China executes British national accused of drug trafficking

A British man convicted of drug smuggling in China has been executed, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Akmal Shaikh, 53, of London, had denied any wrongdoing and his family said he was mentally ill.

The execution took place despite repeated calls from his family and the British government for clemency.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was appalled and condemned the execution “in the strongest terms”.

Mr Shaikh is the first EU national to be executed in China in 50 years.

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Japan’s jobless rate rises to 5.2 percent in November: govt

Unemployed Japanese people search through job vacancies at an employment bureau in Tokyo. Japan's unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in November from 5.1 percent in October, worsening for the first time in four months, the government said Friday.

Unemployed Japanese people search through job vacancies at an employment bureau in Tokyo. Japan's unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in November from 5.1 percent in October, worsening for the first time in four months, the government said Friday.

AFP – Japan’s unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in November from 5.1 percent in October, worsening for the first time in four months, the government said Friday.

The latest rate was in line with the average market forecast.

Figures released by the labour ministry showed there were 45 job offers for every 100 jobseekers in November, slightly up from 44 in the previous month.

Many Japanese companies, particularly exporters, moved swiftly to cut jobs and production in response to a slump in demand caused by the global economic downturn, which triggered Japan’s worst post-war recession.

Japan’s economy grew in April-June for the first time in five quarters on rebounding exports and government stimulus measures but deflation has emerged as a threat to the recovery.

The internal affairs ministry meanwhile said that the nation’s core consumer prices marked a ninth straight month of drops in November.

Quarter of Taiwan kids are fat or obese: doctor

AFP – Obesity rates among Taiwanese children now rival those in the United States with a quarter classed as overweight or morbidly fat, a doctor said Sunday after compiling island-wide figures.

The number of children in Taiwan classed as overweight or obese has surged from six percent a decade ago to 25 percent, not far off US levels of about one-third, said doctor Chu Nian-feng of Shuang Ho Hospital near Taipei.

After amassing health data from across Taiwan, Chu told AFP that as in the West, junk food, sugary drinks and lack of exercise were all to blame.

But Taiwan’s academic culture was also a factor with pushy parents keeping their children glued to school books rather than letting them play.

“Ten or 20 years ago, Taiwanese children took in 400-500 calories a meal, but now many kids eat 1,000 or even up to 2,000 calories a meal,” said the doctor, whose hospital is part of the Taipei Medical University.

“And they watch TV, play video games and computers. In such circumstances, how can they not become overweight?”

Overweight or obese children have a far higher risk of developing cardiovascular disorders later in life, Chu noted.

Japan’s factory output up 0.5 percent in October

Japan’s factory output edged up by 0.5 percent in October from September, marking an eighth straight monthly gain, official data showed Monday.

The growth extended the longest unbroken expansion since a 12-month climb through March 1997 but came below an average market forecast for a rise of 2.5 percent.

Japan posts 9.1-billion-dollar trade surplus in October

People cross the road in the Ginza shopping district in downtown Tokyo in July 2009. Japan on Wednesday posted a trade surplus for the ninth straight month in October, as the world's number two economy gradually emerges from deep stagnation, thanks to recovery in the rest of Asia.

People cross the road in the Ginza shopping district in downtown Tokyo in July 2009. Japan on Wednesday posted a trade surplus for the ninth straight month in October, as the world's number two economy gradually emerges from deep stagnation, thanks to recovery in the rest of Asia.

AFP – Japan on Wednesday posted a trade surplus for the ninth straight month in October, as the world’s number two economy gradually emerges from deep stagnation, thanks to recovery in the rest of Asia.

The latest trade surplus came to 807.1 billion yen (9.1 billion dollars), a sharp rebound from a trade deficit of 75 billion yen registered a year ago, the finance ministry said.

But the nation’s trade activities remained weak with exports in October falling 23.2 percent to 5.31 trillion yen from a year ago, led by shrinking exports of vehicles and steel, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, imports tumbled 35.6 percent to 4.50 trillion yen, weighed on by fewer energy imports, such as crude oil and liquid natural gas, the ministry said.

Japan’s trade surplus with Asia rose 82.3 percent to 827.0 billion yen, with exports falling 15.0 percent while imports fell 30.0 percent.

Against China, Japan logged its fourth straight monthly trade deficit of 26.2 billion yen.

Japanese exports to China fell 14.3 percent to 993.4 billion yen, although exports of auto parts rose 32.1 percent.

Chinese imports to Japan dropped 26.6 percent at 1.02 trillion yen.

Meanwhile, Japanese trade surplus with the United States marked 26 straight months of decline, falling 27.7 percent in October to 369.6 billion yen.

Against the EU region, Japanese trade surplus in October fell 40.8 percent to 210.8 billion yen, falling for 14th straight month.

Japan braced for strong typhoon

Japan is bracing itself for what could be its most powerful storm for more than ten years.

euronews channel-Meteorologists say Typhoon Melor could bring with it gusts of wind in excess of 200 kilometers per hour, as well as rain of up to 50 centimeters in the next 24 hours.

Melor is not expected to reach Japan’s main island, Honshu, until Thursday but the country’s smaller islands to the south are already being hit.

Hundreds of domestic flights have been cancelled, electricity has been cut to some communities and roofs have been ripped off by the strong winds.

Many residents fear a repeat of a typhoon five years ago that struck at the same time of year and claimed the lives of 95 people.

Health officials fear disease in quake-hit Indonesia

Public health officials fear the outbreak of disease in Indonesia’s quake-hit West Sumatra Province.

Six days after the earthquake devastated Sumatra, search and rescue efforts have been shelved in major cities.

euronews channel-Attention has now turned to survivors. In the port city of Padang hundreds of volunteers sprayed buildings with disinfectant in an attempt to ward off any deadly germs.

Clean drinking water is of paramount importance.

Patrick Fuller from the Red Cross said: “If people don’t have clean water and they are drinking dirty water, then, yes, there are health problems with that. So things are slowly normalising, electricity is coming back but our concern is still getting to people in villages, in the rural areas, who have not yet been reached.”

Aid is now pouring into the area, but the scale of the disaster, heavy rains and shattered infrastructure mean that help is slow in reaching those who need it, sparking anger among the locals.

People are looking for ways of helping themselves like begging.

“We will use the money to buy fuel for the generator and chillies for our cooking,” said one boy.

The number of victims stands at 625 dead and 295 missing but Indonesia’s health minister has warned it may rise to as high as 3,000.