■ Sri Lanka
Monitor urges probe
Up to 200 Tamils have been slain in apparent political violence that has undermined Sri Lanka's peace since the 2002 halt in its civil war, and the government hasn't done enough to investigate the attacks, a human-rights monitor said yesterday. The New York-based Human Rights Watch suggested most of the killings were the result of a split in the ranks of the Tamil Tigers last year, and called for an independent commission to investigate the violence and recommend ways to end it. Sri Lankan police denied they had closed their eyes to the killings.
Men urged to dress down
The government's top spokesman turned fashion trendsetter yesterday when he doffed his tie as part of a "Cool Biz" campaign to get men to dress down to save energy. Sartorially conservative government workers and politicians are being encouraged to leave off coats and ties between June 1 and Sept. 30 so that air conditioner thermostats can be set higher to save energy. Sporting a light blue shirt and navy trousers at a news conference in place of his usual dark suit, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda presented pamphlets showing a variety of options for the "tieless look."
Patient killed in AC row
A kidney patient was slashed to death by a fellow patient while receiving dialysis treatment, apparently because of a row over the air conditioning. Goh Kim Kee, 50, bled to death after a 39-year-old patient attacked him with a machete as 10 other patients hooked up to dialysis machines looked on in horror, the New Straits Times reported. Goh was slashed four times and both his arms were almost severed, police said. The two men had in the past argued about the air conditioning at the dialysis center in the capital Kuala Lumpur, with Goh complaining that it was too cold, the Sun newspaper said.
City staff hit the gyms
Shanghai civil servants are being told to hit the gym amid a rise in obesity and other health problems, an official newspaper reported yesterday. The Xuhui district government says most of its 4,000 employees are severely out of shape, with just 30 percent receiving good or excellent marks on their physical exams, the Shanghai Daily reported. About 15 percent of the district's bureaucrats are overweight, with most living sedentary lifestyles and making little time for exercise, it said. The district has told bureaucrats to join one of 25 gyms or sports clubs that are offering discounted fees, with those who work out at least once a week to be reimbursed.
Rights activist detained
Authorities have arrested a prominent human-rights activist in the eastern city of Andizhan who strongly criticized recent violence there, a US-based rights group said yesterday. Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov was detained on Saturday and is being held on unknown charges, Human Rights Watch said. It said his arrest appeared to be linked to his outspoken remarks about the May 13 violence, in which Uzbek forces opened fire on demonstrators after armed militants freed inmates from a jail and seized government buildings. International media have quoted comments by Zaynabitdinov condemning the crackdown in Andizhan and saying the death toll could be as many as 1,000 or more -- far above government claims that 169 people died.
Palestinian used as shield