‘Gambling network’ busted
Police in Hangzhou have arrested 11 suspects in an illegal gambling network linked via the Internet to a casino in the Philippines, state media said yesterday. A local businessman, identified only by the surname Li, set up the network after meeting representatives of the unidentified casino during a gambling trip to Macau, the China Daily quoted police as saying. Li paid the casino a deposit of 5 million yuan (US$730,000) to act as its agent in China, allowing customers to see real-time images of the casino and place bets through his account.
Tycoon sues over sex pact
A shoe tycoon is suing his mistress because she broke an agreement not to have sex with anyone else, a report said yesterday. Patrick Tang, 66, is demanding his mistress Karen Lee, 39, hand back properties worth HK$10 million (US$1.3 million), the Standard newspaper reported, citing a writ filed with the High Court. Tang, who is married, said Lee had breached the no-sex condition under which he agreed to buy her several properties between 2002 and 2005, the report said. According to the paper, the writ said Lee began an affair with a former Mr Hong Kong, Wong Cheung-fat, 23, in the last few months that made the agreement invalid.
India offers electricity
India has offered to export electricity to neighboring Nepal, where residents are facing severe power outages, an official said yesterday. A spokesman at Nepal’s Water Resources Ministry said the country had received a proposal from India to export as much as 200 megawatts of electricity. Nepalese receive only eight hours of electricity a day because of low water levels in reservoirs that drive hydroelectric plants.
Diva’s mum denied cash
The 85-year-old mother of late Canto-pop diva Anita Mui (梅艷芳) has been stopped from taking HK$800,000 (US$102,000) from her daughter’s estate to finance a round-the-world trip, a media report said yesterday. Tam Mei-kam (覃美金) told Judge Andrew Cheung (張舉能) she felt bored and stressed from last year’s unsuccessful attempt to gain control of her late daughter’s estate and needed to take along nurses, maids and family on the trip, the South China Morning Post said. Rejecting her application, Cheung said Tam’s demand was unreasonable. Mui’s estate, which is valued at about HK$100 million, included HK$3.9 million in cash which is used to pay her mother’s monthly allowance. Tam lost a court battle last year to gain control of Mui’s entire fortune after a judge upheld a will Mui signed shortly before she died of cervical cancer in December 2003 at the age of 40, which left most of her estate in a trust. Mui feared that if she left the estate to her mother it would be squandered.
Bill outlaws begging
The Government has made begging illegal, an official said yesterday. Hundreds of thousands of people depend on begging to survive in a country where 40 percent of the population earn less than US$1 a day. An official, who declined to be named, said that a bill had been passed in parliament this week outlawing begging. “Anyone caught begging will be put in jail for a month. This includes people who pretend to be ill or use a disability to get money,” the official said. A 2005 survey showed that a beggar in the capital Dhaka, home to around 27,000 beggars, earns an average 100 taka (US$1.45) a day.
The unemployment rate surged to 11 percent last month from 10.4 percent in February, official data showed on Wednesday, as the eurozone nation’s recession-hit economy worsens amid a global crisis. The Central Statistics Office said 173,279 extra people had signed on for benefits on the state’s Live Register in the year to last month, the largest annual increase since records began in 1967. The month-on-month increase in the number signing on last month was 16,834. This brought the number of people signing on last month to 371,271, which is also the highest since records began, said an office spokeswoman. Prime Minister Brian Cowen told parliament that a drop in unemployment was unlikely in the short term.
Police arrest mother
Police yesterday said they had arrested a woman accused of kidnapping her two children in a custody dispute with their Australian father. The boys, aged nine and 11, were handed over to their father after the woman was arrested overnight, police spokesman Svante Melin said. He said the woman had failed to return the children, who had been living with their father in Australia, after they came to visit her in October. The family’s names were not released because of privacy rules.
Police report severed head
Police said on Wednesday they were investigating the discovery of a severed human head in a field in Leicestershire. It was not clear whether the head, found by a member of the public in Asfordby near Melton Mowbray on Tuesday, was male or female. Detective Superintendent Julia McKechnie said the main priority was to determine the identity of the person involved and that it was too early to confirm whether the discovery was linked to any other criminal investigation. But McKechnie said the force was in contact with their counterparts in Hertfordshire, where a man’s arm and left leg have been discovered in recent weeks.
