Aboriginal health improves
The nation is on track to halving Aboriginal child mortality and progress is being made in raising indigenous life-expectancy rates overall, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said yesterday. Indigenous children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as other children and Aboriginal men are estimated to die 11.5 years earlier than other males. Delivering her annual report on the nation’s indigenous people, Gillard said bridging the gap on life expectancy was a 25-year project and “while the challenge is very large ... some progress is being made. The target of halving the infant mortality rates for indigenous children under five by 2018 is on track.”
New Delhi holds quake drill
More than 40,000 people in New Delhi yesterday took part in a mass earthquake drill as the tremor-prone city of 16 million seeks to improve its disaster preparedness. “We want to find out how capable we are to deal with natural and man-made disasters. ‘Be prepared’ is the slogan for today,” said R.K. Dheer, an official at the National Disaster Management Authority in New Delhi. Students and volunteers took part in the drill in schools, colleges, hospitals, metro stations and crowded markets. Experts have long questioned Delhi’s ability to withstand a major earthquake because of lax safety standards, widespread illegal building and a lack of emergency planning.
New rules for TV presenters
Kabul has instructed female TV presenters to stop appearing on screen without a headscarf and to wear less make-up, officials said, raising fears about creeping restrictions on the media. “All the TV networks are in seriousness asked to stop female presenters from appearing on TV without a veil and with dense make-up,” the Ministry of Information and Culture said. “All the female newscasters on Afghan TV channels are also asked to respect Islamic and Afghan values,” it added. A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday that the ministry took the decision after coming under pressure from the Ulema council, the country’s highest religious body of Islamic scholars.
TEPCO eyed tsunami review
A Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) briefing paper indicates that the utility was planning a reassessment of tsunami risks just before last year’s tsunami devastated its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. TEPCO presented the paper to Japan’s nuclear regulators on March 7 last year, four days before the tsunami. It promised a new risk assessment by October last year. The paper summarized recent studies that suggested the plant could be hit by a tsunami up to 10m in height, higher than the 6m surge it was designed to withstand.
Nasheed rejects summons
Ousted president Mohamed Nasheed rejected a police summons to take a statement about his actions in office, his spokesman said yesterday. Nasheed’s former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem said the police had asked the former president to explain his controversial order to arrest a judge last month. Nasheed said he was forced to resign following threats of violence from rebel police and army officers. International diplomatic pressure has mounted on President Mohamed Waheed not to escalate tensions. A visiting EU delegation in a statement asked the government to stop a campaign of “political retribution” targeting Nasheed’s supporters.