Short items

Pipeline explosion kills seven   

An explosion caused by a ruptured  ammonium pipe in a chemical factory killed at least seven and injured three others, rescuers in Tianjin, China said. The blast happened at the workshop of Yikun Refined Chemical Industry Science and Technology. No ammonia was leaked, firefighters reported. The cause of the blast is being investigated.   
Shanghai Daily, 8 August 2006   

Environmental monitoring dropped from Nasa’s remit   

Nasa is no longer required to ’understand and protect’ Earth. Its mission statement was quietly altered earlier this year, and is only now causing excitement. The new  mission statement aims to fit in with President Bush’s goal of pursuing human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars, a Nasa spokesperson said. James Hansen, a Nasa climate scientist said the change might reflect White House eagerness to shift the spotlight away from global warming.   
New York Times, 22 July 2006   

Boost for Thai science   

Thailand’s four medals at the International Chemistry Olympiad could bring more  government funding to science. Prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra asked his science and technology minister to discuss the possibility of making state-run universities ’excellence centres’, with each university recognised for one particular science.   
TNA English News, 15 July 2006   

Blacklisted company denies weapons charge   

An Indian company, Balaji Amines (BA), has been blacklisted by the US for dealings with Iran, but denied supplying products that could be used in weapons of mass destruction. ’We have supplied only three products which are used in making life-saving antibiotics,’ BA commercial director D Ram Reddy said.    
DNA India, 5 August 2006