Rice: More than promises needed to end violence

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says there has been progress in Darfur but the world will not accept mere promises from Sudan’s new government to halt the violence.

Rice planned to visit a Darfur refugee camp that houses more than 70,000 people on Thursday. She was to meet privately with female refugees to discuss their claims that they face violence and rape inside and outside the camp.

En route to Africa, Rice indicated it can be an awkward task for the Bush administration to both encourage the new Sudan government and hold it accountable for Darfur.

Speaking after a trade conference in Senegal on Wednesday, Rice said the unified government in Sudan offers new hope to end the death and violence in that province nearly a year after the administration first called the crisis there genocide.

War-induced hunger and disease have killed more than 180,000 people and driven more than 2 million from their homes since rebels took up arms in Darfur in February 2003, complaining of discrimination and oppression by Sudan’s Arab-dominated government.


Bird flu found in shipped frozen duck meat

The bird flu virus was found in processed frozen duck meat shipped for human consumption from China to Japan two years ago – another reminder of how easily the disease can cross borders and how hard it is to kill, health officials said Wednesday.

In a recent study published online in the journal Virology, a team of Japanese researchers reported a form of the H5N1 virus was found in duck meat exported from China’s Shandong province into Japan in 2003.

The World Health Organization said this was not the first time the virus has been found in processed meat, but it stressed the findings illustrate the virus’ strength and presence in Asian poultry stocks.

However, WHO said processed poultry meat poses no risk to consumers as long as precautions are taken during preparation, such as frequently washing hands and countertops and making sure all meat is thoroughly cooked and no blood remains.

“This is an indicator that H5N1 viruses are widespread in Asia in many different kinds of fowl,” said Bob Dietz, a spokesman for WHO’s Western Pacific Region.

“We know this virus to be a persistent, aggressive survivor. This study is another indicator of that.”


Protest of withdrawal fizzles amid heat

Withering heat and a massive display of force by Israeli soldiers and police Wednesday combined to melt the first massive nonviolent direct action by settlers and their supporters against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from all 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank.

As 5,000 to 10,000 anti-withdrawal demonstrators wilted in the sun for the third straight day at this protest encampment ringed by about 20,000 police and soldiers, it appeared the demonstrators’ campaign to derail next month’s planned evacuation of settlers was nowhere near its goal.

Late Wednesday night, police estimated that the number of demonstrators had dwindled to about 1,500, although organizers said many more than that were still present.