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PANAMA CITY, PanamaSearch for poisoning victims grows

Panamanian investigators asked health authorities Saturday to track down patients whose names appeared on 6,000 bottles of medication contaminated with a chemical commonly found in antifreeze and brake fluid.

The bottles were handed over to the government two years ago when at least 116 people died after taking poisonous cough syrup, antihistamine tablets, calamine lotion and rash ointment made at a government laboratory. The medicines were found to be contaminated with diethylene glycol that had been labeled as glycerin.

Investigators gave the Health Ministry a report on the 6,000 bottles in hope of determining how the patients were affected and if they still need treatment, the attorney general's office said in a statement.

Relatives of the victims question official estimates of how many people were sickened by the medicine, and say the death toll could be as high as 300.

SEOUL, South Korea

Workaholic ways aren't paying off

South Koreans are working up a lather over working too much.

They put in far more time on the job than citizens of any other free-market democracy. Compared to Americans, they average 560 more hours at work a year, the equivalent of 70 more eight-hour days. And that is down significantly from the go-go 1990s.

These numbers come from the 2008 Factbook of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 30 developed countries.

For South Koreans, the numbers are yet another reminder that when it comes to kicking back and taking it easy, many of them don't have a clue.

In the OECD, they rank second to last in leisure spending, first in suicide and last in bearing children. Despite the dearth of children, South Korea leads the OECD in per capita spending on private education.

It's not that they don't see what they are doing. In a nationwide poll last year, two-thirds of South Koreans admitted being workaholics.

Meanwhile, the South Koreans rank just 23rd when it comes to making money. The per capita annual income is $23,038, well below the OECD average of $31,468.

ANKARA, Turkey

Military claims

19 rebel deaths

Airstrikes launched in retaliation for a rebel raid killed 19 Kurdish fighters in Turkey's southeast, the military said Saturday, and six soldiers died.

The military initially said two soldiers were killed in the attack late Friday but later raised the death toll to six, saying four more troops died in Hakkari province.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, denied the rebel deaths, saying "not a single guerrilla was killed." Kurdish rebels have been fighting since 1984 for self-rule.

BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka

Election monitors find fraud, violence

Allegations of fraud, voter intimidation and sporadic violence marred elections in Sri Lanka's east Saturday despite the government's claims they would be a celebration of democracy for the region recently liberated from the Tamil Tiger rebels. The vote was intended to give minority communities a degree of self-rule and to counter rebel demands for an independent state. Independent monitors said the election went smoothly in some areas, but quickly unraveled in others.

Times wires

PANAMA CITY, PanamaSearch for poisoning victims grows 05/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:55pm]
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