Man drowns in sewer
A man drowned in a sewer on Friday night in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City after workers left a soak hole uncovered, a city official said yesterday. Ly Anh Tuan, 23, was driving his motorbike with two passengers on board when the trio unexpectedly plunged into the four-metre deep hole which had been left uncovered and unmarked by warning signs, the official said. The hole was filled with water after several days of rain in the bustling southern city. Workers at the site alerted the police to the accident but the motorcyclist had already drowned. The two passengers survived the accident.
Producer bribes audience
In an attempt to artificially inflate the viewer ratings of his shows, a Japanese television producer paid people to watch his programs, his employer Nippon Television Network Corp said. The producer paid between 5,000 yen (US$45) and 10,000 yen (US$90) in gift certificates and cash to each household that agreed to watch his programs, NTV said on Friday. The 41-year-old, who produced programs about celebrities, used a detective to track down households whose televisions were being monitored by Video Research Ltd, which has a monopoly on calculating Japanese TV ratings.
Beauty throws off burka
For Vida Samadzai, it has been a long journey from underneath an all-encompassing burka in Afghanistan to baring nearly all by a Manila swimming pool in a red bikini. The first Afghan entrant in an international beauty contest for 30 years, and the first since the fall of the hardline Islamic Taliban government in 2001, joined more than 50 other women at a posh hotel in the Philippine capital this week to fight it out for the Miss Earth title. The only other Miss Afghanistan was Zohra Daoud, who joined the Miss Universe contest in 1972.
PM slams Oz politicians
Outspoken Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told Australian politicians yesterday that they were too fond of making unwelcome remarks and should not assume they know everything. "We have fairly good relationships with Australia but Australian politicians are very fond of passing unwelcome remarks and that of course strikes us wrongly and we respond likewise," he told reporters at a joint press conference with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare. "They seem to assume that we do not know how to run our country, and that they know better ... we are all sinners, there is no perfect man, don't go around assuming that you know everything and other people don't know anything," Mahathir said.
Two might go into space
The chief engineer of the rocket which shot China's first man into space has revealed the next mission may carry two men, state media said yesterday. The "Long March 2F" rocket, which lifted China's first manned spacecraft Shenzhou V into orbit earlier this month, would be powerful enough to carry at least two astronauts, Zhang Baokun said according to the China News Service. China said after its first manned space launch earlier this month that the next Shenzhou mission would take place in one or two years.
Train crash kills one
Two crowded passenger trains collided at rush hour in a Zurich suburb, overturning one car onto a 16,000-volt power line and detailing two more, officials said. At least one person was killed and 32 injured. Meinrad Lienert of city rescue services told reporters that a woman died and eight people, including a child, were seriously injured in the Friday evening accident. The remaining injuries were moderate to light, Lienert said. Hans Mundwiler, chief of the Zurich fire department, said the overturned passenger car landed on a 16,000-volt power line.
■ United States
Twins get first look
Egyptian twins formerly conjoined at the head saw each other for the first time since surgery to separate them two weeks ago, their doctor said on Friday. Two-year-old Mohamed Ibrahim was more awake than brother Ahmed and seemed to recognize his sibling after he was wheeled in a red wagon into Ahmed's room, said Dr. James Thomas, chief of critical care at Children's Medical Center. "He was clearly delighted by the ride and when he saw his brother for the first time since surgery he stared at him intently," Thomas said in a statement.
■ United States
Con artist fakes cancer
Brookelyn Walters had a shaved head and a Web site that asked people for donations to help her cover the cost of her cancer treatment. But Walters, 24, didn't have cancer, say authorities, who have charged her with theft and forgery, the Muncie, Indiana, Star Press reported on Friday. Walters, a former Ball State University student, convinced people she had cancer and was deaf in order to get donations from "good-hearted" people, authorities say. The former Ball State University student received hundreds of dollars in services from the university and US$1,000 from a sorority that held a hog roast to raise money to support her fight against cancer.
Dead mom hidden in bath
A German man hid his dead mother in a bathtub under a heap of rubbish in their back garden and then continued to collect her pension, police said. Police investigating the woman's disappearance found the 63-year-old's corpse wrapped in clear plastic under garden waste and roofing felt after her unemployed car mechanic son, 36, had told them she was taking a holiday for her health. The man, who is under investigation for fraud and suspected murder, said he had found his mother dead at home one day in the summer.
