Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Hong Kong
Foreign maids lose appeal

Filipino, Indonesian and Thai maids lost a legal appeal yesterday against what they claim is an illegal tax and pay cut. The case was being brought by five members of the the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body on behalf of more than 200,000 live-in domestic helpers in the city of 6.8 million. The minimum wage of foreign maids was cut by US$50 a month in 2003 and a levy of the same amount was imposed on employers of foreign maids to try to encourage local women to take up jobs as maids.

■ Australia

Women leaving countryside

Farmers hit by the lowest rainfall in years are facing an even more serious drought as women leave the sun-baked countryside for the city, a newspaper reported yesterday. Jock Laurie, president of the New South Wales Farmers Association, said the drought afflicting 94 percent of the state was driving females from rural communities. "There really isn't many females in some country towns," he told the association's annual conference in Sydney, warning that farmers would not stay in areas where there was a shortage of women.

■ China

Tracking Olympic veggies

As if China didn't have its hands full keeping tabs on its 1.3 billion people, the country will now begin tracking its vegetables. In an attempt to ensure food safety during the 2008 Olympics, Beijing is to give every cabbage, carrot and pea pod its own identity number and file, the Beijing News reported yesterday. If there is a "safety incident" the vegetable's file can be immediately checked and its origins traced, the newspaper said.

■ Malaysia
Randy husbands face jail

Men may face a jail term of up to five years if found guilty of inflicting mental stress on their wives in bids to have sex, official news reports said yesterday. The new legal provisions, which come into effect immediately, would mean that wives who claim to have suffered from stress or "mental injury" following their husbands' requests for sex would be able to charge their husband in court, Home Affairs minister Mohamad Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said. The victim need not even be forced to perform sex before she can lodge a report, he said. "The provision emphasizes injury suffered by the wife inflicted by the husband's act," he said.

■ Australia

Driver plays dead

A driver stranded on a remote stretch of highway near Esperance, about 725km southeast of Perth, tried to summon help yesterday by playing dead in the middle of the road, a police officer said. A woman who was driving with her two children spotted the man and had to swerve to avoid hitting him, said Doug Backhouse, a detective with the state police. "She drove around the body -- which didn't move at all -- and got to the nearest phone," Backhouse said. Local police arrived with an ambulance and found the man alive and well. "The best way he thought to get a vehicle to stop was to lay down in the middle of the road and pretend to be dead," Backhouse said.

■ Thailand

Backhoe crushes tourists

An eight-wheel backhoe crushed two tourists as they attempted to cross a busy street in Bangkok waving safety flags above their heads, media reports said yesterday. British tourist Gary Thomas Chamber, 28, and his Norwegian girlfriend Hanne Karlsen, 20, were run over by a city excavator on Tuesday at a zebra crossing in Bangkok's Pomprap Sattruphai district, police said. Both tourists were waving "safety flags," provided at pedestrian crossings as part of a municipal road-safety program, but the driver of the backhoe was unable to stop his vehicle from running over them, the Bangkok Post said.

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