By urging a referendum on a declaration of independence from China, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian earned a week of sound bites and fury from an agitated Beijing bent on reunification. Fiery threats of p.l.a. military action eased after conciliatory gestures from Chen, and the parties got back to the business of forging stronger economic ties.
"The P.L.A. is a great wall of steel capable of safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
China's Defense Minister, responding to Taiwan's latest pro-independence utterances
"It's a paltry honor. He's joining the brownnoses. I said, 'Hold out for the lordship, mate.'"
guitarist for the Rolling Stones, commenting on bandmate Mick Jagger's recent knighthood
"Iraq will chop off the head of anyone whose hand reaches its border."
Iraq's Foreign Minister, warning against any attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein by military invasion
"We are now shifting our main focus to mosquito surveillance."
Washington D.C. Health Department director, on efforts to contain the spread of the skeeter-borne West Nile virus
$22 million in donations to Washington, D.C.'s National Zoo were inspired by its popular giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian
1,100 giant pandas are left worldwide
22 hours of continuous surgeryóby a team of more than 50 specialists in Los Angelesówere required to separate two one-year-old Siamese twins conjoined at the head
$30 billion was granted to Brazil by the International Monetary Fund, the agency's largest single loan ever
$3.3 billion in additional bogus accounting was uncovered by WorldCom's internal auditors last week, bringing the total to $7.1 billion
44% is how much undergoing regular mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths, according to a new study
7 is the number of studies reviewed by Danish analysts who claim they have found no evidence to indicate that mammograms are beneficial
Researchers have discovered that the AIDS virus is growing resistant to the anti-HIV "miracle drugs" developed to suppress it. Some strains are increasingly immune to more than one drug
Accentuate the Negative
By HANNA KITE/Tokyo
In their continuing quest for respite from an economically induced malaise, Japanese consumers are now buying gadgets that promise to lift spirits by filling the air with negative ions. In case you have forgotten your high school chemistry, negative ions are charged particles released from H20 molecules when they collide. The air is normally full of them, and some claim the more there are, the merrier everyone isóthat negative ions are natural mood enhancers: relieving stress and even inducing weight loss. Manufacturers in recent months have flooded the market with devices that supposedly boost the negative-ion count, ranging from air conditioners and toothbrushes to vacuum cleaners, underwear and dog collars. Manufacturers estimate total annual sales in Japan could grow to several billion dollars annually over the next few years. All good, except there is no scientific evidence to prove negative-ion machines do much more than part the credulous from their cash. A similar craze hit the U.S. some four decades ago, but in 1974 the country's Food and Drug Administration determined health claims surrounding the products were bogus and barred related advertisements as fraudulent. Japanese companies are treading carefully. "We say there are lots of negative ions in nature, and our products increase the number of negative ions," says Panasonic spokesman Akira Kodota. "That's it." Tokyo resident Jyuichi Kobayashi, 33, has begun to doubt the value of the negative-ion bracelet he wears. "It isn't helping me sleep or get over my jet lag," he grumbles. "I guess you have to believe it for it to work." Our advice: just think negative.