Toddler contracts bird flu
An toddler has contracted bird flu, the 61st recorded case since the first outbreak of the disease in the country in 2006, state-news agency MENA reported on Wednesday. The two-year-old was taken to hospital with a fever on Monday in Beheira governate, MENA quoted health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahin as saying. He had been exposed to dead fowl thought to have been infected with the virus. Twenty-three people have died of bird flu in the country. Most of the victims have been young girls or women, who are generally in charge of looking after poultry.
Gays allowed to marry
The country will allow homosexuals to legally marry from next month after parliament on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move. The change in the law, which currently allows gay couples to register unions but not formal marriage, comes into force on May 1 under the timetable set out in the bill. Scandinavian countries, known for their liberal attitudes towards gays and lesbians, were among the first countries in Europe to grant same-sex partners the same rights as married couples. Stockholm gave same-sex couples the right to form a union via registered partnerships in the mid-1990s and made it legal for them to adopt in 2002. The passage of the bill was widely expected and the final tally was 261 votes in favor of the bill and 22 opposed.
Alaska sues BP over spill
Separate state and federal civil lawsuits were filed against BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc over two spills at the nation’s largest oil field in 2006. The lawsuits were filed two years after the company pleaded guilty to federal violations of the Clean Water Act for one of the spills and agreed to pay a US$20 million fine. The federal government filed its lawsuit on Tuesday in a District Court in Anchorage, Alaska, alleging violations of federal clean air and water laws for the spills at Prudhoe Bay, on Alaska’s North Slope. It asks the court to order BP Alaska to take actions to prevent spills in the future and impose stiff penalties.
Conficker harder to detect
The Conficker worm’s April 1 trigger date came and went without the bedeviling computer virus causing any mischief, but security specialists warned that the threat was far from over. Conficker did just what the “white hats” tracking it expected — it evolved to make itself harder to exterminate and its masters tougher to find. “There are still millions of personal computers out there that are, unknown to their owners, at risk of being controlled in the future by persons unknown,” said Trend Micro threat researcher Paul Ferguson. A task force assembled by Microsoft has been working to stamp out the worm, referred to as Conficker or DownAdUp, and the US software colossus has placed a bounty of US$250,000 on the heads of those responsible for the threat. “It is pretty sophisticated and state-of-the-art,” Ferguson said. “It definitely looks like the puppet masters are located in Eastern Europe.” The worm was programmed to modify itself on Wednesday to become harder to stop and began doing that when infected machines got cues. The malicious software evolved from East to West, beginning in the time zones first to greet April Fools’ Day. Conficker had been programmed to reach out to 250 Web sites daily to download commands from its masters, they said, but on Wednesday it began generating daily lists of 50,000 Web sites and reaching randomly to 500 of those.
Shop finds two-nosed rabbit
It’s no April Fools joke. A baby bunny really does have two noses. A pet shop worker found the nosey bunny in a delivery of six-week-old dwarf rabbits that arrived at the Milford, Connecticut, store last week. Both noses have two nostrils. The owner of the Purr-Fect Pets shop said he had never seen anything like it in 25 years in the business. He said the bunny eats, drinks and hops around like the rest of the litter. Beardsley Zoo director Gregg Dancho said the deformity could be the result of too much inbreeding or the parents’ exposure to pesticides or poisons.
Police arrest ‘Ganja Granny’
Police said a 71-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges after customs officials found 3.6kg of marijuana hidden in her luggage at a Jamaican airport. Montego Bay Police Constable Ulet Lewis-Green on Wednesday identified the woman as Margueritta Lancaster-Reid of Ontario. Authorities did not disclose a hometown for the “ganja granny.” Lewis-Green said the elderly woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to concealing the marijuana in her luggage at Donald Sangster International Airport. The Jamaica Observer said she told police officers it was “herbs” when the drug stash was found last Saturday.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread