Dengue fever cases jump
Guangdong Province has reported a sharp rise in mosquito-transmitted dengue fever cases in the past two months, with dozens of people still in hospital, state media said yesterday. Experts blamed recent humid and hot weather and inadequate anti-mosquito efforts in the area for the recent increase, the Southern Metropolis Daily said. Most of the more than 70 infections so far this year have been reported since June, and more than 20 patients were still being treated in a hospital in the capital Guangzhou, prompting authorities to issue an epidemic warning.
Bird flu `vaccine' safe
A vaccine against the H5N1 strain of bird flu in humans has been found safe in its first round of tests, a government news agency said yesterday. Researchers began work on a vaccine last year. The government said then it was ready to start mass production, but any vaccine would face more rounds of testing before it could be declared safe for human use. Tests were conducted on six human volunteers at a Beijing hospital between last November and June, Xinhua news agency said.
Scores to stay private
Students long accustomed to being publicly honored or disgraced by the open ranking of exam scores may soon be able to celebrate their intelligence, or hide their shame, in private. Over the weekend, the Education Ministry barred primary and middle schools from making public rankings of test scores, a practice that has been blamed for student depression and even suicides. The measures would not be applicable to high schools.
Boy dies playing with grenade
One boy was killed and five others wounded while playing with a grenade left over from decades of fighting in Aceh Province, police said yesterday. The children found the explosive outside a former military post in the town of Bireun on Sunday, and started hitting it with a piece of wood, said Lieutenant Colonel Supriyanto Tarah, the local police chief. The device detonated, killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding five others, aged four to 12, Tarah said, adding that a bomb-squad later scoured the area but did not find any other explosives.
Probe of video launched
The government is investigating a video clip that shows two men allegedly being beaten and humiliated in police custody, with one of them forced to lick saliva from a floor, news reports said yesterday. An initial investigation indicates the grainy footage -- broadcast on the private TV3 network's evening news on Saturday -- was filmed by a policeman with a cellphone camera at a police station in a Kuala Lumpur suburb in May, Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum was quoted as saying. "The interrogation of the suspects was done badly,'' Johari was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper. ``It should not have happened that way."
■ New Zealand
Ex-minister in more trouble
Fresh allegations of graft against a sacked Cabinet minister are awful and he should reconsider his future as a lawmaker, Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday. She stopped short of demanding former junior minister Taito Phillip Field give up his parliamentary seat, saying he had suffered "public humiliation" and his future was up to the ruling Labour Party. Field was sacked from his post by Clark after an independent inquiry found him guilty of "misjudgments" in aiding immigrants -- some of whom he employed at cheap rates to work on properties he owned. Allegations at the weekend said Field had also pocketed donations from constituents, acted inappropriately by having immigrants work for little pay in return for getting them work visas and altered a birth certificate.
Spears poster causes fuss
Tokyo's subway allowed a publisher to display posters of a nude and heavily pregnant Britney Spears yesterday, overturning a decision to cover up part of the image for being "too stimulating" for young people. The picture of the pop singer -- nude but covering her breasts with her arms and crossing her legs at the knee -- appeared in this month's issue of Harper's Bazaar in the US and will be on the cover of the magazine's Japanese edition for October. Tokyo Metro and the publishers had initially agreed to display a censored version of the cover photo, with the pop star's body covered from the elbow down.
47 killed in tank collapse
Forty-seven people were killed and 30 injured on Sunday when a water storage tank they were sitting on collapsed in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, a government official said. The incident took place at about 6pm in Kama town in the Bharatpur district, about 200km east of the state capital, Jaipur. The group was using the concrete water tank, meant to store water for the area, as a stand to watch a wrestling match. Eight people were being treated in a local hospital while the rest had been discharged, said R. Venkateshwaran, the area's top administrator.
Rebel leaders to appear
Rebel leaders from the Lord's Resistance Army confirmed on Sunday they will surface under the terms of a tentative truce despite facing arrest warrants by an international court on war crimes charges. Rebel leader Joseph Kony, who has only been seen in public a handful of times during the 19-year rebellion, will assemble along with other fighters at two agreed locations in southern Sudan, said Martin Ojul, the rebels' lead negotiator. There they will be monitored and protected while negotiators continue to work toward a formal ceasefire and peace deal. The government and the rebels agreed on Saturday to a ceasefire.
■ United States
Confucius Institute set up
Beijing has named the University of Oklahoma as a home for a Confucius Institute, which university officials say is an important recognition of the school's growing Chinese language program. The institutes are being established around the world to promote Chinese culture and literature. The university's institute is one of only 80 in the world and only 11 in the US. Oklahoma university officials signed an agreement last Wednesday that pairs the university with Beijing Normal University in China. The universities will work together to create Web-based Chinese classes and summer language immersion programs in China, the Oklahoman newspaper reported yesterday.
■ United States
Storm prompts evacuations
Tropical Storm Ernesto bore down on Cuba yesterday, prompting large-scale evacuations on the island as well as in the Florida Keys that could be hit next. US weather authorities warned that Ernesto could regain hurricane strength as it moves away from the mountains of Haiti and toward open water. Cuban authorities said they had evacuated tens of thousands of people from southeastern areas of the country. In Florida, where Ernesto was expected later in the week, Governor Jeb Bush ordered a state of emergency, saying the southeastern state "may be threatened by a major disaster."
