Chat room page shut down
The government has shut down a popular political online chat room, the Web site said yesterday, just days after YouTube was blocked for videos deemed insulting to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The political page of Pantip.com was closed for national security reasons at the request of the Information Communication and Technology Ministry (ITC), a notice on the Web site read. "ICT has asked for the temporary closure of [the political page] `Rajadamneon Room' after it found several topics that might endanger national security," the site said in a notice.
■ Hong KOng
The ashes of 11 people were scattered off a small island a mile from downtown as a new burial-at-sea scheme went into operation in the space-scarce city, the government said yesterday. Family members and religious ministers took to the high seas aboard a specially decked out boat for the burials Saturday afternoon. Each deceased was given a religious send-off of their family's choosing before their ashes were tossed over the side, a government spokesman said. The government gave the go-ahead for burials at specific sites around the territory's coast last year in a bid to ease competition for burial space in its choked cemeteries and crematoria.
■ Hong Kong
Tourism boss to stop scams
The Hong Kong Tourist Board's new boss James Tien (田北俊) vowed yesterday to crack down on high-street retail scams that prey on unsuspecting Chinese visitors. The comments by Tien, follow revelations that a number of jewelry shops had sold fake goods to Chinese tourists. "I find these allegations shocking and deeply damaging for our tourism industry," Tien, a tycoon lawmaker and former Cabinet member, said in an address on public radio. Chiefs at the Tourism Industry Council trade body warned that such scams would damage the territory's reputation as a shopping destination.
Parent care check planned
Changyuan County plans in-depth checks on how its officials' treat their parents, with those who are nice to their mother and father first in line for promotion, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday. Up to 500 family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors will be grilled by special investigators about the behavior of each official in the county, including their family values and any drinking or gambling habits, the report said. The findings will be considered when deciding promotions.
Hicks cannot sell story
Al-Qaeda supporter David Hicks will be barred from selling his story when he returns home from Guantanamo Bay prison camp, despite having broken no law, the attorney general said yesterday. Hicks will soon be sent to a prison in his hometown of Adelaide to serve a nine-month sentence after pleading guilty two weeks ago to aiding al-Qaeda in a plea deal agreed on at the US naval base at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay. The deal includes the condition that Hicks not speak to the media for a year, and does not sell his story -- provisions that Attorney General Philip Ruddock said will not be enforceable once he returns home. However, Ruddock said a separate federal law against criminals profiting from crime through media deals will stop the 31-year-old from selling his story.
■ United States
Famous criminal dies
Jimmy Lee Smith, the lifelong criminal whose role in the 1963 kidnapping and killing of a police officer inspired Joseph Wambaugh's true-life crime novel The Onion Field died in jail at age 76, a California prisons official said. Smith died on Friday at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, where he was being held for failing to report to a parole officer, Bill Sessa, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokes-man, said on Saturday. Foul play was not suspected, but the cause of death was under investigation, the county coroner's office said.