Peace talks continue
Maoist rebel leaders and government ministers will meet again tomorrow to continue peace talks aimed at ending a seven-year insurgency in Nepal, state-run Radio Nepal said yesterday. It will be the second round of talks between the two sides since they agreed to a ceasefire in January. The government is expected to seek clarification of rebel demands made during the first meeting, including that jailed rebel supporters be released and their cases dismissed. The rebels are also seeking formation of an interim government and election of a special assembly to draft a new Constitution within the next six months.
New ship for stricken school
Hundreds cheered at a port in southwestern Japan yesterday as students of a fisheries school whose training ship was sunk by a US Navy submarine in a fatal accident two years ago took its replacement to sea for the first time. The 499-ton Ehime Maru left the port of Uwajima, about 680 km southwest of Tokyo, for a two-month cruise to Hawaii carrying a crew of 36 teachers and students from the Uwajima Fisheries High School, said vice-principal Hiroshi Miyaoka. It was launched by the school in December as a replacement for a training vessel of the same name that was sunk in a collision with the nuclear-powered submarine USS Greeneville off Oahu in February 2001. Nine people died in the accident.
Father jailed for raping girl
A Malaysian contractor with 50 children from four wives has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for raping his 11-year-old daughter last year. Tengku Ismail Tengku Ibrahim, 56, was found guilty of the offence by a court in the northeastern state of Kelantan but was spared an additional punishment of caning as he was above 50. "This thing should not have happened because you look like a religious and pious man. On top of that, you already have four wives to satisfy your desires," Judge Azman Abdullah said before passing sentence. Seven witnesses, including the victim now 12, her elder brother and mother who is Tengku Ismail's fourth wife, testified against him.
Dope phones cause a buzz
Marijuana-scented cell phone covers caused such a buzz in Australia that the company selling them had to pull them out of an technology fair in Sydney yesterday. Local authorities and New South Wales state Premier, Bob Carr, slammed the green, marijuana-motif covers as promoting drug use to young people. "A big over-reaction," said Robert Punch, owner, chief executive and founder of Corporate Phone Covers. "It's a novelty." Made in China and arrayed next to chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, cherry and rose-scented snap-on covers, the marijuana version sold well, though only to the over 18s.
New course is a real drag
An Australian college has introduced a drag queen make-up course to meet rising demand for the skill to hide beard shadows and to enter the glitzy glamour of the drag world. The short course, targeted at occasional drag queens, cross dressers and make-up students, has also sparked wider community interest from those who want to know the basics about the thick, theatrical style make-up. Students will have the opportunity to don wigs and their favourite dresses at the end of the make-up course as they take on their complete drag queen persona.