- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003


Rural migration gauged for data on SARS spread

BEIJING — China has mobilized 85 million family planning officials to conduct what is considered the first comprehensive survey of rural migration in a bid to curb the spread of SARS, state media said yesterday.

The officials, who normally enforce China’s one-child policy, found that about 4.5 million rural residents made trips to other provinces during the first 15 days of this month, Xinhua News Agency reported. The survey, while not containing any details about the spread of SARS, backs reports that many migrants fled cities this month, fearing infection.

The number of new SARS cases in China rebounded to 26 yesterday from 12 in the previous 24 hours as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao cautioned against “excessive optimism” after a recent decline in infections. Four more people died from severe acute respiratory syndrome, pushing the nationwide death toll to 300, and the cumulative number of cases reached 5,271. So far, 2,455 people nationwide have recovered.


Screams of delight make neighbors frown

TOKYO — Neighbors of a new downtown amusement park are complaining that the screams from people riding a popular roller coaster are making their lives unbearable.

About 110 residents of an apartment building near the LaQua amusement park, which features the Thunder Dolphin roller coaster, have asked Tokyo’s noise-pollution screening panel to step in.

The trouble began May 1 when the $141 million amusement park opened next to the Tokyo Dome sports stadium. The operator has assured authorities that the park had been designed keeping in mind the city’s noise-pollution limit of 60 decibels during the day and 55 decibels at night, but it had not factored in shrieks.

A recent test found that the noise level just outside the park reached 79 decibels, said Adachi Ward official Tsutomu Tanaka. “Does that mean we should tell them not to scream? They are having fun,” Tokyo Dome spokesman Atsushi Yokozuka said yesterday.


U.S. seeking bases for military, paper says

SYDNEY — The United States has asked Australia to provide bases for U.S. forces and aircraft as part of a plan to combat terrorism in Southeast Asia, the Australian newspaper reported yesterday.

The move appeared related to concerns in Washington about threats to the stability of neighboring Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority state, from radical Islamic groups and separatist movements. The office of Defense Minister Robert Hill refused to confirm the story.

Citing unnamed sources, the Australian said the new military cooperation being considered includes deploying U.S. F-16 fighters for extended periods at an air base in Australia’s Northern Territory and stationing as many as 5,000 U.S. Marines at an army base.

Weekly notes …

Malaysia sought to refute renewed warnings by the United States and other countries of terrorist attacks in that country. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told foreign diplomats that advisories against travel to Malaysia were “unjustifiable” given the absence of credible evidence. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said Washington is “afraid of its own shadow” after “killing and oppressing others.” … A court at Yantai in China’s Shandong province yesterday sentenced two South Koreans, a North Korean and two Chinese of Korean ancestry to prison terms of up to five years for trying to smuggle a group of North Korean refugees out of China in January to Japan and South Korea in fishing boats. Seok Jae-hyun, 33, a free-lance South Korean photographer who tried to document the failed operation, got two years in prison. It was not known whether the defendants would appeal.

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