Aid workers eschew meat
The gruesome task of retrieving the bodies of tsunami victims has turned many Thai rescue workers vegetarian. The leader of a team of 70 aid workers in Khao Lak where about 4,000 people, more than half of them foreign tourists, were killed on Dec. 26, said, "After we turned to vegetarian food and lighting jossticks to the spirits asking for help, the job has become much easier." Vegetarian food was all the rage in one nearby village, where a makeshift relief kitchen produced about 1,000 boxes of meatless food a day. The newspaper quoted a survivor as saying that the smell of death had put her off meat.
Nude musicfest to open
Organizers of Australia's first nudist music festival are promising to turn away single people and eject those who start dancing. "This is not a swingers event," Australian Nudist Federation (ANF) spokesman Raice Nicholls said. "Which is why we say `couples only' because we don't want people coming along thinking this is some kind of sexual thing." Nicholls said enquiries had come in from nudists around the world about next week's Nude Performing Arts Festival at Elephant Rock near Brisbane. He said the aim of the three-day festival was to dispel myths about nudism. "Nudists are very educated people a lot of the time," he said. "Nudity is a great leveller. You don't have to put jewellery on or garments."
■ Hong kong
Woman fined for lost key
A Hong Kong housewife has been fined nearly US$200 for littering after dropping her housekey near her home. Lau Shiu-fun, 55, accidentally dropped the key when she fumbled in her purse for change and suddenly found herself surrounded by litter patrol officers. "As soon as I started to reach down to pick up my key, four male officers totally blocked my way and forbade me from picking up my key. They claimed I had committed littering. For God's sake, who would litter with their own home's door key?" she said. Hong Kong has launched a crackdown on littering in the wake of the SARS outbreak last year.
Boxer beat for good looks
A Malaysian army boxer is suing nine other soldiers who he said beat him up because they envied his good looks. Private Mohammad Suhaimi Abu Bakar, 22, said he was suddenly cornered by his colleagues who hit him with metal rods and threw him into a nearby toilet. Mohammad told a court the beating left him in a coma for three months and as a result of his injuries, Mohammad is seeking unspecified damages for losses, pain and hardship, saying he could no longer get married and lead a normal life.
Poo flags baffle cops
Baffled authorities in southern Germany issued an alert Thursday concerning unknown persons who have been sticking small US flags into piles of dog droppings in Bayreuth public parks. "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of excrement that have been thusly `adorned' during that time," said the parks administrator. The series of incidents originally was thought to be some sort of protest against the US-led invasion of Iraq. When it continued it was thought to be a protest against US President George W. Bush's re-election campaign. Bayreuth police say they are completely baffled. "We have sent out extra patrols to try to catch whoever is doing this in the act," said a police spokesman. "But frankly, we don't know what we would do if we caught them." Legal experts agreed, saying there is no law against using feces as a flag stand and the federal constitution is vague on the issue.