|Friday, May 26, 2000,
2 scribes die in Sierra
Gorbachev registers new Russian
Armed clashes kill 18 in Columbia
USA warns Pak on fresh N-tests
Russia back-tracks on Afghan
Cardiac arrest? press the chest
Doctor indicted on
Charges against Tripp dropped
Plea to declare Pak terrorist
2 scribes die in Sierra Leone ambush
FREETOWN, may 25 (AP) A cameraman for Associated Press Television News and a Reuters correspondent, both renowned for covering the worlds most dangerous conflicts, were killed when gunmen ambushed their vehicle in Sierra Leone, us officials said.
Un Secretary-General Kofi Annan blamed yesterdays attack on suspected rebels.
Spainiard Miguel Gil Moreno de Mora, (32), of the APTN and Washington native Kurt Schork, (53), of Reuters, died after they were hit near Rogberi Junction, an area hotly-contested in recent days by pro-government forces and rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, journalists said.
Two more Reuters journalists, South African cameraman Mar Chisholm and Greek photographer Yannis Behrakis, suffered slight injuries in the same attack.
Escorted by at least 10 pro-government soldiers, Gil Moreno de Mora and Schork were travelling in two vehicles when the group was ambushed. The two injured lensmen were able to flee the scene of the attack on foot.
Us State Department acting spokesman Philip Reeker confirmed the attack and sent the departments condolences to the victims families. "We condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms," he said.
Gil Moreno de Mora was the 25th AP journalist to die in the line of duty in the organisations 151 years. He had covered conflicts in Kosovo, Chechnya, Iraq, Congo and other parts of the world for the APTN.
REUTERS adds: The United Nations has sent home the first coffins from its ill-starred mission in Sierra Leone, carrying the bodies of three slain Nigerian peacekeepers.
Indian Major-General Vijay Kumar Jetley, UN Commander in Sierra Leone, laid a wreath and saluted the coffins, draped with UN flags and laden with floral tributes. A bugle band played the last post.
In neighbouring Liberia,
President Charles Taylor, trying to negotiate the release
of more than 250 UN peacekeepers held hostage in Sierra
Leone by rebels, said detained rebel leader Foday Sankoh
had to be involved in efforts to defuse the crisis.
Gorbachev registers new Russian party
MOSCOW, May 25 (Reuters) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev today officially registered his Russian Social Democratic Party saying that he wanted to support liberal ideas and end extremism.
Mr Gorbachev, 69, formed the Social Democratic Party in the run-up to last Decembers parliamentary election although the party did not run. Its registration by the Justice Ministry as a national party paves the way for it to contest future elections.
"Just the idea of social democracy will help deliver the country from extremes, integrating liberal values and taking the best of the past," Mr Gorbachev told reporters. He said he wanted to create a large, popular and "very democratic" party.
Although, popular abroad for his role in ending the cold war a decade ago, Mr Gorbachev has become a marginal figure at home. The death of his wife, Raisa, last September prompted a wave of sympathy from Russians thus increasing his public profile.
Last month he agreed to head a Media Monitoring Group sponsored by NTV after gun-toting police raided the headquarters of the stations parent company, Media-Most.
Many commentators saw the raid as a blow to press freedom, although the police said it was part of a bona fide criminal investigation.
Mr Gorbachev said the jury was still out on whether President Vladimir Putin, elected on March 26, was endangering free speech.
"Its still early, theres a lot we still do not know, although some steps allow us to raise questions...for example whats happened to the press," he told reporters.
"If they try to
control the press, it will be bad for the powers that be.
On the other hand, if the new President orients himself
to what the people who elected him want, then he can
expect a free press," he said.
Window on Pakistan
PAKISTAN'S military ruler, Gen Parvez Musharraf, though jubilant over the recent Supreme Court verdict legitimising his regime for at least three years and even more if need be, is currently having a real taste of a massive protest by traders. Their strike, held the other day, was the biggest organised challenge to the spendthrift military rulers.
Traders, big and small, and cottage industrialists protested vehemently against the attempt by the military regime to survey their business and impose a general sales tax. In India, too, at times the traders, faced with similar attempts by the tax collecting authorities, indulge in some kind of protest and blackmailing tactics, but a total strike is a far cry. Most Pakistani newspapers reported last week that the traders were in no mood to give up and were determined to stop the survey. The General is also equally determined to carry on the survey and make fresh assessments of the tax liability.
