Most foreign booze fake
Nearly 60 percent of "foreign-brand" liquor found in four major Chinese cities is fake, according to a random check carried out by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. The administration inspected 40 bottles, mostly cognac and whisky, in 19 retail outlets and found 23 with Hennessy, Remy Martin, Martell and certain Scotch whisky labels were fake, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported yesterday. The counterfeit products were filled with substandard spirit and their packaging, including the "fake-proof" laser certificates, was realistic enough to fool ordinary consumers, the newspaper said.
■ Hong Kong
City gets bad air crown
Satellite pictures have confirmed Hong Kong's status as one of the world's most polluted cities, with stratospheric levels of smog, a news report said yesterday. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has teamed up with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration to give researchers access to daily satellite images of the region and the world, the Hong Kong Standard reported. "What surprised us is that when we compared pollution in Hong Kong on a normal day, it was always higher than other cities like Taipei, Paris and Washington," associate professor Janet Nichol told the paper.
Fire rages through slum
A huge blaze destroyed about 1,500 shacks in a slum in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao overnight but there were no reports of any deaths or injuries, city and fire officials said yesterday. Nearly 5,000 people were left homeless after the seven-hour fire, sparked at about 6:30pm by an unattended candle, ripped through the shanty town's narrow streets in the port of Zamboanga City. "It was an inferno," Zamboanga City mayor Celso Lobregat told reporters, saying blocked streets and low water pressure failed to contain the flames from spreading quickly to houses made of light materials.
Tibet to get new roads
With an historic train line to Tibet about to open, China is now planning to spend around US$700 million on a vast new road network for the Himalayan territory, state press reported yesterday. China will this year spend 5.7 billion yuan on road construction in Tibet as it starts building 21 highway projects, the Xinhua news agency said. Part of the money will pay for upgrading the highway connecting the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal with Tibet, a mountainous region which has long had poor roads.
Drug, rape scandal hits navy
Dutch naval personnel re-enacted the abuse of prisoners committed at the US prison at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad as a joke and took photographs of the scenes, the Telegraaf newspaper reported yesterday. The incident mimicking the notorious photographs took place aboard the supply ship Amsterdam, the national daily said. The report was published a day after revelations of sexual abuse, including rape, aboard another Dutch vessel, the frigate Tjerk Hiddes. Crew members acknowledged alcohol abuse, snorting cocaine and participating in acts of sexual abuse against women crew members.
Non-stop arousal studied
A health journal yesterday described a newly identified syndrome affecting women -- non-stop sexual arousal that can last for months and cannot be satisfied regardless of the number of orgasms. The paper, which appears in the International Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, tentatively calls it Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome, or PSAS. It seems to affect only a small minority of women, but the true extent is unclear. The study says that, despite the sniggering or smart remarks this condition may cause, the state of endless arousal can cripple a woman's life.
Brides grieve over gowns
Angry, tearful brides-to-be had to be held back by police on Thursday after one of the country's top bridal designers declared bankruptcy and shut its doors without warning -- and with about 180 dresses undelivered. Lawmakers in the southwest city of Cork demanded answers from the management of the Wedding Dress Shop, where furious customers tried to get into the locked business to collect their dresses, which had been ordered months in advance and cost anywhere from US$2,500 to US$8,500. "Customers are currently in a state of panic, not knowing if they will be able to wear their dream dresses at their upcoming wedding," said Kathleen Lynch, a Cork lawmaker.
Fishermen seek survivors
Fishermen deputized as rescue workers searched the seas off Cameroon on Thursday, but officials feared 127 people missing were dead after the sinking of a ferry. Gregoire Mvombo, a top official in the region, cited survivors, of whom there were 23, as saying 150 people from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast were aboard. It was unclear what caused the accident or even when it may have occurred. Mvombo had no more details.
