Pesticide sickens hundreds
More than 300 people across the nation have fallen ill after eating frozen food products contaminated with pesticide, the Asahi Shimbun and other local media said yesterday. Consumers have reported vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms of food poisoning after eating food produced at a plant run by a subsidiary of the nation’s largest seafood firm, Maruha Nichiro Holdings. The company said last month that some of its frozen food products were tainted with malathion, an agricultural chemical often used to kill aphid in corn and rice fields. The Asahi said the number of people who fell sick “exceeded 300,” while national broadcaster NHK said on Monday that it had counted 359. Maruha Nichiro said the products had not been shipped overseas.
Consulate fire arrest made
A Chinese-born man has been arrested over an arson attack on China’s consulate in San Francisco, officials said on Monday. Yan Feng, 39, surrendered to police on Friday and has been charged with criminal offenses, including causing damage to a diplomatic mission, the FBI said. Yan, who is a permanent US resident, told FBI agents that he was driven not by politics, but by “voices he had been hearing,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He called police two days after the New Year’s Day blaze, and said via an interpreter that he had “made the fire,” it said.
Smog warning issued
The government warned people in north and central parts of the country to stay indoors yesterday as heavy smog blanketed the region. The level of PM2.5 — fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk — was as much as 539 micrograms per cubic meter at 11am in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, data from the China National Environmental Monitoring Center showed. That level of smog, the highest on a government scale from one to six, triggers warnings for people to avoid outdoor activities. Levels of PM2.5 hit 612 in Jinan and 332 in Wuhan yesterday, according to the government.
Police removed from posts
About 350 police officers were removed from their posts in Ankara overnight, CNN Turk reported yesterday, in the biggest single reported police shakeup since a corruption probe rocked the government last month. Hundreds of police have been dismissed or reassigned across the country since Dec. 17. About 250 people, mostly from outside Ankara, have been appointed in place of the reassigned officers, who will take up duties in traffic police departments and district police stations.
Asylum seekers rebuffed
The government last month turned a boat carrying asylum seekers back to Indonesia, the first time Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government has implemented a new immigration policy. The 47 asylum seekers were found on Dec. 19 on Rote Island in East Nusa Tenggara Province, where their boat had run aground after being intercepted and turned back by the Australian navy, Indonesia’s Antara news agency quoted police as saying. “I will not comment on a specific incident... But on the policy itself, let me once again put on record that Indonesia rejects Australia’s policy to turn back the boats because such a policy is not actually conducive to a comprehensive solution,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa yesterday told reporters in Jakarta.
UUP rejects proposals
Northern Ireland unionists on Monday rejected proposals drawn up by former US diplomat Richard Haass to resolve volatile issues that threaten the peace process, calling them “not viable or acceptable.” Mike Nesbitt, leader of the pro-British Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), on Monday said he had dismissed Haass’ plans after a meeting of the party’s 100-strong ruling executive. Nesbitt called on Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness — the unionist and republican at the head of the province’s power-sharing government — to “clear up the obvious mess created by this process.” He said the proposals were “not viable and not acceptable,” but that “neither was the ‘status quo.’”
Money for rapist’s namesake
A Guinea-born man who was wrongly jailed for five months because he had the same name as a convicted child rapist was awarded 45,000 euros (US$61,000) in damages by a court on Monday, his lawyer said. Mohammed Camara not only bore the same name and surname as the rapist, but was born in the same city as him — Guinea’s capital, Conakry — and in the same year, his lawyer Frederic Berna said. Camara was arrested in July 2001 in Brussels following an international arrest warrant for a convicted child rapist who had been sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison. He spent three months behind bars in Brussels and two more months in France after being extradited. He was released on Dec. 31, 2001, after the victims and the convicted rapist’s family said they did not recognize him.
Racist toddler-slapper jailed
A man who pleaded guilty to slapping a crying toddler on a flight has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison. Joe Rickey Hundley was sentenced on Monday. He pleaded guilty in October last year after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Prosecutors say Hundley used a racial slur to refer to the 19-month-old boy, who is black, and hit him under the eye as the flight descended to the Atlanta airport in February last year. Prosecutors had recommended six months in prison. The judge said he imposed a higher sentence in part because of Hundley’s criminal history, which includes a prior assault.
Early humans had bad teeth
Eating nuts and acorns may have helped hunter-gatherers survive 15,000 years ago in northern Africa, but the practice wreaked havoc on their teeth, researchers said on Monday. Fermented carbohydrates in the nuts caused cavities, tooth decay and bad breath, said the study led by British scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings are based on dozens of hole-riddled dental remains of 52 adults found in Morocco’s Taforalt Cave in the 1950s and in more recent excavations that began in 2003.
Cocaine cake ‘joke’ backfires
Carrefour Argentina scrambled to reassure customers on Monday after a delicacy from a cake supplier listed “12 grams of cocaine” as an ingredient. The French supermarket chain, which has more than 500 stores across Argentina, said it regretted what it called a “joke in bad taste,” apparently made by a worker at the supplier. Many people joked online that after neighboring Uruguay legalized marijuana, “for Carrefour, cocaine is legal,” as social media user Lilia tweeted.