- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 25, 2004

PHILIPPINES

Commuters stranded by transport strike

MANILA — A nationwide transport strike against rising oil prices stranded tens of thousands of commuters, snarled traffic and left some schools closed in the Philippines yesterday.

The strike was called by operators and drivers of passenger vans, buses and jeepneys, the country’s main modes of road transportation. Strikers claimed to have paralyzed up to 95 percent of their routes in metropolitan Manila and nearby suburbs, but authorities said some of those who joined the strike early in the day were operating again by afternoon.

Radio reports said that some transport workers harassed those who refused to join the strike, and that police cleared some roads of metal spikes.

THAILAND

Ducks found to be key vector of bird flu

BANGKOK — The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said yesterday that ducks, especially free-range farm ducks, play a major role in spreading avian influenza that killed at least 22 persons across Asia this year.

Hans Wagner of the organization’s office for Asia and the Pacific said areas with high infection in free-range ducks also had a high infection rate of chickens.

NEW ZEALAND

Embryo screenings ‘devalue’ disabled

WELLINGTON — An analyst for the government children’s agency says screening human embryos for serious genetic conditions could “devalue” disabled children.

Mavis Duncanson told the National Ethics Committee on Assisted Human Reproduction that pre-implantation genetic diagnosis raises questions about the way society views disabled people. The test allows parents at risk of passing on a genetic disorder such as cystic fibrosis or hemophilia to check that an embryo is not a carrier before it is implanted into the mother’s womb, the Dominion Post reported.

Weekly notes

Taiwan’s envoy to the just-ended Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile said yesterday his encounter with Chinese President Hu Jintao was too brief to allow him to discuss cross-strait tensions. Lee Yuan-tseh, a co-winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry, said his chat with Mr. Hu was friendly but too brief to explore disagreements. … South Korean army chief Gen. Nam Jae-joon offered to resign yesterday amid an inquiry into irregularities in officer promotions, but Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung told him to stay. This follows a rare investigation into accusations that some of the 20 colonels promoted to brigadier general last month were corrupt or incompetent. On Tuesday, Defense Ministry investigators raided army headquarters at Daejeon, 100 miles south of Seoul, and seized documents related to the promotions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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