Tainted baby powder recalled
The state quality watchdog said baby skin powder manufactured by German housekeeping and healthcare products maker MAPA has been removed from shelves for allegedly containing asbestos. Authorities sealed up 48 cans of the baby powder in Suzhou Debao Baby Supplies Co Ltd, the brand’s general agent, in an inspection on Saturday, the General Administration of Inspection and Quarantine said. MAPA, part of French rubber and plastics conglomerate Hutchinson Worldwide, markets its baby care products under the NUK brand.
Vote-buying probe launched
The government has launched an investigation into allegations of vote-buying by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s youngest son ahead of national elections this week, an official said yesterday. Electoral authorities in East Java Province were probing allegations Edhie Baskoro, a candidate for Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, handed out money to voters at a rally, local official Arif Supriadi said. Democratic Party Secretary-General Marzuki Ali said Baskoro was not involved in the handing out of money, reportedly 10,000 rupiah (US$0.88), at the rally in East Java’s Ponorogo district. The country heads to the polls on Thursday to choose between thousands of candidates from 38 parties in a legislative vote that will help decide the field of contenders for presidential elections later in the year.
Drunk mother arrested
A mother allegedly breastfeeding her baby while driving was found to be too drunk to take a breathalizer test after almost crashing into a police car, police said yesterday. The 19-year-old woman was arrested in the central desert town of Alice Springs on Saturday night after she drove her station wagon from a hotel car park into the path of a patrol car. Police pulled her over and allegedly found her breastfeeding her infant son at the wheel, the national AAP news agency reported. Regional police Superintendent Jamie Chalker said he was horrified by the reported incident. The woman was granted bail and will appear in court later this month to face several charges.
Sherpa starts record climb
A Sherpa guide who holds the record for most climbs up Mount Everest set off yesterday on a new expedition to scale the world’s highest mountain for a 19th time. Appa, who like most Sherpas goes only by one name, flew out of the capital, Kathmandu, with his team yesterday for the small airstrip at Lukla, from where they will trek to Everest’s base camp and spend a few days acclimatizing and preparing for their summit bid in May. He first climbed the 8,850m summit in 1989 and has done so almost every year since. His closest rival is fellow Sherpa guide Chhewang Nima, who has made 15 trips.
Chancellor visits troops
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Kabul yesterday to visit German troops there, a government spokesman said. Germany has about 3,800 troops in the country and has a parliamentary mandate to send a total of 4,500 as part of the NATO mission. Merkel, who faces an election in six months time, is reluctant to increase the number of combat troops it sends to the mission, which is unpopular among Germans. She has also resisted pressure from allies to send its soldiers to the more dangerous southern areas of the country, where allied forces are battling a Taliban insurgency.