- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2008

CHINA

Contaminated feed threatens meat, eggs

BEIJING | Animal feed producers in China commonly add the industrial chemical melamine to their products to make them appear higher in protein, state media reported Thursday, an indication that the scope of the country’s latest food safety scandal could extend beyond milk and eggs.

The practice of mixing melamine into animal feed is an “open secret” in the industry, the Nanfang Daily newspaper reported in an article that was republished on the Web sites of the official Xinhua news agency and the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.

Publicizing such a problem is rare for the Chinese media and appears to be a tacit admission by China’s central government that melamine contamination is widespread.



The news comes after four brands of Chinese eggs were found to be contaminated with melamine, which agriculture officials have speculated came from adulterated feed given to hens.

Chemical plants used to pay companies to treat and dispose of excess melamine, but about five years ago began selling it to manufacturers who repackaged it as “protein powder,” the Nanfang Daily report said, citing an unnamed chemical industry specialist. Melamine is high in nitrogen, and most protein tests test for nitrogen levels.

SOUTH KOREA

Constitutional Court rules adultery illegal

SEOUL | South Korea’s Constitutional Court upheld a ban on adultery Thursday, rejecting complaints that the 55-year-old law is outdated and constitutes an invasion of privacy.

The decision was the fourth since a 1990 ruling upheld a law that makes it a crime to have an extramarital affair. Guilty spouses face up to two years in prison if convicted, though few end up behind bars.

Among those facing prison on adultery charges is a popular South Korean movie star at the center of a tawdry scandal involving her husband, his opera singer friend and an Italian chef.

Actress Ok So-ri sought to have the ban ruled unconstitutional. Her case had been suspended earlier this year, pending Thursday’s ruling.

South Korea remains deeply conservative and is influenced by a Confucian heritage despite decades of Western influence.

THAILAND

Government protest hit by grenade attack

BANGKOK | Assailants threw a grenade into a crowd of anti-government protesters occupying a bridge, wounding 10 people ahead of a demonstration Thursday outside the British Embassy, victims and police said.

About 1,000 protesters went ahead with the demonstration demanding the extradition of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is now a fugitive living in London. The former prime minister was convicted in absentia earlier this month of violating a conflict of interest law and sentenced to two years in prison.

Anti-government protesters said two assailants arrived by motorcycle, with one dismounting and throwing the explosive before they both sped off, police Col. Viboonyut Santavej said. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack or for another blast outside the home of a Constitutional Court judge that caused no injuries.

INDONESIA

Anti-porn bill wins parliament’s approval

JAKARTA | Parliament passed a bill banning pornography Thursday, ignoring opposition from lawmakers and rights groups who worry it will be used to justify attacks on artistic, religious and cultural freedoms.

More than 100 legislators stormed out ahead of the vote, saying that - while the bill’s final version removed contentious clauses regulating dress and social behavior - it went against the country’s tradition of diversity.

Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 235 million citizens are Muslim, most practicing a moderate form of the faith. But many of its islands have large Christian and Hindu populations and some women in tribal regions, like Papua, still go topless.

The version that eventually passed Thursday focuses instead on the dissemination of material that contains pornographic images, gestures or even conversations.

Violators can be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison and fined up to $750,000.

JAPAN

Mom held daughter captive for 8 years

TOKYO | A girl was held captive at home for eight years by her mother, officials revealed Thursday, acknowledging that authorities repeatedly missed the abuse despite several warning signs.

The girl was locked away in 1998 — when she was 11 — and kept in confinement until 2006, when she was rescued after a neighbor reported possible abuse, officials in the northern city of Sapporo said.

Officials had planned to keep the case from the public to protect the victim’s privacy, Sapporo official Hisashi Okada said. But after it was reported in local media on Thursday, officials called a news conference.

Mr. Okada said the victim, now 21, has lost all memory of the confinement, but the abuse has left its mark and she is still undergoing rehabilitation. Among the effects of the abuse are intellectual disabilities: The woman has the reading ability of a 6-year-old.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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