Beijing to enforce manners
No spitting and get in line. That's the message Beijing city officials are trying to get across 18 months before the Olympics open in China's capital. "Everyone will be fined for spitting," read the headline in yesterday's Beijing Daily Messenger. In a chaotic city of 15 million, jumping ahead in line is common. So is spitting and littering, which officials hope to restrain in an effort to improve the city's image. Officials have announced a range of measures including "punishment and reward" programs to improve conduct.
Crowded truck drives off cliff
An overcrowded passenger vehicle returning from a wedding party plunged off a cliff in Hubei Province, killing the groom and 15 other members of his extended family, state media reported yesterday. Another 16 people were injured -- six of them seriously -- when the small truck packed with 32 wedding guests "veered off the road and over a cliff," the official Xinhua news agency reported. Liu Xiangdong, deputy head of the provincial safety office, blamed bad weather and overloading of the truck for Wednesday's accident. "The truck was only allowed to carry four people, but the actual passenger number was eight times more," Liu was quoted as saying.
Colleges to teach cleaning
It's never too late for toilet training. Some colleges may soon offer courses on how to keep public restrooms clean, the national news agency reported yesterday. The effort is meant to help public lavatories become as hygienic as those in countries such as Britain and Singapore, Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Robert Lau was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency. "Clean toilets cannot merely be judged by the eyes," Lau was quoted as saying. Courses would involve managing washrooms by the highest standards in design and sanitation technology, said Lau. The government recently said it wanted to start a "toilet revolution" in a country where public restrooms have long nauseated citizens and tourists.
Mayor shuts down police
A Philippine mayor closed all police stations in his town and seized patrol cars to protest a plan to revamp local law enforcement, officials said yesterday. Mayor Jessie Castillo of Cavite Province's Bacoor town, south of Manila, ordered the main police station and about five other detachments padlocked late on Wednesday to prevent the alleged changes, which he claimed were orchestrated by a rival politician intruding into his town's affairs. National government officials condemned Castillo's action and warned he could face criminal charges if the police stations were not reopened.
Smoke detected on subway
Smoke was detected on a Tokyo subway line yesterday, forcing operators to stop the trains, but there were no injuries, the subway operator and police said. A conductor on the Marunouchi subway line saw smoke coming from a track, but it was not clear whether he saw any fire, said Jiro Umegaki of Tokyo Metro Co Ltd. Police and firefighters rushed to the scene but there was no fire, and investigators found no sign of a possible crime, said Nobutaka Furusawa, deputy chief of the nearby Nakano Police Department.
■ United Kingdom
Graffiti sells for ?102,000
A work by an elusive British graffiti artist who began his career spray-painting bridges, walls and underpasses sold at auction on Wednesday for ?102,000 (US$200,000). Bombing Middle England, a work in acrylic and spray paint by the artist "Banksy" depicting well-heeled lawn bowlers tossing bombs, sold for double its pre-sale estimate at Sotheby's auction house. The price is a record for the artist, whose work has gained increasing cachet in recent years.
New union proposed
French presidential contender Nicolas Sarkozy called on Wednesday for the creation of a "Mediterranean Union," a partner with -- not an alternative to -- the 27-nation EU. Speaking at a campaign rally in the Mediterranean port city of Toulon, Sarkozy did not specify which countries would be members of the group, but said it would have "common institutions" with the EU. "I propose that we build a Mediterranean Union -- like we created the European Union over a half-century ago," he said, referring to the European Coal and Steel Community, the EU's precursor, created in 1951.
Ex-Soviet sub sinks
A Cold War-era Soviet-built submarine that was being towed to a museum in Thailand took on water and sank off northwestern Denmark, Danish officials and the vessel's Thai owner said on Tuesday. No people or weapons were on board the Whiskey-class submarine when it sank on Monday in an area known as Jysk Reef, about 55km off the coast of the Jutland peninsula, the Danish navy said. A tug boat was towing the 75m-long vessel when it started taking on water, forcing the crew to cut it loose for their own safety, navy spokesman Klaus Randrup Rasmussen said.
