Outrage over South Korean stem cell scandal official’s new post

SYDNEY: Taking a common vitamin supplement could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects worldwide, Australian scientists said on (Aug 10) Thursday, in what they described as a major breakthrough in pregnancy research. Taking the dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin, could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world, Australian scientists said. (Photo: AFP/Jay Directo) The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that deficiency in a key molecule among pregnant women stopped embryos and babies' organs from developing correctly in the womb, but could be treated by taking the dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin. "Now, after 12 years of research, our team has also discovered that this deficiency can be cured and miscarriages and birth defects prevented by taking a common vitamin," said Sally Dunwoodie, a biomedical researcher at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. "The ramifications are likely to be huge. This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world, and I do not use those words lightly." Health Minister Greg Hunt hailed the study as a "historic medical breakthrough". "Today's announcement provides new hope to the one in four pregnant women who suffer a miscarriage," Hunt said Thursday, citing Australian data. "And with 7.9 million babies around the world currently being born with birth defects…... [read more]

PARIS: French police shot and arrested a suspect in a dramatic motorway chase Wednesday (Aug 9) after a car smashed into soldiers outside a barracks in a Paris suburb, injuring six. An armed French soldier patrols next to a forensic police officer near the site where a car slammed into soldiers in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, on August 9, 2017 AFP/STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN The suspected terror attack follows a string of assaults that have hit France since January 2015, claiming more than 230 lives. The suspect, a 36-year-old Algerian man, has been hospitalised after police shot him five times. The servicemen were hit by a BMW which drove down a quiet street in the upmarket western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret at around 8.00am (0600 GMT). It accelerated as it neared the troops, rammed into them and then sped away. Three were shocked and lightly hurt, while the other three sustained more serious injuries which are not life-threatening, officials said. "I heard a huge crash which I thought was the sound of scaffolding being put up," said Thierry Chappe, an AFP employee who lives in a building opposite the crime scene. Some 300 police later tracked the rented vehicle to a motorway near the northern port of Calais. After a chase, officers opened fire, wounding the unarmed driver who was arrested then taken to hospital, sources involved in the manhunt said. The…... [read more]

CHENGDU: China on Wednesday (Aug 9) evacuated nearly 60,000 people in its mountainous southwest after a strong earthquake killed at least 19, rattling a region where memories of a 2008 seismic disaster remain fresh. An injured woman arrives at Mianyang Central Hospital in Mianyang, China's southwestern Sichuan province, after an 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the province. (STR/AFP) The 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan province late on Tuesday, tearing cracks in mountain highways, triggering landslides, damaging buildings and sending panicked residents and tourists fleeing into the open. The provincial government said on Wednesday afternoon that most of the tourists - many stranded at a popular national park near the epicentre - have been evacuated after spending a nervous night out in the open as more than 1,000 aftershocks rippled across the region. Locals will also be moved to safer ground, according to the authorities. The area's difficult geography - and travel restrictions quickly imposed by authorities - have so far prevented a clear picture of the scale of the disaster from emerging, but there were no reports of catastrophic damage or large-scale casualties by Wednesday afternoon. The quake killed at least 19 people and injured at least 263, 10 of them seriously, official news agency Xinhua quoted local officials as saying. Two foreigners, a French man and a Canadian woman, were among the injured. The local government of Aba prefecture, where the epicentre…... [read more]

BEIJING: A landslide triggered by heavy rain killed at least 24 people in China's mountainous southwestern province of Sichuan on Tuesday (Aug 8), state media reported. Rescuers carry a survivor of the landslide at Puge. (Photo: AFP/STR) Extreme weather this summer has triggered a series of landslides and floods across the country, leaving scores dead and tens of thousands displaced. The latest disaster hit a village in Puge county at around 6am, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that four others were injured and one person remained missing. As of late Tuesday afternoon, authorities estimated that 71 houses and five kilometres of roads had been destroyed, the Sichuan government information office said in a social media post. Photos showed rescue workers digging with hoes through sticky brown mud, their bodies caked and splattered, and women in colourful headwraps typical of the Yi ethnic minority watching the rescue from a destroyed hillside. One image showed hard-hatted men in bright orange jumpsuits holding an IV drip aloft as they carried a man through a muddy cornfield on a stretcher. Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly after heavy rain. A massive landslide in June killed at least 10 people and buried dozens of homes in a village in Sichuan after rains brought down a mountainside. In July 63 people were killed by landslides…... [read more]

THE HAGUE: Two multi-layered "cakes" made from ice, vegetable juice and fruit greeted a pair of giant pandas at a Dutch zoo on Tuesday (Aug 8) for their first birthday party since arriving from China. Giant panda Xing Ya celebrates his fourth birthday with an ice cake in Ouwehands Dierenpark zoo. Xing Ya and Wu Wen are on loan from China and will stay in the Dutch Zoo for the next 15 years. (AFP/Remko DE WAAL) Female Wu Wen (Beautiful Powerful Cloud) and her male companion Xing Ya (Elegant Star) both turn four this month and officials at the Ouwehands Dierenpark in the central town of Rheenen decided to throw a joint party. "At first they both approached the cakes with caution, with the male panda giving his an exploratory lick," said animal biologist Jose Kok. "Then they became curious and realised 'hang on, this is something nice in my enclosure' and not long after that, the cake's layers were separated," Kok told AFP with a laugh. It took a week to prepare the icy treats, which where also layered with the pandas' favourite food: bamboo shoots. The two panda "superstars" arrived in The Netherlands in mid-April after an 8,000-kilometre journey from China, following years of negotiations in what has been dubbed "panda diplomacy". Male panda Xing Ya turned four on Aug 5, while Wu Wen was born on Aug 11. …... [read more]

