Military reports suicides
Three of about 2,800 Ground Self-Defense Force troops dispatched to Iraq committed suicide after they returned home, Japan's Defense Agency reported yesterday. Although the officials are uncertain whether the suicides were related to their services in Iraq, the rate is higher than the number of suicides by troops who were not deployed there. About 2,800 ground troops have returned home since they completed their mission in southern Iraq early in 2004, Kyodo News Agency quoted agency officials as saying.
Quake survivors beat winter
The race to save earthquake survivors from the Himalayan winter has been won, the UN said on Wednesday. "There has been no second wave of deaths, no massive population movement down the mountains, no severe malnutrition, and no outbreak of epidemics," said Jamie McGoldrick, deputy humanitarian aid coordinator in Islamabad. About 87,000 people died when a huge quake hit Kashmir and North-West Frontier province last November. A second wave of deaths was averted by a milder than expected winter and a helicopter-led aid effort.
Day off calls ignored
Politicians have rejected calls to give foreign maids a mandatory rest day -- a standard practice for workers covered by its Employment Act -- because such time off could "inconvenience" many households. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower, Hawazi Daipi said that prescribing minimum employment terms and conditions for maids would lead to "rigidities and inconvenience" for many families.
Ex-PM's house targeted
A small bomb exploded yesterday outside the residence of the chief adviser to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, former prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, slightly wounding two foreigners, police said. They said the bomb, hidden under a stone bench near the security booth in front of the residence, sent glass flying and damaged three cars parked in front of the house. Police said flying glass injured a 28-year-old Briton and a Canadian aged 51, who were passing by the house. Prem, who was inside the house when the bomb exploded, served as prime minister for eight years in 1980s and is still a key political figure who mediates rifts among politicians and soldiers.
Blogs reappear after a day
Two of the country's most adventurous Web logs reappeared yesterday, a day after apparently being shut down by government censors. The blogs, belonging to Beijing-based journalist Wang Xiaofeng (王曉峰) and to the Guangzhou-based entertainment reporter Yuan Lei, carried messages saying they had been temporarily closed, but they were both accessible again yesterday. "I like telling jokes, but this really wasn't a joke and it wasn't meant to deceive everyone," read a new post on Wang's blog, known as "Massage Milk." But Wang, who blogs under the name "Dai San Ge Biao," a play on former leader Jiang Zemin's (江澤民) "Three Represents" slogan, is known for his political satire, raising the possibility that the closure may have been a prank.
■ Hong Kong
Top cop attempts suicide
A top policeman was seriously ill yesterday after attempting to commit suicide by burning charcoal in a sealed room and taking pills. Chief Superintendent Stephen Fung, 49, former head of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, was found collapsed in a home in the New Territories on Wednesday afternoon. A police spokesman said no suicide note was found and Fung, a policeman for 30 years, was rushed to hospital where he was in a serious condition. Fung was reportedly on leave while assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption over a bribery case.