Beijing, Dec 31 (Xinhua/UNB) -- A total of 2,826 people died as a result of infectious diseases in China in November, according to statistics released by the National Health Commission.
There were 636,722 cases of infectious diseases reported last month.
One case of cholera was reported in November and no cases of plague were reported. No fatalities caused by these diseases have been reported, the commission said.
Cholera and plague are classified as Class A infectious diseases, the most serious classification in China's Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases.
A total of 303,714 infections of diseases classified as Class B infectious diseases were reported, resulting in 2,819 deaths in November. Viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea and scarlet fever accounted for 93 percent of these cases.
Class C diseases caused seven deaths in November. Foot and mouth disease, infectious diarrhea and influenza were the most prevalent in this category, accounting for 92 percent of cases.
Washington, Dec 31 (AP/UNB) — The stranger-than-sitcom American presidency opened 2018 with a big tease about mutual nuclear destruction from two leaders who then found "love" not war. It seems President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un were just playing hard to get.
The presidency ends the year saturated in tumult, with the government in partial shutdown and Trump tweeting a video of himself warbling a parody of the theme song from "Green Acres," a television sitcom from the 1960s, to mark his signing of a farm bill.
Throw in a beer-loving and very angry Supreme Court nominee, an unhappy departing defense secretary, Trump's parallel universe of facts and his zillion tweets, and you can see that the president's world this year was touched by the weird, the traumatic and the fantastical — also known as WTF.
There was no holding back the self-described "very stable genius" with the "very, very large brain."
Some serious and relatively conventional things got done in 2018.
There was a midterm election. Many more Democrats are coming to Congress and not quite all of them plan to run for president. Divided government dawns in January when Democrats take control of the House; Republicans retain their grip on the Senate.
An overhaul of the criminal justice system was accomplished, and in an unusually bipartisan way, though it took a dash of reality TV's Kim Kardashian West to move it along. Gun control actually was tightened a bit, with Trump's unilateral banning of bump stocks.
Trump shocked allies and lost Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over a presidential decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, quickly following up with indications that up to half the troops in Afghanistan might be withdrawn, too.
Self-described "Tariff Man" started one trade war, with China, and headed off a second by tweaking the North American Free Trade Agreement and giving it an unpronounceable acronym, USMCA. He withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, putting action behind his Twitter shout: "WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH."
Trump placed his second justice on the Supreme Court in two years after Brett Kavanaugh, accused of alcohol-fueled sexual assault in his youth, raged against the allegations at a congressional hearing and acknowledged only: "I liked beer, I still like beer," but "I never sexually assaulted anyone."
There were frustrations and fulminations aplenty for the president, particularly about the steaming-ahead Russia-Trump campaign investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller ("special councel" in some Trump tweets).
Nor did he make much progress on his promised border wall ("boarder wall"), which he renamed "artistically designed steel slats" in December in what he regarded as a concession to wall-despising, concrete-cursing Democrats. The concession did not work: large parts of the government closed Saturday over the wall-induced budget impasse.
He took heat for a zero-tolerance policy that forced migrant children from their parents until he backed off, inaccurately blaming Democrats for "Child Seperation."
It was a very good year for jobs. It was a check-your-smartphone-right-now, pass-the-smelling-salts year for the stock market. Trump, who assailed the unemployment rate as a phony measure when he was a candidate, couldn't speak of it enough as Obama-era job growth continued on his watch. He went mum about the market, a prime subject for his boasting before it took a sustained dive.
Trump's approval rating in polls was one of the few constants on this swiftly tilting planet: 42 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval in The Associated Press-NORC's latest and 38 percent-57 percent via Gallup, neither much different than in January.
Through it all, the mainstreaming of the bizarre proceeded apace and North Korea's Kim set that tone right on Jan. 1 with his New Year cheer to Americans across the ocean: "It's not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office. All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike."
Trump responded the next day with a tweet about size and performance. "I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
Once they got that out of their system, things quickly improved, helped along by Kim's letters to Trump, which the U.S. president called "beautiful." There was no more talk about Trump being a "mentally deranged dotard" or Kim being a "maniac," the musty insults of an earlier time. In June, they held history's first meeting between a North Korean leader and a current U.S. president. "We fell in love," Trump later said at a West Virginia rally.
