NEWS SCAN: Avian flu prevention, PCA roof leak, meningitis in Africa, USDA’s social networking tools

first_imgMar 26, 2009North Korea reports H5N1 prevention strategiesNorth Korea yesterday said its nationalized approach to preventing avian influenza has helped it avoid outbreaks and infections, despite the circulation of the H5N1 virus in other nations, Korea News Service (KNS) reported yesterday. North Korea has conducted bird surveillance in winter migration areas, developed rapid detection systems, educated the public and medical workers about how to prevent the disease, and set up medical checkpoints in densely populated areas to monitor and treat people who are sick. The nation also said it would continue its close contacts with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.[Mar 25 KNS report]Group helps Nigeria with avian flu fightA nongovernmental organization has launched an intensive program to prevent avian influenza in Nigeria, AllAfrica.com reported today. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is aiming its behavioral-change messages at migrant poultry workers, traders, and transporters in states that have been hit by the virus, which include Anambra, Borno, Kano, and Lagos.[IOM Web site]Hearing reveals leaky roof problem at PCA plantA leaky roof at the Peanut Corporation of America’s plant in Blakely, Ga., might have introduced or spread Salmonella contamination that sparked the recent national outbreak, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported yesterday. A recent bankruptcy hearing revealed that the company had spent $60,000 fixing the roof in August 2008. A former plant worker told the AJC that the roof leaked so profusely that employees had to move products around to keep them from getting wet. In 2007, an internal investigation conducted by ConAgra of its Sylvester, Ga., plant found that moisture from a leaky roof and a faulty sprinkler system might have triggered the growth of Salmonella at the facility, which led to a national outbreak involving peanut butter that sickened 425 people in 44 states.Africa’s cases of meningococcal disease riseAfrica’s “meningitis belt,” an area that includes northern Nigeria and Niger, has recorded 24,868 suspected cases of meningococcal disease, including 1,513 deaths, since Jan 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement yesterday. Cerebrospinal fluid testing has revealed that the predominant strain is Neisseria meningitides serogroup A. The WHO said 2.3 million doses of polysaccharide vaccine have been released to Nigeria and 1.9 million to Niger.[Feb 25 WHO statement]USDA unveils new-media toolsThe US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today launched news- and recall-related RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, a Twitter feed, and new bookmarking capabilities to allow people to share food safety content on social networking sites and Web pages. In a news release today, the USDA said the tools will expand the reach of its educational materials and connect with audiences it might not otherwise reach.[Mar 26 USDA press release]last_img read more

Fears for Uighur culture as scholars vanish in China crackdown

first_imgIt has been almost two years since Bugra Arkin’s father Aierken was abruptly snatched from his home in China’s troubled Xinjiang region by national security agents.Aierken Yibulayin’s publishing firm — one of the biggest in the region — translated thousands of books into Uighur before he was detained in October 2018. Arkin has not heard from him since.”My father had a strong impact on the Uighur publishing industry, and that made him a target of the Chinese government,” said Arkin, who lives in California. “This is very unacceptable and our lives were literally destroyed.”He is not the only one.At least 435 Uighur intellectuals have been imprisoned or forcibly disappeared since April 2017, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project.The rounding up of Uighur linguists, scholars and publishers is seen by overseas advocacy groups as part of a campaign by the Chinese Communist Party to erase the ethnic group’s identity and culture and assimilate it into the dominant, Mandarin-speaking Han population. ‘Don’t know where he is’ Alim last heard from an acquaintance that his father’s trial, which began in January, had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but fears he will soon be sentenced and jailed.His mother, who lives in Xinjiang, “wouldn’t dare talk” about Hasani’s arrest.”I certainly felt very bad and didn’t know how to express it. For a long time I couldn’t concentrate on my work either,” Alim said.All 11 linguists in his father’s work unit have also been detained, including 64-year-old Hemdulla Abdurahman, who was snatched in January 2019, according to his son Yashar Hemdulla.”In March 2019, I was told my father had been taken to a ‘hospital’ … but the family acquaintance on the call mimed handcuffs on her wrists,” said Hemdulla, who lives in Norway. “I do not know where he is now.”Hemdulla knows several intellectuals whose relatives say they were first detained in camps, then given long-term jail sentences, and he is concerned his father might suffer the same fate.”At the time, I found it extremely hard. I am an only son, my mother is all alone and my father is not young — how much more can he take?” said Hemdulla.While authorities said in December that all people from vocational centers have “graduated”, researchers say they have been gradually moved to other forms of detention.Many have been prosecuted and given prison sentences of up to 20 years, said Gene Bunin, a researcher on Uighur issues and creator of the Xinjiang Victims Database.”This has partially been a trend in the last one or two years, with the camps being emptied,” Bunin said, estimating that at least 300,000 people remain incarcerated.Fears have also been raised over jailed Uighur intellectual Ilham Tohti, who was awarded a top human rights prize by the European Parliament — but has not been seen in years. Renowned Uighur linguist Alim Hasani was taken by authorities in August 2018 during a Beijing work trip, according to his son Ershat Alim.Alim believes that his father, a retired division head of the Xinjiang Ethnic Language Work Committee, was detained for his research, which aimed to standardize Uighur-Han translations.Hasani, who compiled several dictionaries, was a Communist Party member whose projects had previously been approved by the state and won awards.”When I first heard that my father was arrested, I never once thought that this could happen to him. He must have been very surprised as well,” said Alim, who lives in France.More than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking minorities have been held in re-education camps in Xinjiang following a spate of ethnic violence, according to rights groups.Chinese authorities describe the facilities as vocational education centers where Uighurs learn Mandarin and job skills to steer them away from extremism.In a statement, China’s foreign ministry said: “The so-called notion of ‘imprisoning Uighur intellectuals to extinguish Uighur culture’ is complete rumor-mongering and slander.”center_img ‘Sad and angry’ Uighur literary critic and writer Yalqun Rozi was among the first wave of intellectuals to be detained in October 2016 after hardline Xinjiang Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo took office.His relatives later discovered that Rozi had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in January 2018 for “inciting subversion of state power” — a vague charge commonly used for political prisoners. Authorities suggested that Rozi’s detention was related to his role in compiling Uighur literature textbooks that had been in use for more than a decade, said his son Kamalturk Yalqun. All his father’s textbook collaborators were also detained around this time.Since 2012, bilingual Mandarin-Uighur education has gradually been applied in schools in Xinjiang, with the aim of reaching 2.6 million students. Prior to that, classes were mostly taught in Uighur and other minority languages.”By abolishing these textbooks and eliminating Uighur language education altogether, the next generation of Uighur youth will have no way to find their link with Uighur culture,” said Yalqun.”It is a way for China to eliminate the entire Uighur identity and assimilate them to become… people that speak Chinese, think Chinese and don’t know their own history or culture. That makes me sad and angry at the same time.” Topics :last_img read more

