Psychiatrist visits rising
The number of people seeking psychiatric help has risen since the onset of the economic crisis, a leading doctor said yesterday. Patient numbers have risen by between 20 percent and 30 percent since last October, mental health specialist Lee Wing-king told state-run radio station RTHK. Separately, a survey by the Democratic Alliance political party found that 80 percent of people in the territory had suffered from insomnia or mood disorders because of the downturn. The territory slipped into a technical recession at the end of last year.
Pope-mobile case dropped
Police have given up trying to prosecute civil libertarian Ian Bryce for driving around in Sydney in a fake pope-mobile during the real pope’s visit in July for World Youth Day. Charges were dropped yesterday after the police case collapsed for a fourth time. A Sydney judge dismissed the case. “It was against the pope’s claims to have supernatural authority and all the harm he’s doing in the world in banning condoms and trying to avoid family planning,” Bryce said. “And now he’s said that gays are an equal threat to mankind as climate change, and I can’t for the life of me see what harm they’re doing anyone.” Police alleged the modified car was a distraction for other motorists. Bryce had fitted an illuminated canopy to the roof with a mannequin dressed as the pope inside.
Welfare limit to be dropped
An official says the government will scrap a rule that denies state welfare to poor people if they own a TV set or cable connection at home. Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said assets such as a TV and refrigerator were no longer an indication of wealth. Her comments were reported yesterday by the New Straits Times daily. Shahrizat’s announcement follows a Times report that several disabled people did not receive aid after welfare workers found out they owned TVs.
Priest and wife murdered
An elderly Christian priest and his wife were hacked to death with machetes, police said yesterday. Frans Koagow, 64, and his wife, Femy Kumendong, 73, were found dead in the priest’s home in Manado city, North Sulawesi, on Saturday, provincial police spokesman Benny Bella said. “The priest was cut from behind in the neck while his wife was cut in the head while she lay down sick with a stroke,” Bella said. “The priest had been squatting down to tie his shoes when he was attacked ... there was no time for him to fight back.” Bella said police were looking for suspects but were unsure how many people were involved in the attack.
Police stop suicide attempt
Police said yesterday they had foiled an Internet-based group suicide attempt, as media reports warned that the practice was spreading. Five people who had agreed online to kill themselves were stopped by police at a Seoul hotel on Sunday, Seodaemun district police said in a statement. The group were allowed to return home, but police said one may face a charge of abetting suicide since he opened a Web site on the subject. Aiding or encouraging suicide is punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Police said they were cracking down on “suicide” Web sites. The country had 18.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 2007.
Swiss ban naked hiking
Voters in the heart of the Swiss Alps on Sunday passed legislation banning naked hiking after dozens of mostly German nudists started rambling through their picturesque region. By a show of hands citizens of the tiny canton of Appenzell Inner Rhodes voted overwhelmingly at their traditional open-air annual assembly to impose a 200 Swiss franc (US$176) fine on violators. Only a scattering of people on Sunday opposed the ban on the back-to-nature activity that took off last autumn when naked hikers started showing up in eastern Switzerland. The cantonal government recommended the ban after citizens objected to encountering walkers wearing nothing but hiking boots and socks. “The reactions of the population have shown that such appearances over a large area are perceived as thoroughly disturbing and irritating,” the government said in a statement.