Brothels want to smoke
Brothels should be exempt from tough anti-smoking laws because its a tradition for prostitutes and their customers to enjoy a cigarette together after having sex, an industry lobby group said yesterday. The Australian Adult Entertainment Industry (AAEI) argues that sex workers and their clients shouldn't have to leave the brothel to light up. "These smoking laws are going to drive women back onto the streets courtesy of the health minister," the AAEI's William Albon told Melbourne's Sun Herald. "People smoke when they drink, and people smoke when they fornicate." The sex industry is unique and should be treated differently, she said.
Joint exercise begins
An Asian marine security drill has begun without China or South Korea, which had been scheduled to play key roles in the exercise, the coast guard said yesterday, after an apparent misunderstanding over its purpose. The drill scenario is based on a simulation of a suspicious ship being refused entry to the port of Shanghai and then being tracked by Chinese and other coast guard vessels in turn as it heads away from the port. The US, Canada, Japan and Russia are taking part in the exercise. It would have been the first time that China had been involved in such a joint drill.
■ South Korea
Lee returns home
The remains of World Health Organization (WHO) chief Lee Jong-wook, who died in Geneva last week following emergency brain surgery, arrived in Seoul yesterday for burial. His encased remains, draped in the South Korean national flag, were escorted and carried by a military honor guard out of Incheon Airport. Lee, who was cremated after his death on May 22, was the first Korean to head an UN agency. He will be buried at a national cemetery in the central city of Daejon today, according to the government. President Roh Moo-Hyun has paid tribute to Lee whose death the foreign ministry last week called a "great loss" for the country.
■ Sri Lanka
War on the horizon
A top Norwegian envoy warned on Saturday that Sri Lanka could be headed toward war, even as the parties agreed in principle to meet for talks to discuss the safety of Scandinavian cease-fire monitors. "The situation is very grave," Erik Solheim, Norway's international development minister, said in a telephone interview from India after his deputy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, met with the Tamil rebels' political chief in northern Sri Lanka. "Full-scale war is not inevitable but may still happen," said Solheim, who helped broker a 2002 ceasefire agreement between Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Mass grave uncovered
Some 300 unmarked graves found two months ago in the country's restive south appear to hold bodies of slain migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar, Thai authorities said yesterday. Most of the bodies were found in late March in Pattani, one of three insurgency-hit provinces in the south. They were buried in unmarked graves at cemeteries for the region's ethnic Chinese community, the Central Institute of Forensic Science said. "Police believe they were illegal immigrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar, and 80 percent of them were killed," the center's deputy head Pornthip Rojanasunand said.
Israeli jets attack bases
Israeli jets attacked Syrian-backed Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas in Lebanon yesterday, sparking gunbattles on the volatile border hours after rockets fired into northern Israel wounded an Israeli soldier. At least one Palestinian militant and a Lebanese Hezbollah fighter were killed in one of the worst bouts of violence since Israeli troops ended a 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon six years ago. The Israeli army ordered residents living in northern areas to go to the bomb shelters after a clash between Hezbollah and Israeli soldiers near Kibbutz Menara and mortar and rocket fire into northern Israel, Israeli security sources said. Hezbollah guerrillas, backed by Syria and Iran, also attacked Israeli posts in the disputed Shebaa Farms border area, Lebanese witnesses said.