|W O R L D||
Sunday, November 7, 1999
|Australians vote for Queen
SYDNEY, Nov 6 Australians today voted to keep Britains Queen Elizabeth as the Head of State rather than allow the countrys political elite to appoint a home-grown president.
LTTE 'captures' 4 more
USA debated N-arms for India
visit in vain
prize for Swaminathan
with ABM treaty: UN
held, wedding off
Australians vote for Queen
SYDNEY, Nov 6 (Reuters) Australians today voted to keep Britains Queen Elizabeth as the Head of State rather than allow the countrys political elite to appoint a home-grown president.
With counting nearly complete in five of the six Australian states, the monarchists and their allies had won majorities in all but one state.
With over 70 per cent of the vote counted, about 54 per cent of Australians had voted against the republic proposal.
The result was a major victory for monarchist Prime Minister John Howard, who had argued against constitutional change although voters in Howards wealthy Sydney constituency backed a republic.
But defiant Republicans vowed to fight on, pinning the defeat on Howards refusal to allow Australians the chance to choose their own president.
John Howard had a chance to be remembered in history as a man who shaped this nation, Republican campaign chief Malcolm Turnbull told supporters at a downtown Sydney hotel.
But he will just be remembered as the Prime Minister who broke this nations heart. He was the man who made Australia keep a foreign queen.
Opposition leader Kim Beazley said his party would keep the republic issue on the political agenda and allow voters the choice for a directly elected president.
The result of the historic referendum was greeted by wild cheering at a monarchist campaign rally in Sydneys Darling Harbour, where 200 persons followed the vote tally on television screens.
Champagne corks popped and monarchist supporters, many wearing no republic, no worries badges, clambered onto chairs in celebration.
This victory tonight is claimed not on behalf of one group of Australians over another. Let this result be celebrated by all Australians as a victory for our democracy, monarchist leader Kerry Jones told the gathering.
In fact, the vote appeared to have gone largely along socio-economic lines, with rural and working class battlers backing the monarchy and city voters opting for a republic.
The state with the clearest no majority was tropical Queensland, where 62 per cent of voters rejected constitutional change. Regarded as Australias most conservative state, Queensland nevertheless has a left-wing Labour government.
LONDON: Britains Queen Elizabeth today said she respects and accepts the result of the Australian referendum which maintained her position as Head of State.
I have always made it clear that the future of the monarchy in Australia is an issue for the Australian people and them alone to decide, by democratic and constitutional means, she said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace.
The British Monarch said she had followed the referendum debate with close attention.
My family and I would, of course, have retained our deep affection for Australia and Australians everywhere whatever the outcome, she added.
For some while it has been clear that many Australians have wanted constitutional change. Much of the debate has been about what that change should be, she added.
She pledged that on the
advice of Australian Prime Minister John Howard she would
continue faithfully to serve under the constitution
as Queen of Australia to the very best of my ability in
the future as I have tried to do over these past 47
LTTE 'captures' 4 more towns
COLOMBO, Nov 6 (PTI) Tamil rebels today captured four more major towns in the Vanni region as a fierce battle raged between the LTTE and government troops in northern Sri Lanka leaving over 1,000 dead on both sides since Tuesday in the ongoing fighting just weeks before the presidential polls.
Latest reports from government-controlled Vavuniya town said Tamil guerrillas took over the strategic settlements of Puthur junction and Puliyankulam on the highway in northern Jaffna after they overran key towns of Kanagarayankulam and Nayanamadu following the army pull-out from the military base in nearby Mankulam.
In Colombo, an Army spokesman said the situation was very grim for the troops, but refused to divulge any detail.
With todays losses, the Army seemed to face a total rout in Vanni keeping in control only one town, Omanthai, which too is reportedly under heavy attack from the rebels.
Reports from the North said desperate and disenchanted soldiers indulged in arson and looting in Vavuniya while returning from operational areas in Vanni.
Unconfirmed reports also hinted at a virtual revolt in a northern army camp with troops refusing to fight and gunning down two military policemen.
Meanwhile, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) claimed that several soldiers had been killed so far, while the government continued to peg the casualty figure at 89 and number of injured at 645.
Concerned over the situation, UNP leader and party candidate for the December 21 presidential poll Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed to the soldiers not to be provoked by the LTTE offensive and resort to "individual actions".
"I urge members of security forces not to act individually but follow orders of the field commanders," he told a public meeting at northwest Kurnegala town.
Wickremesinghe also charged President Chandrika Kumaratunga, his main opponent at the polls, with trying to use the army to improve her electoral fortunes.
"The military has suffered due to incorrect political leadership," the former Prime Minister alleged.
