Space agency seeks funding
Japan's space agency plans to seek private investors to fund up to two dozen projects including the development of Earth observation satellites and spacesuits, a news report said yesterday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is seeking outside funding due to a decline in government outlays for space programs and the agency's desire to promote space-related businesses, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported. The funds will be used to create public-private joint venture companies this year to develop up to 24 projects ranging from observation satellites to spacesuits, the paper said.
US embassy remains closed
The US embassy in Malaysia remained closed yesterday following the New Year holiday, with officials saying they feared the facility was under surveillance. The sprawling mission in Kuala Lumpur, was closed on Friday due to "recent suspected surveillance incidents," US embassy spokeswoman Kathyrn Taylor said. It was supposed to reopen yesterday following a three-day holiday, but officials decided against it. "We are still evaluating the situation. As far as we concerned, the threat still applies and we are not at a place where we are ready to reopen yet," she said. The embassy is working closely with Malaysian police to resolve the matter and is hopeful of reopening some time this week, she added.
Water supply resumed
A waterworks in south China has resumed supplies to tens of thousands of people after being shut down for more than a week following a dangerous toxic spill, state media reported yesterday. Normal operations were resumed late Sunday at the Nanhua Waterworks, near Yingde, a city of one million residents in Guangdong Province, the Beijing Times newspaper said. The spill from a state-owned smelting works in Guangdong on Dec. 15 had threatened water supplies to several cities in the province. Tens of thousands along the Beijiang river lacked drinking water after the smelting works released excessive amounts of cadmium, which can cause neurological disorders and cancer.
■ North Korea
North won't go to nuke talks
Pyongyang reaffirmed yesterday it would not attend the six-way nuclear talks unless US sanctions are lifted on the Stalinist state for its alleged illegal counterferting and money laundering. Rodong Sinmun, the North's ruling communist party mouthpiece, urged the US to unblock talks by removing the sanctions. "It is impossible to go to six-way talks and sit face-to-face with a counter-part who seeks to isolate and stifle us," it said in a Korean-language dispatch monitored by Yonhap news agency.
AIDS death toll plunges
The country's death toll from AIDS last year was down 67 percent from 2004 figures when nationwide access to anti-retroviral treatment had not yet been offered, media reports said yesterday. Tawat Suntharacharn, director general of the government's communicable diseases control department, attributed the dramatic drop in AIDS-related deaths to the government's decision to make cheap anti-retroviral drugs available to some 80,000 HIV-positive patients last year, said The Nation newspaper. Last year there were 1,640 AIDS-related deaths, compared with 5,020 in 2004, when subsidized treatment was made available to a limited number of HIV cases.
■ United States
Two-headed snake for sale