■ SOUTH KOREA
Astronaut back on her feet
South Korea’s first astronaut has left hospital after treatment for severe back pain caused by her unexpectedly rough return to earth, officials said yesterday. Yi So-yeon, 29, had been admitted to an air force hospital late last month with dislocation and bruising of the vertebrae caused during her return from the International Space Station on April 19. Yi’s Russian-designed Soyuz capsule landed in Kazakhstan, hundreds of kilometers off target and at a greater speed than expected. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said Yi has been discharged and has visited the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to examine research data she brought back from space. She is expected to return to Russia this month to take part in a technical debriefing session on her mission, Yonhap news agency said. South Korea paid Russia US$20 million for her mission, becoming the 36th country to send a astronaut into space.
Opium poppies discovered
Shimotsuma City north of Tokyo has been forced to destroy thousands of flowers grown for a local festival after a police officer noticed they were illegal opium poppies, an official said yesterday. About 100 officials were mobilized in Shimotsuma City north of Tokyo to pluck and burn the one-hectare field of lilac-colored papaver setigerum flowers, the city official said. The flowers were grown by volunteers using seeds imported from abroad, she said, adding that the city was checking how the seeds entered the country. “A small number of them had been spotted since a few years ago but nobody ever realized they are a banned type. We are so surprised,” she said. The Shimotsuma flower festival draws 2,000 to 3,000 visitors every year.
■ UNITED STATES
Deportees being drugged
The government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will, the Washington Post reported yesterday, citing medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged. The newspaper said it has identified 250 cases in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has deported since 2003. Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees without medical justification is a violation of some international human rights codes, the Post reported. Records show that the government has routinely ignored its own rules, which allow deportees to be sedated only if they have a mental illness requiring the drugs, or if they are so aggressive that they imperil themselves or people around them.
ETA suspect to be deported
The Immigration and Refugee Board on Tuesday ordered the deportation of a suspected member of the armed Basque separatist group ETA held in Montreal since last June. Immigration and Refugee Board commissioner Louis Dube said that Ivan Apaolaza Sancho was likely a member of ETA, which is considered a terrorist group by Canada, the US and the EU. As such, he was unable to remain in Canada. Sancho’s attorney William Sloan said he would appeal the decision to a federal court. Sancho, who was linked to several attacks in Madrid since 1999 when a ceasefire between Spanish authorities and ETA broke down, was arrested in last June, six years after he arrived in Canada under a false name.