Pakistan has a large and booming black market economy. It comprises trade in the contraband like hashish, marijuana, electronic goods and fire-arms, and a trade volume of $ 60 billion per year which goes unchecked and untaxed.
Mr Mansoor Ali, chief economist of a stockbrokering firm in Karachi, feels strongly that this black economy must be brought under check. The survey would reveal its real face. Once it is complete, the government can keep strict vigil. He agrees that the general sales tax at the current level of 1 per cent is a moderate incision into the huge body of the black market, yet it is important for the government. He is backed by the governments own economists.
The traders may also not have that kind of public support although their own number is large. They constitute the most vocal section and have rarely paid any tax. When jailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to impose some kind of a tax in October, 1999, the traders flexed their muscles and got away by paying a one-time tax. Mr Sharif, one of their ilk, had no other way.
But to thwart this strike and subdue the rebellious trading community, that also has the backing of certain politicians and fundamentalists who collect funds from them in the name Jehad, is imperative for the military junta. If it fails, it will send signals to others to take to the streets. Muslim League and Pakistan Peoples Party leaders are just waiting for that opportune moment.
But, more importantly, if the new government is not able to survey the potential tax payers and impose the tax, it would be well nigh impossible for it to get any relief from the International Monetary Fund. It is one of the most important conditionalities. General Musharraf must collect at least 1 per cent of this huge black market. This is needed urgently to secure a loan of $ 2.2 billion from the IMF. Since the grace period of rescheduling ends in December next, the Pakistan government must make arrangements for clearing its total debt burden of $ 38 billion. These are the wages of the sins of the previous military and civilian regimes, and because of the heavy spending on the war machine and military preparedness almost 50 per cent of this $ 38 billion.
English language daily The News summed up the predicament of the government when it said, "Pakistan will not get a penny from its donors if it does not carry out the necessary fiscal reforms." In other words, the large and prosperous community must pay taxes. It is indeed a litmus test. The traders are being advised by economists and newspapers to consider the total situation they should not come in the way of the survey and pay their taxes.
The Pakistan government will formally announce its budget next month, and then the new law will require the traders to cough out general sales tax. As Mr Umar Suilya, Chairman of the All-Pakistan Small Traders and Cottage Industry Association, says, there is no chance of any compromise between the two sides. But then, General Musharraf has almost no choice. It is either tax collection or total doom. Incidentally, this would be the first step towards some kind of financial discipline and reforms that were left hanging by the previous regime.
Armed clashes kill 18 in Columbia
BOGOTA, May 25 (DPA) Gun battles between Leftist rebels and government troops as well as other armed clashes yesterday left at least 18 persons dead in Colombia.
Fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) exchanged gun fire with the military for hours in the central province of Meta, leaving nine guerrillas dead and one government soldier wounded, the armed forces said.
In the rural north-eastern region of Santander, unidentified gunmen killed eight persons, a radio report said here.
In the northern district of Sucre, FARC rebels shot dead a civilian whom they accused of collaborating with right-wing death squads.
FARC also bombed a hydropower plant in the western district of Valle Del Cauca, leaving 15 towns without electricity.
In the north-eastern provincial capital of Bucaramanga, a Maoist rebel group blew up the business of a 75-year-old entrepreneur they were holding hostage to press their multi-million-dollar ransom demand.
USA warns Pak on fresh N-tests
WASHINGTON, May 25 (PTI) The USA has warned, Pakistan against further nuclear testing, amidst reports that the latter was preparing for it.
The USA has said that it would adversely affect their bilateral relations.
The State Department spokesman, Mr Philip Reeker, told a seminar yesterday that they were concerned about the proliferation issues in South Asia and elsewhere. Any other nuclear tests could lead to further escalation of tension in the region.
At the seminar organised by Bob Hathaway, Director of the Asia programme of the Congress funded Woodrow Wilson International Centre for scholars, speakers agreed that there was a deep understanding in Congress about Indias need for a nuclear deterrent to safeguard its frontiers.
Noting the improvement
in Indo-US ties, they said the relationship between the
two democracies would have received an impetus, had US
President Bill Clinton, announced lifting of the
remaining sanctions against New Delhi during his visit to
Russia back-tracks on Afghan threats
MOSCOW, May 25 (AFP) As Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that there were no plans to launch strikes on Afghanistan, political commentators in Moscow doubted Russia could go easily forget its last failed war.
During a NATO meeting in Italy yesterday, Mr Ivanov was quoted by a US official as saying that Russia did not envisage launching any strikes on Afghanistan and that the statement made by Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky this week was a "misunderstanding".
