- - Thursday, March 3, 2011


Foreign press warned not to cover protests

BEIJING | Chinese police are further intensifying pressure on foreign reporters, warning them to stay away from spots designated for protests inspired by the uprisings in the Middle East and threatening them with expulsion or revocation of their credentials.

The warnings show how unnerved the authorities are by the online calls for protests every Sunday.

The appeals, which started two weeks ago, have attracted few outright demonstrators but many onlookers, loads of journalists and swarms of police.

The extreme reaction signals a retreat since restrictions on foreign media were eased in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics.


War planes patrol near disputed islands

MANILA | The Philippine military deployed two war planes near a disputed area in the South China Sea after a ship searching for oil complained it was harassed by two Chinese patrol boats, officials said Thursday.

The Chinese vessels later left without confrontation, said Philippine military commander Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban.

The incident happened Wednesday at the Reed Bank, near the disputed Spratly Islands, claimed by the Philippines, China and other nations, said Gen. Sabban, who heads the military’s Western Command.


Suicide rate rises for luckless job seekers

The number of Japanese who killed themselves because they could not find jobs jumped 20 percent last year, while the overall suicide rate declined, a government reporter said Thursday.

In all, 31,690 people killed themselves last year, a 3.5 percent decrease from the year before, according to the annual report by the National Police Agency.

The number of people citing “failure to get jobs” in their suicide notes rose to 424, up 20 percent from the year before and more than doubled from 180 in 2007, the report said. About one-third were in their 20s, including new graduates seeking jobs.

At 24.4 suicides per 100,000 people, Japan has the second-highest suicide rate among the eight leading industrialized nations. Russia’s suicide rate is 30.1, according to the World Health Organization.


Police ban marijuana at Hindu festival

KATMANDU | Nepalese authorities banned the sale of marijuana during a popular Hindu festival at which holy men traditionally smoke the drug and share it with young men and women, police said Thursday.

About 500,000 devotees attended the festival Wednesday at Katmandu’s Pashupati Temple, considered the most revered Hindu shrine in Nepal.

Thousands of holy men travel to Nepal from neighboring India every year for the festival, which generally marks the end of winter. The highlight is a bonfire at night at which devotees smoke marijuana.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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