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USA to revamp intelligence agencies
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 — The CIA has appointed Mr James M. Simon to revamp all intelligence agencies and coordinate among the various US intelligence agencies.

India, Morocco sign 2 treaties
RABAT, Feb 13 — India and Morocco signed two agreements today for investment promotion and protection and cooperation in tourism at a glittering ceremony here during the visit of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Pak optimistic about PM’s visit
ISLAMABAD, Feb 13 — Pakistan has expressed the hope that the Indian Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s forthcoming trip to Islamabad would provide an opportunity to the two nations to discuss important issues at the “highest political level” and would “yield tangible results” in bettering ties.

Ershad takes on dissidents
DHAKA, Feb 13 — Jatiya Party chief Hussain Mohammad Ershad has cracked down on growing dissidence in his party, stripping a senior leader of all party positions and expelling a key dissident lawmaker from the primary membership of his outfit.
S-400 missile is launched
ASTRAKHAN, RUSSIA: S-400 missile is launched at the shooting range of Kapustin Yar near Astrakhan, 1150 km south of Moscow, on Friday. Russia's air force plans to introduce a new air defence missile, the S-400, which is currently under testing. AP/PTI

Hillary plans political future
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 — Now that her husband’s impeachment trial is over, Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to give careful consideration to running for a New York Senate seat.
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Oscar awards mean money not art
THE Oscars are, without doubt, the most important film awards of the year. But how fair are they? The first thing to realise is that you hardly ever win Oscars with movies that are unsuccessful at the box-office. The only film that might buck the trend in 1999 is Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, an art film many critics account the best film of the year but not one likely to set the box-office on fire.

Lockerbie issue resolved
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 13 — South Africa said today that all outstanding issues over the 1988 Lockerbie Airline bombing had been resolved after envoys from Pretoria and Saudi Arabia held talks with Libyan leader Muammad Gaddafi.

 
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USA to revamp intelligence agencies

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (PTI) — The CIA has appointed Mr James M. Simon to revamp all intelligence agencies and coordinate among the various US intelligence agencies.

Mr Simon, chosen by CIA chief George Tenet, told the Senate Committee that he would soon look into the appointment of intelligence agents, intelligence analysis and coordinate among various agencies.

The intelligence agencies in the USA were assigning “people their agencies did not want or felt were not progressing acceptably” to the intelligence community management (ICM) positions, Mr Simon said.

He also said he would strengthen the ICM as some former members of the ICM staff were “retired in place” or “brain dead”.

Mr Simon was critical of agencies for instituting “irrational security regulations” that “encouraged disrespect for security.”

“It is necessary to stop genuinely harmful leaks and compromises and put an end to the twin abuses of excessive classifications and foolish compartmentalisation,” he told the committee.

He said other agencies withheld information from Mr Tenet and his ICM subordinates, adding the Pentagon held back the data on “special action programmes” when many of them dealt in intelligence.

“A problem to fix,” he said, “is the parochialism that makes it impossible to determine what we know, who knows it and who ought to know it.”

He said a process of determining overall national intelligence requirements would be created “to ensure that the needs of all government customers— tactical and strategic, intelligence and battlefield surveillance — are articulated, validated and made manifest in our programme.”

To keep top central intelligence policymakers aware of all ICM operations, Mr Simon said he would like Mr Tenet to use his authority to seek a new executive order to establish a central repository that would contain information about all “special compartments” that covered the most secret programmes, set up by various agencies.

It would also list those individuals who had access to the compartments and various clearances used to limit the access, he added.

He said the introduction of a joint CIA and Pentagon system that kept track of clandestine operations involving agents abroad was “an excellent first step” and “a concept we need now to extend throughout the community.”

The intelligence agencies, the CIA chief and Mr Simon would supervise the CIA, the Defence Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the State Department’s Office of Intelligence and Research and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.Top

 

India, Morocco sign 2 treaties

RABAT, Feb 13 (PTI) — India and Morocco signed two agreements today for investment promotion and protection and cooperation in tourism at a glittering ceremony here during the visit of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The two treaties were signed in the presence of Mr Vajpayee and Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane el Youssoufi by Minister of State for External Affairs Vasundhara Raje and the respective Moroccan ministers.

On Morocco’s behalf, Government Affairs Minister Ahmed Lahlimi signed the investment promotion and protection agreement while Tourism Minister Hassan Jabbar inked the treaty on tourism.

Under the investment promotion agreement the two countries will have greater economic cooperation between the two sides through investments in each other’s territory.

The treaty on cooperation in tourism, will help both sides to set up and operate tourist offices in the two countries besides creating a working group to promote tourism by increasing exchanges in tourism and other related activities.

Upon his arrival, Mr Vajpayee was given a traditional Arab welcome in which the host makes an offering of dates to the guest.

Both sides are expected to sign a cultural agreement during the Prime Minister’s stay here.

They will also explore the possibility of promoting cooperation in the fields of agriculture, post and telecommunications and computer software.

