Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■CHINA

Birth defects increase

The number of newborns with birth defects in many parts of the country is rising rapidly as women have children later in life and environmental pollution takes its toll, state media reported yesterday. In Beijing, the rate of physical abnormalities — such as congenital heart defects or cleft lips — last year was 170 per 10,000 births, nearly twice the rate recorded in 1997, the China Daily newspaper reported. Quoting the Beijing municipal health bureau, the report said better diagnostic techniques and monitoring capabilities have contributed to the upswing. In Guangdong, a major industrial hub, the birth defect rate rose from 186 per 10,000 births in 2003 to 249 four years later. In Zhejiang, the rate nearly doubled during the same period, from 115 per 10,000 births to 208. Nationwide, between 4 percent and 6 percent of the 20 million babies born every year have defects, it said.

■JAPAN

Fishermen release dolphins

A fishing town that holds a well-known annual hunt to kill and sell dolphins for meat has released 70 of the animals from its first catch of the season following an international outcry, a conservationist group said yesterday. The outcry has been growing against the hunt in Taiji since award-winning US documentary The Cove this year showed dolphins being herded into an inlet and killed by fishermen with spears. The hunt kills about 2,000 dolphins a year, and residents say it is part of their tradition and a way of getting food. The released dolphins were part of a catch of about 100 on Sept. 9.

■CHINA

Urumqi schools reopen

Schools have reopened in western Urumqi city after being closed for 10 days in the wake a spate of syringe attacks caused panic and protests in the streets. Local authorities closed the schools and imposed traffic controls in the city on Sept. 4 after mass demonstrations. All primary and middle school classes resumed on Monday, the Xinhua news agency said late on Monday.

■MALAYSIA

Indonesian to be caned

An Islamic court has sentenced an Indonesian man to be caned and jailed for drinking alcohol, weeks after triggering a furore by ordering a woman to be caned for the same offense. The Shariah High Court in central Pahang state on Monday sentenced odd-job worker Nazarudin Kamaruddin, 46, to six strokes of the cane and one year’s imprisonment, a court official confirmed. The judge told the New Straits Times that Nazarudin had dishonored the holy month of Ramadan. Nazarudin, a permanent resident of Malaysia, said he had bought a bottle of samsu, a cheap local liquor, to share with friends at a restaurant.

■HONG KONG

Apartment sets record

A one-bedroom flat in a luxury development has sold for a record US$3.16 million in a sign that the city’s property slump is over, a news report said yesterday. The 23 ping (75.8m2) apartment in the city’s Tsimshatsui district has 54.8m2 of useable living space once walls and partitions are discounted, the South China Morning Post reported. The flat is on the 54th floor of a 64-floor development called The Masterpiece, Hong Kong’s second-tallest residential building, and is the smallest unit in the development. An estate agent told the newspaper that the buyer, a Hong Kong businessman, paid nearly US$42,000 per square meter because of the flat’s location and its views over Victoria Harbour.

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