Kim had previously vowed to visit "fire and fury" on the U.S. but the "Fire and Fury" that made Trump livid early this year was the book of the same name, Michael Wolff's insider account of the Trump White House. That was a different sort of missile. The president took particular exception to observations in the book by his former chief strategist, tweeting about "Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!"
They are said to be on better terms now.
Over the course of the year, Trump spoke at more than 40 campaign rallies, kept up his Twitter barrage (40,000 tweets since 2009 on his @realDonaldTrump account) and answered plenty of questions in infrequent but lengthy news conferences and sit-down interviews.
So what stands out in this blizzardy whiteout of unconventionality?
How about this farewell to his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson? "He was dumb as a rock and I couldn't get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell." (The president usually reserves "dumb as a rock" for journalists.)
Or his description of Stormy Daniels, paid to stay quiet about their alleged affair, as "horseface?"
Or this description of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, as "scared stiff and Missing in Action," before Sessions was finally out in November?
Will history long remember that in 2018 the president called Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff "little Adam Schitt" on Twitter and nations in Africa "shithole countries" in a private meeting?
Or that he (correctly) predicted Hurricane Florence would be "tremendously wet" or told the AP: "I have a natural instinct for science?"
In July, Trump appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he stood by Putin's side at a Helsinki summit news conference and gave weight to Putin's denial that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, despite the firm conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that it had. "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia, Trump said.
But while it's been hardly noticed in a capital consumed by the shutdown drama, Mattis, Syria, steel slats and market convulsions, 2018 draws to a close as it started — with warnings of a nuclear Armageddon, this time from Putin.
Putin's prompt was Trump's intention to walk away from one arms control treaty and his reluctance to extend another.
That, said Putin, "could lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet."
Maybe he's just playing hard to get.
Berlin, Dec 31 (AP/UNB) — Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany will keep pushing for global solutions to challenges in 2019 and also has to take greater responsibility in the world.
Closing a politically turbulent 2018 in Germany, Merkel devotes a significant part of her annual New Year's address to the merits of bringing a multilateral approach to international problems — a style she has consistently defended in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" tactics.
The fourth-term chancellor pointed to curbing climate change, managing migration and combating terrorism as the kinds of challenges that benefit from a wide view. Germany starts a two-year stint on the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 1.
"We want to resolve all these questions in our own interest, and we can do that best if we consider the interests of others," Merkel said in a text of the message her office released ahead of a scheduled Monday broadcast.
"That is the lesson from the two world wars of the last century," she added. "But this conviction is no longer shared today by everyone, and certainties of international cooperation are coming under pressure."
"In such a situation, we must again stand up for, argue and fight more strongly for our convictions," Merkel said. "And we must take on more responsibility in our own interests."
She said Germany will push for "global solutions" at the U.N. and noted the country is spending more on humanitarian aid and defense. She said Berlin wants to make the European Union "more robust and able to make decisions."
Turning to home, Merkel acknowledged that many Germans have "struggled very much" with her latest government amid persistent infighting since it took office in March after unprecedentedly long talks to form the governing coalition. She said it had been "an extremely difficult political year."
Germany's leader for 13 years said she set the stage for a "new beginning" in late October by announcing she won't seek a fifth term. She also gave up the leadership of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, Germany's main center-right party, which has been led since Dec. 7 by ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Merkel has said she plans to remain chancellor for the rest of this parliamentary term, which is supposed to run until 2021. But questions remain over whether she will actually stay that long, not least because of tensions within her governing coalition.
"Democracy lives from change," she said in her new year message. "We build on what our predecessors left us, and shape things in the present for those who will come after us."
Pyongyang, Dec 31 (AP/UNB) — The 105-story Ryugyong Hotel has long been a blot on the Pyongyang skyline. The world's tallest unoccupied building has towered over North Korea's capital since 1987, a grand but empty pyramid entirely dark except for the lone aircraft warning light at its top.
Outsiders saw the unfinished building as the epitome of failure, while people inside the country took care to rarely mention it at all.
That is, until light designer Kim Yong Il made the building once again the talk of the town.
In a brilliant flip of the script, the Ryugyong has been reborn as a symbol of pride and North Korean ingenuity.