Ircon has expressed interest to undertake a railway construction project here under a counter trade arrangement. Bhel is also exploring business opportunities in Morocco. Top

 

Hillary plans political future

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Agencies) — Now that her husband’s impeachment trial is over, Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to give careful consideration to running for a New York Senate seat in 2000, her aides said here.

Flattered by all the attention she has received about a possible run, Mrs Clinton has done nothing to discourage speculation about what would be an unprecedented political event - a sitting First Lady actively campaigning for a political seat for herself.

“Now that the trial is coming to an end she’ll have a chance to put some thought into this”, said her spokeswoman, Marsha Berry.

“Other people have been very interested in the speculation and have talked to her about it. But it’s not the kind of thing that she’s really been able to think about at this point”, Mr Berry said.

She said it was unclear how soon Mrs Clinton would make a decision, adding that the First Lady was simply “relieved” that the Senate impeachment trial was over.

Other aides sought to dampen speculation that she might announce a decision as early as next week.

Meanwhile, a subdued President Bill Clinton, with eyes red and voice trembling, said he was “profoundly sorry” for the trauma his affair with Monica Lewinsky had caused to the Congress and American people and sought “reconciliation” as he had been acquitted by the Senate.

“Now that the Senate has fulfilled its constitutional responsibility, bringing this process to a conclusion, I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people,” Mr Clinton said at the Rose Garden after the Senate acquitted him of impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice yesterday.

In sharp contrast to his earlier defiant comments after the House of representatives impeached him in December last, Mr Clinton said, “I also am humbled and very grateful for the support and the prayers I have received from millions of Americans over this past year.

When a reporter asked whether he would be willing to forgive his enemies, Mr Clinton returned to the microphone to say that “any person who asks for forgiveness has to be prepared to give it.”

In a related development President Clinton may soon lose some of his senior staffers.

“I think some people who were thinking of leaving, who were involved with this (impeachment), now that this is behind us, can move on to other endeavours,” A White House official said.

White House lawyers Greg Craig and Lanny Breuer, who were heavily involved in the impeachment saga, were likely to return to the private sector, officials said.

One senior aide has also discussed leaving the White House, and additional departures are likely, an official said. She declined to name the official.

The future is far less clear for Ms Monica Lewinsky.
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Pak optimistic about PM’s visit

ISLAMABAD, Feb 13 (PTI) — Pakistan has expressed the hope that the Indian Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s forthcoming trip to Islamabad would provide an opportunity to the two nations to discuss important issues at the “highest political level” and would “yield tangible results” in bettering ties.

“We hope the visit will yield tangible results and lay the foundation of a new relationship free of tensions and mistrust,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mr Sartaj Aziz said yesterday.

The Minister’s remarks here, at a landmark conference of over 100 lawmakers from India and Pakistan hosted by the Jang Group of Newspapers, came days ahead of Mr Vajpayee’s scheduled trip to Pakistan on February 20.

Mr Vajpayee’s visit would be the second by an Indian Prime Minister since Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s 1989 trip to Pakistan.Top

 

Ershad takes on dissidents

DHAKA, Feb 13 (PTI) — Jatiya Party (JP) chief Hussain Mohammad Ershad has cracked down on growing dissidence in his party, stripping a senior leader of all party positions and expelling a key dissident lawmaker from the primary membership of his outfit.

The party presidium at an emergency meeting yesterday relieved party vice-chairman Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury of all party positions and expelled MP Sharfuddin Jhantu from the primary membership of the party for their alleged anti-party activities, a party statement said here today.

It decided to strip Chowdhury, a former Prime Minister in the Ershad Government, of his party positions on charges of “engaging in activities” that would damage the party and opposing the on-going anti-government agitation.

“Chowdhury had publicly opposed the current phase of the opposition movement,” the party statement said.Top

 

Oscar awards mean money not art
From Derek Malcolm in London

THE Oscars are, without doubt, the most important film awards of the year. But how fair are they? The first thing to realise is that you hardly ever win Oscars with movies that are unsuccessful at the box-office. The only film that might buck the trend in 1999 is Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, an art film many critics account the best film of the year but not one likely to set the box-office on fire.

That’s why Citizen Kane, though nominated, lost out to the much more popular How Green Was My Valley in 1941. Many other movies we now regard as classics or at least minor masterpieces never made it either, like Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Carol Reed’s The Third Man, John Huston’s The African Queen, Hitchcock’s Psycho, Stanley Donen’s Singin’ In The Rain and Woody Allen’s Manhattan.

How did Stallone’s Rocky beat Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Pakula’s All The President’s Men in 1976? And what made them vote for Robert Redford’s Ordinary People over Scorsese’s Raging Bull in 1980? How could Kramer Vs Kramer beat Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in 1979? And how on earth did Mrs Miniver win over Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942? Part of the answer, of course, is that we, including critics, wake up to many of the great movies years later.

And you can’t blame the poor old Academy too much when the Venice and Cannes festivals have committed equally glaring errors. The Academy has often seemed wilfully silly, largely because, until recently, it was populated by distinguished old fogeys, many of whom tended to vote for the films of the major companies to whom they owed allegiance.

Strenuous efforts have been made to get some younger voters in, and to stop the major Hollywood studios having too much say in the results. Unfortunately, the films aren’t as good as they were.

