Web site `shames' drivers
Malaysian authorities have issued summonses to some 40 motorists whose alleged road offenses were exposed in an online Hall of Shame, a news report said yesterday. Members of the public are invited to upload photographs they have taken with digital cameras or camera phones showing motorists violating traffic rules to the Web site, which was launched last month. The Transport Ministry said the Hall of Shame would help catch violators who might otherwise escape punishment because of a lack of road-safety enforcement. The Web site has received about 400 pictures since its launch and has recorded 59,000 hits a day -- far higher than the 30,000 daily hits anticipated.
Soldiers pull out of Aceh
Some 1,300 Indonesian soldiers were pulled out of Aceh Province yesterday, marking the first major step by the government towards implementing an historic peace accord struck last week with separatist fighters. Two battalions from the army's Kostrad strategic reserve, about 1,300 personnel, left yesterday morning on board a navy ship from North Aceh's Lhokseumawe Harbor after a farewell ceremony was held, led by Aceh's military commander Major General Supiadin. Some 15 rebels reportedly surrendered themselves and five military rifles to government authorities at two different districts in the province last week, but disarmament of rebels from the Free Aceh Movement is expected to begin on Sept. 15.
No change to PM's plans
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is not thinking of staying in office beyond September next year when his term as ruling party leader ends, even if his coalition wins next month's election, a party official said yesterday. Speculation surfaced over the weekend that Koizumi, already the longest-serving prime minister in two decades, might extend his term, following comments from members of the coalition. Koizumi called a Sept. 11 general election after rebels in his Liberal Democratic Party sided with opposition parties and helped defeat bills to privatize the postal system, the pillar of his reform plans.
Disciple attacks saint
An attack on Mata Amritnandamayi, world famous as the "Hugging Saint," was foiled when her followers stopped a man who attempted to stab her while she was singing devotional songs in the southern Indian Kerala state, police said yesterday. The seer was attacked at her ashram (spiritual home) in Quilon on Sunday evening. According to police, she was conducting a prayer meeting in front of 19,000 devotees when an attacker lunged at her with a knife. Disciples stopped him and the saint escaped unhurt. The police arrested a resident of the ashram and is interrogating him.
Women bound for frontline
Women in the Australian army will now be allowed to serve in frontline units, with some heading for duty in Iraq, the government said yesterday. But female soldiers will remain barred from direct combat roles under new regulations, Veterans' Affairs Minister De-Anne Kelly said. Up to 15 women will serve in support roles in combat units in the next rotation of troops in Iraq, where Australia has some 900 troops, she said. Kelly said the new roles would give women "a better career path" and make the military a more attractive career option.