Sweden returns remains
The remains of at least 10 Aborigines taken abroad for scientific research a century ago are to be returned to their native land, a Stockholm museum said on Friday. A ceremony will be held in Stockholm on Monday to mark the return, the second by Sweden after 15 skeletons were sent back in 2004, the Ethnographical Museum said. The skeletons have been in Swedish museums since being taken from graves in the Kimberley region of Western Australia by a Swedish archeological expedition in 1910 and 1911.
Talks over islands continue
Japan and Russia confirmed on Friday they would continue talks on the disputed ownership of the southern Kuril islands -- a sticking point that has prevented them from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II. The assurances were made in a 10-minute telephone conversation between Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Russian President Vladmir Putin, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement. The two leaders talked ahead of a two-day meeting here next Tuesday and Wednesday between their foreign ministers, Masahiko Komura and Sergei Lavrov, focusing on the island row.
Azerbaijan to boost troops
The Azerbaijani parliament voted on Friday to double the size of its contingent in the NATO force in Afghanistan to about 45 soldiers. Lawmakers in Azerbaijan voted 86 to 2 to approve the government's request for the increase, reflecting the former Soviet republic's eagerness to strengthen ties with the EU and the US. Azerbaijan's contribution in Afghanistan will increase to 45 or 46 soldiers, said Ziyafet Askerov, parliament first vice speaker. Azerbaijani soldiers have served in Afghanistan since November 2002, a year after the ouster of its hard-line Taliban rulers in a US-led invasion.
Mom buried baby's body
Police said on Friday they arrested a woman who allegedly buried her baby's body in cement and hid it after it apparently died. Police arrested Yuko Hamano, 30, and her boyfriend Masakatsu Takagi, 48, on Thursday on charges of abandoning the body of the woman's 18-month-old son. "Hamano told police that the baby collapsed at home some time around March last year," a police spokesman said. "She then laid the body in a plastic box and poured cement in it," he said. Police have ordered an autopsy. They said they had not determined how the baby died and did not know why Hamano didn't take him to a hospital.
Empress expresses hope
Empress Michiko, who suffered a bout of stress-related illness earlier this year, said she hopes her daughter-in-law recovers from her own ailment. Crown Princess Masako has withdrawn from most of her official duties for more than three years because of a stress-induced mental illness, blamed by many on pressure to bear a male heir. Masako and her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, have one child, five-year-old Princess Aiko, who cannot inherit the throne under the males-only succession law. In comments issued on her 73rd birthday yesterday, Michiko said she wanted to "watch quietly over" Masako and Naruhito. "Now that she seems to be on her way to recovery, which for me is such a joy, I would simply like to continue praying for the full recovery," she said.
Trevi fountain flows red
A man threw a bucket of red paint or dye into Rome's Trevi Fountain on Friday, coloring the waters of the 18th century monument bright red in front of a crowd of astonished tourists and locals, witnesses said. The man escaped. Experts said the baroque fountain and marble statues were not permanently damaged. The news agency ANSA reported leaflets were found by a group that claimed responsibility for the act. The leaflets said the red paint was a protest for expenses incurred in organizing the Rome Film Festival and symbolized the event's red carpet.
G7 fights money laundering
Group of Seven finance leaders on Friday praised the Financial Action Task Force for its role in uncovering alleged money laundering and other illicit finance related to Iran. "In the wake of two unanimous UN Security Council Resolutions addressing Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and the FATF's actions identifying the risks of illicit finance associated with Iran, financial institutions are advised to take into account these risks," the G7 said in a statement after a one-day meeting.
Beheading video fabricated
A video posted on the Internet that shows Russian neo-Nazis beheading one man and shooting another was a fabrication, the Rossiskaya Gazeta reported yesterday, citing police. Citing a senior police official in the southern Adygea republic, where a student has been charged with inciting racial hatred for spreading the video, it reported that Russian interior ministry experts had determined the video was not genuine. The video, which surfaced in August in online diaries on livejournal.com, appears to show a pair of masked men executing a Tajik national and an ethnic Dagestani man in a forest with a Nazi flag in the background.
Museum wants pubic lice
A museum said on Friday it is having trouble getting its hands on a parasite that just about everybody else is anxious to avoid: crabs. The Rotterdam Natural History Museum has appealed for somebody -- anybody -- to give it a single crab louse for its collection, amid fears they may be dying out. The donor's anonymity, said curator Kees Moeliker, is guaranteed. An article published by British doctors in the Journal of Sexually Transmitted Infections titled "Did the Brazilian Kill the Pubic Louse?" found that crabs rates were falling and hypothesized that the bikini wax known as "The Brazilian" that removes most pubic hair, was to blame. Moeliker said that in essence, the lice's habitat is being threatened. "When the bamboo forests that the Giant Panda lives in were cut down, the bear became threatened with extinction. Pubic lice can't live without pubic hair."