Pot relief for ill people
Australia's most populous state plans to allow seriously ill people to use marijuana as a medicine, following trials of the drug as a pain reliever in several US states, Canada and Europe. However, a proposal for a four-year trial period by New South Wales State Premier Bob Carr provoked outrage among anti-drug campaigners even though he vowed to maintain the state's tough stance on recreational use. Under the scheme, expected to be approved and begin by year's end, those suffering cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses can register to use marijuana for pain relief. In what form it will be distributed has to be decided.
Movies kick smoking habit
Thailand's film industry has kicked the habit of promoting cigarettes and now mainly depicts smokers as bad guys, according to results of a study published yesterday. The study by the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation and Chulalongkorn University PhD candidate Saowalak Assavathevavit analyzed 19 Thai movies released last year and concluded that they did not encourage viewers to smoke. Saowalak was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying most scenes in which cigarettes were used showed smokers in the role of villains or people portraying negative images, such as prisoners or those involved in illicit activities.
Heatwave kills 50
A scorching heatwave with temperatures close to 50?C has killed at least 50 people in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The deaths from sunstroke occurred over the past three days, state health officials said, with 27 people dying on Tuesday alone. The worst hit were coastal areas, including the district of Visakhapatnam, 600km northeast of the state capital Hyderabad, where temperatures have been hovering at least 4?C above normal at close to 50?C. "The heatwave is being caused by dry, hot northerly winds blowing across the state," C.V.V. Bhadram, director at the Hyderabad Meteor-ological Centre said.
■ New Zealand
Kidnapper gets eight years
A New Zealand judge has jailed a Chinese kidnapper for eight years, saying a long sentence was needed to act as a deterrent to stamp out a crime endemic in the Asian student community in Auckland. Judge Cecile Rushton ordered that Da Wan, 25, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping a fellow student and demanding a ransom of 1.25 million New Zealand dollars (US$725,000) from his parents in China, serve at least four years before parole and then be deported. She yesterday told the Auckland District Court:"The message needs to go out loudly and clearly to those people who are in this country to learn English that they are here to do just that and that an offence of this nature will bring a substantial jail sentence."
US kills Kabul soldiers
US soldiers guarding the US Embassy in Kabul shot and killed three Afghan soldiers yesterday who they mistook to be assailants, the chief of police in the Afghan capital said. The shootout occurred as the Afghan forces were unloading weapons from a truck, said Kabul Police Chief Basir Salangi. "It was a misunderstanding between the American guards at the US Embassy and our soldiers who were unloading weapons," Salangi said.
Heavy weapons banned
Iraqis must turn in all automatic and heavy weapons but may keep small arms at home for protection, under a proclamation allied forces will issue this week. Only Iraqis in the military, the police or an authorized security organization supervised by the US-led allied forces in the country would be allowed to carry automatic or heavy weapons, the daily said. Iraqis who disobey the edict will be subject to arrest, allied officials said. The proclamation, which also prohibits celebratory and other weapons firings within city limits, is aimed at improving security.