Suicide bomber ‘kills nine Afghan children’

A suicide bomber has killed at least nine children and a policeman in eastern Afghanistan, police say.

The attacker, who was on a motorcycle, struck at a market in Samkani district near the Pakistan border. At least 15 other people were injured.

Local officials said a passing Nato military patrol was the target of the attack in Paktia province and coalition soldiers were among the casualties.

There was no immediate word from the Nato-led force.


At least 112 people perish in China poultry plant fire

A massive fire broke out at a poultry plant in northeastern China early Monday, trapping workers inside a cluttered slaughterhouse and killing at least 112 people, reports and officials said.

Several dozen people also were hurt in the blaze in Jilin province’s Mishazi township, which appeared to have been sparked by three early-morning explosions, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The provincial fire department, on its microblog, attributed the blasts to an ammonia leak.

State broadcaster CCTV quoted unidentified workers as saying the fire broke out during a change of shifts at the plant, owned by Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co., and may have originated in a locker room at a time when about 350 workers were at the site.

The plant’s “complicated” interior, narrow exits and a locked front gate made escape difficult, Xinhua quoted survivors as saying. It appeared the death toll could continue to rise as more bodies were recovered from the charred buildings. Still, says Xinhua, about 100 workers managed to escape from the plant.

The area around the plant was evacuated, reports CBS News’ Shuai Zhang.

Some employees raised the alarm about a fire shortly after a shift began at 6 a.m., and then the lights went out, spiking the level of panic as workers rushed to find an exit, 44-year-old Wang Fengya told Xinhua.

“When I finally ran out and looked back at the plant, I saw high flames,” Wang was quoted as saying. Xinhua said she and three other workers were sent to a hospital in the nearby provincial capital of Changchun.

In addition to the dead, the disaster killed at least 162 people, and 54 people were being treated in hospitals, the fire department said in its microblog. Calls to fire and rescue services rang unanswered and hospital administrators said they had no information about the injured.

By about noon, the fire had been mostly extinguished and bodies were being recovered from the charred buildings. CCTV footage showed dark smoke billowing up from the prefabricated cement structures topped with corrugated iron roofs.

The fire highlighted the lax safety standards at many Chinese workplaces.

It could also focus renewed scrutiny on China’s biggest pork producer, Shuanghui International — unrelated to the poultry plant — as it seeks to buy U.S. food giant Smithfield in what would be China’s biggest takeover of an American company.

Jason Yan, technical director of the U.S. Grains Council, in Beijing, said safety considerations usually came last in the design of such buildings behind features to maximize production and energy efficiency.

“I’m sure they consider some aspects of safety design. However, I think safety, to me, is not the first priority in their design plan,” Yan said.

Jilin Baoyuanfeng produces 67,000 tons of processed chicken per year and employs about 1,200 people. The plant is located outside the city of Dehui, about 250 miles northeast of China’s capital, Beijing.

War-torn Syria issues travel warning against Turkey

As far as travel warnings go, this seems a little rich.
Syria, the country where a bloody civil war has killed about 80,000 people, is advising its citizens to avoid visiting neighboring Turkey.

The reason? Widespread protests in Turkey that have flared up over the past week.
The Turkish unrest is undoubtedly serious — demonstrators have repeatedly clashed with security forces in Istanbul and other cities, leaving scores wounded.

But it’s still a far cry from the vicious and seemingly intractable war in Syria.
Ankara and Damascus were once allies, but over the past two years, they’ve been at each others’ throats.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Ankara has withdrawn its diplomats from Damascus. More than 300,000 Syrian refugees have spilled into Turkish territory. Syrian opposition groups have been allowed to operate from Turkey. And last year, Syria downed a Turkish F-4 jet.
Given the tensions, why give up the chance to take a dig at Turkey?

On Sunday, the Syrian foreign ministry didn’t.

”The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry advises the Syrian citizens against traveling to Turkey during this period for fear for their safety, due to the security conditions in some Turkish cities that have deteriorated over the past days and the violence practiced by Erdogan’s government against peaceful protesters,” it said in a statement.
And that wasn’t the first jab from Syria.

A day earlier, its information minister suggested Erdogan should consider stepping down.
The Turkish people, said Omran al-Soubi, don’t deserve this “barbarity,”
Pot, meet kettle.

Bangkok – the World’s No. 1 Tourist Destination

People are packing their bags and heading to Thailand. The country’s capital — Bangkok — is now the most visited city in the world by international tourists, according to the third annual Global Destination Cities Index released by MasterCard. Bangkok beat London, last year’s No. 1 tourist destination, by less than 1%.

Part of the reason for Bangkok’s increase in visitors is that tourism in Southeast Asia has surged among the region’s upper-middle class, according to the Atlantic. Of the 12 cities with the fastest increase in air-travel connectivity — measured in terms of the scope of the city’s connections with other cities by air travel and the number of flights for each connection — 11 of them are “located east and south of Istanbul,” which as the Atlantic points out, reflects the growing wealth of Asia and its importance as a business destination.

