■ NEW ZEALAND
Judge orders name change
A judge has ordered a name change for an embarrassed nine-year-old girl called Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, a local newspaper reported yesterday. The girl was so embarrassed that she had not revealed the name given by her parents to friends, who simply knew her as K, the Taranaki Daily News said. Family court judge Rob Murfitt said in a judgment made in February — but not released until yesterday— that oddball monikers created social hurdles as children grew up. The judge discovered parents had given their children some other unusual names including two pairs of twins that were called Benson and Hedges and Fish and Chips.
■ HONG KONG
Teen robbers jailed
Three teenagers have been jailed for more than three years for the armed hold-up of a jewelry shop, a newspaper said yesterday, with the court saying the stiff sentence was in the public interest. Disguised with masks and caps, the two boys and one girl, all aged 14, threatened staff at the shop with knives last September, grabbing gold necklaces, bracelets and pendants valued at more than HK$1 million (US$128,200). Sentencing the three, now aged 15, the judge said the offense was too serious to warrant a training center term despite the age of the three, the South China Morning Post said.
Rabbit saves couple
A pet rabbit was credited with saving a couple from a fire that swept through their home in Melbourne early yesterday. The family pet named scratched at the couple’s bedroom door as they slept and woke the man up, Metropolitan Fire Brigade commander Mick Swift said. The husband, whose identity was not released, discovered a fire in a back room and smoke spreading quickly through the house. Thanks to the rabbit, the couple was able to escape unharmed, he said.
Heaviest rains in 450 years
Twelve people are dead or missing after the heaviest rain in centuries hit parts of Hubei Province, state media reported yesterday. A total of 10 people are confirmed dead after the week-long rains, while two are missing, and more than 100,000 have been evacuated, the Xinhua news agency reported. Since early this week, the area around Xiangfan has experienced the biggest downpour in 450 years, the Chutian Metropolitan News said on its Web site. In a 48-hour period on Monday and Tuesday, the region saw 30.8cm of rain, affecting 1.1 million people, according to the paper. The 450-year timeframe may be more than mere hyperbole, as local chroniclers of the past often kept meticulous records of unusual events, such as freak weather phenomena.
Aftershock hits Sichuan
At least three powerful aftershocks hit southwest China’s quake area yesterday, killing one elderly person and injuring more than a dozen, the Xinhua news agency said. More than 69,000 people have been confirmed dead and some 18,000 are still missing over two months after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit the mountainous province of Sichuan on May 12, the deadliest in the country since 1976. A 5.6-magnitude aftershock struck Qingchuan County in northeastern Sichuan in the early hours yesterday, killing a 60-year-old, Xinhua said. At least four people were injured in the adjacent Ningqiang County in Shaanxi province, including a man who jumped from the second floor of a hotel and suffered a fracture on his left arm, Xinhua said.