■ SingaporeGirls strip, burn `friend'
Two teenage girls were sent to a Singapore reform home after slapping, kicking, punching, stripping and burning a "friend" with a cigarette butt. The three hours of abuse was triggered by an argument over US$2.94, The Straits Times reported yesterday. A district court sent Normalinah Jamali, 17, and Izmariani Abdul Rahman, 16, to the Reformative Training Centre for at least 18 months, after hearing how the pair were among 10 girls who spotted the victim on Nov. 12, 2002. Izmariani accused the victim of stealing the money and demanded that she hold a "settlement talk."
Blast rocks Sydney
A massive blast in Sydney that yesterday destroyed an abandoned car and left a crater 4m wide and almost 4m deep was felt 30km away. Police would not say what type of explosive was used. They have questioned a 28-year-old Sydney man over the early morning incident. Police spokesman Wayne Murray said the counter-terrorism unit had been called in, but it was not known whether there was anything sinister involved. "At this stage we are not sure how the blast took place or its origin," Murray told Australia's AAP news agency. "It's a strange one. We are certainly treating it as suspicious and as a serious matter."
Visa violators whipped
Fourteen Indian men alleged they were whipped and tonsured by Singapore authorities for overstaying their work permits. The men were deported on Friday to Madras, capital of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Asian Age newspaper reported. They claimed they were stripped down to their underwear and not allowed to bathe or shave for several days in the Singapore immigration office as punishment for staying beyond the stipulated period on their work permits. "We were locked up in jail for three months," deported worker Chandra Bose said. "We were whipped and before being deported our heads were tonsured."
■ New Zealand
Loo seat burns woman
A woman will require plastic surgery for serious burns after she sat on a New Zealand public toilet smeared with an unknown chemical, media reported. The woman was one of four to suffer burns from the chemical, which had been smeared on seats and other areas in a public toilet in a park in the city of Christchurch, in the early hours yesterday, the New Zealand Press Association reported. "It appears that a clear, gel-like substance had been smeared on the toilet seats, press-down buttons and on the building's walls," said Senior Sergeant Neru Leifi. A sample of the chemical had been sent for analysis. Three of the women were treated and discharged but the fourth was still in hospital, a police officer said.
Journalists travel to jail
A Pakistani court has sentenced two French journalists to six months in prison and fined them about US$1,700 each after they pleaded guilty of unauthorized travel inside the country, court officials said yesterday. Judge Nuzhat Ara Alvi convicted Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, both from the French weekly, L'Express, of visiting the southwestern city of Quetta without a visa, the officials said. Court officials said the two French men, arrested on Dec. 17 in Karachi, had pleaded guilty of unauthorized travel.
■ United KingdomFish and chips are French
The reputation of fish and chips as Britain's national dish took a battering on Friday when a historian said the classic meal originated elsewhere. Panikos Panayi, history professor at Leicester's De Montfort University, said his studies had shown deep-fried battered fish and potatoes were a mixture of French pommes frites and fried fish dishes brought by Jewish immigrants. "Over time it has become anglicized," he told Reuters. "It has almost become part of Britain." The popular dish is sold in paper at "chippies" across the country.