Spit sacks a `disaster'
Foreigners are spewing bile at the nation's latest plan to curb spitting in Shanghai. The authorities plan to distribute 45,000 "spit sacks" to Shanghai cabbies to curb the common habit of rolling down the cab window and expectorating onto the street. But the proposal has foreigners spluttering with rage. "This solution is a recipe for disaster," a reader wrote in the Shanghai Daily yesterday. One of the many risks of the plan, which involves fixing a sack to the metal grill which surrounds the driver's seat, is that the bag may spill and unleash the "malodorous aroma of spit," the writer added. Another respondent said he was afraid drivers might toss the bags out of their windows and be encouraged to hawk even more. Local authorities are stunned by the livid reaction, the paper reported.
Recycling plant fire kills 13
Thirteen people were killed in a blaze at an illegal plastic recycling workshop in Guangdong Province, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. The fire broke out in the early hours of Friday in the workshop, located in a four-story building in a village near Dongguan City, Xinhua said. Eighteen people were rescued from the building and taken to hospital, but only five survived, it said. Police are investigating the cause of the blaze, it said.
■ North Korea
US ban goes into effect
The US has made it tougher for North Korea to receive the luxury goods said to be coveted by leader Kim Jong-il, banning exports of fast cars, yachts, designer clothes and fine wine to the communist country. The US Commerce Department's rule was announced in November but did not go into effect until now.
Python munches 11 dogs
Guard dogs protecting a fruit orchard met their match -- a 7.1m long python that swallowed at least 11 hounds before it was finally discovered by villagers. "I was shocked to see such a huge python," orchard-keeper Ali Yusof told the New Straits Times in an article published beneath a picture of the captured snake, which was as thick as a tree trunk. Villagers did not harm the snake, which was tied to a tree then handed to wildlife officials, the paper said on Friday.
Activist to be charged
A human rights activist has been arrested and may be charged for alleged transport of "anti-constitutional" material, a defense lawyer and rights groups said on Friday. Umida Niyazova, 32, who has already been detained and released over the incident, may be charged with smuggling and making an illegal border crossing, her defense lawyer, Abror Yusupov, told reporters. Niyazova was first detained last month when she was returning from Kyrgyzstan. Her passport was taken away and her laptop computer was confiscated. New York-based Human Rights Watch demanded Uzbek authorities immediately release Niyazova, who works for the group.
H5N1 outbreak confirmed
Tests confirmed that an outbreak of bird flu at a poultry farm in the south was caused by the virulent H5N1 virus, the agriculture ministry said yesterday. A state laboratory analyzed samples from 3,000 chickens that died at a farm in Hyuga in Miyazaki, the country's main chicken-producing region, and found the birds had been infected with the H5N1 virus, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement. Earlier this month, some 4,000 chickens died from the H5N1 virus in another town in Miyazaki, about 900km southwest of Tokyo.