Voting becomes see-through
The Election Commission has introduced see-through ballot boxes to make voting more transparent. The new boxes, which can hold some 700 ballot sheets, will be used in the next general election, and replace the usual black metal ballot boxes, the Star quoted Election Commission Chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman as saying. "We have been very transparent so far and we would like to show that we only tally whatever ballots which have been inserted into the box," Abdul Rashid said, according to both the Star and New Straits Times. Although Abdul Rashid appeared to have made that statement in jest, he was also taking a swipe at opposition parties who claim that the commission is biased in favor of the ruling party. The main reason for introducing the translucent plastic ballot boxes, however, is that they are much lighter, weighing only a third as much as the metal ones, reports said.
Call to lift tiger parts ban
Tiger breeders called for the lifting of a ban on selling tiger parts yesterday, saying the trade in tiger medicines used to treat rheumatism and loss of sexual appetite would help preserve the endangered species. Beijing banned the sale of tiger bones and hides in 1993, which virtually wiped out the market for traditional medicines made from tigers in what was once the world's largest consumer of such goods. The general manager of the Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park and the director of the Guilin Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Garden said the ban had not stopped the decline in tiger numbers and that patients were suffering from less choices in medical treatments.
Police fish river of money
Police used fishing nets and their hands on Wednesday to scoop up ¥2.7 million (US$23,000) in mysterious cash floating down a river, an official said. A passerby notified police after seeing the bank notes drifting down the Sakai River on the border between Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, a Tokyo police official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol. Police managed to catch 270 soggy ¥10,000 bills, the official said. They are still investigating how and why the money was dumped. If the bank notes prove authentic and are not claimed in the next six months, the money will go to the government, Kyodo News agency said.
Mine blast kills 26
A gas explosion has killed 26 Chinese miners, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. The accident happened on Wednesday when 106 miners were working underground. Eighty escaped, including one who was severely injured, Xinhua said. It was the second gas explosion in Shanxi Province in 10 days. Twenty-one miners were killed in a blast on March 18. The mine had reported an annual output capacity of 150,000 tonnes but its license had expired before the accident, Xinhua said, citing local safety authorities.
Alzheimer's drug trials set
Scientists have developed an oral vaccine for Alzheimer's disease that has proven effective and safe in mice, the director of a research institute said yesterday. The team is preparing to move to small-scale clinical trials in humans, possibly this year, the director of the National Institute for Longevity Sciences said. When administered to mice suffering from the disease, the vaccine reduced the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain and improved mental function.