uprety said the rebel leader was "handsome but dangerous," while leading Nepali actress Rekha Thapa said that the revolutionary's eyes had "sex appeal." When questioned what they would ask if they met the leader, former Miss Nepal Malvika Subba replied: "After all the killings, any guilt pangs?"
■ South Korea