NEWS BRIEFS

BURMA

Burma records first bird flu case

Bird flu is continuing its march across Asia with Burma confirming its first cases of the H5N1 virus in chickens. Health officials said the virus was detected after 112 chickens died in the central Mandalay region earlier this month, but there was no evidence yet of human infection. Officials destroyed a flock of 780 birds for laboratory tests.

CHINA

China announces cartoon ban

To protect its own animation industries, China has announced a ban on “so-called cartoons that mainly feature real people and only occasionally have computer-generated elements.” State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said in a statement that the ban is intended “to promote the development and prosperity of the cartoon industry in China.” China already limits foreign cartoon to 40%t. It might ban all foreign cartoons from TV once the quantity and quality of domestic productions is ample.

INDONESIA

Nameless Islands of Indonesia

An interesting note on everyone’s favorite continent-sized archipelago: Indonesia still has around 10,000 unnamed islands. “One of the reason why these outer islands have not yet been named is the lack of the government’s attention, including its small budget allocation,” Home Affairs Ministry` Secretary General Progo Nurjaman said. He said the allocation in the 2006 State Budget for surveys and data gathering activities was a minimal Rp3.2 billion in the face of its 17,504 islands.

IRAN

Repatriation program for Afghan refugees extended

The repatriation program for Afghan refugees from Iran, which has already seen the return of around 1.4 million people since its inception in 2002, has been extended for another year for the nearly 1 million more Afghans still remaining in the war-torn country’s western neighbor, United Nations said recently. Officials of Iran, Afghanistan and the UN reached agreement on the extension until March 2007 at a meeting in Mashad in northeastern Iran.

ISRAEL

Israel says turkeys may have died of deadly flu

Around 11,000 turkeys have died in what Israeli officials suspect the country’s first outbreak of the H5N1 virus. After initial tests, Health Minister Yaakov Edri reported that there was a high chance that it was avian infection but insisted more tests are still to be done. Officials have yet to decide whether to destroy tens of thousands of other birds.

KOREA

Korean youth unified Against US

With relentless propaganda in N. Korea, and S. Korea caving in on every single issue, it seems that Korean youth unified against the US. In a survey, nearly half of S. Korean youths who will be voting next elections say Seoul should side with N. Korea if the US attacks the communist nation. 40.7% of the 1,000 youth surveyed said Seoul should remain neutral in the event of hostilities between Washington and Pyongyang, according to the poll by The Korea Times and Hankook Ilbo dailies. Only 11.6 percent said the South should back its longtime U.S. ally.

PAKISTAN

Kite flyers nabbed in Pakistan

In Lahore City, more than 1,000 people have been detained for violating Pakistan’s kite ban. However, majority of those held were released after brief appearances before magistrates. The local government declared the ban ahead of a kite’s festival to foil deaths and injuries every year caused by metal and glass coated string that players use to cut the string of rivals in aerial duels.

PHILIPPINES

New archbishop appointed

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, accepted the resignation of Most Rev. Pedro Dean, from the pastoral governance of Archbishop of Palo in Leyte. At the same time, the Pope appointed Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, bishop of Calbayog, as the new archbishop of Palo. Also appointed was Rev. Msgr. Rodolfo F. Beltran, of Tuguegarao in Northern Philippines, as the Apostolic Vicar of Bontoc-Lagawe in the Mountain Province.

VIETNAM

Overcrowding in Vietnam seminaries

The number of seminarians are increasing, yet living and teaching space are lacking. The Vietnam Catholic church, according to Archbishop Thann-Pho Ho Chi Minh, needs new facilities to accommodate the rising number of candidates to the priesthood. Two reasons for the congestion is that the archdiocese receives candidates from six southern dioceses, and that the government has stipulated that they allow all applicants to be admitted. About 6 million of Vietnam’s 83 million inhabitants are Catholic.