- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2002

JAPAN
U.S. Marine major turned over to Japan
TOKYO A U.S. Marine officer was indicted and handed over to Japanese authorities yesterday on charges of attempting to rape a Philippine woman last month in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture.
Prosecutors in Naha, capital of Okinawa, where two-thirds of the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan are stationed, took custody of Maj. Michael Brown, 39. "He was indicted on charges of attempted rape and damage to property," said an official of the Naha District Public Prosecutor's Office.
Maj. Brown, based at Camp Courtney, purportedly tried to rape the woman in the early hours of Nov. 2 and smashed her cellular phone. He had met her for the first time that day and asked for a ride. The woman fought off his sexual advances in her car, police said.
"Okinawa will closely watch his trial while calling for a comprehensive review on the Japan-U.S. [Status of Forces] Agreement," said prefectural Gov. Keiichi Inamine.

INDONESIA
2 Western women on trial for rebel ties
BANDA ACEH Prosecutors yesterday demanded nine months in jail for two Western women accused of associating with rebels in the troubled province of Aceh and of violating visa regulations.
Lesley McCulloch, a Briton, and Joy Lee Sadler, an American, have been in police custody since September 11, and had faced a maximum of five years in jail or a fine of $2,800 for the immigration offenses.
Both were charged with visa violations after police said that they were carrying materials on the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

AUSTRALIA
Flood of objections blocks Islamic site
SYDNEY A semi-rural suburb has rejected an Australian Muslim's application to open an Islamic prayer hall after receiving an avalanche of protests that Muslim leaders called the latest outbreak of religious intolerance.
A spokeswoman for Baulkham Hills Shire Council, northwest of Australia's main city, said that it threw out the application Tuesday night after receiving 5,180 letters of objection from their community, which has 532 households. Mayor John Griffiths said that 4,400 of the objections were over traffic concerns.

Weekly notes
Philippine Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Santo Tomas said yesterday that the government could stop domestic helpers working in Hong Kong if authorities there proceed with a proposed monthly tax. She told reporters after a meeting with Stephen Ip, Hong Kong secretary for economic development and labor, that the Philippine government may not approve future contracts that fall below the minimum monthly wage of $471. Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, 61, was quoted in the Straits Times on Wednesday as saying that his plan to step aside for a new generation of leaders before the 2007 general elections is on course. He said he would resign at the appropriate time but gave no specifics.


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