Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hong Kong ship hijacked near Somalia

Armed pirates have hijacked a Hong Kong chemical tanker with 22 crew members in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia's dangerous waters, a regional maritime official confirmed on Tuesday.

Andrew Mwangura, the East Africa Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program said the vessel was seized on Monday, making it the 12th vessel to be hijacked in the pirate-infested waterway since July 20.

"The Hong Kong chemical tanker was hijacked by pirates on Monday, en route to Asia. The ship was seized in the same place others have fallen similar fate," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.

Maritime official said the Hong Kong ship was sailing in a maritime security corridor in the gulf patrolled by an international coalition of warships and aircraft when it was attacked.

The attack came hours after the French army killed a Somali pirate in operations which led to the release of two French nationals in the notorious Gulf of Aden on Monday.

The Venezuelan-registered boat, Carre d'as, was captured in the Gulf of Aden two weeks ago and was taken to Somalia's northern semi-autonomous Puntland region.

Pirates have stepped up attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, as Somalia's current transitional government has failed to shackle the pirates in the key commercial shipping lane.

An international maritime organization has sounded the alarm over the upsurge of hijacking incidents on the Gulf of Aden where more than 50 Filipino seafarers have been abducted since July.

The warning was issued by the International Maritime Bureau which has alerted all vessels to "maintain a strict 24 hour look out" as they pass through the Gulf of Aden, located off the coast of Somalia.

The Gulf of Aden, an important waterway for shipping, is within the Arabian Sea. It is between Yemen on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. It connects with the Red Sea through the Babel Mandeb strait in the northwest.


S Korean FM to hold talks with Rice next week

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan will have talks with his American counterpart Condoleezza Rice next Tuesday over bilateral ties and nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula, South Korean Foreign Ministry saidon Tuesday.

"Minister Yu is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23 and an ensuing luncheon hosted by the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon," said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Moon Tae-young.

"Foreign ministerial talks with the U.S. and other major nations such as China and Russia will be held later in the day," he added.

Yu and Rice plan to sign a memorandum of understanding on a student exchange program agreed by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush during their summit meeting last month, local media said.

The spokesman refused to reveal details on the MOU and other agenda items.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said that Yu and Rice will also discuss ways of moving forward the stalled denuclearization process in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


Tainted milk powder sickens 1,253 babies in China

The number of Chinese infants stricken with kidney stones caused by contaminated milk powder soared to 1,253 with two dead as of 8 a.m. on Monday, the Ministry of Health said here on Monday.

According to the ministry, most of the cases occurred in Hebei, Jiangsu and Gansu provinces. The two deaths were both in the northwest Gansu Province.

The tainted milk powder was produced by the Sanlu Group, the country's diary giant in the northern Hebei Province. The powder was found to contain melamine, a chemical raw material believed to cause the condition.

Among the babies, 53 were in critical condition while 340 were receiving hospital treatment. The remaining 913 diagnosed with light symptoms were either receiving treatment outside hospital or were cured, the ministry said at a press conference.

Chinese Medical Association experts said there would be no permanent damage to the children's kidney functions if they received timely and proper treatment.

Ministry spokesman Ma Xiaowei said special hospitals had been appointed nationwide to launch treatment for all the infants with the stones. "With scientific, timely and effective treatment, we will try our best to avoid further deaths."

To avoid incisions to the children's skin and sequela, the ministry urged health organizations nationwide to try and not to use radiotherapy, anesthesia and surgery during treatments.

Responding to a reporter's question on the large-scale affection, Ding Jie, a Chinese Medical Association expert, admitted many domestic hospital workers didn't know how to check a kidney for melamine.

She said experts had now drawn out a very detailed scheme on diagnosing and dealing with the condition. "We very much hope that the scheme will be practical and easy so that hospitals at all levels are capable of the treatments."

Ma said the ministry had also sent medical workers to remote counties and villages for inspections and treatments. "All the treatments should be free of charge," he added.

The ministry said the milk powder case is a food safety accident, and all infants involved would be compensated according to rules following the investigation.

"No matter how many cases are found, health organizations across the country are able to cope with the problem caused by the tainted milk powder," Ma said.

Earlier reports said a total of 19 people from private milk collecting stations have been detained by police in Hebei for allegedly putting melamine into the milk provided for the Sanlu Group.

Melamine is used in plastics and other industries and is strictly forbidden in food processing. Experts said it was added into raw milk so that the protein content of the milk appeared higher than it is actually.

