Hospitals sell placentas
Hospitals are engaging in a thriving trade in fresh human placentas, seen as a source of nutrition, despite a government ban, state media reported yesterday. A recent investigation showed that placentas sell for up to 250 yuan (US$36) each, the Global Times said. They “are rich in nutrition and good for human health,” said a doctor surnamed Kong who retired in 2006 from a hospital in Heilongjiang Province. “I have eaten them several times,” she told the paper. A reporter at East Asia Economic and Trade News posed as a placenta buyer and found that the Jilin Gynecology and Obstetrics Hospital in Jilin Province was a prolific supplier. Some Chinese believe that placentas increase the body’s resistance to disease.
Top nuclear official probed
A top official in charge of civilian and military nuclear programs has been placed under investigation, state media said yesterday, in what appeared to be another case of high-level graft. Kang Rixin (康日新), Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretary and general manager of China National Nuclear Corp, is being probed for possible involvement in “grave violations of discipline,” Xinhua news agency said. Kang was elected a member of the CCP’s top anti-corruption body, in 2002.
Top gang member killed
A senior gang member was knocked down by a car and hacked to death by three men outside a five-star hotel, police and reports said yesterday. The 41-year-old was attacked outside the Shangri-La hotel in Kowloon at 4am on Tuesday. The victim, named in reports as senior triad boss Lee Tai-lung (李泰龍), was hit by the car as he stepped out of his Mercedes after parking it, the South China Morning Post said. “Another vehicle arrived, then several men got out of it and attacked the man with knives,” chief inspector Glenn O’Neill of the police anti-triad unit told the Post. Both cars and the attackers fled the scene immediately. Lee was a senior member of the Sun Yee On triad.
Howard defends Hanson
Former prime minister John Howard has defended controversial right-wing politician Pauline Hanson, claiming she was misunderstood. Howard said media had focused unfairly on the anti-immigration stance of Hanson, who famously warned Australia was “in danger of being swamped by Asians.” “I think the media trivialized and therefore did a disservice to our long-term national interest in suggesting that Pauline Hanson was all about racism and nothing else,” Howard said in a university lecture on Tuesday.
Protesters, police clash
About 2,000 protesters angry over the deaths of six people in a hit-and-run accident shut down central Kathmandu yesterday and clashed with police. A police statement said a car driving the wrong way down a one-way street mowed down six people — all migrant workers from India — as they walked on the sidewalk just after midnight on Tuesday. The victims were taken to a nearby hospital, but all died. Traffic violators often get off by bribing authorities and the protesters accused the police of not pursuing the culprit. They marched into the center of the capital and ordered shopkeepers out of their stores, burning tires in the streets to block traffic. Police used bamboo batons to push back the crowd. Protesters responded by throwing stones.
Woman fined at crematorium
A woman was fined £86 (US$146) by crematorium officials for spending too long at the side of her dead five-week-old son. Media reported on Tuesday that Terrie Rouse incurred the penalty after spending an extra 10 minutes with her son, Zane, before he was taken to be cremated in the town of Milton Keynes. The town is about 105km northwest of London. Milton Keynes Council said it routinely charged extra to those who overran the half hour devoted to each funeral but that it refunded the money to Rouse because of “extenuating circumstances.” A local paper, the Milton Keynes Citizen, said the funeral took place on July 17. Zane died of sudden infant death syndrome, the BBC reported.
Benson the giant carp dies
She was big. She was beautiful. And boy was she popular with the fishermen. The death of Benson, the monster carp, has sent grief rippling through the fishing community. Enthusiasts used to flock to Benson’s home, the Bluebell Lakes in Cambridgeshire, for a shot at yanking the 29kg behemoth out of the water. Her sheer size and picture-perfect looks won the hearts of the readers of Angler’s Mail, who voted her the nation’s favorite carp in 2005. “Money could not have bought Benson. She had that celebrity status,” Tony Bridgefoot, the owner of Bluebell Lakes, was quoted as saying in the Times of London on Tuesday.
