Tibetan Monk Immolates Self

BEIJING, Aug. 16 (UPI) — A 29-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk died after setting himself on fire in China to protest Chinese rule in Tibet, the Free Tibet advocacy group said.

The incident, also reported by China’s official Xinhua news agency, occurred Monday in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, the second self-immolation incident in five months, which The New York Times said pointed to Tibetans’ resistance to Chinese crack down of those supporting the exiled Dalai Lama, who fled to India after the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising.

Free Tibet, based in London, said the monk, identified as Tsewang Norbu, immolated himself on a bridge in the center of Daofu town, the report said. The region has a large Tibetan population.

Phayul.com, the exiled Tibetans’ Web portal, quoting a blogger and Free Tibet, reported Norbu began his protest by raising banners containing slogans calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Later, the report said, he drank and doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.

Monks from Norbu’s monastery reportedly took away his body to prepare for his last rites.

Norbu reportedly took the extreme step to protest China’s growing restrictions on religious freedom and the intensification of political indoctrination in Tibet.

Norbu’s death comes in the wake of the March 16 immolation by another monk, the Times said.

Following the March 16 incident, Chinese treatment of Tibetans became harsher — including a ban on celebration of the July 6 birthday of the Dalai Lama.

Caffeine May Lower Risk Of Skin Cancer

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Aug. 16 (UPI) — In a study involving mice, U.S. researchers found caffeine applied directly to the skin helped prevent ultraviolet light from causing skin cancer.

Allan Conney, director of the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and colleagues at the University of Washington said the study strengthens the theory that caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level by inhibiting a protein enzyme in the skin — ATR.

The genetically modified mice developed tumors more slowly than the unmodified mice, had 69 percent fewer tumors than regular mice and developed four times fewer invasive tumors, Conney said.

The study found when both groups of mice were exposed to chronic ultraviolet rays for an extended period of time, tumor development occurred in both the genetically modified and regular mice, indicating that inhibiting the ATR enzyme works best at the pre-cancerous stage, Conney said.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Police: Son Kills Father With Weed Whacker

WOODRIDGE, Ill., Aug. 16 (UPI) — A Woodridge, Ill., man has been arrested on a charge of killing his father with a weed whacker, police said.

Yashesh Desai, 21, allegedly beat his father, Sanjiv Desai, to death with a weed whacker Saturday while his father slept on a futon in their home, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Yashesh Desai’s brother called police early morning to report the slaying.

“Yesterday, Sanjiv Desai’s life was tragically taken from him, allegedly by his own son,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Sunday.

Neighbors said the father and son were nice people to live near.

“They were very outgoing people,” said Kirk Tolliver, 84. “I just can’t believe it. It feels like a bad dream.”

Yashesh Desai was being held on $2 million bail and was ordered by a DuPage County judge to undergo a psychological examination.

Administration Airs Plan For Rural America

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) — Initiatives offered by the White House Rural Council focus on increasing access to capital, job training and healthcare services, the administration said.

“These are tough times for a lot of Americans — including those who live in our rural communities,” said President Obama said in a release announcing the initiatives Tuesday. “That’s why my administration has put a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses and regain a sense of economic security.”

Release of the council’s recommendations coincides with Obama’s three-day, three-state bus tour in America’s midsection. On Tuesday, he hosts a Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa.

The administration has made creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America a priority and the council used an approach to “leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

“By bringing new capital, job training and additional investments to our rural communities, we are working to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future,” Vilsack said.

Capital going to rural businesses will be doubled through the Small Business Investment Company program at no cost to taxpayers, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills.

“Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas where they are creating jobs of the future and helping ensure the economic stability of the middle class,” Mills said. “The Obama administration and SBA have been committed to supporting rural businesses, which drive economic growth across the country and will continue to do so through the programs announced today.”

The council’s recommendations include committing $350 million in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of conferences to link private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups, creating capital marketing teams to advocate federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments, making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide, making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff, and helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT.

China’s Aircraft Carrier Ends Sea Trial

BEIJING, Aug. 15 (UPI) — China’s first aircraft carrier has completed its four-day maiden sea trial and returned to port for more refitting, Chinese media reported.

The giant platform was pulled back by seven tugboats into the northeast Dalian port Sunday morning, Xinhua reported, noting that while the flight deck and the radar system could be spotted, the vessel’s weapons system remained covered under tarps.

China, which purchased the refitted former Soviet vessel from Ukraine in 1998, began its first sea trials last Wednesday off the Dalian coast. Details of the sea trials or the vessel’s weapons system were not announced.

Earlier official media reports said the aircraft carrier will serve mainly as a platform for experiments and training.

China recently confirmed it was working on its first aircraft carrier after reports had been appearing about it. Its military experts have said country needs such carriers to safeguard national security and development as it is surrounded by foreign warships.

It is not clear how many aircraft carriers China plans to have eventually. Having the huge warships in line with China’s military buildup, though it is bound to further raise concerns of neighboring countries.

Japan’s ties with China are already strained over the Senkaku Islands, while Vietnam and the Philippines have seen their disputes with China in the South China Sea escalate. The program will also give China a carrier presence in the Pacific waters off its coast, The New York Times has said.

