■ IndiaNude dancers spark row
India's northwestern state of Rajasthan has punished local officials after residents complained a group of Israeli women motorists had danced in the nude near a town revered by Hindus, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. The Indian Express said the incident took place during a party organized just outside the temple-studded town of Pushkar last month to celebrate the end of the Desert Queen rally in which 45 women rallyists from Israel took part. Local lawmakers and residents said the Israeli women "got drunk, threw their clothes on the stage and danced naked under the moonlight," the paper reported.
Man dies in Indian ritual
An Australian man died after taking part in an American Indian-style sauna-like purification ceremony in the Outback desert, another man who was hospitalized after the ritual said yesterday. The 37-year-old man died after the ceremony lasting several hours on Wednesday inside a small teepee, where hot rocks and water raised the temperature inside to 60?C, Adrian Asfar said. Asfar was in stable condition and being treated for dehydration at Port Augusta Hospital, 275km north of Adelaide. He said he couldn't recall details of the ceremony, involving 11 people from Melbourne.
Woman in court over maid
A 43-year-old Canadian woman has been charged in a Singapore court with abusing her Indian maid by slashing and scalding her, as well as stuffing a vacuum cleaner in her mouth and turning it on, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. Seven charges of abuse were levied against Alka Mandloi on Tuesday, the Straits Times said. Mandloi is alleged to have abused Drona Rai, 25, over a three-month period from September 2001. Mandloi allegedly cut Drona's fingers with scissors and then slashed her hands and legs a kitchen knife, the paper said. The following day, she took a vacuum cleaner, allegedly stuffed it in Drona's mouth and switched it on. Mandloi also took an iron and allegedly scalded her maid's arm, the paper reported.
■ Hong Kong
Molesting priest loses case
A Catholic priest jailed for molesting an altar boy in the first case of its kind in Hong Kong lost his appeal yesterday to the territory's highest court. Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal threw out an attempt by Michael Lau, 43, to have his convictions for gross indecency and attempted buggery overturned. Lau was convicted in February last year of molesting a 15-year-old altar boy in 1991 and 1992. His offence came to light two years ago when the Catholic Church admitted it had dealt with three cases of child abuse by priests internally without referring them to police.
■ New Zealand
Four Japanese plead guilty
Four young Japanese men have pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the beating death of a fellow student at an academy for Japanese youths with behavior and learning problems, local media reported yesterday. Ryu Fukushima, 24, Ryuji Hiraki, 28, Nobu Oshima, 20, and Masato Fujita, 21, on Wednesday admitted to the manslaughter of Nozomu Shinozaki, 22, at the Columbus Academy in Auckland on Feb. 26 last year. The guilty pleas came after prosecutors reduced the charges from murder. The four will be sentenced on Dec. 3.
■ HondurasGangs threaten president
Authorities increased security around President Ricardo Maduro on Wednesday after learning of a plot by street gang members to kill him and key officials in his govern-ment, the government said. "Available sources of information indicate the gangs will try to kill the president," Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez told a television station in Tegucigalpa, the capital. Alvarez, one of Honduras' most-popular figures because of his championing of a law that made membership in street gangs punishable by up to 12 years in prison, said he himself was also among those targeted by gang members. He said large numbers of leaders of the "Maras," Spanish slang for gangs, had gathered in the capital to plot a series of assassination attempts.