Trojans take to the desert to face off against Arizona

first_imgAfter a four-game road swing, the USC baseball team had a home game Tuesday.But with the way the team played in the 7-1 loss to Long Beach State, USC interim coach Frank Cruz is probably happy to get back on the road.The Trojans (18-22, 8-7) will finish a swing in which seven of eight games have been away from Dedeaux Field this weekend when they travel to Frank Sancet Stadium to take on Arizona.The Wildcats (24-16, 6-9) welcome USC on Friday night at 5 p.m. hoping to turn around recent struggles. Arizona lost to rival Arizona State for the fourth time this season Tuesday and has lost five of six games.After being ranked as high as No. 11 following a 17-5 start, Arizona has run into trouble since starting Pac-10 play. The Wildcats are only 6-9 in conference games and have only won one series despite winning the series opener four of five times.They’ve been so successful in game one because of the arm of Orange County’s Kurt Heyer. The sophomore right-hander has a 6-3 record, a minuscule 2.20 ERA and has struck out 95 batters in 86 innings while issuing only 20 base on balls.Heyer, however, started on three-days rest Tuesday as the Wildcats tried to take down their archrivals, so it will be Kyle Simon on the mound Friday night. The 6-foot-5 righty has a 7-3 record with a 2.95 ERA. He is coming off a three-hit complete game against Oregon in his last start.To beat Simon, USC will need junior Andrew Triggs (3-3, 4.52 ERA) to replicate his performance from last week when he threw a complete game five-hitter as the Trojans beat Washington 2-1.Junior Austin Wood (4-5, 4.69 ERA) will start Saturday for USC. He will likely take on Tyler Hale (3-4, 5.26 ERA), who isn’t on firm ground. Hale is 0-4 in Pac-10 play, and his ERA jumped to 9.43 after he allowed four runs in one and two-thirds innings in his last start.The series finale will feature senior Logan Odom (3-5, 3.49 ERA), who has helped the Trojans win their last three conference series. Odom won the rubber match in two of those series.Arizona’s Sunday starter has still yet to be determined. But don’t be surprised to see Heyer return even though it’s unconventional to see collegiate starters pitch a midweek and weekend game. If he doesn’t start, he’s likely to be used as a reliever throughout the series.If the Trojans want to improve on their fourth place standing in the Pac-10, they need to get into Arizona’s bullpen where the Wildcats have a 5.79 ERA this season.USC will also have to contain an offense that averages 6.7 runs per game and is hitting .320 as a team. Joey Rickard (.402) and Cole Frenzel (.387) lead an Arizona offense that features six hitters batting .315 and above.In comparison, the Trojans’ offense has only two batters hitting better than .300 with junior first baseman Ricky Oropesa’s .345 batting average, six home runs and 33 RBI leading the way.The Trojans will try to return to their winning ways after their five-game streak was broken last week.Before losing its last two games, USC had won eight of 10 games.last_img read more