World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Sat, Oct 28, 2006 - Page 7

■ India

Suspected militants nabbed

Police in the southern state of Karnataka said yesterday they had foiled an attempt by suspected Islamic militants from Pakistan to blow up the local legislative assembly. B.S. Sial, the director-general of police in the state, said two militants were arrested after a gunfight in Mysore, 150km southwest of the state capital Bangalore late on Thursday. "A satellite phone, a laptop and an AK-47 rifle was seized from them," Sial said. "Documents seized reveal they are from Pakistan." Mysore police commissioner Pravin Sood said the two were riding on a motorcycle when they were caught.

■ New Zealand

Four-legged chicken dies

Forzie, the four-legged chicken hatched last month, has died, and it appears it was an extra anus rather than the extra legs which led to its death. "He developed two bottoms and I think he got glugged up," said owner Marlene Dickey. Dickey said she was surprised by Forzie's death, as he was slowly gaining feathers. "He was a bit of a laugh," she said. Looking ungainly on its extra legs, the bird was an exception to the rule that chickens with defects are not normally born alive. He is now in the Dickeys' freezer waiting to be sent to a taxidermist and will then be donated to a museum.

■ Malaysia

Elderly US couple harassed

The country's tourism minister was to meet and placate an elderly US couple harassed by Muslim religious officials on the northern tourist island of Langkawi, a report said yesterday. Randall Barnhart, 62, and his wife Carole, 61, were rudely awakened in their rented apartment in the early hours of the morning earlier this month by religious officials conducting a raid on "khalwat" couples. Under Islamic law, which operates alongside the civil code in multicultural Malaysia, "khalwat" -- close proximity between a man and a woman who are not married -- is forbidden. The couple, who were on a six-week sailing holiday in Malaysia, have been married for 42 years and are Christians.

■ Malaysia

Drugged drivers suspended

Motorists caught driving under the influence of drugs will have their licenses revoked for at least two years, a newspaper reported yesterday. Since the launch of a road safety campaign on Oct. 17, 50 motorcyclists and bus drivers have tested positive for morphine, heroin and marijuana in random police checks, federal traffic police chief Nooryah Mohamad Anvar was quoted as saying by the Star. Their driving licenses will be suspended for at least two years and they will be charged with drug-related offenses, she said without elaborating.

■ Malaysia

Agency dupes job seekers

Hundreds of Malaysians applied to work as as flight attendants with Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific, only to discover they were duped by a bogus recruitment agency, a report said yesterday. Some 800 job seekers earlier this month turned up at a hotel south of Kuala Lumpur for interviews organized by the agency, which hired Malaysian ex-Cathay staff members to conduct interviews and help out. But suspicions were raised when about 100 shortlisted candidates were asked to fork over 5,500 ringgit (US$1,508) for registration and training, the Star daily newspaper reported. "The agency had lured the applicants by promising a basic pay of US$3,000 dollars a month," said Michael Chong, a consumer activist with the Malaysian Chinese Association Party.

■ Canada

Girl, 12, accused of murder

A 12-year-old girl and three other teens have been charged with the second degree murder of a woman who was beaten to death in Winnipeg. Police said in a release on Thursday that they had arrested and charged the girl along with two 14-year-old girls and a 15-year-old boy. Police allege the group punched and kicked the 34-year-old victim, who was found suffering from life-threatening injuries during the early hours of last Saturday. She later died in hospital.

■ United Kingdom

`Sexsomnia' baffles

Researchers are struggling to understand a rare medical condition where sufferers unknowingly demand, or actually have, sex while asleep, New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday. Research into sexsomnia -- making sexual advances towards another person while asleep -- has been hampered as sufferers are so embarrassed by the problem they tend not to own up to it, while doctors do not ask about it. Most researchers view sexsomnia as a variant of sleepwalking, where sufferers are stuck between sleep and wakefulness, though sexsomniacs tend to stay in bed rather than get up and walk about. Sleepwalking affects 2 percent to 4 percent of adults, but sexsomnia is not thought to be as common a problem, according to Nik Trajanovic, a researcher at the sleep and alertness clinic at Canada's Toronto Western Hospital.

■ United States

Rat salad sparks lawsuit

Dallas Cowboys assistant coach Todd Haley is suing a McDonald's restaurant in Texas, claiming his wife and their au pair found a dead rat in a salad they took home to eat. The lawsuit seeks US$1.7 million in damages, the Dallas Morning News reported on its Web site. Christine Haley and au pair Kathryn Kelley had eaten part of the salad purchased on June 5 at a McDonald's before the rat was discovered. They became violently ill and endured long-lasting physical injuries, the lawsuit said. The rodent was about 15cm long and was found on its back with its mouth opened, a family spokesman said.

■ United States

Next space tourist signed up

Hungarian-born Charles Simonyi, who made his fortune in computer software, will be the next tourist to the international space station. He is set to launch on March 9 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, according to Space Adventures, which arranged the trip through Russia's space agency. He would be the fifth space tourist to pay the Virginia-based company an estimated US$20 million to US$25 million for the privilege.

■ United Kingdom

Telescopes could find aliens

A new generation of ultra-powerful radio telescopes designed to peer into the origins of the universe could also be used to look for any radio or TV emissions by extraterrestrial civilizations, New Scientist says. TV and radio broadcasts are in the 50 to 400 megahertz range, which overlaps with the frequency range of between tens and hundreds of megahertz made by radio waves from hydrogen atoms forged in the early universe. Harvard University astrophysicists Abraham Loeb and Matias Zaldarriaga suggest that tell-tale spikes in the energy spectrum, which are made by broadcasts, could be discernible to telescopes such as the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) now being built in the Netherlands. These spikes, if they are ever picked up, could be used to unlock information from any alien world, the British magazine says in its latest issue.