World

There is no need for panic over the spread of bird flu in Turkey, the UN's World Health Organization said Wednesday. But its director cautioned that "the risk is global [and] we need to exercise solidarity" in efforts to control the spread. Dr. Marc Danzon said there are no signs that the deadly strain of the virus is being transmitted among humans "through a mutation that could cause a pandemic." Three people in Turkey have died from the illness and medical tests indicate that at least 12 others are infected. Danzon also said there is no reason for foreign governments to ban or discourage travel to Turkey by their citizens. Infected birds have been found in 30 of Turkey's 81 provinces, among them the cities of Ankara and Istanbul and the Aegean coast, the main tourist destination.

A news conference reportedly has been promised Thursday by the famous South Korean scientist who faked his research on embryonic stem cells. Hwang Woo-Suk has been in seclusion since resigning his post at Seoul National University after a special investigative committee accused him of responsibility for fabricated data in papers on his work. The government stripped him Wednesday of the distinction of "supreme scientist," which carried the promise of up to $5 million a year in subsidies for further research, and sent agents to seize materials that could serve as the basis for a criminal prosecution. Also Wednesday, the university's president apologized for what he called Hwang's "unwashable blemish on the whole scientific community as well as our country." Other researchers involved in Hwang's work also may be punished, Dr. Chang Un-Chan said. Still, hundreds of supporters of the disgraced scientist held a candlelight rally in Seoul Tuesday night.

Prosecutors in London opened the long-awaited trial of radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri by pledging to play for the jury recorded sermons that fomented racial hatred and encouraged his followers to murder Jews. The tapes were found in the home of the former Finsbury Park mosque leader. The prosecution rejected claims that its case is an attack on freedom of speech, saying, "The right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins." Al Masri has pleaded innocent. He also is wanted in the US for conspiring to provide material support for Al Qaeda.

With the second of two nationally televised debates behind him, opposition leader Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party were nearing a level of support in the polls that would win them a majority in Canada's Parliament Jan. 23. The Toronto Globe and Mail said Wednesday that its latest opinion survey gave the Conservatives a 38 percent to 28 percent lead over the Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Paul Martin. That represents a 1 percent rise over the newspaper's last poll, which showed the Conservatives at 37 percent Monday. A 40 percent showing on election day is considered the threshold for a majority. Ominously for the Liberals, the Globe and Mail said, Harper's party has surged ahead of the Liberals for the first time in Quebec, a province that long has been wary of Conservatives. On Tuesday, a poll published in the rival Toronto Star put Conservative support at 39.1 percent.

An angry President Viktor Yushchenko accused Ukraine's parliament of destabilizing the country by voting to oust the entire cabinet. Yushchenko called Tuesday's vote over the controversial natural gas deal negotiated with neighboring Russia "illogical and wrong." The deal almost doubles the price Ukraine will pay for imported gas, but Yushchenko expressed satisfaction with it. Ukrainians are due to elect a new parliament in March.

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