For several hours each night, the building that doesn't have electricity inside becomes the backdrop of a massive light show in which more than 100,000 LEDs flash images of famous statues and monuments, bursts of fireworks, party symbols and political slogans.
The Ryugyong is still unfinished. There's no public date when, or if, it will host its elusive first guest. Questions remain over whether the glass-and-concrete hotel is structurally sound. And North Korea's electricity supply is limited as-is.
But never mind all that.
"I feel really proud," Kim, the vice department director of the Korean Light Decoration Center, told The Associated Press in a recent interview at the foot of the hotel. "I made this magnificent design for this gigantic building and when people see it, it makes them feel good. It makes me proud to work as a designer."
The display was first lit in April to mark the birthday of the country's "eternal president," Kim Il Sung.
Designer Kim said the preparations took about five months. He was in charge of the designing and programming the light display, which took him two months. Another specialist was responsible for the physical setup and electrical wiring.
Giant LED displays has been used around the world for many years — and on an even bigger building. Japanese designer Yusuke Murakami and a London-based company collaborated in 2016 on an LED animation on Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's largest tower.
The 330-meter (1,083-feet) Ryugyong tower has three distinct sides. The main show is displayed on the front, while simpler designs light up the other two. For a conical section at the very top, Kim created the image of the red, white and blue North Korean flag waving in the wind. It is 40 meters tall and visible from any direction.
The four-minute main program begins with an animation showing the history of the nation, followed by homages to ideals like self-reliance and revolutionary spirit and a procession of 17 political slogans such as "single-minded unity," ''harmonious whole" and "100 battles, 100 victories."
The lights are connected to a computerized controlling system about the size of a household DVD player.
"The whole program can be stored on an SD card and put into the controller," Kim said. "We can do the diagnostics on a laptop."
The Ryugyong is a big part of the legacy of second-generation leader Kim Jong Il, current leader Kim Jong Un's late father.
He ordered it built as part Pyongyang's preparations for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, which it hosted in 1989 as a kind of counterpoint to the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The Ryugyong was supposed to be the world's tallest hotel, surpassing another in Singapore that was built by a South Korean company, but the building fell by the wayside as North Korea experienced a severe economic crash and famines in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union.
It languished in limbo until Egypt's Orascom Group, which established the North's cellphone system, helped fund the completion of its glassy exterior in 2011.
Like his father, Kim Jong Un has a penchant for ambitious building projects, including 82- and 70-story residences in the capital's "Ryomyong," or "dawn," district that opened last year and a massive science and technology complex with a main building shaped like a giant atom.
"The goal of setting up this light screen is to give confidence and hope for the future to our people," Kim, the designer, said as he watched people walking by in the light of his massive display. "The response has been great. The national flag at the top of the building is hundreds of meters high and everyone can see it. It fills them with pride and confidence in being a citizen, willing to work very hard."
He declined to guess when the hotel itself might open.
"That's not my field," he laughed.
But he said there's no plan to turn off the Ryugyong light show, though updates could be in the works.
"We could change the content," he said. "The demands and aspirations of the people and the times change, so we can change the program to reflect that."
Dhaka, Dec 31 (AP/UNB) -Despite new rules addressing sexual assault among the children of U.S. service members, the federal government failed to fix a flaw that on many military bases has let alleged juvenile abusers escape accountability or treatment.
New records obtained by The Associated Press underscore how few child-on-child sex assault reports pursued by military investigators are prosecuted. That problem is most serious on U.S. installations overseas, where at least 47,000 children are enrolled in Pentagon-run schools.
Children and teens suspected of sex crimes on U.S. bases overseas often faced no legal consequences, such as court-ordered rehabilitation, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show. Those held to account were generally either kicked off base into the civilian world or received modest punishments, the records show.
One, for example, was told to write a 1,000-word essay about "the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching." Another avoided punishment by enlisting in the Army. A third, who was put on curfew after two girls accused him of sexual assault, was investigated a year later in an alleged rape, a case that also went unprosecuted.
Congress ordered internal investigations and mandated Pentagon reforms this summer after an Associated Press investigation revealed the problems of juvenile sexual assault on U.S. military bases, including the failure of the Defense and Justice Departments to help either victims or offenders.
