- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2005


Muslims in Asia also enjoy Christmas

SINGAPORE — They may not necessarily be Christians, but for many Asians, Christmas is a great excuse for shopping, partying and even romance.

Come December, Christmas lights brighten shopping streets in cities from Beijing to Colombo, while images of Santa Claus and Rudolph adorn office buildings, shops and restaurants.

Shopping malls in Indonesia, the country with the largest number of Muslims, play carols such as “Silent Night” and songs such as “Jingle Bells” through speakers during the year-end holiday season. “Most workers here are Muslim, but we also celebrate Christmas,” said Jakarta restaurant receptionist Lina Novianti, wearing a red Santa Claus hat.


Statement expected on defense effort

TOKYO — The Japanese government is to release a statement tomorrow to justify proceeding with Washington on joint missile-defense development and stipulating strict controls for arms exports to the United States.

The government gave the ruling Liberal Democratic Party yesterday an outline of the chief Cabinet secretary’s statement, to be issued tomorrow when the Cabinet is expected to move joint research on an advanced model of the sea-based Standard Missile 3 interceptor to the development stage next year.

Tokyo aims to reach agreement with Washington in the spring, after the fiscal 2006 budget is approved, on measures to prevent Japanese arms exports from being transferred to third parties through the United States.


Punishment urged in stem-cell ‘scam’

SEOUL — A group of South Korean scientists urged the government yesterday to punish embattled cloning specialist Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, calling his apparently groundbreaking stem-cell research a “scam.”

Scieng.net, an online association of about 17,500 researchers and engineers, said the credibility of South Korean science was undermined and that young researchers were shaken by the scandal. The group described Dr. Hwang’s research as “a science scam in which a faked [scientific] paper” was sent for publication in the June issue of the U.S. journal Science.

Dr. Hwang was lionized as a national hero until TV network MBC and young scientists publicly accused him of fabricating key parts of his research into the production of patient-specific stem cells.

Weekly notes …

An Australian and a New Zealander rescued off the Vietnamese coast after 11 days on a life raft will not be home for Christmas, a diplomat said yesterday. Australian Mark Smith, 49, and New Zealander Steven Freeman, 30, are recovering from their ordeal at a medical center on Ly Son island in Quang Ngai province. Because of rough seas, they cannot be moved to the mainland, about 35 miles away, said a diplomat at the New Zealand Embassy. The Australian government ruled out yesterday suggestions that the Japanese whaling vessel Kaiko Maru be prevented from leaving port once it moors in Hobart, Tasmania, this weekend because of a medical emergency involving a crewman with appendicitis. Ian Campbell, minister for the environment and heritage, said that although Australia does not support commercial whaling, it does provide assistance in the event of an emergency at sea.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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