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|September 4-10, 2008
Anthrax hits Russian village
NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia — Quarantine has been declared in a village in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan in the southwest Urals after several humans were infected with anthrax, a spokesman for the consumer rights regulator said.
Rospotrebnadzor said the measures were announced after 10 residents of the village, Ural, located in the Yanaulsky district, were hospitalized.
The spokesman said the residents fell ill after eating meat from an infected horse that had been killed two weeks earlier without any veterinary tests. The meat has been destroyed, and specialists are looking into how the horse became infected.
Livestock has been banned from entering or leaving the village, and all local retail sales of meat have been suspended.
British galleries try to keep artwork
LONDON — Two leading galleries in Britain are trying to unite efforts to keep the works by Italian Renaissance artist Titian for the nation, they said in a statement.
The National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery of London are collecting money to buy two masterpieces, “Diana and Actaeon” and “Diana and Callisto,” valued at $180 million.
The paintings are part of the historic Bridgewater collection, which has been on permanent display since 1945. The collection’s owner, the Duke of Sutherland, the 5th Earl of Ellesmere, announced his intention to sell off the paintings to private collectors after a “prudent review” of the family assets.
Fake sperm whale on display
BRUSSELS, Belgium — A 16-meter artificial sperm whale created by Belgian artist Dirk Claesen and placed on the bank of the River Scheldt in Antwerp has taken locals by surprise, national media reported.
The work of art, weighing 1.5 metric tons, is made of wood, aluminum and plastic. The animal has been filled with rotten fish to emulate the smell of a real dead whale.
“We wanted to show people the mystery of a monster that has just emerged from the sea. We did this to see their reaction,” said Bart Van Peel, who came up with the idea for the whale.
Merkel worlds’ most powerful woman
NEW YORK — Forbes magazine has rated German Chancellor Angela Merkel world’s most powerful woman for the third year in a row, beating a pair of U.S. officials and a host of business leaders.
The magazine, which ranks 100 most powerful women for the fifth time this year, takes into account their “public profile — calculated using press mentions — and financial heft.”
Number two is Sheila Bair, the 19th chairman of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., praised by Forbes for trying “to stave off financial panic amid a worldwide credit crisis.”
Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, came in seventh, behind the CEOs of food and beverage multinational PepsiCo, U.S. health insurer Wellpoint, mining giant Anglo American, and Kraft Foods, while Queen Elizabeth II was ranked 58th this time.
Russia faces sanction over Georgia
MOSCOW — EU countries are considering imposing sanctions on Russia over the Georgia crisis, the French foreign minister said.
“Sanctions are being considered, as are many other measures,” said Bernard Kouchner. He had earlier said that sanctions against Moscow were not on the agenda.
France, which holds the EU rotating presidency, has called an emergency EU summit on Monday to review relations with Russia.
Russia officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia despite Western warnings, saying the move was needed to protect the regions following Georgia’s August 8 attack on South Ossetia.
Kouchner gave no details of any possible sanctions, however. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented that the Russian authorities had heard nothing about any EU sanctions against Russia.
China backs Russia for 2014 Olympics
DUSHANBE, Russia — The president of China told his Russian counterpart that his country would continue to support the decision to hold 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s resort city of Sochi.
Some western politicians, particularly U.S. lawmakers, proposed depriving Russia of the right to host the 2014 Olympics following its involvement in the conflicts between Georgia and its breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
“I want to reassure you that China will be firmly supporting Russia in hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games,” Hu Jintao told Dmitry Medvedev. “We are ready to develop further cooperation with Russia on the organization of the Olympic Games.”
The two presidents met as regional leaders gathered in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, for the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security bloc including four former Soviet Central Asian states.
Artic sea ice shrinking
MOSCOW — Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its second lowest level since the start of satellite observations of the territory, and could melt further to exceed the 2007 record, a U.S. research group said.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center said on its website that the ice has melted beyond the 2005 minimum of 2.05 million square miles. The figure arouses particular concern, as this summer has been comparatively cold, suggesting that the shrinking of the ice is gathering momentum.
The center said that “through the beginning of the melt season in May until early August, daily ice extent for 2008 closely tracked the values for 2005,” but that the swift decline has continued through August, unlike in 2005.
Space Station avoids space garbage
MOSCOW — The International Space Station’s orbit has been adjusted to avoid a cluster of space garbage, Russia’s Mission Control Center said.
“Information on a possible collision was received from Russian and American services... and was used by the MCC specialists to perform calculations for an ISS orbit adjustment,” mission control said.
It said that the engines of the Jules Verne Automated Transport Vehicle docked to the space station were activated to lower the station’s orbit by 1 mile to 220 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Bear attacks and injures three
KRASNOYARSK, Russia — Four people were injured when a bear went on the rampage in a village in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, East Siberia, a police spokesman said.
“A bear came out of the forest and attacked three locals near a house. One woman is in intensive care in a serious condition, two others — a man and woman — were also injured in the attack. A little later the bear attacked a pensioner. The man was taken to hospital,” said the spokesman.
The bear was tracked and killed by police in one of the village streets.
Georgia may sever ties with Russia
TBILISI, Georgia — Georgia may sever all diplomatic relations with Russia, Reintegration Minister Timur Yakobashvili warned.
“We will drastically cut our diplomatic ties with Russia, up to consuls or envoys,” he said, adding that Tbilisi would consider a complete termination of relations with Russia.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees recognizing the separatist Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a move that has caused outrage in Georgia.
“But accounting for the fact that a great number of Georgians live in Russia, there would probably be no such decision,” Yakobashvili said. “We want to act in a civilized way and not throw stones.”
Chemical blast in China kills 18
BEIJING — The death toll following an explosion at a chemical plant in southwest China has reached 18 with 60 people injured and two workers still missing, local media said.
Two of the dead have yet to be formally identified, but 16 of the bodies are reported to be plant workers. The plant owner said that two employees are still missing following the fire, which occurred in the early morning on Tuesday, Aug. 26, in Yizhou city, in Guangxi province.
Firefighters tackling the blaze managed to extinguish the fire Tuesday evening. The regional environmental department said no chemical leaks had occurred at the plant, which mainly produces chemicals for adhesives and paints.
Earthquake rocks Siberia
IRKUTSK, Russia — A strong quake hit southern Siberia cutting off power supplies and causing minor damage to buildings. No casualties were reported.
The quake struck the Irkutsk Region with the epicenter near Lake Baikal, where it measured over 7 on the Richter scale. Tremors were also felt in other Siberian regions, a regional seismological center in Irkutsk said.
Preliminary reports said in Irkutsk, power and communication supplies were damaged. Minor cracks appeared in the walls of several residential buildings and two hospitals.
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