Photos point to Kim’s illness
North Korea’s leader is suffering from kidney failure which requires dialysis and partial paralysis following a 2008 stroke, the head of Seoul’s Institute for National Security Strategy said yesterday. “Chairman Kim Jong-il is suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure and we believe he is undergoing kidney dialysis every two weeks,” Yonhap news agency quoted Nam Sung-wook as telling a Seoul forum. “[The pale color of] his nails indicates he has chronic kidney failure.” Nam used color photographs to illustrate his point. “At his most recent public appearance on the occasion of a public rally in Hamhung on March 7, he was slamming down his right palm on his unmoving left palm,” Nam said.
Tea firm halts animal tests
The world’s largest supplier of green tea has stopped testing its products on animals, a procedure previously used to verify the health claims used to market the beverage. “It may cost extra money to carry out alternative tests, but we believe protecting animals is a global trend,” Ikuo Sato, a spokesman for Ito En of Japan, said in a statement on Tuesday that was welcomed by animal rights’ activists. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it believed Ito En was first major Japanese consumer products firm to stop all animal testing and called on other companies to follow its “progressive lead.”
New gecko species found
A new species of gecko has been discovered in the foothills of the Cardamom Mountains, scientists said yesterday. Cnemaspis neangthyi is olive colored with light blotches containing a central black dot, conservationist group Fauna and Flora International said.
Staircase blamed for deaths
Firefighters in Kolkata yesterday blamed a locked fire escape for the high death toll from a blaze in a prestigious colonial-era building that killed 24 people. In all, 240 firefighters battled for eight hours on Tuesday to control the fire on a major commercial street in central Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, state fire service chief Gopal Bhattacharya said. Of the 24 dead, four were killed when they jumped out of windows, while two more died in hospital, Bhattacharya said. “The bodies of 18 others burnt to death were recovered from the staircase of the building. The door to the top roof was locked. They could have been alive if they had reached the roof,” he said. Kolkata Mayor Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya said the building was a “heritage” structure, dating back at least 100 years.
Jet strike kills at least 14
Security forces backed by jets pounded militant hide-outs near the Afghan border yesterday, killing at least 14 insurgents, a government official said. Rasheed Khan said the military used ground forces and fighter jets during operations in the Orakzai tribal region and cleared out three militant strongholds. One soldier was wounded.
Lead levels remain high
Nearly 200 people have been diagnosed with excessive lead levels in their blood in an area that suffered a similar health scare last year, state media reported yesterday. Local authorities said 45 children and 152 adults were diagnosed with lead poisoning in Hunan Province, and more cases were expected to emerge as other people were tested, the China Daily said. The victims were all from Guiyang County, which is adjacent to Jiahe County, where more than 250 children were found to have excessive lead levels in their blood in September, the report said.
Court backs living together
The Supreme Court has backed the right of unmarried couples to live together as judges heard a case involving an actress accused of corrupting young minds by promoting premarital sex. A three-judge panel sitting in New Delhi said on Tuesday that even Hindu gods Lord Krishna and Radha were cohabiting lovers, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. “When two adult people want to live together, what is the offense?” the judges said. “Living together is not an offense. Living together is a right to life.” The actress Khusboo, who uses only one name, appealed to the court to quash more than 20 cases filed against her in 2005 after she made allegedly immoral comments in magazine interviews.
Icicles prove deadly
Walking along a street, Milana Kashtanova became the latest victim of falling icicles and ice blocks that have killed five people and injured 147 in Saint Petersburg. Kashtanova, 21, has been in a coma since last month when she was hit by the ice which was being cleared from a rooftop. The toll has prompted residents and relatives of victims to demand action against those responsible for what they believe to be careless clearing of ice from rooftops. In Kashtanova’s case, municipal authorities argued that the accident was her own fault, saying she ignored warning shouts from street cleaners because she was wearing headphones and listening to music.
SS killer gets life sentence
A court in Aachen convicted an 88-year-old former SS soldier on Tuesday on charges of killing three Dutch civilians in reprisal for attacks by Dutch resistance fighters in 1944. The verdict against Boere came more than six decades after he was found guilty by a Dutch court in 1949 and sentenced to death. That sentence, passed in his absence, was later commuted to life imprisonment, but he fled to Germany after the war and did not serve it. The German court sentenced him to the maximum permissible sentence of life imprisonment on Tuesday.