Racist beating trial begins
Two men went on trial on Wednesday accused of the brutal beating of an Ethiopian-born engineer, an incident that provoked widespread fears of racist attacks in Germany during the 2006 soccer World Cup. Lawyers for Bjoern Liebscher, 29, and Thomas Michaelis, 31, denied the charges, saying their clients were at home on the night of the attack. The assault, which took place in the eastern city of Potsdam on April 16 last year and left the victim on life-support, received widespread attention, coming as Germany prepared to host the World Cup.
Diesel caused no damage
Diesel fuel that leaked from a Norwegian cruise ship that ran aground in the Antarctic last week has caused no damage to the fragile environment, the Norwegian Polar Institute said on Wednesday. The 123m M/S Nordkapp ran aground and damaged its hull near Deception Island, which is part of the Antarctic archipelago's South Shetland Islands on Feb. 1. It pulled off the rocks under its own power, but the 294 passengers were transferred to a sister ship. According to the institute, which is in charge of Norwegian environmental regulations in the Antarctic, some 500 to 750 liters of light diesel spilled into the ocean when the Nordkapp's crew tried to transfer the fuel from a damaged tank to one that was intact. In a news release, the institute said researchers and crews of other ships helped monitor the area.
■ United States
Cabbie returns diamonds
A taxi driver returned a black bag carrying 31 diamond rings to a passenger who had earlier paid him a US$0.30 tip on an US$11 ride. Hours after Osman Chowdhury, a native of Bangladesh, had dropped off the passenger in Manhattan, he tracked her down through a flurry of telephone calls and returned the bag, which she had left in the taxi's trunk, on Monday. The unidentified woman, who said she was a jeweler, offered a US$100 reward. Osman reluctantly accepted the money to cover the fares he lost while tracking her down. Chowdhury said he never even thought of keeping the gems. "All my life, I tried to be honest," he said. "Today is no different."
■ United States
Bombs found in aqueduct
Three pipe bombs were found during a routine search of an aqueduct that supplies water to millions of people in southern California, officials said. The bombs were found on Tuesday next to a valve in a branch of the California Aqueduct, which carries water from the northern part of the state to the southern. It was unclear whether the devices were left there intentionally. Had they detonated, the devices could have blown open the valve and released water, California Highway Patrol Sergeant Fernando Contreras said. A bomb unit detonated the devices in a safe area. Also found were at least four weapons and 25 vehicles, Contreras said.
■ United States
Escapee misses mom
The mother of a man accused of escaping from a prison van, stealing country singer Crystal Gayle's tour bus and trekking hundreds of kilometers in a failed attempt to see her has died after a long battle with cancer. Anna Shull died on Wednesday, almost three weeks after Christopher Daniel Gay, 33, allegedly escaped from a prisoner transport van near Hardeeville, South Carolina, and stole a series of vehicles in what authorities said was an attempt to see her. Services for Shull were scheduled for tomorrow, said a partner at Jennings and Ayers Funeral Home in Murfreesboro. Her son is currently in jail in Daytona Beach, Florida, near where he was caught on Jan. 26.
■ United States
State senate limits abortion
The Mississippi Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would ban most abortions and charge those who perform the procedures with a misdemeanor. The bill would prohibit abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the woman's life were endangered. Anyone found guilty of providing an abortion would face misdemeanor charges, a US$5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Mississippi joins a handful of other states, including South Dakota and Utah, in considering abortion bans or restrictions this year in their statehouses. The measure now goes to the Mississippi House.
■ United States
Billionaire bound, robbed
A phony delivery man forced his way into the house of a billionaire and bound him, his wife and a housekeeper with duct tape before making off with only a few hundred dollars, police said on Wednesday. Investigators say the intruder specifically targeted Ernest Rady, 69, a financier ranked No. 140 last year on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans. The man left the house with less than US$1,000 in cash about five hours after arriving, police said. The Radys freed themselves and called police; Ernest Rady was briefly hospitalized with minor injuries. Police are searching for the man.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear