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Sumo freaks

Berlin, Dec. 1 (Reuters): You thought they were deciding the future of Europe. Turns out, Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac may be talking about Japanese sumo wrestling.

Whenever the leaders of EU heavyweights Germany and France meet these days, they discuss a new shared passion for the ancient sport, Schroeder’s wife said, revealing that the Chancellor has taken up watching sumo on television.

“He doesn’t like watching just football but recently took up a real interest in sumo wrestling,” Doris Schroeder-Koepf said. “The French President is a real expert on sumo,” she noted, referring to Chirac’s longstanding interest in Japanese culture.

“The two of them are always talking about sumo now whenever they meet.”

Petrol price

Phnom Penh (Reuters): A Cambodian who found he had forgotten his wallet after filling up his motorbike with petrol ended up paying for the three litres of petrol with his nephew. The Kampuchea Thmey (New Cambodia) newspaper said on Monday the nine-year-old, who it named as Dy, had been on a trip with his uncle in March 2002 to try and track down his father in a nearby province in the war-scarred southeast Asian nation. However, their motorbike ran out of petrol before reaching their destination and, after filling up with three litres of gasoline from a roadside stall, the uncle realised he had no money. Eventually he convinced the old lady selling petrol to take his nephew as a guarantee he would return with the cash — about $1.5, the paper said. Nearly two years later, she is still waiting — but has opted to keep the youngster. “I have decided to take care of him and raise him as my own grandson,” she told the paper.

Royal play

Manama (Reuters): Bahrain’s monarch has ordered the Gulf Arab state’s government to drop a lawsuit against an opposition group for staging a play mocking the royal family, local newspapers reported on Monday. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa issued a decree saying the political satire staged on Thursday by the leading Shia al-Wefaq Islamic Society, despite an official ban, was “within the spirit of the constitution”, the dailies said. Information minister Nabeel Yacoub al-Hamer had vowed to take al-Wefaq to court over the “illegal” play, forcing the group to cancel a second show. The show, which drew a 3,000-strong crowd, was rare in the conservative Gulf region, especially in Bahrain which has a history of tension between its Sunni rulers and Shia majority. One scene in the play mocked the appointed upper house of parliament, showing it wasting time with a long poem praising a royal figure who walks in with his wife in ceremonial Arab garb.


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