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Afghan beauty

Manila, Oct. 24 (Reuters): For Vida Samadzai, it has been a long journey from underneath an all-encompassing burqa 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 dark-haired Samadzai, 25, was born and raised in Afghanistan, but left for the US in 1996 to escape the turmoil of civil war and the rise of the Taliban religious movement.

“I would like to make people aware that as Afghan women we are talented, intelligent and beautiful,” Vida, posing in a revealing swimsuit, said.

The only other Miss Afghanistan was Zohra Daoud, who joined the Miss Universe contest in 1972. Whether she ends up with the winner’s tiara or not, Vida plans to take her message of female liberation back to Afghanistan later this year, hoping to raise money for womens’ schools.

Tooth trouble

London (Reuters): A British holidaymaker who lost his false teeth while swimming off Crete was reunited with them two weeks later after fishermen caught them in their nets, The Times newspaper reported. Don Masey, 59, lost his teeth as he swam back to shore on the Greek holiday island. Despite sending his children out snorkelling in search of them, Masey failed to find the errant gnashers before returning to Britain at the end of his holiday. Two weeks later, fishermen dragged up the teeth in their nets and took them to a local bar to ask if anyone in the village had lost them. When someone told them about a toothless Englishman seen in the resort, the fishermen went to a tour operator handling holidaymakers from Britain. The tour operator forwarded the dentures to a travel agency in Britain, which sent them on to Masey. “I got them back on Saturday, and Sunday dinner was the best meal of my life,” he said.

Cool captain

Stockholm (Reuters): An Icelandic fishing captain, known as “the Iceman” for his tough character, grabbed a 300 kg shark with his bare hands as it swam in shallow water towards his crew. The skipper of the trawler “Erik the Red” was on a beach in Kuummiit, east Greenland, watching his crew processing a catch when he saw the shark swimming towards the fish blood and guts — and his men. Captain Sigurdur Petursson ran into the shallow water, grabbed the shark by its tail, dragged it to dry land and killed it with his knife. “He caught it just with his hands,” Frede Kilime, a hunter and fisherman who watched from the beach said.

Icelandic author and journalist Reynir Traustason, who knows the trawler captain, said the act was typical of the man.“He's called 'the Iceman' because he isn't scared of anything,” he said.“I know the people in that part of the world. They are really tough.”

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