Bird flu kills 13-year-old
A 13-year-old girl has died of bird flu, bringing the country's death toll from the H5N1 virus to seven, the Health Ministry and the WHO said in a joint statement yesterday. The girl, from Kampong Cham Province that borders Vietnam, died on Thursday at a hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh, the statement said. She fell ill on Monday with fever and diarrhea and was admitted to a local hospital the next day before being transferred to the capital, where her condition worsened with a cough and shortness of breath.
■ United States
Priest accused of assault
A priest accused of starting a brawl after tempers boiled over during a round of golf on Thursday pleaded not guilty to felony assault charges during a court appearance in California. Michael Babin, a bishop at the Genesis Ministries International outside San Diego, together with his son Gabriel and a third man, Ruchell Robinson, are alleged to have attacked another golfer following a dispute over a golf ball. Prosecutors say Babin accused the victim, Jason Jennings, of trying to steal his ball after it plunged into a water hazard at the Oceanside Municipal Golf Course on Feb. 17 this year. Jennings was knocked down and beaten unconscious, witnesses said.
Election date long off
National elections, already delayed amid deadly violence over allegations of ballot-rigging, will not be held for at least a year and a half, the top election official in the military-backed interim government said. "We need at least 18 months to prepare a flawless voter list along with photographs of voters," Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M. Shamsul Huda said. Political parties did not immediately comment about the decision to delay the voting. President Iajuddin Ahmed imposed a state of emergency on Jan. 11 following weeks of street protests demanding electoral reforms.
Bomb explodes near college
A bomb exploded near a women's college in the northwest late on Thursday, injuring two people, police said. The bomb was planted near the outer wall of the state-run college located in a congested neighborhood of Peshawar, police officer Riyaz Khan said. It partially damaged the wall, he said. Two passers-by were slightly wounded, doctors said. "It was a small home-made bomb, carrying half a kilogram of explosives," the police officer said. He said the purpose of the blast was to create "harassment." College guard Mohammad Shoaib said that its administration earlier received a letter warning that female students must wear scarves. Peshawar, has a history of bomb blasts blamed on various groups including Islamic extremists.
Adultery law scrapped
The Constitutional Court scrapped an adultery law on Thursday that campaigners said discriminated against women. The court ordered the changes to the Penal Code, under which it was legal for a married man to have an affair with an unmarried woman but against the law for a married woman to have an affair with an unmarried man. "Section 154 of the Penal Code Act which penalizes married women on the offense of adultery is discriminatory," the court said in its ruling. Women found guilty of the offense had previously faced a fine or up to a year in jail. The ruling came after a legal challenge filed against the attorney general by a group of female lawyers. Their lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, said the old rules had given cheating husbands a green light to pursue single women.
Le Pen urges masturbation
Presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen told a women's forum on Thursday he was against making condoms freely available in schools -- advising young people to masturbate instead. "For those who feel the urge, I suggest the `manu militari,' it's a much simpler method," Le Pen told the gathering organized by Elle magazine in Paris, and attended by all the main candidates in turn. The 78-year-old National Front leader -- who describes himself as "pro-life" -- dodged a question on the right to abortion, saying it was "not a main preoccupation for French people." Le Pen has distanced himself from his party's call for the government to repeal the right to abortion, but has called for a referendum on the question.
■ United Kingdom
Dirty dentist barred
A dentist was barred from his practice when he was found guilty on Thursday of unhygienic practices, including probing his ears and cleaning his fingernails with sterilized tools, refusing to routinely wear gloves and urinating in the clinic sink. Alan Hutchinson, a 51-year-old father of three, was erased from the dental register after a medical tribunal in London found him to have acted in an inappropriate and unprofessional way at his clinic in Batley, northern England. During the hearing in London, dental nurse Claire Pygott said she could smell urine coming from a sink moments after seeing Hutchinson "tucking something" into his trousers before seeing a patient in March last year.