Jail switch goes bad
A jobless Brazilian man who agreed to impersonate a convicted robber and serve his prison sentence to cover a US$275 debt wound up doing time of his own for the ruse. An investigator in Sao Paulo said that Denival Santos, an unemployed baker's assistant, spent three months in a prison cell this year posing as the robber, Rene Coelho Honorato, before authorities caught on. Santos, 21, was recently released after serving an additional four months for impersonating Honorato, also 21, who remains at large. While Santos sat in prison, Honorato was stealing money bags from vehicles transporting cash, police said. An investigation led them to Santos, who had dyed hair and fake documents. Santos told police he had crashed Honorato's motorcycle and owed him US$275 for repairs.
■ United States
Troop withdrawal demanded
About 50 anti-war protesters and members of soldiers' families held a vigil at the Vietnam War Memorial here late Friday to demand a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Members of the groups Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out also denounced the USA Patriot Act, a post-September 11 law that significantly broadened the powers of law enforcement agencies in combating terrorism while drawing criticism from civil libertarians. "Let's bring 'em home now," "UN in, US out," "In defense of liberty, repeal the Patriot Act," read some of the placards carried by participants.
Killer bees unleash panic
Bees sting man to death
A man was killed on Friday when he was stung some 2,000 times in an attack by bees, a newspaper reported. The attack occurred in a suburb of Sorocaba in the state of Sao Paulo, the O Globo newspaper's news service reported. The victim died en route to the hospital when his heart stopped, the report said. The attacking bees unleashed panic among hundreds of people and pets in the suburb. Two other people were injured; two dogs also died after being stung.
■ South Africa
Gang hijacks ambulance
A patient was shot dead after an armed gang hijacked the ambulance taking him to hospital in eastern South Africa, later leaving the vehicle abandoned, police said on Friday. Spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said Sibusiso Makhanya, 38, was shot in the back and left for dead at a food shop in Umlazi, south of the east coast port city of Durban, on Thursday. An ambulance arrived shortly afterwards and was driving Makhanya to hospital when it was hijacked. It was found abandoned a short while later with Makhanya's body, with two new bullet wounds -- one in the head and the other in the arm -- still inside, Naidoo said. Police are examining the possibility that the two shootings may have been linked.
Singing prisoners pardoned
Six prisoners competing in a national song contest for convicts pleased the judges enough to win pardons, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday. The six were among 23 finalists chosen from more than 800 prisoners who submitted tapes of self-composed songs for the contest, which was held at a Moscow theater. The report did not give the names of the winners, the terms they were serving or what crimes they were convicted of, but said two of the six were women. Interfax said the pardons must be approved by courts in the regions where the convicts were incarcerated and it was not clear when the winners would get their chance to walk away with songs in their hearts.
■ United States
Drunken officer acquitted
A former police officer accused of driving a patrol car off a rooftop parking lot was found innocent of drunken driving and other charges in Philadelphia. Walter Jernigan, 55, was guarding equipment stored on a roof for a parade in 2001 when the car plummeted four stories and landed in a busy intersection, narrowly missing a pedestrian. Jernigan's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit for driving, authorities said. Prosecutor Lynne Abraham said she was incensed the judge found Jernigan innocent Friday. Judge Marsha Neifeld said Abraham's comments were unwarranted, and that she listened to testimony carefully and reviewed the evidence.
Sitting in a lotus position, four men weave glittering beads through gold thread on an organza sheet, carefully constructing a wedding dress that would soon wow crowds at Paris Fashion Week. For once, the French couturier behind the design, Julien Fournie, is determined to put these craftsmen in the spotlight. His new collection, which showed in Paris on Tuesday, was entirely made with fabrics from Mumbai. He said that a sort of “design imperialism” means that French fashion houses often play down that their fabrics are made outside France. “The houses which don’t admit it are perhaps afraid of losing their clientele,” Fournie
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the latest mass shooting tragedy in an American community. Captain Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people died at the scene in the city of Monterey Park. Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 pm Saturday. He said officers then
INSTABILITY: The country has seen a 33 percent increase in land that cultivates poppies since the military took over the government in 2021, a UN report said The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military’s seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by one-third in the past year, as eradication efforts have dropped and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, a UN report released yesterday showed. Last year, the first full growing season since the military wrested control of the country from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021, saw a 33 percent increase in Myanmar’s cultivation area to 40,100 hectares, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report said. “Economic, security and governance disruptions