The United States has pointed to China’s lack of transparency about the carrier and other military additions.

Man Spends 5th Day Atop Tulsa Tower

TULSA, Okla., Aug. 15 (UPI) — A man police say has a history of mental illness Monday spent his fifth day atop a communications tower in Tulsa, Okla., as authorities waited below.

Police said William Boyd Sturdivant II was first spotted on the roof of the Clear Channel Communications building Wednesday. He was chased off but returned Thursday and climbed Clear Channel’s tower where he has been ensconced ever since, the Tulsa World reported.

Police Capt. Ryan Perkin said Sturdivant has been refusing food, water and cigarettes officers have been offering him, the newspaper said. Efforts by police and other agencies to coax him down have been fruitless.

“This situation is unusual,” Officer Leland Ashley said.

The World said court records show Sturdivant has previous convictions for second-degree burglary and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Bataan Death March Survivor, 105, Dies

NASHVILLE, Ill., Aug. 15 (UPI) — Albert Brown, who survived the Bataan Death March in the Pacific Theater during World War II, has died at 105, his biographer said.

Brown, of Pinckneyville, Ill., the oldest American survivor of the 1942 forced march that claimed the lives of as many as 11,000 Allied soldiers captured by the Japanese in the Philippines, died Sunday in Nashville, Ill., Kevin Moore, the author of a biography about Brown, told The New York Times.

The American War Library in California lists Brown as the oldest American veteran of World War II, though the Times said that could not be confirmed.

Brown was an Army captain when he and about 76,000 captured Americans and Filipinos were made to march 66 miles on the Bataan peninsula under horrendous conditions and brutal treatment by their Japanese captors.

Brown witnessed other prisoners shot to death and was regularly beaten during his three years in captivity. When freed after the Japanese surrender, the 6-footer weighed 90 pounds.

The Nebraska native was later promoted to major and spent two years in an Army hospital after the war. He moved to Los Angeles where he invested in real estate.

In the 1980s, he moved to Illinois to live with one of his children.

He is survived by two children, 12 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great-grandchildren. His wife of 58 years, the former Helen Johnson, died in 1985.

If Child Has Autism, Siblings May Too

NEW YORK, Aug. 15 (UPI) — Having one child with autism increases the risk of siblings having autism at a rate higher than previously thought, U.S. researchers suggest.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute, found 19 percent of younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder developed autism — a rate significantly higher than that of the general population — and if there were two children with autism spectrum disorder in the family, the risk of the third sibling developing autism spectrum disorder increased to more than 32 percent.

The study found that the risk of an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis for male infants who had an older sibling with autism spectrum disorder was almost three times greater than the risk for female infants.

The study did not find any increase in risk associated with the gender of the older sibling, severity of the older sibling’s symptoms, or other parent characteristics such as parental age, socioeconomic status or race/ethnicity.

“By pulling together data from many investigators who are studying infant siblings of children with autism, these results offer a more accurate estimate of the recurrence rate for autism in siblings,” Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer Autism Speaks, says in a statement. “Surprisingly, the rate is much higher than previous estimates. This points to the important need for closely monitoring and screening siblings so that they can be offered intervention as early as possible to ensure the best possible outcome.”

The findings are scheduled to be published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Russian Blogger Held In Moldova

CHISINAU, Moldova, Aug. 15 (UPI) — A Russian blogger will be held in a Moldovan prison for another 30 days for further investigation into his alleged involvement in 2009 riots, officials say.

Eduard Bagirov will remain jailed in Chisinau, Moldova, his lawyer announced Monday, ITAR-Tass reported.

“A court meeting was held urgently on Friday evening, unexpectedly for the defense. The reason given was to extend Bagirov’s detention to continue the investigation of his case,” the lawyer said.

Bagirov was arrested in Chisinau June 16 for suspicion of taking part in mass riots staged by liberal opposition after Communists claimed victory in the 2009 election.

“Pressure is brought on Bagirov and on others, who actively participated in the April events, so that they should admit their contacts with the opposition Party of Communists. The Russian writer is being compelled to give a written testimony that he had received instructions from me,” said Mark Tkachuk, former adviser to the Moldovan president.

La. Plant Closed While Fish Kill Probed

BOGALUSA, La., Aug. 15 (UPI) — A Louisiana paper mill is closed while environmental investigators try to determine what killed thousands of fish in the Pearl River, officials said.

A state Environmental Quality Department spokesman said Monday plant owner Temple-Inland was working closely with environmental officials to help get to the bottom of the fish kill, CNN reported.

Department spokesman Jeff Dauzat said the paper mill in Bogalusa had a problem with its wastewater equipment Aug. 9 and closed Saturday. WWL-TV, New Orleans, reported Saturday night Temple-Inland said it was possible the allowable discharge amount had been exceeded.

Community drinking water systems were not affected, state health officials said, but people were advised not to “come in contact with discolored water in the Pearl River and never collect dead or floating fish to eat.”

Dauzat suggested “people stay off the water” until the cause of the fish kill is determined.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said the dead fish include paddlefish, American eels, catfish, bass, bluegill and shad.