Better safe than sorry

Heard about the delay in rail travel on one of the busiest lines in Germany last week? For 4-1/2 hours, every train on it was ordered to stop, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers. Had one broken down somewhere? Was there an accident? No. It seems an engineer had spotted a man bent over beside the tracks near Cologne and, thinking he might be about to attempt suicide, slammed on the emergency brake of his approaching train. Subsequent investigation showed the fellow was simply picking blackberries.

'No, you can't': countries that ban or limit worship

The State Department recently issued its annual status report on international religious freedom. Asia, especially, didn't fare well, with four governments on its list of "countries of concern." In particular, the report notes that China, which will be the host of the 2008 Olympic Games, needs serious work on becoming more tolerant. Its government is accused of repressing five categories of worshipers: Tibetan Buddhists, Uighar Muslims, Roman Catholics, Protestants, and the Falun Gong group. The countries to which the State Department gives a thumbs-down:

North Korea
Saudi Arabia
- Voice of America

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