Robots man hospital
Robots have made their debut at a hospital where an android receptionist and two porters now work alongside their human counterparts. Aizu Central Hospital in Aizu-Wakamatsu, some 200km north of Tokyo, introduced the trio on Oct. 28 at a cost of ¥60 million (US$508,000). The receptionist robot welcomes visitors at the entrance and answers spoken inquiries. The two porter robots, which can move at a maximum speed of 1.5kph, can carry luggage and take visitors and patients to their destinations.
Russia arrest `poachers'
Russian authorities were hauling four Japanese fishing vessels to an eastern Russian port yesterday on suspicion of illegal fishing, a Japanese foreign ministry official said. The four vessels were inspected by the Russian Federal Border Guard Service in the Bering Sea where the men were fishing, he said. "Three of them were taken to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and the remaining vessel is also on its way to the port for further inspection," the official said, adding that the crew were reportedly in good condition.
Couple shocked over bill
The Regent Singapore claims Alex Lee, 30, owes S$16,355 (US$10,417) for damages to its presidential suite. He and Jolyn Goh, 30, held a wedding dinner in the ballroom on June 25 last year. The wedding package included a one-night stay in the suite and late that night, six friends went to the suite with some wine to celebrate. The hotel claimed the party left food and beverage stains and vomit on the carpet and sofa. "There is no way we could have caused damage worth that much and there is no avenue for us do anything now," Lee said.
■ South Korea
Miniskirts to be legalized
Hot pants and miniskirts will soon be legal. Officials are in the final stages of revising an indecency law that prohibits people from wearing revealing outfits that was once enforced by ruler-wielding police in the 1970s, officials said. "The law for excessive exposure does not match our current society," said Kim Jae-kwang, an official with the Korea Legislation Research Institute. The law allowed police to arrest or fine women for their fashion choices.
■ The Philippines
Mayor arrested for shooting
The mayor of Banisilan on Mindanao has been arrested and his entire police force sacked after he and his aides fatally gunned down five people, army commander Brigadier General Nehemias Pajarito said yesterday. "We have troops in the area. We don't want any future hostilities breaking out between feuding groups," he said. Mayor Floro Allado admitted he and his security escorts opened fire on a truck full of men in his town on Thursday but said it was in self-defense after they shot at his group. Pajarito did not say why the police force was relieved of its duties but sources said this may be linked to a suspected attempt to cover up the incident by claiming that Muslim separatist rebels were behind the shooting.
Temple stampede kills three
At least three people were killed and 25 injured early yesterday when worshippers stampeded during festival celebrations at the 12th-century Jagannath temple in Puri, 65km south of Orissa state capital Bhubaneswar. The stampede erupted on a narrow set of stairs leading to the inner sanctum of the temple, media reports said. As soon as the temple door opened the crowd lined up to see the temple deities surged forward and some of those in front tripped and fell, setting off the stampede. Ten people were hospitalized, doctors at the main Puri hospital said. Witnesses blamed temple authorities for poor planning on a weekend when thousands were expected to celebrate the Hindu festival of Kartik Purnima today.