Rabu, 9 April 2014

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Baby George has royal play day in New Zealand

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 10:40 PM PDT

Wellington (AFP) - Britain's baby Prince George hosted his first ever official function on Wednesday -- maintaining a regal calm on a play date with a group of New Zealand toddlers, even as some of the others burst into tears.

The eight-month old, whose parents Prince William and Kate began a tour of New Zealand on Monday, met 10 local babies at Wellington's Government House at a play session organised by non-profit childcare group Plunket.

George, who was born on July 22 last year, looked comfortable in the spotlight as his mother gently rocked him in her arms and chatted to his playmates' parents.

The babies sat in a room with a large portrait of George's great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II looking down from the wall, with cushions and toys scattered on the floor, including a giant blue teddy bear.

There were tears from some of the other infants as introductions were made but George, dressed in dark-coloured dungaree shorts and a white t-shirt, appeared calm even after dropping a toy to the floor.

Plunket president Tristine Clark said the babies were all roughly the same age as George and were born to first-time parents, just like William and Kate.

She said the parents were also selected to reflect the diversity of New Zealand society, including various ethnic groups and a same-sex couple.

"The parents are a spread of all the communities in New Zealand, including Maoris, Samoans, people of Chinese descent and gay couples," she said ahead of the session.

"This is a very multi-cultural country and we wanted the Duke and Duchess (of Cambridge) to meet people from all backgrounds."

Kate wore a simple black and white dress for the occasion, while William opted for an open-necked blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up as he sipped on a soft drink.

Plunket's Wellington manager Tina Syme said the event was designed to be fun for the royals, who said they wanted to meet as many locals as possible as they kick off their three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.

"We wanted something quite special for the duke and duchess, not just a meet-and-greet and shake hands but something that was actually really enjoyable for them as well," she said.

While the atmosphere was meant to be relaxed, Syme said the parents had been advised to address the royals as "Your Royal Highness" on the first instance, followed by their name after that.

She said the parents had also been told not to hesitate to intervene if a royal row erupted between the prince and some of his pint-sized subjects.

"They said what you do at a normal play group, you can do here. If you're the nearest parent and you need to intervene for a child's safety, then you would."

The New Zealand Republic lobby group said any of the 10 Kiwi babies at Government House would be better qualified as the country's head of state than George, who is third in line to the throne in both Britain and New Zealand.

"Baby George is as cute as any other baby... but unfortunately he cannot be New Zealand's future head of state, not unless he one day migrates to New Zealand and becomes a citizen," it said.

17 deaths reported in Japan after drug injections

Posted: 09 Apr 2014 05:47 AM PDT

TOKYO, April 09, 2014 (AFP) - The Japanese unit of major drugmaker Janssen Pharmaceuticals says 17 people have died after being injected with its drug to treat schizophrenia since it was launched in Japan last November.

The company, an affiliate of US-based healthcare giant Johnson and Johnson, advised medical workers in Japan to use the Paliperidone Palmitate medication with great care even though it was not know whether it had caused the deaths.

The drug, brand-named Xeplion, is estimated to have been used by 10,700 people since it was released in Japan on November 19, according to a notice posted on the Japanese unit's website and seen Wednesday.

The causes of the 17 deaths included cardiac infarction, pulmonary embolism and suffocation due to inhalation of vomit.

In many cases the deaths occured about 40 days after injections of the drug.

The notice advised doctors to "fully understand that the substance remains in the body for at least four months after being injected" and to stay alert for any side-effects.

It also asked them to refrain from using the medicine with other anti-psychotic drugs because the "effectiveness and safety" of such a combined application had not been established.

The use of Xeplion has been approved in 78 countries and areas of the world as of June 2013, the company has said.

India's mission to Mars crosses half-way mark

Posted: 09 Apr 2014 05:44 AM PDT

BANGALORE, India, April 09, 2014 (AFP) - India's first mission to Mars successfully crossed the half-way mark on Wednesday, four months after leaving on an voyage to the Red Planet scheduled to take 11 months, the space agency said.

"The spacecraft crossed the half-way mark Wednesday at 9:50am on its journey to Mars," the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement from the southern city of Bangalore.

"The spacecraft and its five scientific instruments are in good health."

The gold-coloured probe, the size of a small car, will aim to detect methane in the Martian atmosphere, which could provide evidence of some sort of life form on the fourth planet from the Sun.

The country has never before attempted inter-planetary travel, and more than half of all missions to Mars have ended in failure, including China's in 2011 and Japan's in 2003.

The low-cost Mars Orbiter Mission, known as "Mangalyaan" in India, was revealed in August 2012 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, shortly after China's attempt flopped.

The timing and place of the announcement - in an Independence Day speech - led to speculation that India was seeking to make a point to its militarily and economically superior neighbour, despite denials from ISRO.

NASA has also launched a spacecraft to Mars, on a mission to study how the air on the planet has changed over time, and is also expected to reach its destination in September.

India's mission cost 4.5 billion rupees ($75 million), a fraction of the cost of the US unmanned MAVEN spacecraft at $671 million.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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