■ IndonesiaCorruption lesson given
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri was treated to a lecture on corruption yesterday at an early morning mass prayer celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Ramadan month of fasting for devout Muslims. Megawati, accompanied by prominent members of her Cabinet and thousands of Indonesians, attended the prayer ceremony to commemorate the Eid al-Fitr festival at the Istiqlal mosque in central Jakarta -- the biggest mosque in Indonesia. The prayer was followed by a sermon delivered by Syafii Maarif, chairman of the Mohammadiah mass Muslim organization. "Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, yet it ranks again as one of the world's most corrupt nations," Maarif told the assembly.
Child-molester gets 42 years
A British man screamed abuse at Thai judges after he was sentenced to 42 years in jail for molesting boys under 15, court officials said yesterday. Robert Errol Woods, 24, was sentenced on Monday after his conviction for engaging in sex with eight Thai boys between August last year and his arrest on Jan. 15. The Bangkok Criminal Court also found him guilty of producing pornographic videos and still pictures of his encounters, which were used as evidence against him. His arrest came after a tip-off from British police in Manchester, where some of the pictures turned up after they were posted on the Internet, according to police.
Group questions policy
An activist group has asked Singapore's government if it has a policy against events promoting human rights, following a ban on a proposed march yesterday for the International Day Against Violence Against Women. The Think Centre "questions if there are any `internal criteria or policy' instructing the police not to issue permits for events promoting human rights," their statement said. The police cited "law and order concerns" when it turned down three applications from TWC2, a group seeking to improve the conditions of foreign maids in the city-state.
Rabies on the rise
Rabies cases leapt nearly 63 percent in China in the first nine months of the year as the people's mad affair with pet dogs deepened, the China Daily reported yesterday. Rabies, "mad dog disease" in Chinese, killed 1,297 people up to the end of September, far exceeding the 1,003 deaths the Health Ministry reported for all of last year, the newspaper said. This is the fifth straight year that China has seen a big jump in rabies infections.
Kuwait holds sheep decision
Kuwait will not decide whether to accept 70,000 sheep to be exported from Australia until tests determine if the animals were fed pig meat last week by animal rights activists opposed to the trade, the government said yesterday. The sheep were to be sent by ship to Kuwait last Thursday, but Animal Liberation campaigners claimed they had put pig meat in feeding troughs so the animals would be rejected by Kuwait, a Muslim country which has a strong taboo against pork and anything it touches. Quarantine officials have withheld an export license and sent samples of the sheep feed -- thought to be contaminated with shredded ham -- to be tested by scientists and notified authorities in Kuwait of the situation. The results are due Monday.
■ RussiaStudents critical after fire
Moscow doctors were yesterday treating 171 victims of a devastating fire in a university dormitory that killed 36 foreign students a day earlier. Health officials classified 11 of the injured as in critical condition, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. Most of those who died were from China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and African countries, although overall casualties came from 23 countries that send students to the Patrice Lumumba People's Friendship University. The capital's worst fire in 26 years is believed to have been caused by short-circuiting electrical equipment.