Mind your language: PM
A question in parliament on Wednesday peppered with English financial terms had Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi warning a lawmaker to mind his language. "Who understands [English] words like `compliance' and `governance'?" Koizumi asked. "Use words that ordinary people can understand," he said to loud cheers and laughter. "Some members know English, I've studied a bit, but debates shouldn't be limited to those who understand English. Debates are for everyone," he said.
H5N1 outbreak confirmed
Independent tests have confirmed an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus in Myanmar's central Mandalay Division, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said yesterday. A Bangkok laboratory confirmed the findings of Myanmar officials, who announced the country's first outbreak on Monday, said He Changchui, the FAO's representative for the Asia-Pacific region. The news came as Myanmar's state-controlled media yesterday finally broke the news that outbreaks of avian flu had been detected in the country, days after it had been reported in the foreign press.
Tsunami aid under probe
International aid group Oxfam has suspended some of its tsunami-relief operations in Aceh Province, while it investigates suspected financial irregularities there, Douglas Keating, a spokesman for the group, said yesterday. Relief organizations in the country have pledged to carefully audit their funds amid concerns that aid money could be stolen by corrupt officials or contractors in the country, which is rated as one of the world's most graft ridden.
■ United Kingdom
Clinical trial goes wrong
Two men were critically ill in hospital on Wednesday and four others serious in intensive care after suffering violent reactions to a drug they took as part of a clinical trial. Police said they were working with the co's medicines watchdog to establish the circumstances. The US company running the trial said they had operated within industry guidelines but a girlfriend of one of the volunteers said they had been told to pray for a miracle. The drug, known as TGN 1412, was being developed for a German company to treat chronic inflammatory conditions and leukemia.
■ United Kingdom
Honors scandal looms
The ruling Labour Party faces an investigation into claims it accepted loans from millionaire supporters in return for titles given under Britain's honors system, a party official said late on Wednesday. Labour Treasurer Jack Dromey said he had been "kept in the dark" over last year's undeclared loans, which have sparked accusations that peerages are for sale under Blair's government. "The Labour Party needs to put its house in order to restore public and party members' confidence," Dromey said in a statement. The row blew up after three Labour supporters were recommended for honors after lending the party money.
Envoy urges diplomacy
Russia and China are urging a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russia's ambassador to China said yesterday. Iran was reported to the Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions, after the UN nuclear watchdog found that Tehran was not cooperating with inspectors seeking to assess its nuclear program. "We both believe we need to seek political solutions to the issues through diplomatic channels," Ambassador Sergei Razov said in Beijing. "Russian and Chinese cooperation has played an important role in keeping the Iran nuclear issue on the track of a diplomatic solution," he added.