Friday, December 30, 2005

US Journal to Retract Discredited Stem Cell Paper

The U.S. publication Science is working "as quickly as possible" to retract a paper in which South Korean cloning researchers claimed to have made the biggest breakthrough to date in the controversial drive to use human embryos to treat diseases. Read

US Deplores North Korean Decision to Cut Off UN Food Aid

Hundreds of thousands of impoverished North Koreans are likely to suffer in the New Year because of Pyongyang's decision to stop food assistance from the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and other humanitarian agencies by year's end, the U.S. government said. Read

Climate Initiative 'Will Be More Effective Than Failed Kyoto'

The Kyoto Protocol is a failure, and a new Asia-Pacific partnership designed to counter climate change through technological advances will be a more effective solution to the problem, according to Australia's federal industry minister, Ian Macfarlane. Read

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Harassment Marks End of Difficult Year for Chinese Christians

A year marked by stepped-up religious repression in China draws to a close amid new reports of mistreatment of believers during and after Christmas celebrations, prompting campaigners to urge increased pressure from outside in 2006. Read

Anti-Poverty Maverick to Advise UK Conservatives

Britain's Conservative Party has scored a publicity coup by getting Irish rock singer and anti-poverty campaigner Bob Geldof to act as an advisor to a new party working group on globalization and poverty. Read

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Green Activists Target Japanese Whalers, Bicker Over Tactics

In the frigid waters of the Antarctic, environmental activists are playing a cat-and-mouse game with Japanese whalers while fending off allegations of "ecoterrorism" and fighting among themselves over tactics. Read

Cloning Expert: Use Embryonic Stem Cells on Terminally Ill

Human embryonic stem cells should be used on willing terminally ill patients even if such treatments have yet to be proven safe in animal laboratory experiments, in the view of cloning pioneer Ian Wilmut. Read

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Arnold Schwarzenegger Severs Ties with Austrian City

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to deny clemency to convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams is having international repercussions. Read

Catholic Philippines Mulling Limits on Family Size

Lawmakers in the predominantly Catholic Philippines will soon consider legislation promoting artificial contraception and promoting the idea of a two-child limit for families. Read

Tsunami Anniversary Marked With Sadness and Thanks

Millions of people across Asia marked the one-year anniversary of the tsunami disaster on Monday, remembering the lives lost; acknowledging achievements in rebuilding and the challenges still ahead; and voicing appreciation for the extraordinary support from the outside world. Read

Friday, December 23, 2005

China-Japan Ties Further Strained Over 'Threat' Remarks

A year marked by seething tensions between Asia's two major powers looks set to end in the same way, with Beijing bristling after senior Japanese politicians described China as a military threat. Read

Japan's Population Begins to Decline Sooner Than Expected

For the first time on record, Japan's population has started to decline -- a troubling demographic low point long expected but reached two years earlier than predicted. Read

Korean Panel Confirms Stem Cell Study Was Falsified

An ostensibly groundbreaking study on embryonic stem cell research published earlier this year was partly fabricated, a top South Korean university announced Friday, confirming the fall from grace of its once-celebrated cloning pioneer. Read

Thursday, December 22, 2005

German Trade-off Suspected in Release of Terrorist Killer

Germany freed the murderer of a U.S. Navy diver despite personal intervention by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the State Department has confirmed, amid speculation that Berlin let the Hizballah terrorist go as part of a deal to free a German hostage in Iraq. Read

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Blasphemy Laws' Effect on Christians Under Spotlight in Pakistan

Christians in Islamic Pakistan held a day of prayer and fasting Tuesday for the repeal of laws intended to punish "blasphemy" but which critics say are widely abused and have created an atmosphere of insecurity among Christians in particular. Read

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

US Responds to Another Leftist Victory in Latin America

Washington reacted cautiously Monday to the reported victory in Bolivia's presidential election of a left-winger who has declared himself America's "nightmare," vows to nationalize the country's natural gas industry, and is a fan of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Read

Monday, December 19, 2005

Embryonic Cloning 'Embedded in Lies,' Says Ethicist

As a probe gets underway in South Korea into claims of fraud in "landmark" human embryonic cloning research, an ethicist opposed to the controversial work argued Monday that the entire field is characterized by deceit. Read

Australia Urged to End Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Cloning

A three-year-old ban in Australia on the cloning of human embryos for their stem cells should be lifted, a major report prepared for the government has recommended. Read

Friday, December 16, 2005

Landmark Embryonic Stem Cell Claims Unraveling

The world's biggest "breakthrough" in embryonic stem cell research is in doubt after South Korean cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk, having already admitted unethical research practices, reportedly confessed faking key parts of his data. Read

Call to Condemn Communist Crimes Upsets Party Faithful

To the dismay of many of world's surviving communist parties, a leading European political human rights watchdog will next month consider a proposal calling for the crimes of communism to be condemned internationally and investigated more thoroughly. Read

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New East Asia Initiative Takes Off, Without US

Sixteen nations have taken part in an inaugural "East Asia Summit" which some hope may pave the way for a new community, even as Australia reiterated its view that an existing regional grouping -- one that includes America -- would remain the "premier body." Read