One proposed reform would have required federal prosecutors with jurisdiction over civilians on base to transfer child-on-child sex assault cases to counterparts in state juvenile justice systems, which have resources dedicated to rehabilitation. But that requirement did not survive final negotiations over the legislation.
Federal prosecutors, under pressure to win big convictions, don't take juvenile sex assault cases because they can be hard to prove and require extra paperwork, former prosecutors say. Military officials privately bemoan what they see as the Justice Department's indifference while publicly noting their own limitations.
"We could bar that kid from being on post, or we could move the family from the post, but beyond that, the authorities really reside outside the military," Army Secretary Mark Esper told senators at a May hearing.
Representatives of the Defense and Justice Departments have been meeting for several months to resolve problems that AP's investigation highlighted.
Officials are "considering a range of options to ensure that these types of cases are effectively addressed," Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle told the AP. The idea is to use state courts when possible, he added.
That would not apply to U.S. installations in Europe and Asia, where U.S. officials can be reluctant to involve prosecutors from host nations.
AP's review of investigative reports in which military officials documented prosecution decisions found that about one in 10 on overseas Army, Navy or Marines bases were accepted from 2007 into 2017.
Weak cases don't explain the lack of prosecutions. Army criminal investigators concluded that nearly 90 percent of juvenile sex crime allegations on bases were credible, records show. Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents do not routinely record whether they believe allegations, but on the Navy and Marines bases where NCIS works, AP identified two dozen unprosecuted cases in which an alleged attacker confessed.
The Justice Department refused to share data on the prosecution of juveniles for sex crimes committed overseas. The department added that its lawyers decline to prosecute cases for many reasons, including strength of evidence, age of the suspect and severity of the alleged crime.
Congress acted in response to AP stories that identified nearly 700 cases of child-on-child sexual assault or rape on American military installations worldwide over a decade. Military investigators buried some cases, AP found, while many of those they investigated fell into the legal and bureaucratic netherworld.
Military lawyers cannot prosecute the civilian children of service members and contractors. Given the infrequency of federal prosecution, kids suspected of sexually assaulting other kids rarely get the kind of court-supported rehabilitation that research shows will prevent most young offenders from committing another sex crime.
Lawmakers directed the Pentagon's inspector general and the Government Accountability Office to investigate. They also ordered the Department of Defense Education Activity, which oversees the Pentagon's network of schools in seven U.S. states and 11 other countries, to create new policies to track and respond to reports of child-on-child sexual assault. Legal protections that students in U.S. public schools enjoy were extended to the military-run schools as well.
The AP's investigation also found that the military's Family Advocacy Program has denied services to sex-assault victims because their alleged attacker was not an adult. Spokeswoman Lt. Col. Carla Gleason said Pentagon experts are now "working on identifying gaps in our family advocacy processes and programs concerning problematic juvenile sexual behavior." Congress appropriated $10 million for family advocacy services over the next year.
In contrast, efforts to pressure the Justice Department to change the way it handles juvenile sex assault prosecutions have floundered.
When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., asked the Justice Department's inspector general to review why federal prosecutors rarely take such cases, Inspector General Michael Horowitz responded that any action would be premature, pending the outcome of the ongoing discussions between the Justice and Defense Departments.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the chamber's No. 2 Republican, had proposed requiring federal authorities to share legal jurisdiction over juvenile crimes with states. That proposal was watered down in negotiations with the House of Representatives, and the final bill that President Donald Trump signed in August contained language merely urging that such authority be shared.
Cornyn said in a statement he would "keep fighting to allow local prosecutors to pursue these cases so our most vulnerable and their families can get the justice they deserve." Spokeswoman Ryann DuRant said the senator will introduce similar legislation in 2019.
One of the rare cases in which federal prosecutors filed sexual assault charges against military kids involved a 10-year-old who was accused of abusing five younger boys at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.
The abuser was first reported in August 2010. Records show investigators didn't pursue a criminal case until a second report four months later. The boy was sentenced to probation and ordered to get treatment.
"He needed to go somewhere to be rehabilitated," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann DeMarais said during a court hearing this summer, after the boy landed in custody for a probation violation. "We know he can succeed and do really well in a controlled environment."