Beijing cleaning up its act
Less spitting, better queuing and cleaner streets show Beijing has become more "civilized," but the city still has to fine-tune its etiquette to attain Olympic standards, Xinhua news agency said on Friday, citing a new study. China wants to leave nothing to chance when the eyes of the world turn its way for the Olympics in August and the Beijing government has waged a long campaign to hone manners. Renmin University created an annual "civic index" to gauge progress, surveying thousands of residents and sending out teams of observers, Xinhua said. Last year's results pointed in the right direction: 2.5 percent of people spat in public, down from 4.9 percent in 2006; instances of queue jumping dropped to 1.5 percent from 6 percent; and littering fell to 2.9 percent from 5.3 percent.
Hatchet man attacks family
A Japanese repairman allegedly hacked his mother and wife to death with a hatchet and nearly chopped his son's hands off before killing himself, news reports said yesterday. The incident came to light late on Monday when a passer-by noticed blood flowing out of the closed shutter of Toru Sasaki's shop of used industrial machines attached to the family's house in Tokyo. Sasaki, 52, is believed to have killed his wife, Kazuko, 49, and his mother Tokuko, 85, according to Jiji Press news agency. The younger of the Sasakis' two sons, 15, was found with his hands almost cut off. He told a rescue official, "Dad did this," before falling into a coma at a hospital, the reports said.
Crackdown targets gamers
China has targeted illegal Web sites, computer markets and Internet cafes as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on juvenile crime, state media reported yesterday. The crackdown, christened "Operation For Tomorrow," seeks to ferret out online games considered overly violent or otherwise unhealthy, as well as Web sites offering unregistered playing platforms or services for gamers that can be downloaded, Xinhua news agency said.
■ SOUTH KOREA
Lawmaker stages sit-in
A South Korean lawmaker yesterday locked himself inside a parliamentary committee room to try to block moves to ratify a free trade deal with the US, officials said. Kang Ki-kab of the leftist Democratic Labour Party (DLP) entered the foreign affairs and trade committee room before dawn and has refused to come out, they said. The DLP, which has nine MPs, strongly opposes the agreement signed last June but still awaiting ratification by the legislatures of both countries. "Representative Kang has since been staging a sit-in protest inside and several of his aides are also with him," a parliament official said.
Movie request turned down
A Hollywood movie set in World War II-era Japanese-occupied Shanghai reportedly starring John Cusack and Gong Li (鞏俐) has been denied approval to shoot in China, a producer said yesterday. Producer Mike Medavoy said the filmmakers wanted to shoot on location in Shanghai but the Chinese government did not clear them to do so. "The film is about Shanghai at that period. Shanghai is a character in the film, its human side, what was so unique about it. There must have been a misunderstanding and I hope they reconsider their decision," Medavoy said in an e-mail.
Body-builders help driver
A group of 10 body-builders from a German gym took a break from their normal training routine to help a driver whose car was stuck in a ditch, police said on Monday. The men were training at the Explosives fitness studio in Bad Zwischenahn when the 38-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, veered into a meadow and plunged the front of his car into the 6m deep ditch. The men lifted the car out of the ditch in only a few minutes, a police spokesman said, adding that the grateful driver joined the men at the fitness studio bar and treated them to a round of energy drinks.