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to backpedal on the issue of creating an official First Lady position for his wife in the face of attacks from left-wing opponents and a petition against the move, officials and reports said. The focus on the First Lady proposition comes at a bad time for Macron as polls show his popularity slipping badly. (Photo: AFP/Eric Feferberg) The newly-elected 39-year-old president had promised in March on the campaign trail to create "a real status" for his wife Brigitte, who is his former schoolteacher. The issue has become a new political headache for Macron after an online petition against creating the role garnered around 270,000 signatures and an opinion poll showed a majority of French people were also opposed. The presidency will clarify Brigitte Macron's position in the coming days, a source told AFP late on Monday, adding that there were would be no change to the constitution to create a First Lady position. Instead, the presidency will make clear the resources at Brigitte Macron's disposal and the cost to the public purse. "The idea is for the French people to know how much this role costs," Aurore Berge, a senior lawmaker from Macron's Republic on the Move party, told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday. The new status would have seen France copy the American tradition of a prominent public role for the First Lady.…... [read more]

TEHRAN: French automaker Renault on Monday (Aug 7) signed a long-awaited joint venture deal with Iran worth €660 million (US$779 million) to build up to 300,000 cars per year. (L to R) Thierry Bollore, deputy director of Competitiveness at Renault, Mansour Moazami, Chairman of the Board of Directors of IDRO Group, and Kourosh Morshed Solouk, deputy director of the Iranian Automobile Importers Association, at the signing ceremony in Tehran. (AFP/ATTA KENARE) The new deal puts Renault in partnership with Iran's state Industrial Development and Renovation Organisation (IDRO) and private firm Parto Negin Naseh. Renault will hold a 60 per cent stake with IDRO and Parto Negin Naseh 20 per cent each. "The first phase of this accord worth 660 million euros provides for the annual manufacturing of 150,000 cars," IDRO head Mansour Moazami said at a signing ceremony in Tehran. He said the first cars will roll off the assembly line in around 18 months. The new venture will produce Renault's Duster and Symbol models at a refurbished factory in Saveh, around 120 kilometres southwest of Tehran. A second, three-year phase will start in 2019 with production ramping up to 300,000 cars per year. Under the deal, 30 per cent of the cars and parts made by the venture will be exported. "We are happy to sign one of Renault's most historical contracts here," said Thierry Bollore, number two…... [read more]

BRUSSELS: Britain and France said on Monday (Aug 7) that some insecticide-tainted eggs may have entered the country, as millions of chickens faced being culled in the Netherlands in a growing European contamination scandal. German authorities have stepped up testing of residue on eggs since it emerged an insecticide dangerous for human consumption was used on chickens in the Netherlands and Belgium. (AFP/Guido Kirchner) Belgium meanwhile vowed full transparency about why it kept the scandal secret despite originally learning in June about the problem involving fipronil, a substance potentially dangerous to humans. Supermarkets in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have pulled millions of eggs from the shelves since Belgium gave the European Commission the first notification on Jul 20, while retailers in Sweden and Switzerland have followed suit. The Commission said on Monday that under its EU rapid alert system it had been determined that eggs under suspicion of contamination had also been distributed to France and Britain via Germany. "It's now up to the Swedish, Swiss, French and to the UK to check because all these eggs are traceable and trackable," European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen told reporters. Britain's Food Standards Agency said it was "urgently investigating the distribution of these eggs in the UK" from farms at the centre of the scare, while adding that "the number of eggs involved is very small and the risk to public health is…... [read more]

HONG KONG: Ten beaches typically packed on a hot weekend were closed in Hong Kong on Sunday (Aug 6) due to a palm oil spillage from a ship collision in mainland Chinese waters. In this photograph taken and released by the South China Morning Post newspaper on Aug 6, 2017, congealed palm oil washes up on the shoreline at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. (Photo: Handout/SCMP/AFP) Photographs showed styrofoam-like clumps lining the shores, while the waters at a fishing village popular with tourists were seen covered in oil and rubbish. Hong Kong comprises more than 200 islands, many with popular beaches, but there are increasing concerns about pollution and rubbish blighting the city's shores. The government closed six beaches and hoisted warning flags after "white, oily substances" were spotted on the waters and sands off southern Hong Kong's outlying islands on Sunday morning, according to a statement. Four additional beaches on the southern coast of the main Hong Kong Island were shut when beach staffers found "white, granular substances" on them, the statement added. Despite the rise of debris on beaches, washed ashore from mainland China and other parts of Hong Kong, residents in areas affected by the spillage said they have never seen anything like the congealed oil lumps. "It had a sort of bubbly consistency," said a resident of Lamma Island quoted by the South China Morning Post, who…... [read more]

As the ASEAN bloc celebrates 50 years since its establishment on August 8, 1967 – with Vietnam present for 22 of those years – now seems an opportune time to look back on the successes of this bloc. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh talks VIR’s Thanh Tung about the positive effects that ASEAN membership has had on Vietnam in these years, and vice versa. What impacts has the ASEAN Community had on Vietnam’s expanding trade and in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI)? The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is one of the ASEAN Community’s three major pillars, is the realisation of the end goal of regional economic integration of the 10 ASEAN economies. It facilitates the free flow of goods, capital, services, investment, and skilled labour. AEC has created a single market home to a population of over 600 million people, with a GDP of about $3 trillion. ASEAN is now the world’s seventh-largest market. In terms of investment, Vietnam has received strong investments from ASEAN member states. This was seen not only after ASEAN became a community, but also before the community was born, thanks to the bloc’s agreements on fostering trade and investment. Regarding trade, since the community was established, the trade volume among ASEAN member states has soared. But this has not been the case for Vietnam, which has seen its trade with other ASEAN markets…... [read more]

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