Beijing, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — Chinese state media say a total of 15 people have been detained in a growing scandal over the faking of records by a rabies vaccine maker.
Those detained include the CEO of Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd., which has been accused of fabricating production and inspection records following a surprise visit to company offices by inspectors last week.
The other 14 were also executives at the company, state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday.
Both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have demanded urgent attention to the matter, underscoring the government's concern over public outrage about a series of public health scandals, especially ones concerning children.
The World Health Organization applauded the government's action, saying it shows "when regulatory oversight works well, potential risks can be averted."
"While the current incident is clearly regrettable, the detection of this event by an unannounced inspection shows that the regulatory authority's system of checks and balances to protect population health is working," WHO's Beijing office said in a statement.
While there have been no reports of injuries, authorities have impounded the vaccines and suspended production at the company's plant in northeastern China.
The disclosure of the scandal has ricocheted around social media, reviving memories of past scandals involving faulty medications and bogus infant formula that contained little more than starch.
A similar scandal erupted two years ago after police broke up a criminal ring that sold millions of faulty baby vaccines — but did not disclose the case for months.
Kampala, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pledging to "intensify and deepen" the Asian country's engagement with Africa.
In remarks to Uganda's legislature, Modi said Wednesday that "Africa will be at the top of our priorities." He said India intends to open 18 embassies in Africa.
He extoled the ideals of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, saying: "India's freedom will remain incomplete so long as Africa remains in bondage."
India's government is planning to build a Gandhi heritage center at the source of the Nile River in eastern Uganda where some of Gandhi's ashes were immersed.
Modi earlier announced a $205 million loan to Uganda, to expand the electricity grid and boost commercial farming.
Later Wednesday Modi will attend a summit in South Africa of the BRICS emerging economies.
Islamabad, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — He's a thrice-married playboy who hangs out with Mick Jagger. But he's also an Islamist who has kept company with a cleric and spiritual adviser to many in Afghanistan's Taliban movement.
He has denounced Washington's intervention in Afghanistan, but also has criticized Pakistan's turn toward China, which has invested billions of dollars in the country.
Former international cricket star Imran Khan turned to politics more than two decades ago and may be on the verge of becoming Pakistan's next prime minister in Wednesday's parliamentary elections.
The 65-year-old opposition leader has disparaged liberals, attacked feminism, embraced radical religious parties and vowed to uphold Pakistan's blasphemy law. He enjoys the support of the country's powerful military establishment, although he has been known to go his own way.
Khan has led his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI, in widespread protests alleging ballot-rigging in the 2013 election, in which he received about 19 percent of the vote.
He also has seized on an anti-corruption message and led demonstrations against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, demanding a criminal investigation after leaked documents from a Panama law firm revealed that Sharif and his family had undisclosed assets abroad.
Sharif was convicted in one case of corruption involving the purchase of luxury apartments in Britain and is serving a 10-year sentence while awaiting an appeal. He also has been banned from running for office.
But Khan also has drawn criticism by having his party field candidates chosen not on merit but on their likelihood to get elected — the so-called "electables." Novelist Mohammed Hanif described in a recent column as "land-grabbers, feudal lords and rent-seekers" who know how to win at the ballot box.
Khan's priorities will be the economy, security and foreign policy, specifically Afghanistan and how to move forward with the U.S., said Mohammad Amir Rana, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies.
In an earlier interview with The Associated Press, Khan said U.S. President Donald Trump's policy on Afghanistan was "deeply flawed." He said U.S. attacks against militants in Pakistan won't end the protracted war in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year and the longest U.S. military engagement.
Trump "neither understands the history of Pakistan nor the character of the Afghan people," Khan said, He criticized the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, saying they kill innocent people and have failed to bring success.
"Drone attacks lead to collateral damage. If (they) were such a successful strategy, they would be winning the war," Khan said in the interview.
His critics have nicknamed him "Taliban Khan," a reference to his earlier support for negotiations with Pakistan's Taliban. He also has expressed admiration for the tribal system of justice that still regards women and young girls as property to resolve disputes.
Khan also has supported the blasphemy law, which urges that the death penalty be imposed on anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad. There has been widespread criticism of the law, saying it has been misused to settle personal disputes and to target minorities in Pakistan, where the mere suggestion of blasphemy can incite mob violence.
Khan enjoys almost mythical status in Pakistan after leading its cricket team to victory in the 1992 World Cup. Since then, the Oxford-educated athlete with the rugged good looks has parlayed his celebrity into a political career, founding the PTI in 1996 and espousing a message of change.
His married his first wife, wealthy British heiress Jemima Goldsmith, in 1996. They have two sons who live with Goldsmith, who has publicly supported Khan's political ambitions and praised his skill as a leader, even after their divorce in 2004.
His second wife, Rehman Khan, divorced him within a year and has recently written a book attacking him and members of the PTI.
Khan rarely responds to the gossip that relentlessly swirls around him, and over the years has become more conservative and religious.
He married his third wife, Bushra Maneka, earlier this year after dismissing months of speculation about it. After his marriage to Maneka, also known as Pinki Pir, was disclosed in February, he said he was drawn to the mother of five's spirituality.