Bangkok’s rise to the top spot, with 15.98 million visitors projected for 2013, is the first time for an Asian city since the Global Destinations Cities Index launched in 2010. London is expected to have 15.96 million visitors in 2013, and Paris, in third, is forecasted to have 13.92 million.

While Bangkok claims the title of most visited city, halfway around the world in New York City, foreign visitors are shelling out more money than in any of the other 132 cities surveyed, despite expecting 4.46 million fewer tourists. Visitors to the Big Apple are expected to spend roughly $18.6 billion in 2013 — that’s a whole lot of “I ♥ NY” T-shirts.

Meanwhile, Tokyo remains the world’s most expensive city, as measured by total spending per tourist, with the average visitor spending nearly $2,200, according to the Atlantic. Just imagine how many trips to Bangkok you could take with that much money.


Deadly MERS-CoV virus spreads to Italy

The sometimes deadly MERS-CoV virus has spread to Italy, the World Health Organization said in statements this weekend.
Sunday’s announcement that two female patients had contracted the virus follows one Saturday that said a 45-year-old man, who had recently traveled to Jordan, had become infected. They are the first three known cases in Italy.

Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system, the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. But symptoms, which include fever and a cough, are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

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Of the 53 known infections with the virus, 30 have resulted in death since September 2012, the organization said. Precise data are not available on the total number of people who have been infected because it is difficult to tell how many get a mild form of the infection.

A patient died May 28 in France after having contracted the virus during a trip to the Middle East.
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The health agency said the three Italian patients were all in stable condition. The two cases reported Sunday were a 42-year-old woman and a 2-year-old girl who are close contacts of the man, the WHO said.

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The virus is “a threat to the entire world,” the WHO’s general director said last week.

5 things to know about the coronavirus
It “is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself,” Margaret Chan said Monday in her closing remarks at the 66th World Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Although many of the cases have occurred on the Arabian Peninsula, people have died of the infection elsewhere, including in four European countries and Tunisia.

However, “all of the European cases have had a direct or indirect connection to the Middle East,” the WHO said earlier this month. But “in France and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among close contacts who had not been to the Middle East but had been in contact with a traveler recently returned from the Middle East.”

Coronaviruses cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as well as a variety of animal diseases.

Health officials do not yet know much about how the newly discovered virus spreads, which makes it hard for scientists to prevent infections, Chan said.

The WHO is calling for the world to pull together its resources to study and tackle the virus.
New virus is a ‘threat to the entire world’

Earthquake kills 1 in Taiwan

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan on Sunday, killing at least one person.

The quake shook buildings violently in central Taipei. Occupants ran outside in panic.

The epicenter of the quake was near the town of Jenai of Nantou county.

Ja-yi County Hospital officials reported one death.

New king was crowned at Epsom Downs Saturday as the Aidan O’Brien

Under the watchful gaze of one monarch, a new king was crowned at Epsom Downs Saturday as the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ruler of the World dominated rivals to claim England’s most prestigious race, the Epsom Derby.

But it was a day of disappointment for the pre-race favorite, Godolphin-owned Dawn Approach, who failed in his quest to add the Derby to his 2,000 Guineas triumph last month.

Queen Elizabeth, a regular Derby attendee, was among those who had gathered to see Dawn Approach attempt to become the 38th horse to win the first two legs of English racing’s Triple Crown.

But his race was over within the first furlong as the Jim Bolger-trained colt appeared to crack under the pressure of a tactical early pace, pulling fiercely from the start and refusing to settle for jockey Kevin Manning.

After briefly hitting the front at the mile marker, the son of 2008 Epsom Derby winner New Approach faded badly and eventually finished second from last. His connections conceded it would probably be his last outing over a mile and a half.
But it was a different story for Ruler of the World, rated at 7/1 odds to win.

Joseph O’Brien, Ballydoyle’s stable jockey and son of the trainer, had opted to ride the equally immodestly named Battle of Marengo, leaving the way clear for Ryan Moore to claim the ride on Ruler of the World.

Moore’s faith in the chestnut colt paid off as he blasted home by one and a half lengths from a strong-finishing Libertarian, winner of last month’s Dante Stakes. Galileo Rock was just a short head behind in third, with Battle of Marengo next to finish.

Acknowledging the first part of the race had been “messy,” Moore said that Ruler of the World had quickened well rounding Tattenham Corner, adding that he thought the horse could get an even further trip in the future.

“He has got a real, likeable attitude,” Moore said. “You have got to give credit to the horse. He really toughed it out and showed a very good attitude.”

O’Brien thanked the horse’s owners, John and Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.

“We are so lucky to be in the position that we are in, to get such horses,” he said. “They are incredibly bred horses and, even before they are mated, the dream is for this to happen.”

Ruler of the World’s triumph gave the Irish trainer a second consecutive win in this race and a fourth in total, while Moore has previously won on Workforce in 2010.

A son of super sire Galileo, Ruler of the World was, unusually, not raced at two years old. He is the first horse in such a position to win the Derby since 1993, and has enjoyed an undefeated three-year-old campaign over distances from 10 furlongs to a mile and a half.

His performance over the demanding Epsom course on just his third start suggests there could be plenty more to come from a horse whose very name seems to betoken greatness.