■ United States
Doggy growth DNA found
A single genetic mutation explains why dogs vary in size from the miniature Chihuahua to massive mastiffs, a range unmatched by any other mammal, a study released on Thursday said. Researchers have long puzzled over the tremendous variation in size seen in canine breeds, particularly since the species diversified over a relatively short period of time from an evolutionary standpoint. The new study by Mars Inc, the US confectionery and pet food giant which supplied the DNA samples, suggests the riddle can be explained by a combination of a genetic accident that created a small dog and 10,000 years of selective dog-breeding that ensured the rapid dissemination of this particular piece of doggy DNA. They found that all dogs under 9kg and virtually all of the small canines studied carried minute genetic variations on the gene IGF-1, which codes for a protein hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1.
■ United States
Bunny stuffed with pot
Police said they found a toy Easter bunny stuffed with marijuana after pulling over a man for running a red light. The man had trouble finding his insurance documents on Wednesday and asked to look for them in the back seat, police said. When he stepped out of the car, the officer smelled marijuana and saw some on the floor, police said. The officer searched the car and saw the stuffed bunny, which held 16 small plastic bags of pot. The officer also found hundreds of empty bags and a digital scale, police said. Ian Lawrence, 25, was charged with possession of marijuana, operating a drug factory, possession with intent to sell within 457m of a school and motor vehicle charges.
■ United States
Man in drunken bikini romp
A man wearing a woman's wig and a string bikini was charged with taking a drunken afternoon romp through an Ohio park, officials said. Steven Cole, a 46-year-old volunteer firefighter, told an officer he was on his way to a Dayton bar to perform as a woman in a contest offering a US$10,000 prize, the arrest report said. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of drunken driving, public indecency and disorderly conduct. Cole was arrested on Tuesday after police received a report that an intoxicated man was walking and driving around Heritage Oak Park in Mason. Police said Cole was wearing a blond wig, pink flip-flops and a red-black-and-white striped bikini with the top filled out by tan water balloons. His blood-alcohol test registered 0.174, more than twice Ohio's legal driving limit of 0.08, the arrest report said.
■ United States
Cat saves family from death
A cat helped spare a family from death by carbon monoxide poisoning by jumping on the bed and meowing wildly as fumes filled the home, the owners said. Eric and Cathy Keesling said their 14-year-old cat, Winnie, played a crucial role in saving their lives on March 24 after a gasoline-powered water pump caused the odorless but deadly gas to build up. About 1am, the cat began nudging Cathy's ear and meowing loudly. "It was a crazy meow, almost like she was screaming," said Cathy. When she climbed from bed, she realized she was nauseous and dizzy and couldn't awaken her husband. Because he had undergone minor neck surgery the previous day, she decided to call 911 but was so disoriented she had trouble dialing. Paramedics found the couple's 14-year-old son, Michael, unconscious on the floor near his bedroom.
■ United States
Voters approve space tax
Voters in a southern New Mexico county have approved a tax to raise an estimated US$49 million toward a US$198 million tourism spaceport that would house British millionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, according to unofficial returns. Residents of Dona Ana County voted on the sales tax on Tuesday in what backers said was a make-or-break election for the state-supported Spaceport America. The unofficial returns were released on Thursday. "This positive vote for the spaceport ballot initiative means America's new frontier begins in southern New Mexico," Governor Bill Richardson said on Thursday. The complex would cover 70km2 of desert near White Sands Missile Range, where the US launched its first rocket after World War II. Virgin Galactic would be its anchor tenant. Branson envisions starting suborbital rocket flights, at about US$200,000 a person, in 2009.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
BEIJING REACTS: China announced that Hong Kong’s extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain would be suspended after those nations acted earlier New Zealand yesterday announced that it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. The move came after China passed sweeping new security legislation for the territory. New Zealand is the final member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance to take such action after the Australia, Britain, Canada and the US previously announced similar measures. New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters said that the new legislation goes against commitments China made to the international community. “New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China,” Peters said. Moreover, Wellington would treat military and technology exports to