■ HONG KONG
Jackie Chan fights piracy
Jackie Chan (成龍) is taking the fight against movie piracy to your home refrigerator. Two movie industry groups will issue 200,000 refrigerator magnets bearing Chan's image and an anti-piracy message to buyers of authentic DVDs in China. The message says: ``Thank you for purchasing legitimate DVDs. Your action determines the future of the film industry,'' Hollywood industry group MPA said in a statement on Tuesday. MPA is organizing the campaign with the China Film Copyright Protection Association.
Beef soup stunt sours
How many scoops of stewed beef can you pile onto a bowl of rice? Two video-savvy cooks who tried to find out could find themselves out of jobs after the beef bowl chain Yoshinoya suspended them for posting a clip of their experiment on YouTube. The three-minute clip, posted on Nov. 30, had been viewed almost 480,000 times on the video-sharing site as of Tuesday. It shows a man in a Yoshinoya uniform heap ladle after ladle of steaming stewed beef onto a bowl of rice. By the sixth scoop, the mound of stewed beef is twice as high as the porcelain bowl.
Santa tackles crime
More than 1,000 police officers wearing Santa hats have fanned out across Manila in time for the Christmas holidays -- traditionally the busiest period for thieves in the city. "We are wearing this to show the people that during this Christmas season our hearts and minds are on serving the ... people," Manila police officer Giovanni Valera said on Tuesday. Metropolitan Manila police chief Geary Barias said 1,000 officers and 700 police recruits have traded their blue caps for Santa hats while conducting more patrols of Manila's crime-ridden streets.
Tweety Bird sues pirate
A court in Naples included the cartoon characters Tweety Bird, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in a summons as the damaged parties in a trial. The court summons cites "Titty, Paperino, Paperina, Topolino" -- the Italian names for the characters -- in the criminal trial of a Chinese man accused of counterfeiting products of Disney and Warner Bros instead of naming only the companies and their legal representatives, officials said. "Unfortunately they cannot show up, as they are residents of Disneyland," said Fiorenza Sorotto, vice president of Disney Co Italia. The summons will have to be rewritten, though this will probably delay the trial, Disney lawyer Cristina Ravelli said.
Rewards offered for tips
Police have been handing out leaflets in the Paris suburb hit by three nights of riots last week, promising hefty cash rewards for tip-offs about gunmen who opened fire on the security forces. The violence in Villiers le Bel left more than 120 police wounded, several dozen by lead shot fired from shotguns. The leaflet urges people to contact police anonymously via a toll-free number. "This is no longer just urban violence, this is guerilla warfare. We observed tactical movements on the youths' behalf to attract the police. This was anything but spontaneous," said Jean Espitalier, the police chief in charge of the investigation.
Dialing up a saint
If you are a Catholic looking for a saint in Heaven to protect you, you no longer have to carry a small "holy card," you can get the image as wallpaper for your cellphone. "We found a need and filled it," said Barbara Labate, who came up with the idea with her business partner in a cellphone services firm in Milan. "We are merely catching up with the times. I think this will appeal to young people as well as grandmothers." The downloading service, done by sending a text message to a phone number, costs 3 euros (US$4.42). Some Catholic Church leaders, however, think the idea is crass and commercial. "This is in really bad taste," Bishop Lucio Soravito De Franceschi told the Turin paper La Stampa. "It is a distortion of sacred things."
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Xmas message opened
Fifty years after Britain's Queen Elizabeth delivered her first Christmas message on TV, it's time for her subjects to have their say online. The British have been invited to compile their own nation-to-nation message by computer chip manufacturer Intel. People can submit their own video comments to www.intel.co.uk/thepeoplesspeech. The speech will then be compiled for online viewing from Dec. 18.
■ SOUTH AFRICA
Dominatrix sues minister
A dominatrix has cracked her whip against a pastor by filing a claim for 350,000 rand (US$51,000) in damages after he tried to have her evicted from a church-owned home, a report said on Tuesday. Marianne Ellis is suing Pastor Johann Ernst, claiming loss of reputation after he allegedly sent text messages painting her and her husband as liars and sinners, the Pretoria News said. The couple had been churchgoers in the Pretoria suburb of Doringkloofuntil falling out with Ernst when she gave an interview alleging that some members of his congregation were clients, the paper said.
Man probed for sex crimes
A man convicted of sex crimes against young boys in Cambodia and also sought by Thai police is being investigated in Canada on various charges, his lawyer said on Monday. Defense lawyer Brian Coleman said Orville Mader, who was arrested at Vancouver International Airport last month after being convicted in absentia of sex crimes against children in Cambodia three yeas ago, is being investigated for "a bunch of other charges." Coleman did not elaborate. Thai police had been looking for Mader after they issued an arrest warrant for him Oct. 31 after an eight-year-old Thai boy said a Thai man took him to Mader's hotel room in Thailand's beach resort town of Pattaya.
■ UNITED STATES
Skeleton found in home
Police found the skeletal remains of a woman in her home in Brooklyn, New York, on Monday. How long ago she died was unknown, but neighbors said they had not seen her for about two years. There was no evidence of foul play, investigators said. An autopsy was planned. Neighbors said the woman was Christine Copeman, believed to be in her 60s. They described her as a retired bank worker who was widowed. Mail had piled up behind the storm door at her brick row house on East 92nd Street in Brownsville, and deliveries of bottled water had accumulated on her porch.
■ UNITED STATES
Detective files lawsuit
A counterterrorism detective who says his failed drug test came because his wife had spiked his meatballs with marijuana has filed a lawsuit to get his job back. Anthony Chiofalo asked the court to declare that his firing in August from the New York Police Department was unreasonable and unconstitutional, to declare that a damning hair sample was improperly taken and to order his rehiring with back pay plus interest, seniority and all benefits. Chiofalo, a 22-year veteran assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, was suspended without pay in November 2005 after a random drug test found marijuana in his system. He denied using drugs and demanded a hearing.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and