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In Brief

In Brief

Bee sting therapy seen as ineffective

NEW YORK, New York

Bee sting therapy is not effective in treating the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), and does not improve quality of life, according to the first controlled study to investigate the alternative treatment in MS patients.

Patients with MS should not undergo bee venom therapy "unless better evidence to justify its use becomes available," warn Dr. Jacques De Keyser of the University Medical Center Groningen in The Netherlands and colleagues in the journal Neurology this month.

The popularity of the therapy for MS, frequently administered by practitioners without medical training or licensing, is on the rise, the authors note. But claims for its effectiveness are anecdotal and the treatment carries the risk of a fatal allergic reaction.

No-smoking 'candy'

SEOUL, South Korea

A North Korean drug firm claims to have developed a candy that suppresses the desire to smoke cigarettes and heals smoking-related diseases.

The white, round candy removes nicotine from the body, "lifts the love of cigarettes without adverse effects, improves the immunity and heals the diseases caused by cigarettes," Korea Pugang Pharmaceutic Co., Ltd. said on its English-language Web site.

The firm says the candy is made from "rare medicinal herbs" collected from deep mountains of northern North Korea in accordance with a therapy pioneered by an ancient Korean herb doctor.

The order form available at the Web site is written in both English and Korean, but doesn't give a price.

Gwen expecting

MIAMI, Florida

U.S. singer Gwen Stefani is expecting her first child, Us Weekly magazine reported yesterday.

Thirty-six-year-old Stefani, who usually sports avant-garde outfits, platinum blonde hair and flaming red lipstick, is married to Gavin Rossdale, 38, the former lead singer and guitarist of the British rock group "Bush."

The magazine quoted Rossdale's father, Douglas, as saying in an interview "We are delighted!"

When asked is she was excited about the coming addition to the family Stefani's mother, Patti, told the magazine "yes," but declined to elaborate.

Stefani herself said to Us Weekly from Orlando, Florida that she thought Gavin was going to be "the most incredible dad."

Diamond cake

TOKYO, Japan

The economy is finally picking up, and Tokyoites are in a spending mood this winter. So how better to celebrate Christmas than with a diamond-studded, US$1.7 million cake?

The sparkling pink creation, which went on sale Tuesday at Takashimaya Department Store in central Tokyo, "has already received many inquiries" from prospective customers, said store spokesman Takeshi Morinaka.

A total of 223 diamonds - including a 5-carat, heart-shaped stone - adorn the double-layer, marzipan-coated fruitcake, designed by Tokyo-based sweets chef Jeong Hong-yong.

"It's entirely edible, except for the diamonds of course," Morinaka said.

'Santa' spreads cash

LONDON, England

A "Parking Ticket Santa Claus" has been spreading cash as well as Christmas cheer around the English city of Birmingham, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The mystery Santa has placed Christmas cards containing 30 pounds (US$53) on the windscreens of drivers who have received parking tickets, the Daily Telegraph said.

"Don't let this ticket spoil your Christmas," declares a note in each card. "Here's to pay it off. Merry Christmas - Parking Ticket Santa."

Fourteen drivers are believed to have received gifts from the unseen Father Christmas.


Updated : 2021-03-03 13:27 GMT+08:00