The new system doesn’t work, however, as far as the Best Foreign Film is concerned. Each film-making country selects an entrant, a nominating committee pares the huge list down and at least half the Academy members never even look at the five so-called best. It’s a wretched system which, in recent years, has produced some laughable results.

Here, especially, good lobbying counts for a lot. Which is why Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful is such a strong favourite this year. It is backed by Miramax, and the company’s shrewd boss, Harvey Weinstein. So is Shakespeare In Love, which should give the Britons a head start in translating nominations into Oscars.

Weinstein knows exactly how to gather support. Last year I bet him 100 that Judi Dench wouldn’t get the Oscar for Mrs Brown, another of the small British films he bought for America. I very nearly lost my money when she was nominated and only narrowly lost out. Needless to say, he’s somehow forgotten to pay me. To win an Oscar you need luck, friends in high places and good publicists, as well as box-office success. Oh, and some talent. Among the directors never recognised as best director are Welles, Chaplin, Renoir, Bergman, Antonioni, Kubrick, Hawks, Hitchcock, Fellini, Scorsese, Altman, Cassavetes, von Stern-berg and Lubitsch. Among those who have been are Delbert Mann, John Avildsen, James L Brooks, Kevin Costner, Frank Lloyd and Hugh Hudson.

Among the actors and actresses who haven’t made it are Greta Garbo, Chaplin again, Cary Grant, James Dean, Judy Garland, Barbara Stanwyck, Gloria Swanson, Rosalind Russell, Deborah Kerr, Irene Dunne, Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas and Montgomery Clift (some of these later got honorary awards). Among those who have are Warner Baxter, Art Carney, Maximilian Schell, Cher and Shirley Booth.

Surely some mistake! So don’t treat the Oscars that seriously. It won’t do the brain or the heart any good. They make a lot more money than sense.
— The Guardian
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Lockerbie issue resolved

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 13 (Reuters) — South Africa said today that all outstanding issues over the 1988 Lockerbie Airline bombing had been resolved after envoys from Pretoria and Saudi Arabia held talks with Libyan leader Muammad Gaddafi.

"Everything has been resolved and the matter is now in the hands of the Secretary-General of the United Nations", President Nelson Mandela’s spokesman Parks Mankahlana, told Reuters.

Mediators from South Africa and Saudi Arabia have been trying to secure Libya’s agreement to hand over two suspects over Scotland in which 270 persons died, to be tried in a Scottish court.

"We are happy to be able to announce that positive results were achieved in these discussions and that common understanding was reached on all outstanding issues on this matter", a statement from Mr Mandela’s office said.

Mr Mankahlana said he could give no further details on the breakthrough as it would undermine the mandate of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan who had been handed a report following the talks.Top

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Global Monitor
  China’s warning to USA
BEIJING: China has warned the USA against developing space-based weapons systems or using them to protect, Taiwan, state media has reported. Ambassador Li Changhe, speaking at a conference on disarmament meeting in Geneva on Thursday, said the US plan to develop missile defence systems was detrimental to international arms control and could trigger a new arms race, The China Daily reported on Friday — AP

Paloma Picasso
LONDON: Paloma Picasso, daughter of artist Pablo Picasso, has settled her divorce in an out-of-court financial and property agreement, high court officials here said. The case had been expected to last three months as Picasso fought ex-husband Rafael Lopez-Cambil’s claim for $ 250 million, half of his wife’s estimated fortune. — AFP

Five killed
GRENOBLE (France): Five persons were killed as two new avalanches hit the French Alps, one at the Val D’isere Ski resort, the other at Les Arcs, the police said. Two snowboarders were killed by a mass of moving snow at the Val D’isere Ski resort and three off-piste skiers died at Les Arcs. The accidents occurred on Friday, only three days after an avalanche buried a cluster of chalets near Chamonix, claiming the lives of 12 persons. — AFP

Maid wins damages
LONDON: A Sri Lankan woman who fell three floors trying to escape from a London flat where she was kept as a “domestic slave” by a wealthy Kuwaiti family, has won $ 77,988 in damages. The judge at the high court in London, said the treatment suffered by Sunrethra Jayasekera (33) at the hands of her employers, Jaafar and Khaleed al Sayegh, was “almost incredible ... in London in the 1990s.” — AFP

Mir space station
STAR CITY (Russia): The next mission to Russia’s Mir space station may be its last and the ageing outpost may finally come down in August, the crew commander has said. Mr Viktor Afanasyev (50), a Mir veteran who spent a total of 357 days on two previous stints, still hopes he won’t be the one to bid farewell to the beloved Mir, the pride of Russia’s space programme for 13 years. — AP

3 students suspended
BROCKTON (Massachusetts): Three high school students have been suspended for using a photograph of a teacher who resembles Monica Lewinsky in what was called a “sexually suggestive” way. The students put the photo of the teacher’s face next to one of President Bill Clinton on the door to the yearbook office at Brdckton High. The students were suspended for five days and removed as editors of the yearbook, after the incident late last month. — APTop

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