Thai police recruit dogs for bomb squad
In the wake of unprecedented New Year's Eve bombings in the Thai capital, police are recruiting pet dogs to bolster the thin ranks of its professional canine squads. And the response from pet owners has been good.
"These dogs will help the police dog unit, which is now short-handed," said police Colonel Khing Khwaengwisetchaicharn.
Police say they became aware of the need for more canine recruits after eight small bombs exploded in and around Bangkok at year's end, killing three people and injuring another 40. Police dogs are being used in the ongoing investigation and in sniffing out possible bombs in Bangkok.
Khing said so far the owners of 133 German shepherds and Labradors have stepped forward to offer their pets for a two-day basic training program.
Japan bird flu
Preliminary tests show bird flu killed 31 chickens at a farm in western Japan, a local government official said yesterday, the latest in a string of recent outbreaks among the country's poultry stocks.
Authorities expect to have definitive lab results showing whether the virus was the H5N1 strain that is harmful to humans after midday today, said state official Kohei Kurose.
Officials have begun sterilizing the farm in Takahashi, western Okayama prefecture, and neighboring farms have been asked to refrain from moving their chickens, he said.
All 12,000 birds at the farm will be slaughtered if the final tests come back positive, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement.
A pro-democracy activist has filed a defamation suit against more than 120 editors and publishers of local journals who published personal attacks against her, including linking her to a pimp, she said yesterday.
Naw Ohn Hla, a 45-year-old former member of the National League for Democracy, told The Associated Press that she filed the case Friday in response to "vitriolic articles" against her in 30 private publications. She is to appear in court February 13.
Naw Ohn Hla said some of the articles linked her to a well-known, now deceased pimp from an area of Yangon where she lives.
Naw Ohn Hla is one of a dozen women who visit Yangon's famous Shwedagon pagoda every Tuesday to pray for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest for 11 of the last 17 years. She is also involved in other political activities.
U.S. troops visit
Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, ate breakfast with soldiers from California yesterday and met briefly with top military leaders at the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan, an official said.
Pelosi and her congressional delegation stopped at the U.S. base in Bagram for about an hour, where she thanked soldiers from the 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne divisions for their service, said Lieutenant Colonel David Accetta, a U.S. military spokesman. She also spoke briefly with Major General Benjamin Freakley, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan.
Pelosi and her delegation were later expected to meet with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann.