■ SingaporeCat cull draws protests
Animal-protection groups and pet lovers yesterday protested the government's drive to kill stray cats estimated to number 80,000. Lynn Yee, president of the Cat Welfare Society, appealed for reconsideration of "such extreme measures." The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said Friday that a campaign to cull stray cats is being mounted island-wide as part of a program "to clean up the environment and improve public hygiene" in the wake of the outbreak of SARS. AVA said it is concentrating on housing estates, food centers, markets and areas "affected by cat nuisance problems."
Teen condoms criticized
A new brand of scented condoms aimed at teenagers is raising a stink in Thailand, a report said on yesterday. The Sweet Teen condoms, which come in lime, cola and mixed fruit varieties and are being advertised with the slogan "teen confidence," are a symbol of moral decay, a sociologist was quoted as saying. "Our society has decayed to the very core," Sompong Jitradab, a social scientist at Chulalongkorn University told The Nation newspaper. "When there's nothing we can do to stop teens from having sex, we produce condoms for them." "The demand is already there. We're helping to solve social problems," the suppliers' spokesman said.
■ New zealand
How to use a chainsaw
High school students are earning qualifications in how to use chainsaws, gamble at casinos and handle guns, a newspaper reported yesterday. More than 100 students passed qualifications in the use of chainsaws last year, and one passed in the rules and procedures for craps, a dice game popular in casinos, Wellington's Dominion Post reported. It said the qualifications were awarded as part of a new National Certificate of Educational Achievement, under which schools can teach a wide range of subjects designed to help students get jobs when they leave.
Lightning strike injures 51
Lightning struck a house in northern Vietnam, injuring 51 people who were inside watching a popular television show. The victims, mostly students aged 8 to 17, were taken to local hospitals in Lang Son province following Thursday's incident. Four adults suffered burns, while 10 children were treated for dizziness and headaches, said Hoang Van Thinh of the People's Committee of Binh Trung village, 170km northeast of Hanoi. The village is not wired for electricity, but one house is powered by a 0.5-kilowatt power generator run by stream water. The lightning struck the generator and ran in on the 14-inch television set everyone was gathered around, Thinh said.
Marshals keep planes safe
Armed marshals will be deployed on Singapore Airlines and Silkair flights in the next few months to thwart would-be hijackers. With suicide attacks deemed more likely, security experts told The Straits Times that undercover agents need to be trained in unarmed combat and need to carry stun guns that fire darts to immobilize terrorists or fire special bullets that fragment on impact and wouldn't puncture a plane's fuselage. The special agents are likely to be deployed only on selected flights because SIA and its subsidiary, SilkAir, operate more than 400 a week.
■ CanadaMore farms quarantined
Investigators placed four more farms under quarantine, including three involving feed production, in a widening search for the cause of North America's first case of mad cow disease in a decade. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said 13 farms were now under quarantine -- eight in Alberta, where the recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was found; two in Saskatchewan to the east; and three in British Columbia to the west. The farms quarantined in British Colombia were feed suppliers, said Brian Evans, the agency's chief veterinary officer.