Quick Ebola test developed
A research team yesterday said it had developed a field test for Ebola that gives results in just over 11 minutes — down from the 90-minute test used now. The breakthrough by Nagasaki University’s Institute of Tropical Medicine will allow medics to move much more quickly in treating people with the hemorrhagic fever, professor Jiro Yasuda said. The trial was conducted in Guinea last month on 100 samples, of which 47 proved positive. The Guinean government has asked the institute and its collaboration partner, Toshiba, to supply equipment to roll out the test, he said.
Israeli girl dies in boat fire
A search team yesterday found the body of a 12-year-old Israeli girl, the only fatality from a tourist boat that caught fire in the Andaman Sea, officials said. The rest of about 110 passengers, mostly foreign tourists, and crew were rescued on Wednesday after the boat sank in flames off the coast of Krabi Province. The girl’s body was recovered by a team of up to 50 navy, marine police and national park officers, who were searching for her since the sinking, Krabi Deputy Governor Narong Woonchew said. The girl was vacationing with her parents and was believed to be in the restroom when the fire broke out, police said.
Banana disease spreads
A second case of a destructive disease affecting banana plants has been confirmed, dashing hopes that a recently confirmed outbreak would be isolated and threatening the country’s A$550 million (US$423 million) sector. The so-called Tropical Race 4 strain of Panama disease was found at a farm in Mareeba in the far north of Queensland, the local government said yesterday. It comes a month after the discovery of the first case in Queensland at a farm in Tully. State biosecurity officials quarantined that farm.
Prolific sex tourist arrested
A former school principal who allegedly paid for sex with 12,000 women while in the Philippines has been arrested in his home country, over claims at least one of them was as young as 13, media reported on Wednesday. Yuhei Takashima had meticulously catalogued nearly 150,000 photographs of his exploits over a 27-year period in about 400 separate albums because he wanted “to keep the memories,” Jiji Press and other media said. Takashima, 64, told police he started paying for sex when he was dispatched to a Japanese school in Manila in 1988, Jiji said. Thereafter, the former middle-school principal had been on three sex tours a year to the country, for a total of 65 visits, reports said. He had sex with more than 12,000 women aged 14 to 70, broadcaster NTV reported.
New poll body appointed
Lawmakers yesterday overwhelmingly approved a vote to remake the country’s electoral body, part of a political deal to help ensure fairness in the next national vote in 2018. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy praised the move, calling it a “historic milestone for Cambodia.” Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party had accused the previous electoral commission of being biased and disputed results of the 2013 ballot, triggering a political crisis and mass demonstrations that eased amid negotiations with the government last year. The new commission will include four members from Rainsy’s party, four from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party and one neutral slot that will go to the head of an independent electoral watchdog group.
Torys make sub fleet vow
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party yesterday promised to renew the country’s aging nuclear submarine fleet if it wins a May 7 national election, hoping to put pressure on its main rival Labour to match the commitment. Replacing the vessels carrying the Trident missiles — four Vanguard-class submarines — is expected to cost ￡20 billion (US$29.71 billion) with a final decision on the renewal due to be made next year. Opponents say replacing Trident could cost as much as ￡100 billion and the government should consider cheaper alternatives. The Conservatives have long supported renewing Trident, and yesterday’s pledge is designed as a challenge to Labour, which has mooted the idea that three submarines could fulfil the same role.
Reporter Schieffer to retire
Bob Schieffer, host of the weekly politics show Face the Nation and CBS’s top correspondent in Washington, is retiring after 46 years at the network. Schieffer, 78, announced his retirement during a symposium at Texas Christian University, his alma mater, in Fort Worth on Wednesday. He will step down in the summer, according to CBS Corp. “Great talking journalism @TCU tonight,” Schieffer wrote in a Twitter posting. “Also happy to be in my hometown, where it started, to announce my retirement.” Schieffer interviewed every US president since Richard Nixon, and reported on the Pentagon, Department of State, Congress and the White House during his tenure at the network. He has hosted Face the Nation since 1991 and won eight Emmy Awards.
Gold mine robbed
A robbery of US$8.5 million in gold from a mine refinery in western Sinaloa State was likely an inside job, authorities said on Wednesday. Sinaloa Interior Minister Gerard Vargas Landeros told reporters that the caper at the facility of Canada-based McEwen Mining had to have been pulled off by either employees or ex-employees. “It was premeditated, well planned and organized,” Vargas said. “It had to have been done by someone who knows the inside movements ... we believe we can solve this very quickly.” The theft occurred on Tuesday at the El Gallo 1 mine and involved 900kg of gold-bearing concentrate containing approximately 7,000 ounces of gold.
Cubans jeer dissidents
About 100 Cuban government supporters jeered dissidents as they arrived at a Latin American civil society forum in Panama City on Wednesday. The group shouted “sell outs” and “imperialists” at the government opponents, getting louder when prominent dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua arrived. The government supporters later left the forum in disgust. “There are criminals and terrorists at this forum who want to speak in the name of Cuban civil society,” Cuban Writers and Artists Union vice president Luis Morlote Rivas said.
N Korea deports aid worker
An aid worker deported by North Korea on charges of using her humanitarian status as a cover to gather and produce propaganda against Pyongyang arrived in Beijing yesterday, the US embassy said. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Sandra Suh had been a frequent visitor over the past 20 years “under the pretence of humanitarianism.” She had “engaged in plot-breeding” and secretly taken photographs and produced videos that had then been used as “propaganda abroad,” the agency said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread