Monopoly cheap shot
Australian football fans are upset that the British makers of the popular Monopoly board game have relegated their team to the Old Kent Road position in the just-released World Cup edition that gives Brazil top-billing in Mayfair, news reports said yesterday. Brown-hued Old Kent Road is the lowliest property on the board, standing next to the purple of Mayfair occupied by World Cup favorites Brazil. The Sun-Herald quoted Monopoly maker Hasbro as saying that Australia was lucky to be included at all, given that it's the nation's first World Cup appearance since 1974. "Maybe we shouldn't get Mayfair just yet, but Pall Mall would have been good," Soccer New South Wales spokesman Robert Grasso said. "At least we are not sitting in jail."
N Korea spurns talks
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had refused to return to six-party talks on ending his country's nuclear arms programs when he held talks with a senior Chinese official late last month, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported yesterday. Quoting unspecified diplomatic sources in Washington, Kyodo said Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇) had made a secret visit to Pyongyang on April 27-28 and held talks with the North Korean leader. In his talks, Tang called for North Korea to return to the stalled negotiations aimed at halting Pyongyang's nuclear arms programs and helping the isolated state join the global community, Kyodo said. But Kim insisted that Washington first lift financial sanctions on Pyongyang, Kyodo said. Pyongyang earlier agreed to dismantle its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and security assurances.
■ Couple weds over the phone
A couple exchanged wedding vows over the telephone after the bridegroom could not make it to the ceremony due to Hindu-Muslim clashes in the bride's city. The long-distance marriage was solemnized on Friday as a curfew and army patrols in the western city of Vadodara prevented 21-year-old Sufiyan Agarbatiwala from reaching the bride's house there. Vadodara was rocked by sectarian strife last week after city authorities demolished a Muslim shrine to widen a road. In exchanging vows, both sides used phones with speakers so that relatives and witnesses could hear the couple agree to their union in the 20-minute ceremony.
■ Hong Kong
Cellphones used to cheat
Students sitting an English exam have been accused of using cellphones to look up answers on the Internet during toilet breaks, a news report said yesterday. Nearly 100 complaints have been lodged about the exam sat by 79,000 15 and 16-year old candidates last Thursday which included a series of questions with Web links to say where the information was from. An online petition has been signed by 98 students calling on Hong Kong's examinations' authority to order a retake or discount the questions where Web links were provided at the bottom.
Three killed in elevator
An elevator being repaired in a Bangkok high-rise malfunctioned and plummeted more than 20 stories on Saturday, killing three mechanics on board and injuring two others, police said. The mechanics were working on the elevator on the 25th floor of the Citibank building when it suddenly plunged to the basement, said Sergeant Nisai Kluaysawat of Thung Mahamek district police station. Three of the mechanics died, one lost an arm and another suffered minor injuries, Nisai said.