School site vandalized
Two pigs' heads were found at the site of a proposed Islamic school on Sydney's outskirts yesterday, the school's backers said. An Australian flag was draped between the two heads, said Jeremy Bingham, spokesman for the Quranic Society. "Someone has put a couple of stakes in the ground with a pig's head on the top of each stake and an Australian flag inside," Bingham said. "The police are treating it as a crime scene and making investigations." Earlier this month about 1,000 people attended a meeting to protest against the proposed school in Camden, in Sydney's far southwest, while a cross was previously found on the grounds.
Art held from lawmakers
Officials at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday took down valuable artworks to keep lawmakers dumped in weekend elections from stealing them as they began packing up offices. "We do make sure we take out all our artworks, all the Parliament House's art collection that are in people's offices, before too much disappears," said Hillary Penfold, the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services. Dumped ministers and lawmakers were yesterday vacating offices and removing classified files for disposal.
`Michelin Guide' sells out
The first Tokyo edition of France's Michelin Guide, which gave the city an unprecedented number of stars, has broken another record by selling out in 48 hours, the publisher said on Tuesday. Nearly all 90,000 copies of the influential red book's first version outside the Western world were sold out two days after the release last Thursday morning, Michelin said. "The big bookstores have been emptied out and there are now only a few small places that still stock the guide," a Michelin spokeswoman said. "Forty-eight hours is a sales record."
Military personnel probed
Military personnel are under investigation for suspected human trafficking, senior officials said on Tuesday. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was called in after the defense ministry rejected the army's plan for an internal probe, said one official who asked not to be named. The affair came to light when four civilians were caught this month at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport trying to leave for Germany on military passports. "We declined the army headquarters' suggestion for an internal probe because a wider implication is suspected," the official said. CBI spokesman G. Mohanty declined comment.
Clemency sought for maid
The government said yesterday it was hopeful a Filipina maid sentenced to death in Kuwait for murdering her employer would be spared after "blood money" was paid to the relatives of her victim. Vice President Noli de Castro, who is leading a special mission to seek executive clemency for Marilou Ranario, said he had met with the victim's family and they had granted forgiveness. "We are not losing any hope because we have already paid blood money to the mother and the victim's four siblings," de Castro told local television. He said according to Arab custom, a suspect can be spared if the aggrieved family agreed to receive payment of "blood money" and granted forgiveness. "In this case, the family has already forgiven her," he said.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Firm sells cellphone Bibles
God moves not only in mysterious ways but increasingly in technological ones. British Christians, already able to get passages from the scriptures delivered as text messages on their cellphones, are being offered downloads of the entire Bible on to handsets. On Monday a South Africa-based company launched an offer of the Good News translation and the contemporary English version of the Old and New Testaments for download by text message for ?6 (US$12) each. The firm also intends to offer "daily inspirations" -- biblical passages -- by text message.