May 30, 2007 in Nation/World

World in brief: Ex-drug regulator gets death penalty

The Spokesman-Review
 

A Chinese court ordered the death penalty against the country’s former top drug regulator Tuesday, convicting him of taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.

The sentencing of Zheng Xiaoyu came as the government announced plans for its first recall system for unsafe products.

The sentencing and the recall plan are among the most dramatic steps by China to address growing concern over Chinese goods – from pet food ingredients and toothpaste mixed with industrial chemicals to tainted antibiotics.

Zheng was convicted by Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court of taking bribes worth more than $832,000 while he was director of the State Food and Drug Administration, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Those bribes allowed eight companies to get around drug approval standards, it said.

TEHRAN, Iran

U.S. academic faces espionage charge

Three Iranian Americans, including U.S. academic Haleh Esfandiari, have been charged with endangering national security and espionage, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.

Esfandiari is the director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. She has been held at Tehran’s Evin Prison since early May. Her husband, Shaul Bakhash, said the allegations were “totally without foundation.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the treatment of Esfandiari and the other Iranian Americans “a perversion of the rule of law.”

GENEVA

WHO warns against water pipe use

Smoking from a water pipe may pose the same health risks as cigarettes, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, adding that there’s a need for more research into the link between hookahs and a number of fatal illnesses.

The hookah, used for centuries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central and South Asia, has become increasingly popular in the West.

The WHO, however, warned that using the water pipe to smoke tobacco is “not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.”

The WHO warned that using water pipes to consume shisha – a mixture of tobacco, molasses and fruit flavors – usually exposes a person to more smoke over a longer period of time than do cigarettes.


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