Mr Yastrzhembsky said Russia "might possibly carry out preventative strikes if there is a serious threat to its national interests" or to those of its satellite countries and accused the Afghan Taliban militia of training guerrillas fighting federal troops in Russias separatist Chechnya region.
A senior military official said Russia, along with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, had mapped out contingency plans for the strikes and was ready to blitz them if political masters gave the green signal.
However, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said yesterday after a meeting with leaders of five CIS countries "that there was no question of any strikes against Afghanistan. We have no plans to attack anyone."
Mr Ivanovs denial contradicted his earlier statement that day when he said "various options are open to us including those mentioned by Mr Yastrzhembsky," but it could also be the start of Russias recant of the threats.
Afghanistan remains a painful thorn for Russia, which lost its dignity and some 14,000 servicemen in the bloody 10-year war that ended in 1989.
Moscows ill-fated intervention in the mountainous state to back up the Communist regime there produced thousands of dislimbed veterans now seen begging on the Capitals streets and the underground.
The poignant vision is a constant reminder of the war and invokes a fear of repeated mistakes.
"Another ground war would be completely suicidal," Vyacheslav Nikonov, President of the Politika Fund, told private NTV television early today.
Yastrzhembsky said might never happen but sometimes
people dont understand and we have to explain to
them that we could strike," said Dmitry Rogozin,
head of the Duma Parliament Committee on Foreign
Cardiac arrest? press the chest
WASHINGTON, May 25 (AP) At a time when many people are afraid to give mouth-to-mouth respiration to a stranger in cardiac arrest, a surprising new study found that performing just chest compressions until the ambulance arrives may save more lives than doing both.
"This will probably catch on quickly," said Dr Russell Harris, former President of the New Jersey chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and chief of emergency medicine at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey.
"Its an excellent recommendation that may actually increase the number of people who receive bystander CPR," by ending worries of catching hepatitis, AIDS or other diseases from mouth-to-mouth contact, he said.
In a study in todays issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, University of Washington researchers found that 40 per cent of Seattle-area cardiac arrest patients who were given only chest compressions by bystanders survived to reach a hospital, compared with 34 per cent of those who also received mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Nearly 15 per cent of
the 241 patients receiving chest compressions alone
eventually made it home from the hospital, compared with
only about 10 per cent of the 279 who received both
components of CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Doctor indicted on abortion charges
NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters) A doctor, who allegedly stabbed his pregnant mistress with a syringe filled with a labour-inducing drug, pleaded not guilty to assault and abortion charges.
Authorities said Dr Stephen Pack, 44, was indicted on two counts of assault and abortion for allegedly stabbing Joy Schepis, 31, in the thigh and buttocks in April with a syringe containing methotraxate, a drug that can produce contractions in pregnant women.
A married father of two
and an emergency-room physician at Montefiore Hospital in
New York, pack was allegedly having an affair with
Schepis, a nurse, Bronx District Attorney Robert
Johnsons office said. The woman is still pregnant
and her foetus is not believed to have suffered any
damage, although doctors say it will take several more
months to know for sure.
Charges against Tripp dropped
WASHINGTON, May 25 (DPA) Linda Tripp, a central figure in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, is off the hook after charges of wire-tapping were dropped against her yesterday.
The prosecutor for the state of Maryland dismissed the charges Tripp faced for secretly taping telephone conversations she had had with the former White House intern in December, 1997.
After a judge on Monday found Lewinskys testimony to be unreliable and suppressed most of it, prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said he had no other witnesses to make his case that Tripp had recorded talks with Lewinsky without her knowledge or consent, a crime under Maryland law.
Plea to declare Pak terrorist state
WASHINGTON, May 25 (PTI) A prominent American university teacher has appealed to US President Bill Clinton to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.
"It is no
secret," says Prof Amos Perkmutter, who teaches
Political Science and Sociology, "that
Pakistans intelligence services are actively
engaged in terrorist activities in Kashmir... even
teenaged boys have become new recruits to Islamic
militancy". Referring to the recent assassination of
Jammu and Kashmir Minister of State for Power Ghulam
Hassan and four others in a powerful explosion in
Srinagar, he said the incident posed a serious problem
for Indian society.
moved by Popes word
Jail for ironing
Vet to pay for
pain caused to dog
Man uses python
Tyre Co to pay
105m as damages
Invited to join
school at 105
of 2 Asians upheld
Mayors tomb revealed
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