Children may go to Malaysia
The government is resisting pressure from the UN’s child agency to guarantee that 14 unaccompanied children would not be sent to Malaysia as part of a new refugee swap deal. The 14 children are among 55 asylum seekers who arrived by boat on Thursday at an immigration detention camp on one of the country’s island territories. They are to become the first to be sent to Malaysia under a new deal aimed at deterring other asylum seekers from coming to the country by boat. UNICEF Australia chief Norman Gillespie urged Immigration Minister Chris Bowen yesterday to ensure that no unaccompanied child is deported, but Bowen says there cannot be blanket exemptions for children.
Joe Biden to visit Asia
US Vice President Joe Biden is set to travel to China, Mongolia and Japan later this month. Biden’s trip to China will include meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo (溫家寶). The US has a complex, but necessary, relationship with China, which holds about US$1.15 trillion in US debt. In Japan, the White House says Biden will express steadfast US support for its close ally in the wake of the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency. The White House says Biden will also underscore support for Mongolia’s two decades of democratic development. The vice president is due to start his trip on Aug. 16.
Experts grow mouse sperm
Researchers in the country used embryonic stem cells to grow healthy mouse sperm on laboratory dishes, a development that could help treat human infertility, they said yesterday. The finding, published in the journal Cell, marks a step forward for using stem cells for regenerative medicine. Scientists at Kyoto University removed stem cells from mouse embryos and managed to coax them into a type of precursor cell known to grow into either mouse eggs or sperm. They then transplanted these cells into the testes of infertile male mice — which apparently went on to produce healthy sperm.
Hunger striker eating again
A dissident priest with a brain tumor went on a one-week hunger strike after authorities returned him to prison last month, his family said yesterday. Nguyen Van Ly, 65, began refusing food after authorities disregarded international appeals and put him back behind bars on July 25 following medical leave, one relative said, asking not to be named. “He didn’t eat for one week,” but resumed meals after a visit this week from his sister, the relative said, adding the priest’s health had not deteriorated further because of his protest. The EU, US, Canada and international rights groups all expressed concern about Ly’s re--incarceration near Hanoi and said he should be freed.
Bomb suspect to return soon
An alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people will be repatriated soon from Pakistan, where he was arrested this year, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said yesterday. The most-wanted Islamic extremist in Southeast Asia, Umar Patek, was arrested in March in Abbottabad in Pakistan, the same town where US special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden just weeks later. In addition to the Bali bombings, he is also suspected of involvement in a series of deadly attacks targeting Christians and Westerners in Indonesia dating back to 1999.