Ammonia leak sickens many
More than 100 people fell ill yesterday in an ammonia gas leak at a pharmaceutical plant in the north, state press reported yesterday. The leak occurred at 9:40am when a tanker truck was unloading up to 60 tonnes of liquid ammonia at the plant in Chifeng city in Inner Mongolia, Xinhua news agency said, citing Wang Suoyou, a local police chief. Initial investigations suggested that the leak was caused by workers failing to operate the equipment properly and the wearing out of pipes on the truck, the report said. The leak has been sealed, Wang said, the report said. People within 2km of the leak were evacuated, it said.
Berlusconi’s daughter speaks
Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister engulfed in a sex scandal over alleged encounters with young women, has been taken to task by his daughter, who was quoted as saying in an interview that public officials should enhance moral values. Barbara Berlusconi also said that public officials cannot afford to differentiate between their public and private spheres, the Italian edition of Vanity Fair reports in an interview to be published yesterday. Berlusconi, 72, has been entangled in scandal for months over his alleged encounters with women, including a call girl who says she spent the night with him.
New trial on murder case
A court yesterday opened a new trial into the murder of anti-Kremlin journalist Anna Politkovskaya with efforts to solve the 2006 killing still mired in procedural confusion and delays. Judge Nikolai Tkachuk declared the trial open at a Moscow military court following the supreme court’s decision to overturn acquittal verdicts handed out to all the suspects in the previous process. However there appeared little chance of the new trial gaining much momentum — almost three years after the killing — amid apparent procedural confusion and calls for an entirely new investigation. Politkovskaya was gunned down in the stairwell of her apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006.
Ad urges peeing in showers
New TV ads are encouraging people to save water by urinating in the shower. The environmental group SOS Mata Atlantica says the campaign uses humor to persuade people to reduce flushes. The group says if a household avoids one flush a day, it can save up to 4,380 liters of water annually. The ad features cartoon drawings of people from all walks of life — a trapeze artist, a basketball player, even an alien — urinating in the shower. The ad ends with: “Pee in the shower! Save the Atlantic rainforest!”
Officials sorry for mass raid
The government has apologized to Roman Catholic officials and parishioners after storming a church during Mass to arrest a drug suspect. But the Public Safety Department is standing by the decision to launch the raid, saying it was necessary to avoid a violent confrontation or escape. Federal police arrested Miguel Angel Baeza, an alleged high-ranking lieutenant in La Familia drug cartel, during a church service in drug-plagued Michoacan state on Sunday.
Father sorry for son driving
A Quebec father who posted a YouTube video of his seven-year-old son driving the family car now says he regrets letting his little boy get behind the wheel. The man said he had erred but didn’t deserve so much harsh criticism. He said the video was shot two years ago. In the video, the dad rides in the front passenger seat with his camera in hand and proudly delivers play-by-play as his son Samuel cruises down a country road.
Minimum wage doubled
Lawmakers voted to more than double the minimum wage on Tuesday night after long hours of debate and clashes between police and protesters, who complained they can’t feed and shelter their families on the current pay of about US$1.75 a day. The plan adopted fell short of the US$5 wage demanded by the demonstrators, although it would more than double the minimum pay to about US$3.75 a day.
Mountain named for Obama
The island’s highest mountain officially became “Mount Obama” on Tuesday as the small Caribbean nation celebrated the US president on his birthday and saluted him as a symbol of black achievement. Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer presided over the re-christening ceremony at the base of the mountain, unveiling a stone sculpture and plaque honoring the president as an inspiration.
Madoff spending limited
The wife of convicted fraudster Bernard Madoff must give a monthly accounting of her spending to a court-appointed trustee, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Ruth Madoff, who gave up her claim to Madoff’s US$80 million estate and instead has kept just US$2.5 million, would have to report any spending over US$100 to the trustee seeking to regain funds of investors bilked by her husband. She was sued last week, with the court-appointed trustee for her husband’s bankrupt investment company saying that she in the last six years had received US$45 million, which should be returned to the firm for compensation of fraud victims in the case. The agreement that requires her to report her spending habits came as part of that lawsuit, the newspaper reported.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year