- - Thursday, March 15, 2012


Kashmiri scientists clone rare cashmere goat

SRINAGAR | Scientists said Thursday they have cloned a rare Himalayan goat in Indian-controlled Kashmir, hoping to help increase the number of animals famed for their silky soft undercoats used to make pashmina wool, or cashmere.

The March 9 birth of female kid “Noori,” which means “light” in Arabic, could spark breeding programs across the region and mass production of the high-priced wool, said lead project scientist Dr. Riaz Ahmad Shah, a veterinarian in the animal biotechnology center of Sher-i-Kashmir University.

Cashmere wool, particularly made into shawls, is a major source of income for Kashmir, generating about $80 million a year for the Indian- controlled portion of the disputed mountain state.

A shawl can cost $200 in Kashmir and much more when sold abroad - a boon given the average salary of $800 a year for Kashmir’s 10.2 million people.

Cashmere goats - which take their name from the Kashmir region but include a number of breeds that produce the soft wool - traditionally are herded in small numbers across the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau in cold and remote mountain areas.


Senior leader sacked in rare scandal

BEIJING | China’s ruling Communist Party on Thursday fired Bo Xilai, a charismatic leader famed for pushing a “red revival,” in a move that exposes ideological rifts during a generational power hand-over.

In a highly unusual public rebuke, Mr. Bo’s removal as party chief of the metropolis of Chongqing was announced a day after Premier Wen Jiabao delivered his strongest call yet for political reform in the country of 1.3 billion people.

The 62-year-old former commerce minister had been seen as one of the leading contenders to join the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee - the apex of political power in China - later this year.

But analysts said that Mr. Bo had alienated liberals in the party with his hard-line crackdown on corruption in Chongqing, a southwestern city of more than 30 million people.


Lawsuits imperil new press freedom

YANGON | The media in Myanmar have gained new freedoms but also face a new threat in the form of lawsuits filed against them by the government.

The state-run Kyemon daily reported Wednesday that the Ministry of Mines plans legal action against a reporter and the publisher of the Voice, a private weekly, for a report alleging misappropriation of funds.

The Modern weekly journal already has been sued on defamation charges by an engineer from the Construction Ministry. He sued over a story alleging that truck drivers had bribed local engineers to allow them to use a bridge even though their vehicles exceeded its weight limit.

Journalists were jailed, beaten and blacklisted while Myanmar was under decades of army rule, and the new elected but military-backed government continues to censor reporting about politics and other subjects it deems sensitive.

But since last year, when the nation’s long-entrenched military junta stepped down, censorship has ended on subjects such as health, entertainment, fashion and sports, and reporters are testing the limited freedom emerging.


138 dead, more missing in ferry sinking

DHAKA | Police and villagers Thursday found more bodies in a Bangladesh river where a packed ferry capsized earlier this week, raising the death toll to 138.

Decomposing bodies surfaced after the double-deck ferry was salvaged and the rescue operation was called off, local police Chief Mohammad Shahabuddin Khan said.

Rescuers had recovered 112 bodies Tuesday and Wednesday. Another 26 bodies were found floating in the water Thursday.

Local media, quoting relatives, said more than a dozen people were still unaccounted for.

The ferry carrying more than 200 people collided with a cargo boat and sank early Tuesday, sending scores of people into the Meghna River, just south of Dhaka. Chief Khan said about 35 were rescued, and local media reported another 40 swam shore.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports



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