According to an earlier press conference, Sanlu Group had got complaints about its baby milk powder in March and then confirmed the problems through its own investigation. It also took actions to recall some of these products. However, for a long time after that the group didn't report it to the government neither did it reveal the information to the public.

The central government vowed to release relevant information in time, including the investigation result of the incident, the treatment of the infant patients and the quality of other brands of milk powder.

Source: Xinhua

China pledges to treat all tainted milk-affected babies

China's Health Ministry pledges free health care for all babies sickened after drinking contaminated formula.

Deputy Health Minister, Ma Xiaowei, said all medical agencies should prepare to treat babies for kidney stones as more cases could be uncovered as the investigation continues.

He ordered all public health authorities and medical institutions give priority to the diagnosis of suspect cases and provide treatment.

"Hospitals should try their best to meet rising demands for diagnosis and treatment because the number of parents who take their children for medical check-ups could rise drastically in the future," Ma told health, finance and food safety officials throughout China via teleconference Tuesday.

All infants who had been fed with Sanlu milk powder for between three and six months in the past year and have shown symptoms of kidney stones should be treated with top priority, added Ma.

An estimated 1,253 babies developed kidney stones after drinking the tainted milk powder. Two died as a result.

China's dairy giant, Sanlu Group, which is at the heart of the toxic food scandal, apologized to the public for its contaminated milk powder.

Source: Xinhua

Scarlett Johansson: I'm not a prima donna

Scarlett Johansson has been labelled "the biggest prima donna," a claim the star denies.

The blonde beauty - who joins forces with legendary director Woody Allen for the third time in Vicky Cristina Barcelona - has changed dramatically since she appeared in Woody's 2005 movie Match Point.

A source said: "The producers have been saying that Scarlett isn't the same and that she has turned into the biggest prima donna.

"These are the same producers who worked with Scarlett on Match Point. Everyone back then said she was a sweetheart but now they say, 'Scarlett has let it go to her head'."

A representative for Scarlett denies the claims, adding to the New York Post newspaper: "Scarlett loves the movie and enjoyed working with everyone on it."

Scarlett recently revealed she hates leaving her movie characters behind when shooting on her movies has wrapped.

She said: "I can't help thinking about what happens to them after the film ends. I care about them. I usually assume that my character lives happily ever after.

"In my mind every character I play ends up living in the suburbs with two-point-five children. That's just the way that I see it. I'm always thinking, 'I'm sure they're okay. "

Source: China Daily\agencies

Jennifer Lopez completes first triathlon

Jennifer Lopez raised 127,000 U.S. dollars yesterday after completing her first triathlon in Malibu, California.

The multi-talented star - who gave birth to twins Max and Emme, her first children with husband Marc Anthony, in February - smiled broadly as she finished the gruelling running, cycling and swimming competition in a respectable two hours, 23 minutes and 28 seconds.

As she crossed the finishing line of the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, Jennifer, 39, told the cheering crowd: "Thank you guys so much. This is an amazing day. "I feel really great and so glad I finished and that I made it out of the water but more amazing than that, I feel really great that we raised 127,000 dollars for the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and hopefully it'll go to good use."

The actress was then met by Marc, who escorted her to the VIP area where she met up with her 'Wedding Planner' co-star Matthew McConaughey - who also competed in the event.

The Nautica Malibu Triathlon raised a total of 950,000 dollars for the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Source: China Daily\agencies

Brangelina donate $2m for kids in Ethiopia

Angelina Jolie and partner Brad Pitt have donated $2 million to create a centre, named after their adopted daughter Zahara, for Ethiopian children affected by Aids and tuberculosis.

The Global Health Committee said the donation from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation would establish a center in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to treat Aids orphans and develop a program to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The Oscar-winning Jolie adopted a baby girl she called Zahara, now three years old, from Ethiopia in July 2005 and the new clinic will be named after her.

"It is our hope that when Zahara is older, she will take responsibility for the clinic and continue its mission," Pitt said in a statement.

Pitt and Jolie now have six children - twins Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline born in July, Shiloh, two, and adopted children Zahara, Pax from Vietnam and Maddox from Cambodia.

The Jolie-Pitt Foundation helped set up a similar clinic in 2006 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that is named after Maddox.

"Our goal is to transfer the success we have had in Cambodia to Ethiopia where people are needlessly dying of tuberculosis, a curable disease, and HIV/Aids, a treatable disease," Jolie said.

Ethiopia has the seventh-highest rate of tuberculosis disease in the world and an estimated 1.7 million people in the country are infected with HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

Unicef estimates that more than 900,000 children have been orphaned by Aids in Ethiopia.

Source: China Daily\agencies