Women's rights groups loudly criticized Khan's attacks on what he called Western feminism, saying it "degraded the role of a mother." Pakistani women took to social media to accuse Khan of pandering to his conservative religious base.
The new prime minister will have to address Pakistan's dire economy, including a dangerously low foreign exchange reserve, heavy debt load to China and others, and a currency that has fallen more than 20 percent recently against the U.S. dollar.
Khan has promised to create 10 million jobs and direct his efforts to Pakistan's poor.
Rana, the political analyst, said that as prime minister, Khan would have to reach out to China, even though he has criticized Beijing's massive construction project to link Pakistan's Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea to its northern border with China.
"When China's president was visiting, Imran Khan said 'China is not bringing prosperity in Pakistan. China is bringing another crisis,'" according to Rana.
Johannesburg, Jul 25 (AP/UNB)- Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday the world faces "a choice between cooperation and confrontation" amid a trade war with the United States that he warned would have no winner.
Those who pursue "economic hegemony" will "only end up hurting themselves," Xi said at the annual summit of the BRICS emerging economies, held this year in Johannesburg.
"Unilateralism and protectionism are mounting, dealing a severe blow to multilateralism and the multilateral trading regime," he added in remarks critical of escalating U.S. tariffs on goods from China, the world's second-largest economy, and other major trading partners.
Just hours earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump accused China of "vicious" tactics on trade, tweeting that China was specifically targeting U.S. farmers with retaliatory tariffs because "they know I love & respect" them.
The other leaders of BRICS countries — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazilian President Michel Temer — are expected to join the three-day summit. Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has also been invited.
Ramaphosa also expressed concern about "the rise in unilateral measures that are incompatible with World Trade Organization rules" and are especially damaging to developing countries.
Trump's comments on China came after his administration announced a plan to provide $12 billion in emergency relief for farmers who have been slammed by the president's trade disputes. China has retaliated to American tariffs with duties on some U.S. products.
The Chinese leader told the summit that "we are facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation, between opening up and a closed-door policy."
"The current international order is not perfect," Xi said, but it should not be discarded "as long as it is rule-based, aims to be equitable and pursues win-win outcomes as its goals."
Damascus, Syria, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) - A series of suicide bombings and attacks that sparked fighting between local armed groups in southern Syria killed around 90 people Wednesday, a local health official and activists said, spreading mayhem in a province that has been relatively quiet throughout Syria's seven-year conflict. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the carnage.
The coordinated attacks — the worst in recent months — had all the hallmarks of IS even before it claimed responsibility and were reminiscent of the group's horrific assaults over the past years in Syria, already ravaged by civil war.
The bombings in the city of Sweida, including a motorcycle bomber who struck at a busy vegetable market, were apparently timed to coincide with attacks by a militant group linked to IS on a number of villages in the province, also called Sweida. It triggered deadly clashes between pro-government fighters and residents who picked up weapons to defend their hometowns on one side, and IS militants on the other.
Al-Ikhbariya state-run TV showed images from several locations in the province and its capital where the bombers blew themselves up. State-run news agency SANA said 38 people were killed in the suicide bombings and blamed the Islamic State group. The breakdown of the fatalities from the attacks was not immediately known.
Sweida health official Hassan Omar told The Associated Press by phone that 90 people were killed in the suicide blasts and subsequent fighting in Sweida, and that 80 people were wounded. The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group put the overall death toll at more than 100.
The rare attacks in Sweida, populated mainly by Syria's minority Druze, came amid a government offensive elsewhere in the country's south. Government forces are battling the IS-linked group near the frontier with Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and near the border with Jordan. The group also has a small presence on the eastern edge of Sweida province.
IS has been largely defeated in Syria and Iraq, but still has pockets of territory it controls in eastern Syria and in the country's south.
The extremist group claimed responsibility for Wednesday's deadly attacks, boasting that it's "soldiers" killed more than 100 people in Sweida. In a statement posted on the group's social media channels, it said its militants carried out surprise attacks on government and security centers in Sweida, sparking clashes with Syrian troops and allied militias before detonating their explosive belts.
Since their offensive in June, Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have retaken territories controlled by the rebels along the Golan Heights frontier and are now fighting militants in the country's southern tip.
The death toll, initially reported at 27, quickly climbed. The Observatory also reported a series of suicide blasts and the clashes in the province's countryside. It said a total of more than 100 were killed in the blasts and the fighting, including civilians, pro-government fighters and IS militants.
An activist-operated media platform on Facebook, Sweida News Network said a local militia was fighting the advancing IS-affiliated group and that at least 30 militiamen were killed in clashes with the militants.
Al-Ikhbariya said one of the attackers hit at a vegetable market in the city of Sweida just after 5 a.m., a busy time for the merchants at the start of their day.
The bomber drove through the market on a motorcycle and there detonated his explosives, the TV station said. A second attacker hit in another busy square in the city. Two other attackers blew themselves up as they were chased by security forces, the TV said.
The city of Sweida has largely been spared most of the violence that Syrian cities have witnessed in the years since the conflict started in 2011.
For the southern offensive, government forces redeployed troops from Sweida province last month to attack rebels and IS-affiliate militants in the nearby provinces of Daraa and Quneitra.
The government is now in control of Daraa but continues to battle the IS-affiliate militants in Quneitra.