Briefs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 2:36am

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Philippines names first woman chief justice

MANILA - - Philippine President Benigno Aquino yesterday appointed Maria Lourdes Sereno as the nation's first woman chief justice, saying she was best suited to carry out his anti- corruption campaign and overhaul the judiciary. Sereno, a Supreme Court justice since 2010, was a legal counsellor at the World Trade Organisation's Appellate Body Secretariat in Geneva from 1998 to 1999, and taught law at the University of the Philippines for two decades until 2006. In May the Philippine Senate ousted Renato Corona, ex-president Gloria Arroyo's appointee, for illegally concealing his wealth. Bloomberg

S Korean activists visit North, pledge flood aid

SEOUL - South Korean activists visited North Korea, pledging aid following deadly floods in the communist state, after winning approval for the trip from Seoul's conservative government. A four-member delegation representing non-governmental organisations left for Kaesong, just across the border. The impoverished North is grappling with the after-effects of floods in June and July that killed 169 people and left about 400 missing. AFP

Cambodia limits fishing to protect river dolphin

PHNOM PENH - Cambodia will limit fishing in a zone in the Mekong River to protect critically endangered freshwater dolphins. The Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area will cover a 180-kilometre-long stretch of river from eastern Kratie province to the border with Laos, the government said. Fishing will still be allowed inside the zone but the use of floating houses, fish cages and gill nets will be banned as they risk endangering the dolphins. The government estimates there are between 155 and 175 Irrawaddy dolphins left in Cambodia's stretch of the Mekong River, while WWF last year put the figure at just 85. AFP

Scientists discover a rat that doesn't bite

JAKARTA - A unique new species of near-toothless rat that lives off earthworms and doesn't chew or gnaw has been discovered in Indonesia. The shrew-like animal with a long, pointed snout was described online in this week's British journal Biology Letters. Paucidentomys vermidax, which translates loosely to "few-toothed rat" and "worm eater", is the only rodent out of more than 2,200 known species that does not have molars and instead has bicuspid upper incisors, it said. The researchers said the discovery is important because it shows how rodents, which are known for biting and chewing, can evolve to survive in challenging environments. AP