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Workers in southern China, who say they were assembling Apple laptops and iPhones, have become seriously ill after using a dangerous chemical.
The Number Five People's Hospital in Suzhou has been treating workers who breathed in vapours from the chemical n-hexane.
According to the workers, the chemical was being used in the production of Apple products and has left them unable to walk.
The ABC's Foreign Correspondent snuck into the Number Five People's Hospital to visit a group of women who were working in a very small, badly ventilated factory.
They say they were using n-hexane to glue and polish the logos on Apple products - at least they assumed they were not fakes.
One had kept some of the logos they were using to prove that they were working on Apple products and showed them to the ABC.
After breathing in the chemical's vapours, they became dizzy and numb and eventually they could not walk.
"At first the symptoms were pretty obvious. My hands were numb. I could hardly walk or run," one woman told the ABC.
"I think they knew it was poisonous to human bodies but if they had used another chemical our output would not have increased," another woman said.
"By using n-hexane, it was much more efficient".
The women have now been in hospital for more than half a year.
The workers' boss, Zhong Jianxiang, was not available to be interviewed.
Apple, meanwhile, would not confirm it had sourced products from companies based in China, but said it had tightened its requirements regarding workplace safety at its suppliers.
'It's very painful'
Workers in much bigger factories have also reported similar stories.
The large Taiwanese-owned operation Wintek has 20,000 employees, and its main client is Apple.
"Our company mainly produces the touch screens for mobile phones. Our main client is Apple," one worker said.
Wintek has also been using n-hexane and, after breathing in the chemical, more than 60 workers had to be hospitalised.
"I am back at work but my symptoms are still with me," one worker said.
"My legs still hurt. This will accompany me for the rest of my life. It's very painful."
Wintek has paid its workers' hospital bills and said it had removed n-hexane from its production lines.
The World Bank (WB) paid 34,000 dollars for the purchase of carbon credit from the Humbo Community Based Forest Management Project, marking the first ever incident of carbon trade in Ethiopia.
The project was initiated by World Vision Ethiopia in Humbo, Wolayta Sodo, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) Regional State. This area is highly degraded where communities used to rely on cutting trees for subsistence. World Vision organised 800 members into seven cooperatives to be engaged in forest development with the purpose of making a living from carbon trading instead of the sale of firewood.
The Humbo Forest, which covers an area of 2,728ht, was the first large-scale forestry project in Africa to be registered by the United Nations (UN) under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. It was registered earlier this year with a promise that the BioCarbon Fund of the WB would buy credit for half of the 330,000tn of carbon the forest would absorb.
Carbon trading was conceived in response to increasing climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. These gases are largely emitted by countries in the developed world, with Africa contributing only three per cent to four per cent of global emissions.
Ongoing climate negotiations aspire to arrive at a binding agreement to force the main emitters to buy carbon credits from developing countries, the credit being the service provided by forests in absorbing carbon, hence reducing the level of emissions into the atmosphere. To date, all agreements have been on a voluntary basis lacking any mandatory elements. The purchase of credit by the WB falls in that category.
The WB has committed to buy a total of 726,000 dollars worth of credit, at four dollars per metric tonne, from the Humbo Project over 10 years, according to Hailu Tefera, manager of the Climate Change Programmes Department of World Vision.
The agreement for the sale of the credits was made between World Vision Ethiopia, on behalf of the seven cooperatives, and the WB. Humbo was selected because of its high level of degradation.
The WB's payment covers a period of 10 years, according to Edward Dwumfour, senior specialist of Natural Resources and Environment and Management of the WB.
The payment was made through World Vision Australia last week, which will pass it to the Ethiopia branch to be divided among the 800 members of the cooperatives.
"The price of four dollars is low because there is the risk of fire destroying the forest," Hailu said.
The cooperatives could make extra revenues by selling carbon credits from the remaining part of the forest to voluntary buyers as well as from the sale of timber from designated areas. The project also aims to recharge ground water; improve biodiversity; and reduce soil erosion, flooding, and drought.
World Vision Ethiopia intends to provide the Humbo with 100,000 cooking stoves, worth 16.77 dollars to 20.97 dollars each, which could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 60pc, according to Hailu.
After 10 years, half the trees will be cut for the stumps to grow new shoots and the timber will be sold and the revenues shared among the members of the cooperatives. The project started in 2006 with financial assistance of 700,000 dollars from the WB, which helped to plant 1.3 million seeds.
The H1N1 swine flu virus may be starting to mutate, and a slightly new form has begun to predominate in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, researchers reported on Thursday.
More study is needed to tell whether the new strain is more likely to kill patients and whether the current vaccine can protect against it completely, said Ian Barr of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia and colleagues.
"However, it may represent the start of more dramatic antigenic drift of the pandemic influenza A(H1N1) viruses that may require a vaccine update sooner than might have been expected," they wrote in the online publication Eurosurveillance.
It is possible it is both more deadly and also able to infect people who have been vaccinated, they said.
Flu viruses mutate constantly -- this is why people need a fresh flu vaccine every year. Since it broke out in March 2009 and spread globally, the H1N1 swine flu virus has been very stable with almost no mutation.
Scientists around the world keep an eye on all flu strains in case an especially dangerous new mutant emerges. While H1N1 turned out not to be especially deadly, it spread globally within weeks and killed more children and young adults than an average strain does.
WHO declared the pandemic over in August but H1N1 has now taken over as the main seasonal flu strain circulating almost everywhere but South Africa, where H3N2 and influenza B are more common. The current seasonal flu vaccine protects against H1N1, H3N2 and the B strain.
"The virus has changed little since it emerged in 2009, however, in this report we describe several genetically distinct changes in the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus," Barr's team wrote in the report, available at http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=19692.