Artist reveals Louvre work
US artist Cy Twombly unveiled his latest work in Paris’ Louvre museum on Tuesday, a blue ceiling with discus-shaped colors which the 81-year-old completed with help of assistants. Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand attended the unveiling of the piece and appointed the painter a knight of France’s top National Order of the Legion of Honour. Decorated with the names of sculptors from ancient Greece, the ceiling appears to float over the Greek and Roman statuettes on display in the museum.
Gown won’t let you down
New stylish hospital gowns that snap down the side were unveiled on Tuesday to replace shapeless gowns with ties that have a tendency to flash open at the worst possible moments. Designers were given £25,000 (US$37,500) each to develop prototypes for products that would increase patient dignity. The most eye-catching was a jaunty striped hospital gown by US-born fashion designer Ben de Lisi. Made from high-quality cotton in a classic pajama-stripe pattern, it includes a pouch for a cellphone and comes accessorized with a fleece blanket.
British fugitive dies
One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives, who was arrested last year in Goa, has died, a prison official said on Tuesday. R. K. Satardekar, the superintendent of Sada jail, said Ajay Kaushal had failed to respond to treatment after he was taken to Goa Medical College on Monday. Kaushal, 50, fled Britain before he was due to go on trial in January 2005 in connection with the kidnapping and torture of a man. He was convicted in his absence and jailed for 15 years. He was being held in Goa pending extradition to Britain. Satardekar said a case of death in custody has been registered and an investigation launched. Kaushal was caught by chance in the Goan capital, Panaji, in October after Briton Scott Youdale, 39, was found dead in a nearby village. Youdale, who was friends with Kaushal, died of a drugs overdose. Kaushal was on British police’s “most wanted” list for the kidnapping, which saw the victim beaten, tortured and then dumped in the Manchester area.
Militant calls for jihad
The self-described leader of an al-Qaeda front group has called for continued jihad against US “occupiers” in the wake of the March 7 election that he claimed was boycotted by most Sunni Arabs, an audio tape posted on Tuesday on militant Web sites said. In the 24-minute tape, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi said the parliamentary election and its results meant nothing for the mujahidin and that the next government would be no different from the previous one. Al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, had vowed in his first election-related audio tape to violently disrupt the vote and warned Sunnis not to take part. The turnout on March 7, however, was officially put at a respectable 62 percent despite mortar and rocket attacks that killed at least 36 people.
‘Schindler’s list’ on sale
A New York memorabilia dealer is selling what he claims is the last privately owned copy of a World War II manuscript of Jewish names known as “Schindler’s list” and made famous in a 1993 movie of the same name. The list was kept by German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved more than a 1000 Jewish lives from the Holocaust by employing them in his factory. New York memorabilia dealer Gary Zimet, who is seeking US$2.2 million for his list, said three others are owned by museums, including the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Zimet, who is representing the manuscript’s seller, said it had been held for more than 55 years by the family of Schindler’s accountant, Itzhak Stern, whose family recently sold it to the current, unidentified owner.
Google fined for dirty jokes
A court in the state of Rondonia on Tuesday fined US Internet giant Google for not blocking pages of dirty jokes on its social networking site Orkut. The court ordered Google to pay US$2,700 for each day that the pages remained up, and told it to stop similar material being posted. It rejected Google’s argument that the company did not have the technical means or employees needed to police Orkut, a Facebook-like community that has its biggest following in Brazil. The court said Google already implemented such curbs on its pages in China.
Students stop Coulter
A protest by hundreds of students led organizers to cancel a Tuesday night speech by US conservative commentator Ann Coulter at the University of Ottawa. A spokesman said Coulter was advised against appearing after about 2,000 “threatening” students crowded the entrance to Marion Hall, posing a security threat. A protest organizer, international studies student Mike Fancie, said: “What Ann Coulter is practicing is not free speech, it’s hate speech,” adding that “she’s targeted the Jews, she’s targeted the Muslims, she’s targeted Canadians, homosexuals, women, almost everybody you could imagine.” The cancelation was greeted with shouts of “Shame” and “We want Ann” from about 100 people inside the hall.
Dictator receives 30 years
Aging former dictator Juan Bordaberry was rolled into a court house on Tuesday hooked up to an oxygen tank to hear a judge sentence him to 30 years in prison. The 81-year-old Bordaberry, dictator from 1973 to 1976, was sentenced last month on charges of subverting the Constitution and violating human rights. The Tuesday hearing served as the judge’s formal notification of the sentence.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a