Tsunami killed more women
Up to four times as many women than men died in the Dec. 26 tsunami, according to a report published today by the aid agency Oxfam International. In four villages surveyed by the agency in the badly hit district of North Aceh in Indonesia, an average of 77 percent of the fatalities were women. In the worst affected village, Kuala Cangkoy, the proportion rose to 80 percent. Data collected from Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu state in southern India produced a figure of 73 percent female fatalities. In Sri Lanka, information was hard to confirm but anecdotal evidence suggested about two thirds of those who died were women.
Activists clash with police
Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in riot gear outside a remote immigration detention center in southern Australia yesterday, police and local media reported. About 400 protesters converged on the Baxter Immigration Detention Center near the southern city of Port Augusta on Friday, part of a weekend-long demonstration against Australia's mandatory detention policy that requires asylum seekers to be detained while their cases are processed. Yesterday, the protesters -- who were camped about 5km away from the center -- marched to the facility, where about 120 of them clashed with about 200 police, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported on its Web site.
`Global dimming' found
Scientists said they have discovered a phenomenon called global dimming, which is reducing the sun's glare by 3 percent every 10 years. They said billions of particles of soot and ash suspended in the air have reflected sunlight away, in effect shading the planet's surface, the Daily Telegraph reported yesterday. And the world's drive to use cleaner fuels and energy might pose a new threat, said chief researcher Graham Farquhar, a biologist at the Australian National University in Canberra. Farquhar found that pollution has protected the world from the full effects of global warming, the so-called greenhouse effect, in which heat is trapped in the atmosphere because of emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides.
■ Hong Kong
Greater democracy urged
The outspoken bishop of Hong Kong's Roman Catholic Church yesterday urged the territory's next leader to tell Beijing that people want greater democracy in the former British colony. "I hope the chief executive will be brave enough to reflect people's voices to the central government, to tell Beijing that Hong Kongers' wish for more democracy and direct elections is not antagonistic," said Bishop Joseph Zen (陳日君). Zen has been an ardent critic of the Hong Kong and Beijing governments. He denounced China's decision last year to delay direct elections for the territory's leader.
Progress made in dispute
India and China are expected to sign an agreement that moves toward resolving their decades-old border dispute when the Chinese premier visits New Delhi next month, a news report said yesterday. China could give up its claim to most of the Tawang tract and India could do the same with a significant portion of Aksai Chin -- the two most contentious areas in the disputed boundary that straddles India's state of Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet, the newspaper Hindustan Times said.
Drug submarine found