Sat, Dec 20, 2003 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Cambodia

Online ghosts scare public

Rumors about ghosts that communicate through phone lines are flying through the kingdom of Cambodia, according to local media. On Friday, the English-language Phnom Penh Post reported that local Internet service provider Mobitel had received repeated voice calls on its data lines, with callers seeking a connection to the spirit world rather than the Internet. The cause for concern is entirely explicable. When a modem connects to a data line, it communicates to the computer on the other end via a series of high-pitched noises. A Mobitel employee said these sounds strike fear into the hearts of many Cambodians who believe they are coming from shrieking spirits.

■ Malaysia

Man killed over bra, panties

Two Malaysian men's fetish for women's undergarments proved fatal when one of them was killed after a fight for possession of a pair of stolen bras and panties, a report said yesterday. Police said the victim, M. Priasamy, 51, and a friend had been fighting over a plastic bag containing the underwear, which was stolen from a neighbor, when the scuffle became heated, leading to the murder. The victim, who died from severe head injuries, was discovered early Thursday, the New Straits Times daily reported. Police have arrested a 21-year-old man believed to have dealt the fatal blow.

■ Hong Kong

English teachers fail test

Almost 70 percent of 1,930 teachers who took a government examination recently flunked the English writing test, raising concerns about language education in Hong Kong. About half who sat the exam in September also failed English listening and oral tests, according to official figures released this week. Although Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, many people here are far from proficient in English, which is vastly different from their native tongue of Cantonese, a Chinese dialect.

■ Thailand

Babies named after Saddam

Some Muslims in Thailand have named their newborn babies Saddam Hussein following his capture by US forces in Iraq last weekend, a newspaper reported Friday. "He's a cross between a hero and a tyrant, but we choose to remember his good side," Rohcidee Lertariyapongkul, chairman of the Muslim Youth Association of Thailand, was quoted as saying in the Bangkok Post. "One way to do it is to let our babies bear his name.'' Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, but its southernmost provinces are Muslim-dominated.

■ Australia

Millionaire dodges prison

Australian authorities said yesterday they couldn't enforce a stockbroker's prison sentence for insider trading, because the multimillionaire keeps producing doctor's notes saying he's sick. Rene Rivkin was sentenced in May to spend every weekend in jail for nine months after being found guilty under federal law of insider trading in Qantas Airways shares. After collapsing during his first weekend in prison in June and presenting a doctor's note that got him out of his second, the 59-year old underwent surgery to remove several benign tumors. But on Friday, the flamboyant stockbroker -- who owns a harborside mansion and regularly hosts parties on his luxury yacht for celebrities and political heavyweights -- produced a third medical certificate declaring him unfit for prison, at least until February.

■ Afghanistan

US vows to trap bin Laden

Osama bin Laden is probably alive and will be caught one day "with absolute certainty," America's top general said while visiting US troops in Afghanistan. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers said Thursday that bin Laden was likely hiding in the rugged border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, "where he has some support, where he can buy support, and probably in very difficult terrain. It's very difficult to find individuals. What will happen is, with absolute certainty ... he will be captured some day, just like we captured Saddam Hussein," Myers said.

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