Mooncake tax sparks outcry
A decision by the Beijing authorities to tax mooncakes, a delicacy given as a gift during the Mid-Autumn Festival, has sparked an outcry, reports said yesterday. A poll conducted by the microblogging service Weibo found that 96 percent of users opposed the tax. “Since when are mooncakes taxed? I’d rather not be given any if I have to pay such a tax,” IT worker Wang Youhua told the China Daily newspaper. The tax authorities gave no reason for the move, but the price of mooncakes has soared in recent years as retailers have come up with increasingly elaborate ways to make the traditional gifts more desirable.
Diary details burglaries
A burglar has been arrested after police found details of his criminal exploits recorded in his diary, complete with addresses he hit and entries such as “Jackpot,” a detective said yesterday. The 42-year-old Seoul man, identified only as Kim, had stolen luxury bags, jewelry and electronic items worth 320 million won (US$300,000) from scores of houses and shops over the past six years. He was caught this month after a surveillance camera at an automated teller machine recorded him trying to withdraw money using a stolen credit card. Kim initially denied burglary, but confessed after police raided his home.
Passengers leap from plane
Terrified passengers jumped out of a plane trying to escape before emergency ladders were put in place when a Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to Kochi in the southern state of Kerala landed badly in wet weather conditions and veered onto muddy grassland. Seven were injured in the pre-dawn incident. “Because the nose of the plane was damaged the emergency [inflatable] ladder did not work, so a rescue team started bringing ladders to the site, but before they arrived, people began to jump. All those injured were injured because they jumped out too soon,” Kochi Airport director A.C.K. Nair said.
Children attacked at daycare
Eight children were hurt yesterday when a staff member at a temporary daycare center for the children of migrant workers in Shanghai went on a stabbing spree, local media said. The attacks took place about midday, the Xinmin Evening News said on its Web site. A woman who had worked at the center for several years used a box cutter to slash at children, all between three and four years old, the newspaper quoted witnesses as saying. The suspect, who is believed to have psychiatric problems, has already been detained by police, the newspaper said. Her name was not given. One of the eight children was seriously injured.
Prisoners freed in amnesty
President Truong Tan Sang has ordered more than 10,000 prisoners freed as part of the country’s annual National Day amnesty. Five of those had been convicted of national security crimes, but no high-profile dissidents were included. Three were ethnic minorities from the restive Central Highlands. Eleven of the 10,535 inmates being freed are foreigners, including nationals of the US, Canada and Australia. National Day is on Friday. Vietnam has been criticized by the US and EU for jailing political and religious dissidents.
Weather stops tightrope walk
A tightrope walker who had set out to beat seven world records in a week was forced to turn around halfway over a lake because of bad weather. Freddy Nock had already set five world records over the past week, but had to give up in his attempt to walk a 3.3km wire over the Thoune lake in central Switzerland on Sunday. The wire was lowered to drop Nock, who never uses a safety harness, onto a boat to get back to shore. The 46-year-old, who is donating the proceeds from his stunts to a charity working for children in Bangladesh, had already ticked off five records. On Aug. 20, he walked for 1km without a beam on a wire strung about 150m above the ground in Germany and two days later he inched up a 3km cable car wire in Austria. However, he had already missed his target of seven records in a week when weather prevented him from cycling on a cable strung 50m above the ground between two cranes in Switerzland.