News briefs:June 22, 2007
Roadside bomb kills three Canadian soldiers in Panjwaye, Afghanistan
The identities of three Canadian soldiers killed Wednesday in a roadside bomb blast in southern Afghanistan have been released by the Department of National Defence (DND). The three soldiers were killed at approximately 7:49 a.m. local time, when their unarmoured all-terrain vehicle received the force of a nearby bomb blast.
The identities of the three soldiers were reported as follows:
* Corporal Stephen Frederick Bouzane, age 26, 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry; * Private Joel Vincent Wiebe, age 22, 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry; and * Sergeant Christos Karigiannis, (age not provided), 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
At the request of the family, Sergeant Christos Karigiannis' identity had been held back by DND.
The latest deaths brought the total number of Canadian soldiers killed in the Afghan mission, which began in 2002, to 60.
Recall of Thomas the Tank Engine toys due to lead-paint fears
A recall issued last week for Thomas the Tank Engine toys made in China and containing lead-based paint, is the latest scare for consumers, and follows recent scandals involving Chinese-made pet food, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste and other toys, The New York Times has reported in a series of articles.
Last week, RC2, a U.S. toy company based in Oak Brook, Illinois, issued a recall for its popular wooden "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends" train sets. The recall involved 1.5 million "Thomas Wooden Railway" vehicles and train sets sold at toy stores and various retailers across the U.S. from January 2005 through June 2007.
A subsequent recall has been issued in the United Kingdom, where Thomas the Tank Engine was originated in the 1940s as a character in a children's story by the Reverend W.V. Awdry. Around 70,000 toys are involved in the U.K. recall, according to The Guardian.
"RC2 has determined that the surface paints on the recalled products contain lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects," the Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a press release dated June 13. "Consumers should take the recalled toys away from young children immediately and contact RC2 Corp. for a replacement toy," the commission said.
Those "adverse health effects" could include brain and nerve damage, especially in young children, as well as blood and brain disorders. Severe lead poisoning causes vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, anemia, loss of appetite, headaches and in particularly high doses, coma and death.
Thai scientist has deodorized the stinky 'king of fruits'
In southeast Asia, durian is known as the "king of fruits," but with its pungent odor, the large, spike-husked fruit receives less-than-royal treatment in many quarters.
A Thai scientist thinks he has found the key to more widespread acceptance of durian, by creating odorless varieties of the fruit. After 20 years of cross-breeding, researcher Songpol Somsri has come up with a durian "that smells as inoffensive as a banana," according to an article today by The Guardian.
"I've got friends from Australia, Europe and Japan who just won't eat durian because they can't stand the smell," Songpol was quoted as saying. "But I'm sure producing those with a mild smell will help us find new markets."
Despite their popularity, the fruits are banned from the subway system in Singapore. In Bangkok, taxi drivers will often balk at a passenger with durian. The region's airlines won't allow them to be brought onboard. Across southeast Asia, a sign that denotes a finer hotel is a placard in the lobby with a red circle and cross through a silhouette of a durian.
Cultivated across all of southeast Asia, the fruit measures about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long and 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter, and weighs around 2 to 7 pounds (1 to 3 kilograms). The fruits are green on the outside, and covered with a thick, spike-covered husk. In Malay, the name durian literally means "thorny fruit".