"These variants were first detected in Singapore in early 2010 and have subsequently spread through Australia and New Zealand."
The changes are not significant yet, they said. But there have been some cases of people who were vaccinated also becoming infected, and also some deaths.
"Already this variant virus has been associated with several vaccine breakthroughs in teenagers and adults vaccinated in 2010 with monovalent pandemic influenza vaccine (protecting against only H1N1) as well as a number of fatal cases from whom the variant virus was isolated," they wrote.
But there is not enough information to tell whether there may have been other factors making the patients more vulnerable, they stressed.
"It remains to be seen whether this variant will continue to predominate for the rest of the influenza season in Oceania and in other parts of the southern hemisphere and then spread to the northern hemisphere or merely die out," they wrote.
WHO says 18,450 people worldwide are confirmed to have died from H1N1, including many pregnant women and young people. But WHO says it will take at least a year after the pandemic ends to determine the true death toll, which is likely to be much higher.
Seasonal flu kills an estimated 500,000 people a year, 90 percent of them frail elderly people, according to the WHO. The 1957 pandemic killed about 2 million people and the last pandemic, in 1968, killed 1 million.
Vinny Loves David Dees and discussed him on today's show......
David Dees began his airbrush art career in the fast paced world of corporate advertising. Begging his way onto a staff position at an Atlanta sweatshop, GraphicsGroup studios, Dees was soon dealing with cutthroat art directors from New York to Chicago, creating the eye catching visuals that sold everything from cartoon package designs on kids cereal boxes, to billboards of dazzling electronics, to the newest soft drink ads.
In the eighties, setting up freelance shop in Los Angeles, Dees had success with the movie industry, painting hundreds of video covers, movie ad campaigns, and store displays for his clients Paramount, Hanna-Barbera, and Walt Disney Studios.
Then, an interest in childrens book illustrations led to a long standing association with Sesame Street, where his colorful and wacky illustrations of Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and the muppets were featured in Sesame Street Magazine nearly every month for the last 15 years, including seven covers, and recently, four Sesame Street children books for Random House and Readers Digest Publishing.
These days, long since replacing the liquid airbrushed acrylic paint with photoshop digital art, high technology has revitalized the look and feel of his artwork.
Then, in 2006, Dees came up with an original style of political art commentary inspired by the 9/11 truth movement and a passion to fight the New World Order agenda. David began creating and releasing an endless barrage of aggressive, and sometimes disturbing, photo-illustration images throughout the internet in an attempt to wake others up about the onslaught of the elite's power hungry world government plan of domination. Sarcastic to the extreme, funny in the approach, most times visually horrifying, this wild new style of illustration screams out our serious world crisis situation in a visual instant.
Patriot heros like Hollywood film producer Aaron Russo who produced "America: Freedom to Fascism", radio talk show legend Jeff Rense, and the world renowned David Icke have all commented on this socially conscious illustration and were not shy in throwing around the term 'political art genius'.
What irony that all of David Dees' years of designing for big corporations trained an art monster who would now turn his creative power back against that very corrupt mainstream media.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of banning tall workers from attending a factory walkabout – because they will make him look too short.
The 5ft 5ins tall leader is alleged to have sent aides to the plant ahead of an official visit, to stop anyone over 5ft 6 ins from appearing alongside him.
The claims come just a week after Mr Sarkozy was reported to have banned tall bodyguards from his presidential protection team.
Mr Sarkozy, who wears platform heels to disguise his size, is due to visit the Turbomeca areonatics factory near Toulouse on June 22.
But local paper the Republique des Pyrenees said he sent two staff to there first to 'whittle out the tall ones'.
One unnamed engineer working there told the paper: "I am almost six feet tall, and I was told I was not allowed near the official reception group."
The paper commented: "It seems people at the factory decided it was better to yield to the president's wishes than face exile to the land of the pygmies."
Last year Mr Sarkozy was accused of deliberately picking short people to appear alongside him in TV footage on another factory visit. The claim was made by a woman who said she was chosen to stand next to the 5ft 5 ins French president when he visited Faurecia car plants site in Normandy because she was shorter than him.
The woman told the French media afterwards: "It was designed so that no one appeared bigger than the president.
"Access to the factory was restricted so that no one could be shown alongside him."
In May 2009 Sarkozy was pictured using a footstool to make a speech during the D-Day commemorations in Normandy.
The decision to use the six inch wooden box is said to have been made because he was using the same lectern as Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and Canadian premier Stephen Harper – all considerably taller than Sarkozy.
At 5ft 5ins tall in his bare feet, Sarkozy is even shorter than his famous predecessor Napoleon, who was an inch taller.
The president is also one of the world's shortest heads of state – only slightly taller than North Korea's Kim Jong-il and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, both of whom are 5ft 3ins tall.
The Elysee Palace has always denied any rumours Sarkozy hand picks short people at televised public appearances.
A pig born with only its two front legs has become a local celebrity in China after learning to walk.
The 10-month-old pig manages to balance and walk on her front legs even though she now weighs more than 50kg.
Named by villagers Zhu Jianqiang (strong-willed pig), the pig attracts crowds of visitors to its owner's home each day.
Wang Xihai, of Liuqiao village, Xincai County, central China's Henan Province, said it was one of nine born in a litter in January.
"My wife asked me to dump it but I refused, as it's a life," he explained.
"I thought I should give it a chance to survive, and amazingly it has."
Wang started training the two-legged piglet to walk when it was just a few days old by lifting it up by its tail.
"I trained her a little each day. After a month, she could walk upside down on her own," he said.
"A circus offered me a lot of money for her but I won't sell no matter what they offer."
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