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Since 1st March, 1999
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Spirited Beckham

Bangkok, June 23 (Reuters): David Beckham, on a promotional tour of Thailand, stopped his motorcade at a roadside shrine today and said he wanted to buy six of them, Thai television reported.

“Beckham surprised many of his police guards today when he told his motorcade to stop on a roadside to ‘wai’ a spirit house,” Thailand’s ITV station reported. “He said he wanted to buy six of them to take home.” Thais use the “wai”, a greeting made by clasping hands together in front of the face, to say hello and goodbye and pay respect to Buddha images and spirit houses.

Spirit houses, miniature temples erected to ward off bad spirits, are found in gardens and on the roadside at the scenes of fatal accidents.

The England captain, who agreed last week to a 35-million-euro transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid, arrived in Thailand amid much secrecy yesterday on the second leg of an Asian tour. Only a handful of airport staff, travellers and fans noticed as Beckham and his pop star wife, Victoria, flew in.

They were immediately whisked away to a beach resort south of Bangkok to shoot a TV commercial.

Dog control

Bangkok (Reuters): After decades of unregulated trade in dog meat, Thailand is looking to impose controls to curb the spread of disease and fend off criticism from animal lovers, an official said on Monday. A new law will require the issuing of licenses for the transport and slaughter of dogs, department of livestock development chief Yukol Limlamthong said. “The new law won’t ban the trade, but control the spread of diseases,” he said. “We would prefer people saw dogs as cute animals rather than a type of consumable meat.” Yukol said the legislation was expected to come into force in the next few months, and would only need approval from a Cabinet minister, not parliament.

Toss vote

Kingston (Jamaica), (Reuters): Picking your local council member' There’s voting, and there’s an old-fashioned flip of a coin. Patrick White of Jamaica’s ruling People’s National Party called heads and won his race on Friday after a recount from local elections on Thursday showed a tie in voting for the Annotto Bay seat in St Mary’s parish. The losing candidate, Hugh Bryan of the main opposition Jamaica Labour Party, was quoted by the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper on Sunday as saying he was going to call for a court-supervised recount. The electoral office said constitutional provisions allowed the presiding officer to cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie.

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