Tue, Dec 23, 2003 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Philippines

'John Wayne' up for election

A hugely popular film actor known as the John Wayne of the Philippines dealt President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a formidable challenge yesterday by confirming his starring role in next May's election. Other candidates from the fragmented opposition and several independents have vowed to run, but Fernando Poe Jr appears to be the one to beat after scoring a slim lead over newsreader-turned-senator Noli de Castro at the top of a recent opinion poll. Poe, a high school dropout with no political experience and close friend of ousted president and former movie star Joseph Estrada, said he accepted his nomination to be the standard bearer for one opposition coalition.

■ India

Rebels' families released

Bhutan will hand over to India wives and children of Indian rebels caught in the Himalayan kingdom during a week-old military offensive, officials said yesterday. The Buddhist kingdom, wedged between India and China, last week launched its biggest offensive to push out an estimated 3,000 militants, who are fighting against New Delhi's rule across the border in India's northeast. "Bhutanese officials have informed us they would hand over wives and children of militants who are now in their custody," a senior Indian intelligence official said.

■ China

Alleged rape draws crowd

Eight men were arrested over the weekend for allegedly gang raping a woman in front of 200 revellers at a disco in Zhuhai, about 50km west of Hong Kong. The men were seized after police intercepted two taxis driving away from the Rolling Stone Disco following a complaint from the woman. A Zhuhai police spokesman confirmed the attack had occurred and eight suspects were in custody, a media report said. One witness said the woman was attacked in the main area of the disco. She was pinned to a sofa, stripped naked by four of the attackers and repeatedly raped in front of about 200 people, The Standard reported on Monday.

■ Laos

Pupils flunk urine tests

The government of Laos expressed its alarm yesterday over the results of its first widespread urine testing at primary and secondary schools, in which about 8.6 per cent of the students tested positive for methamphetamine. "It's very alarming that drugs are entering the schools," Dr. Thienthien Polsena, director of the government's Anti-Narcotics Committee, was quoted as saying in a broadcast by Radio Vientiane. The government-run radio said urine tests on 1,644 students from five primary and secondary schools in the central province of Savannakhet found 141 students had methamphetamine in their systems. Students whose urine tests were positive would be sent to reeducation centers, he said.

■ Australia

Students sobering up

Beer-swilling nights are becoming a thing of the past for Australian university students as they drink less and save money to pay off their growing personal debt and student fees, bar owners say. Even celebrations to mark the end of exams aren't as wild as they used to be, said Peter Linden, a bar manager at Melbourne University. "Having a Uni bar is no longer a license to print money," Linden said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "You don't see the kind of student that you did 10 to 15 years ago. They are more focused on degrees than they are having fun," he said.

■ South Africa

AIDS activist murdered

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