World briefs 080702

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Taiwan could face 'use of force' by China

BEIJING -- Taiwan faces a possibility of military action by the mainland if "radical pro-independence moves" continue on the island, the Chinese government warned Wednesday through its state-run media.

There is a growing possibility that "peace will have to be safeguarded and won through the use of force," a newspaper article said, quoting what it called a "senior military source."

The carefully worded article came just days after Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian angered Beijing by saying Taiwan might "walk its own road" and is, like China, a separate nation. The communist Chinese government regards Taiwan as part of its territory and considers unification the most sensitive issue it faces.

The article ran Wednesday in two top state-controlled outlets -- the China Daily newspaper and the Web site of People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper.

Water cannons disperse protesters in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Police used water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters who stormed parliament Tuesday to demand sweeping constitutional reforms, including the right to elect the president directly and an end to the military's role in politics.

It was the third day of demonstrations in front of the heavily guarded parliament, where lawmakers were holding their annual two-week meeting.

About 7,000 people, most of them students, demanded the 700-member body introduce direct presidential elections and eliminate a block of 38 seats reserved for the military. The president is currently chosen by the assembly, which serves as an electoral college.

When protesters began rocking the gates and throwing plastic water bottles at officers, three water cannons were used to disperse them.

Scientists grow stem cells on human tissue

SINGAPORE -- Scientists in Singapore say they have grown human stem cells on human muscle and tissue instead of using mouse cells in a lab dish.

The development could open the door for speedier approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in human clinical tests involving stem-cell therapies, said officials with ES Cell International, which reported its breakthrough in a scientific journal.

Human embryonic stem cells are master cells that can grow into almost any tissue in the body. Scientists hope to use them one day to cure diseases.

Typically, stem cells are nurtured in lab dishes with the help of irradiated mouse feeder cells. The irradiation kills some germs, but may not kill viruses.

Bus crash in Mexico kills 35, injures 16

MEXICO CITY -- An old-model passenger bus crashed into a toll booth on a western Mexico highway Tuesday after its brakes apparently failed, killing 35 and injuring 16.

The 1976-model bus had picked up passengers in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero and was heading to the city of Guadalajara when it failed to stop and slammed though a toll booth and into a containment wall on a highway in Zinapecuaro, Michoacan, 110 miles west of Mexico City.

Passengers were flung from the bus' windows as a result of the crash. The dead included at least 10 children, officials said.

Items seized from charity show it backed Hamas

BERLIN -- Items seized from an Arabic charity's offices in Germany support the contention that the group was funneling money to the radical Islamic movement Hamas, the interior minister said Tuesday.

Police seized computers and more than 150 crates of documents at the Aachen offices of the Al-Aqsa organization on Monday after the government banned it under a post-Sept. 11 law targeting religious organizations that support extremism or terrorism.

The group's leader has denied the accusations, saying it only provides assistance, such as food medicine and clothing, to needy Palestinians.

But Interior Minister Otto Schily said documents found in the group's headquarters support the government's belief that the charity was assisting Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for many deadly suicide attacks in Israel.

-- From wire reports

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