Snake death shocks children
Dozens of children have fainted, apparently because of mass hysteria, after school authorities in Nepal killed a snake, considered as sacred by many Hindus, witnesses said on Thursday. At least 67 students, aged between nine and 16 years, have had fainting fits since Tuesday in the mainly Hindu country, they said. "Children suddenly scream, cry and faint," Rishikesh Baral, assistant headmaster of the school, told reporters. "Some recover after a couple of hours while others are yet to fully recover. We apologize for killing the snake," he said.
WHO confirms H5N1 cases
The WHO has confirmed two more cases of bird flu in Indonesia, one of them fatal, bringing the country's confirmed death toll from the virus to 48. The cases, which occurred last year, were added to the WHO tally because of a recent change in the testing standards that the body sets for H5N1 cases. They were already included in Indonesia's Health Ministry tally. "WHO is adding two cases in Indonesia, dating back ... to 2005," the WHO said in a statement issued yesterday.
Militants raid police post
Militants raided a police station in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing two officers and stealing more than a dozen rifles, police said yesterday. The attack in the remote mountainous Doda district, some 200km northeast of Jammu, the winter capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, occurred late Friday night. The militants were aided by a former police officer, who tipped them off when most of the police were out on patrol, said a senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
■ South Korea
Joint survey planned
The government agreed with Japan to conduct a joint marine survey of radioactive waste near islets claimed by both countries, South Korean officials said yesterday. The survey is aimed at determining the level of radioactive pollution from nuclear waste dumped by the former Soviet Union, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said. During working-level talks on Friday, South Korea and Japan agreed in principle to conduct the survey near the islets -- called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese -- that lie in waters roughly halfway between the two countries, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site.
`McCurry' legal battle ends
US burger chain McDonald's Corp has won a five-year legal battle against a tiny Malaysian eatery called "McCurry," persuading a judge that passers-by might confuse it with the fast-food giant. The 24-hour open-air restaurant serves spicy fish-head curries, tandoori chicken and other Indian delicacies on a street corner in Kuala Lumpur under a large "McCurry" sign. "The defendant's use of the word `McCurry' and employing signage featuring colors distinctive to the plaintiff's was indulging in acts that could rise to confusion and deception," the judge was quoted as saying in local media on Friday. In Thursday's ruling, the court ordered the curry house to drop the "Mc" from their signage, but state news agency Bernama said the restaurant planned to appeal the ruling.
■ New Zealand
Hefner pans Playboy Ball
Hugh Hefner wants a New Zealand charity ball to be canceled, claiming promoters have illegally used his Playboy brand and bunny logo and may tarnish his business empire's image, a newspaper reported yesterday. Craig Douglas, organizer of the Playboy Ball, says he got permission from Playboy Enterprises International eight months ago to hold the Sept. 16 party to raise money for Koru Care Christchurch, a charitable trust for sick children, the Christchurch Press reported. "Apparently, the person who wrote back to us had no authorization to tell us that was OK, but as far as we're concerned, we're covered," Douglas told the newspaper.