Dhaka to eliminate begging
Dhaka said on Thursday it would seek to eliminate begging from the impoverished country within five years. Hundreds of thousands of people depend on begging for their income in a country where 40 percent of the 144 million population earn less than a US$1 a day. A.M.A Muhith, finance minister in the newly elected Awami League administration, said a government-charity partnership would set up a program to train, educate and employ beggars.
‘Rat-killing champ’ crowned
A poor farmer from the north was crowned the country’s rat-killing champion on Thursday with a final score of 39,650 dead rodents after a year-long hunt. Binoy Kumar Karmakar, 40, used traps, poison and flooding to kill his quarry, and collected their tails to prove his success rate and claim a government prize. Karmakar collected a 14-inch Sony color TV for winning the competition. “During the year, our farmers killed around 25 million rats,” agriculture department spokesman Abdul Halim said. “Binoy Kumar Karmakar has been declared the champion for killing 39,650.”
Tang Wei returns
Ang Lee (李安) protege Tang Wei (湯唯) has landed her first role since starring in the sexually charged spy thriller Lust, Caution and her reported ban in China. Tang will costar with singer Jacky Cheung (張學友) in the upcoming Chinese-language comedy Crossing Hennessy, Hong Kong-based Irresistible Films said on Thursday. Shooting will start next month, it said in a statement. Chinese media reported last year that regulators had ordered TV stations to stop reporting on the actress and pull ads featuring her.
Police raid orgy, arrest 23
Police early Thursday raided an orgy, arresting 23 people including 16 foreigners for lewd behavior. Police raided the “swinging party” at the Elizabeth Hotel in Bangkok at 12:15am on Thursday, nabbing 14 foreign men, two foreign women and seven Thai women. Police caught several of the participants having group sex in two hotel rooms and found used condoms, lubricant gel, porno books and CDs and 30 Viagra pills. The partygoers were freed after being charged 1,000 baht (US$29) for lewd behavior, but Briton Christian Richards, 54, and his Thai wife face more serious charges and a possible 10 years in prison for advertising and procurement for sex parties.
‘Bin Laden’ bids for job
More than 10,000 people have jumped at the chance to become the caretaker of a tropical Australian island — including a prankster identifying himself as terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. A 30-second video available on YouTube shows an actual video of the bearded al-Qaeda leader with garble dubbed over his real voice and subtitles stating why he is right for the job. “I enjoy the outdoors and sandy areas,” the subtitles read. “I’ve got experience with videos, delegating tasks and experience with large scale event coordination.” Queensland launched the “Best Job in the World” campaign on Jan. 12, calling for video applications from people interested in a A$150,000 (US$100,000) contract to relax on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef for six months while writing a blog to promote the island.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Racist doll prompts apology
Managers of one of Queen Elizabeth II’s country estates have apologized for selling a soft toy with racist connotations in their gift shop. Sandringham Estate’s management said on Thursday it did not intend to cause any offense by selling the rag dolls, which resemble black-faced minstrels and are popularly known as “golliwogs.” They were popular toys during the early part of the 20th century, but the doll and its name are now considered racist. The toys have been withdrawn from sale at the estate in Norfolk, 185km northeast of London. Earlier this week, the BBC dropped Carol Thatcher, daughter of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, from a TV show after she reportedly referred to an unidentified tennis player as a golliwog.