- The Washington Times - Friday, August 21, 2009

CHINA

Pollution poisons 1,300 children

BEIJING | China detained two factory officials after 1,300 children were poisoned by pollution from a manganese processing plant, state media said Thursday, days after emissions from a lead smelter in another province sickened hundreds.

Both cases have sparked unrest and come amid growing anger in China over public safety scandals in which children have been the main victims.

The latest incident involves the Wugang Manganese Smelting Plant in Wenping township, central Hunan province. It opened in May 2008 without the approval of the local environmental protection bureau, within 500 yards of a primary school, a middle school and a kindergarten.

Some 1,354 children who live near the plant - or nearly 70 percent of those tested - were found to have excessive lead in their blood, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

CHINA

Top general slams U.S. over arms sale

BEIJING | A top Chinese general criticized the U.S. on Thursday for selling arms to Taiwan and accused Washington of only being cooperative when it needs help with international campaigns.

China sees the self-governing island as a renegade province. The Bush administration’s approval last year of a major arms sale to Taiwan led China to break off military talks with the United States.

“You keep challenging and violating our core national interests, and we have to react,” People’s Liberation Army Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde said at a meeting in Beijing with his U.S. counterpart, Gen. George W. Casey.

Gen. Casey, the Army chief of staff, said Washington understood Beijing’s position on Taiwan, but that there needed to be understanding on both sides.

“It’s difficult to build a lasting relationship when we start from a point that ‘we have problem and it is you,’ ” Gen. Casey said.

PAKISTAN

Mehsud deputy takes control of Taliban

ISLAMABAD | The deputy head of the Pakistani Taliban said he has temporarily taken over command in a move likely to fuel rifts among militant factions after the reported killing of leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Pakistani and U.S. officials are almost certain Mehsud was killed along with his wife and some guards in a strike by a CIA-operated drone aircraft on Aug. 5 in his South Waziristan stronghold on the Afghan border.

But his aides have been insisting he is still alive.

Faqir Mohammad, deputy head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, also denied Mehsud was killed and, like other Taliban commanders, said he was sick and laying low.

“Because of the illness of the emir [leader], I am acting emir,” the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Urdu-language service quoted Mohammad as saying.

INDIA

Unmarked graves found in Kashmir

SRINAGAR | Rights workers have discovered several unmarked graves containing about 1,500 unidentified bodies in Indian Kashmir, a prominent rights group said Thursday, claiming that some of corpses were likely innocent people killed by government forces.

Researchers from the Association of Parents of Disappeared People say at least eight of the graves held more than one body.

An Indian official said the bodies were likely those of militants killed over the past 20 years in fighting for control of the Himalayan region.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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