■ United States
One dead in border incident
A US border partrol agent fatally shot a man who was throwing rocks at officers from the Mexican side of the border, officials said. The incident on Saturday night began after agents spotted a suspicious vehicle near the Andrade Port of Entry west of the California-Arizona border. The driver fled and then tried to swim across a pond in an effort to return to Mexico, the agency said in a press release. But the man began to struggle to stay afloat and agents threw him a flotation device and tried to rescue him. Several people on the other side of the border then began throwing rocks at the agents, and one officer was struck in the head. The officer then shot at a man who was getting ready to throw another rock, the border patrol said.
Zambian conman arrested
Police have arrested a Zambian man who attempted to swindle a Kenyan sports minister, officials said on Sunday. They said Minister Maina Kamanda got a call from Monaco from a man claiming to be the son of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) chief Lamine Diack, who asked the minister to assist his son with US$5,100 after he was carjacked and robbed in Mombasa. When Kamanda phoned the IAAF chief to ask whether he could offer any other help, Diack denied knowledge of any hijacking.
Holocaust forum scheduled
The government will hold an international conference on the Holocaust in December that will allow historians to present "hidden aspects" of the slaughter of Jews under Nazi Germany, newspapers reported yesterday. The two-day conference, entitled "Study of Holocaust, A Global Perspective," is to start on Dec. 11, the reports said, and will touch on issues including the "reasons for anti-Semitism in Europe," "the Holocaust and Zionism," "the Holocaust in historical documents" and "Holocaust: rules and media." According to the foreign ministry, "there should be scientific opportunities created for researchers to present hidden aspects of this most important event of the 20th century as transparently as possible."
UK defense chief visits
British Defense Secretary Des Browne visited Baghdad yesterday for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Iraqi and US officials, a British embassy spokesman said. Discussions were likely to include arrangements for Britain to hand formal control of security in Dhi Qar Province to Iraqi forces, part of a process started last month. Browne was also likely to discuss with Maliki efforts to ease violence in Basra among rival factions of the dominant Shiite Muslim community.
■ United Kingdom
Police injured at rave
Two hundred riot police used teargas, dogs and batons to disperse 1,000 ravers at an illegal party in Essex, southeast England, on Saturday night. Riots broke out in a cornfield next to the village of Ickleton as partygoers clashed with police in scenes reminiscent of the zenith of the free party movement in the late 1980s. The violence was sparked when a small delegation of officers tried to negotiate the break-up of the party but said they met "unprecedented and ferocious" resistance. A police car was set on fire and nine officers wounded during the clashes, with injuries to police including a suspected broken collarbone and a severed finger. At least two revellers were also injured.
■ United States
Shuttle launch scrubbed
NASA has canceled today's planned launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, but put off a decision to return the orbiter to its hangar to protect it from Tropical Storm Ernesto, a spokesman said yesterday. However, workers at Cape Canaveral, Florida, began making preparations on Sunday for a rollback. Moving Atlantis back to the hanger would challenge NASA's ability to launch the shuttle before a Sept. 7 deadline. The agency wants to launch before then so the shuttle's visit to the international space station doesn't interfere with the trip of a Russian Soyuz in the middle of next month.
■ United Kingdom
Cancer cells tricked
Scientists have found a way to trick cancer cells into committing suicide. The new synthetic compound, which removes a molecular safety catch that activates a natural executioner in the body's cells, could lead to better treatments of cancers including those affecting the lung, skin, breast, kidney and colon. The body has several defenses against cells growing out of control and into tumors -- one is to cause defective or dangerous cells to commit suicide. A team led by Paul Hergenrother, a chemist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has found a way around the natural biological process that kickstarts cell death or apoptosis. The research results were published yesterday in Nature Chemical Biology.
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
‘GRAVE CONCERN’: A critic of the government died immediately following his complaints of torture at the hands of security forces, a human rights group said Students on Friday clashed with police in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, as anger mounted at the death of a writer and government critic in a high-security jail. At least 18 police and an unknown number of protesters were injured in the clashes, authorities and witnesses said, amid international demands for an independent investigation into the death of Mushtaq Ahmed. An Agence France-Presse correspondent witnessed police using batons and firing tear gas at students who staged a torchlight march calling for “justice” near the University of Dhaka. At least six students who allegedly attacked security forces with torches were detained, police said. More protests were planned
China, under growing global pressure over its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, is mounting an unprecedented and aggressive campaign to push back, including explicit attacks on women who have made claims of abuse. As allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang mount, with a growing number of Western lawmakers accusing China of genocide, Beijing is focusing on discrediting the female Uighur witnesses behind reports of abuse. Chinese officials have named women, disclosed medical data and information on their fertility, and accused some of having affairs and one of having a sexually transmitted disease. Officials said that the information was evidence of bad character,
The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was beaming. “Today is a day of joy, emotion and hope,” he said. The source of that hope: China — a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged about 500 million doses of its vaccine to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press (AP). With just four of China’s many