Masses tie the knot
Beijing reported a sevenfold increase in weddings on Wednesday, as Chinese took advantage of what is considered an auspicious date. A spike in Cesarean births was also reported in some areas, the single biggest baby bump since the rush to be the first to give birth on Jan. 1, 2000, newspapers said on Wednesday. Beijing's Olympic organizers had already taken advantage of the timing to launch their one-year countdown to next year's summer Games. The number eight is considered lucky because it rhymes with the word for "prosper."
Storm kills 15 people
A wild storm and heavy rains lashed the nation's largest city, Karachi, collapsing some houses, flooding streets and leaving at least 15 people dead, an official said yesterday. The damage in Karachi, a teeming city of 15 million people, was not widespread, but officials were still assessing the damage from the overnight storm and the death toll could rise, said Anwar Kazi, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, a private relief service. The foundation pulled 15 bodies and 24 injured people from collapsed houses, he said.
Official sentenced to death
A court has sentenced a former senior city official to death for killing his mistress with a car bomb after he tired of her constant demands for money, state media said on Thursday. Duan Yihe, once Communist Party secretary and head of the local assembly in the eastern city of Jinan, asked his niece's husband, Chen Zhi, to help with the plot, the official Xinhua news agency said. Chen was also sentenced to death. Duan had had "irregular sexual relations" with victim Liu Haiping, the report said -- official speak for an affair. "During that time, Liu asked Duan to buy a house for her and got him to arrange jobs for several relatives, but still kept demanding money," Xinhua said. "Duan gradually tired of her, yet found it hard to extricate himself."
Man duped 61 times
A man was swindled out of a fortune after being duped not once but 61 times by conmen who told him his name was circulating among shady money lenders, police said on Thursday. The 54-year-old company worker first received a phone call in early June from a purported financial company, asking him: "Haven't you been receiving lots of offers of loans lately?" The reason, the caller explained, was because the man's personal data had been leaked and was circulating among disreputable money lenders. "We will erase your data, which will cost 5,000 yen. Please send us 30,000 yen as we'll refund you 25,000 yen later," the caller said, according to Tokyo police.
Beaver attacks grandma
A grandmother taking a leisurely swim in a river ended up in the hospital after a beaver attacked her with its tail, regional newspaper Nerikes Allehanda reported on Wednesday. Police sources said it was the second time a beaver had attacked humans at the beach on the banks of the Bottenaa, around 150km west of Stockholm, the newspaper reported. "The beaver attacked the grandmother. She was seriously hit by the animal's tail and received a number of bites and scratches," an officer told the newspaper. The authorities have decided to kill the dozen or so beavers living near the beach to eliminate any risk to bathers.
■ UNITED STATES
Worker cocaine use down
Cocaine use has fallen sharply among workers in a country where on-the-job drugs tests are mandatory for some employees, a study showed on Thursday. Of more than 4.4 million workers tested for cocaine in the first six months of the year, only 0.58 percent returned positive samples, an ongoing study conducted by Quest Diagnostics to track cocaine usage among US workers showed. "Workplace drug testing is apparently a deterrent to workplace drug use in the United States," said Wendy Bost, a spokeswoman for Quest. The results of the study showed a 15.9 percent fall from the number of positive tests returned during last year.