Poll exposes racism
A poll of attitudes among Israel's Jews towards their country's Arab citizens has exposed widespread racism, with large numbers favoring segregation and policies to encourage Arabs to leave the country. The poll found that more than two-thirds of Jews would refuse to live in the same building as an Arab. Nearly half would not allow an Arab in their home and 41 percent want segregation of entertainment facilities. The survey also found 40 percent of Israel's Jews believe "the state needs to support the emigration of Arab citizens," a policy advocated by some far-right parties in the run-up to next week's general election. The poll was conducted by a respected Israeli organization, Geocartographia, for the Center for the Struggle Against Racism, founded by Arab-Israeli academics.
US warns tourists
The US government stoked an angry row in Italy on Thursday when it warned American tourists of the threat of violence and terrorism in the run-up to next month's general election. In an unusual intervention that set the two leading election candidates at loggerheads, the US state department said Americans should avoid large crowds and remain aware that demonstrations could quickly degenerate into violence. Romano Prodi, the opposition leader who is challenging Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the April 9-10 poll, said he was startled at the US message and called it unnecessary and alarmist.
■ United States
Is nowhere safe?
Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday. The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission's Carolyn Beck. Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkeness, Beck said. The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.
■ United States
Dummy fetches US$15,000
A makeshift mannequin that failed to fool police monitoring the high-occupancy vehicle lane on a highway has fetched US$15,000 in an auction on eBay, with proceeds going to charity, the buyer announced. A company called Video Professor bought the Styrofoam head, coat hanger, and clothing stuffed with newspapers from carpool-lane scofflaw Greg Pringle, 53, said Brian Olson, a spokesman for the company. Olson said the computer tutoring company would take Tillie to various events and later auction her off again for charity in June. As part of his sentence handed down earlier this month, Pringle agreed to donate any profits from a Web site -- launched to free "Tillie" after she was impounded by police -- and the auction to a driver safety awareness program.
■ United States
Office workers slack off
A quarter of workers who use a computer admit using it to hunt for a new job on company time, according to a survey released on Wednesday. Among workers who believe their Internet use is monitored by their bosses, one-quarter use their work computer for job-hunting, according to research conducted for professional staffing company Hudson Highland Group Inc. "It's one of the ways employees deal with work-life balance issues," said Robert Morgan, chief operating officer at Hudson Talent Management, one of the company's divisions. "Because we're spending so much time at work, that's the only time we have to schedule some of those appointments."
■ United States
Fetal tissue is evidence
Doctors performing abortions on girls younger than 13 years old would be required to preserve a sample of the fetal tissue for law enforcement under a bill passed by the state Senate on Thursday. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation could use those samples for DNA tests to help prosecute rapists, said Democratic Senator Roy Herron, the bill's sponsor. "Whoever has sex with a child 12 years of age or younger is committing rape, whether force is involved or not, and they ought to be prosecuted," he said.
Over a few hours under gray skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of US military power in some of the world’s most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs such as “Fozzie Bear,” “Pig Sweat” and “Bongoo” emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago. US Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is commanding the group, said the tour
Sitting in a lotus position, four men weave glittering beads through gold thread on an organza sheet, carefully constructing a wedding dress that would soon wow crowds at Paris Fashion Week. For once, the French couturier behind the design, Julien Fournie, is determined to put these craftsmen in the spotlight. His new collection, which showed in Paris on Tuesday, was entirely made with fabrics from Mumbai. He said that a sort of “design imperialism” means that French fashion houses often play down that their fabrics are made outside France. “The houses which don’t admit it are perhaps afraid of losing their clientele,” Fournie
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
INSTABILITY: The country has seen a 33 percent increase in land that cultivates poppies since the military took over the government in 2021, a UN report said The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military’s seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by one-third in the past year, as eradication efforts have dropped and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, a UN report released yesterday showed. Last year, the first full growing season since the military wrested control of the country from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021, saw a 33 percent increase in Myanmar’s cultivation area to 40,100 hectares, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report said. “Economic, security and governance disruptions