Churches Targeted as Communal Tensions Simmer in Sydney

As police in Sydney brace for the possibility of more street brawls this weekend, Christian symbols have become a new target following last Sunday's clashes between white Australians and ethnic Arab gangs. Read

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Secret Document Case May Affect US-Taiwan Relations

Relations between the United States and Taiwan may be affected by a case involving a former senior State Department official who removed classified documents and had a "personal relationship" with a Taiwanese spy, Taiwanese lawmakers have been told. Read

Distress Caused by Abortion Can Linger for Years, Study Says

A new study in Europe has found that women can experience feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame years after having an abortion, a finding in line with arguments long advanced by prolifers. Read

Abortion Back on Australia's Political Agenda

The first national abortion estimates compiled in Australia reveal that more than one of every four pregnancies in the country ends in an abortion, figures likely to fuel the debate at a time when the issue has returned to the center of the political agenda. Read

Spotlight on Trade Barriers at WTO Meeting

Trade ministers are gathering in Hong Kong Tuesday for another series of crucial talks in the marathon effort to free up world markets. Expectations of success have been dampened, however, after months of disagreements over the key issue of agricultural subsidies. Read

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Christmas Terror Warning for Indonesia

The Australian government has warned citizens of a "very high threat of terrorist attack" in Indonesia during the Christmas season, adding to prevailing concerns about the possibility of Islamist violence targeting Christians during the holidays. Read

Monday, December 12, 2005

Angry North Korea Says Nuclear Talks Are on Hold

Marathon talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programs returned to the back burner at the weekend, when Pyongyang declared them suspended "for an indefinite period" amid a row over U.S. sanctions and criticism of the regime. Read

Australian PM Rejects Link Between Terror Warnings, Ethnic Clashes

Police in Sydney are investigating the alleged involvement of "white supremacists" in weekend clashes that erupted between white Australians and others "of Middle Eastern appearance" in parts of Australia's largest city. Read

China Admits Police Killed Protestors

The Chinese government has made a rare public admission about an incident in which policemen opened fire on civilians protesting a local grievance, However, the government denied reports that 20 or more people had been killed, saying only three had died. Read

Friday, December 09, 2005

Japan, Australia to Extend Troop Deployment in Iraq

Japan has agreed to extend its deployment of troops in Iraq for another year, prompting confirmation from Australia that it will follow suit, since Australian forces are providing security to Japanese military engineers in southern Iraq. Read

High Hopes, Conflicting Agendas Ahead of Key Asian Summit

Sixteen Asia-Pacific nations are preparing for a summit next week, which some hope may lay the foundation for a powerful new regional bloc. Deep divisions and competing agendas are threatening the ambitious vision, however. Read

Thursday, December 08, 2005

US Envoy Calls North Korea 'Criminal Regime'

Rattled by a U.S. diplomat's description of North Korea as a "criminal regime," the South Korean government has warned against the use of provocative language. Read

South Korea Avoids Forum on North Korean Human Rights

A major conference on North Korean human rights begins in Seoul Thursday, focusing attention on abuses in the reclusive communist country -- but also on South Korea's reluctance to take a firm stand on the issue. Read

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Anti-Terror Laws 'Absolutely Essential' Says Australian PM

Australian lawmakers have passed controversial anti-terror legislation, despite opposition from minor left-wing parties and a strong advertising campaign by a lawyers' group Read

UK Conservatives Pick 'Compassionate' Leader to Take on Labor

Britain's Conservative Party has chosen as its new leader a young man with relatively limited political experience, but one whose supporters believe he has the "compassionate conservatism" needed to return the party to power after eight years of Labor rule. Read

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

North Korea Says Nuclear Talks at Risk Due to US Sanctions

South Korea is urging the United States and North Korea to hold direct talks, amid concerns that efforts to resolve a three-year impasse over the Stalinist state's nuclear weapons may be in jeopardy. Read

Religious Freedom? Church-Linked Charity Can't Employ Christians Only

A Baptist Church-linked association in Australia working with families affected by poverty, drug abuse and other difficulties has been denied permission to employ only committed Christians. Read

Monday, December 05, 2005

Election Blow for Taiwan's Ruling Party

Taiwan's independence-leaning ruling party suffered a major setback in local elections at the weekend. That has a resurgent pro-China opposition scenting victory in the next presidential poll. Read

New Hong Kong Leader Faces Demands for Democracy

Residents of Hong Kong took to the streets again on Sunday to protest Beijing's refusal to give the territory the level of democracy they believe they were promised when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Read

Friday, December 02, 2005

Euthanasia Advocate Seeks New Base in New Zealand

A leading euthanasia advocate plans to move operations from his native Australia within weeks to dodge new laws that will criminalize giving advice on suicide by telephone, fax or online. Read

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Anti-War Group Blames US, British Gov'ts for Iraqi Hostage-Taking

An "independent" religious anti-war group that demonstrates its opposition to U.S. and Israeli policies by "getting in the way" says the Bush and Blair governments are to blame for the fact that four of its members are being held hostage by terrorists in Iraq. Read

Airline Seating Policy for Males Faces Discrimination Inquiry

A statutory anti-discrimination body in New Zealand has opened an investigation into complaints that two airlines won't seat children traveling alone next to male passengers, a practice that has drawn strong criticism. Read