SARS-rap CD released
A high-pitched voice calls out over the thumping bass line and hip hop melody, "SARS is the virus that I just want to minus." Eminem, watch out. Singapore has enlisted its most famous television character, Phua Chu Kang, in the fight against SARS with SAR-vivor Rap, a CD released this week by the state broadcaster and supported by the Health Ministry. The rap urges Singaporeans to maintain good hygiene to prevent a resurgence of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed 32 of 206 people infected with the disease in the city-state. "Don't kak-pui all over the place, you might as well kak-pui on my face," sings Phua. Kak-pui is Singapore slang for spitting.
Pol Pot's wife cremated
The once-powerful wife of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot was cremated yesterday amid chanting Buddhist monks and religious rituals that the ultra-communist revolutionaries had tried to eradicate during their reign of terror. Khieu Ponnary, the first wife of Pol Pot, died on Tuesday at age 83 in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin in northwestern Cambodia. She struggled with mental illness for more than two decades, and more recently suffered from cancer. The cremation, attended by more than 500 monks, mourners and schoolchildren, took place at a Buddhist temple where her coffin was carried in a procession led by police.
Muslims trained for terror
Dozens of Muslim militants have crisscrossed Asia visiting terror-training camps and learning how to use guns and make bombs, a member of an al-Qaeda-linked regional Islamic group testified yesterday. The militants were being trained to wage a campaign of violence across Southeast Asia in an effort to topple the democratic government of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, and establish an Islamic state, said Ahmad Sajuli bin Abdurrahman. He was testifying via video link from Malaysia.
■ South Korea
Thousands stage walkout
Tens of thousands of South Korean auto and metal workers staged a half-day walkout for a second day yesterday to demand a 40-hour workweek and better working conditions, officials said. Roughly 7,000 unionized workers at Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea's largest carmaker, put down their tools for four hours, union spokesman Jang Kyu-ho said. Another 30,000 metal workers also joined the walkout, said Sohn Nak-koo, a spokesman for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, an umbrella labor group. Thursday's walkouts were organized by separate company unions, which will decide independently whether to continue their strikes, Sohn said.
Sisters risk operation
Two Iranian sisters joined at the head are ignoring their doctors' advice and risking an unprecedented and highly risky operation this weekend in Singapore to separate them. Law graduates Ladan and Laleh Bijani, 29, from Shiraz, are by far the oldest people joined at the head to undergo the complicated surgery, which experts say carries a high risk of at least one not surviving. "Both of us have started on this journey together and we hope that the operation will bring us to the end of this difficult path, and we may begin our new and wonderful lives as two separate persons," the women said.
Herbie Mann dies at 73
Herbie Mann, the versatile jazz flutist who combined a variety of musical styles and deeply influenced genres such as world music and fusion, has died. He was 73. Mann, who had battled prostate cancer since 1997, died late on Tuesday. A funeral home in Santa Fe said it was making arrangements with Mann's family. Mann had moved to Santa Fe in the late 1980s after spending most of his life in his native New York City. Mann always performed different styles, then combined them. Family of Mann, formed in 1973, played world music before it was called that. His best-selling Memphis Underground was a founding recording of fusion.