School Meal Kills at Least 22 Children in India
At least 22 children have died and dozens others were taken to hospital in the Indian state of Bihar after eating a school meal, with medical teams suspecting that the food had been laced with insecticide. All of the children, aged four to 12, fell ill on Tuesday after eating a meal consisting of rice, soybean and pulses in a school in the district of Chapra. The meal was free and part of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, a government feeding program that provides meals for up to 120 million children. “We feel that some kind of insecticide was either accidentally or intentionally mixed in the food, but that will be clear through investigations. We prepared antidotes and treated the children for organic phosphorous poisoning”, said R.K. Singh, a medical superintendent at the children’s hospital in Bihar’s state capital, Putna.
Cuba Says Weapons on N.Korean Ship Were Bound ‘For Repairs’
Cuba has claimed that the weapons seized in the cargo hold of a North Korean ship searched while in transit through the Panama Canal were “to be repaired and returned to Cuba” by North Korea. A statement published by Cuba’s Foreign Ministry in the country’s main newspaper, Granma, stated that the majority of the ship’s cargo was indeed of Cuban sugar, but that, “in addition, the Chong Chon Gang was also transporting 240 metric tonnes of defensive and obsolete weaponry, namely two Volga and Pechora anti-aircraft guns, nine missiles in parts and pieces, two Mig-21 Bis and 15 engines for these aircraft, all manufactured in the last century”. The note ended by saying that Cuba “reiterates its firm compromise with peace, disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and respect for international law”.
US-Russia Relations Above Snowden ‘Squabbles’, Says Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that his country’s ties with the US are more important than “squabbles between special services”, referring to the plight of US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, currently awaiting the fate of his asylum application while living in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. When asked if Russia would attempt to control Snowden’s activities if he was granted asylum in Russia, Putin said that he wouldn’t go into details, adding that “we have warned Snowden that any activity of his that could damage US-Russian relations is unacceptable for us. As I understand, Snowden didn’t aim to spend his whole life in Russia. I don’t understand how a young man decided to do what he did, but it’s his choice”.
New Baseline Exams Will Not Turn Schools into ‘Exam Sausage Factories’, Says Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader Nick Glegg has denied British schools will be turned into “exam sausage factories” by the government’s plans to toughen tests aimed at primary school students. He said children “need to have some baseline assessment at the beginning of primary school so you can compare that to how they do at the end. That is one of the things we are consulting on today”. Five and eleven-year-olds are to be tested by the baseline examinations at either end of their primary school education to see how they have evolved and if they are prepared for secondary school. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that “given that approximately 20% of children have some form of special needs, this new target will doom many of them to ‘failure’”.
Extra Police Called into N.Ireland to Quash Loyalist Rioting
An additional 300 police officers from across the United Kingdom have travelled to Northern Ireland after a fifth successive night of rioting in Belfast following disputed loyalist Orange Order parades. The trouble began on Friday, when Orangemen were prevented from marching through a republican area in Ardoyne on their way home from Orange Order commemorations. The additional officers will raise the number of deployed policemen from outside Northern Ireland to 600, denoting the stress put on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) by the riots. Around 35 petrol bombs were thrown at officers by loyalists in Belfast on Tuesday night, with six cars and a moped also set alight by the crowds. A total of 62 people have already been arrested in the province since Friday night for public order offences.