`Rudd's reputation intact'
The vast majority of citizens believe a drunken visit to a strip club by the man tipped to be their next prime minister simply proves he is "a normal bloke," an opinion poll showed yesterday. A remarkable 85 percent of voters, both men and women, saw opposition leader Kevin Rudd's escapade in a New York nightclub in those terms, according to a poll for the Herald Sun newspaper. The Labor Party leader had predicted he would suffer in opinion polls after admitting visiting the racy Scores nightclub in New York during a trip to the UN four years ago -- and being too drunk to remember much about it.
Miners crawl to safety
Two brothers have crawled to safety after being trapped for nearly six days in a coal mine, state media said on yesterday. Rescuers and their family had given them up for dead after 130 hours underground after a tunnel collapsed, the China Daily said. Brothers Meng Xianchen (孟憲臣) and Meng Xianyou (孟憲有) were trapped while working at an illegal mine in Beijing's Fangshan District late on Saturday, Aug. 18. Two days later, rescue efforts were called off. "The miners' families were in despair, burning `ghost money' for the deceased at the entrance of the mine," the China Daily said. "The only people who didn't give up were the miners themselves" who started building a tunnel towards the entrance.
■ SOUTH KOREA
Fat animals going on diet
After almost a decade of the good life, tubby animals in a zoo are to go on a diet. Seoul Grand Park zoo, which had been feeding its charges according to 1998 guidelines, has decided to go back closer to nature, the JoongAng Daily reported yesterday. "Feeding the animals according to the 1998 guidelines made the animals overweight," Park Seon-deok, a member of the animal management team, was quoted as saying. The zoo will decrease the amount of processed food, to which the animals have become accustomed, and increase the amount of natural materials.
Internet murderers arrested
Three men who met on an Internet site that matches up criminals were arrested after battering a woman to death and abandoning her body in a forest, police and media said on yesterday. The three arrested men swapped details on a "crime mates" site through their mobile phones, Kyodo news agency reported, and agreed to kidnap a 31-year-old office worker as she walked home late on Friday night. They never told each other their names, and bashed the woman to death in a car park after she saw their faces, Kyodo said, adding the three robbed the woman of around ¥70,000 (US$601).
US regrets football drop
The US military yesterday expressed regret for a publicity campaign aimed at winning hearts and minds that ended up offending scores of Muslims. US troops on Friday dropped dozens of free footballs for soccer-mad children from helicopters in the southeast, all marked with flags of various countries. But the balls depicted the Saudi Arabian flag, which features the Islamic declaration of faith and includes the names of Allah and the prophet Mohammed. The idea of kicking something bearing their names is considered deeply offensive to Muslims.
Wildfires kill two
Weekend wildfires killed two people in the southern part of the country, reduced hundreds of acres of meadows and forests to ashes and destroyed dozens of houses, officials said yesterday. Two elderly people died in a fire that burned down their house in the southern village of Prisadets, said Darina Stamatova, spokeswoman of the regional administration. A photographer on the scene said almost all houses in the villages of Prisadets, Varnik and Filipovo were destroyed by the flames. Emergency units were taking injured to nearby hospitals to be treated for burns and breathing problems.