Earlier, LTTEs clandestine radio "Voice of Tigers" said army units moved out of Kanagarayankulam and Nayanamadu towns this morning after fierce counter-attacks by the Tamil rebels.
"Both the towns have fallen to LTTE", it said adding its cadres had recovered bodies of 405 soldiers so far.
Reuters adds: President Chandrika Kumaratunga, meanwhile, said in a letter to Ranil Wickremesinghe that she would "initiate discussions with the LTTE as soon as it is practically possible to do so".
So far the Sri Lankan military has lost nine of its key bases in the northern Vanni region in five days of fighting. It had taken government troops more than two years to capture the area.
Residents in Vavuniya said thousands of government troops had withdrawn from regions under severe rebel attack.
Military sources said troops had been ordered to retreat to areas close to Vavuniya, regroup and hold defence lines to beat back possible attacks on the key government frontier town.
KGB plotted to kill Pope:
LONDON: The KGB plotted to kill the Pope and spy on the Vatican by planting a bug inside a statue of the Virgin Mary, according to Czechoslovak secret service documents published in Italy on Wednesday.
Appalled at the prospect of an anti-communist Pole leading the Roman Catholic church, KGB bosses allegedly gave orders to destroy John Paul II hours after his election in 1979.
Operations code named Pagoda and Infection allegedly instructed intelligence agencies in the Warsaw Pact countries to discredit the church and the Pope with disinformation and provocations that do not exclude his physical elimination.
The claims were contained in 47 pages of documents released to the Italian Parliaments terrorism commission.
Italys domestic secret service, Sisde, is believed to have obtained the papers from the then Czechoslovakia in 1990.
The archive vindicated claims that the Soviet Union was behind the March 1981 assassination attempt on the Pope in St Peters Square, Rome, according to excerpts published in II Giorno newspaper.
It has never been proved that the gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish member of the Grey Wolves terrorist group, was working for Moscow.
KGB agents plotted to plant a bug in a statue of the Madonna kept on a table in the private study of the late Vatican Secretary of state, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, according to the files. A plan to put another bug in a picture frame was also alleged.
The KGB wanted to be able to anticipate and combat the Vaticans stoking of anti-communist sentiment in eastern Europe.
Mr Markus Wolf, who headed East Germanys Stasi secret service, has claimed that a Benedectine monk who worked inside the Vatican was a mole.
The terrorism commission promised to investigate all the allegations. The Italian secret service is believed to possess another 600 pages of Czechoslovak documents. They were handed over after Vaclav Havel became president.
Mr Enzo Fragala, a member of the rightwing Alleanza Nazionale, said it was clear that the Soviet Union wanted to destroy one of the gravest threats to its empire. The Soviets succeeded in organising a frontal attack on the Vatican and the Pope, he said.
The Vatican declined to comment on the allegations.
SAARC summit postponed
COLOMBO, Nov 6 (UNI) The 11th SAARC summit slated to be held in Kathmandu from November 26 to 28 has been postponed, it was officially announced here today.
However, no new date has been announced.
Sri Lanka, as the chairperson of the association, announced that the decision to postpone the summit was taken as per the provisions of the SAARC charter which stipulated that decisions at all levels shall be taken on the basis of unanimity.
A Foreign Ministry statement said: "A situation has now arisen within SAARC, where a member state has communicated to the chair as well as the host for the next summit, that it would be appropriate to defer the summit for the time being.
India on Thursday conveyed to Sri Lanka its request to defer the summit in the background of the developments in Pakistan.
Islamabad, Nov 6 (PTI) Pakistan today accused India of "scuttling" the SAARC summit slated for later this month "in reckless pursuit of its compulsive hostility" towards Islamabad and said the decision to postpone the meet was "regrettable" and would prove "detrimental" to the grouping.
Reacting to Sri Lankas decision to defer the meeting following an Indian request to this effect, citing the army take-over in Pakistan, a Foreign Office spokesman said the decision "represents a gross breach of established norms of inter-state relations as well as the SAARC charter."
It has set a precedent which is "derogatory to international principles and detrimental to the organisation," he said in a statement.
Indias "scuttling" of the meeting has "severely damaged" the SAARC and "the goal of economic development and progress through regional cooperation has been seriously impaired," the spokesman claimed.
Sri Lanka, the current SAARC Chairman, today postponed the summit scheduled to be held in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu from November 26 citing objections raised by India.
Though Colombo initially
raised objections to postponing the meet saying the SAARC
Charter did not permit internal issues of
member-countries to have any bearing on the movement, it
finally acceded to New Delhis request.
When USA debated N-arms for India
WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) Seeking to offset the power of China and the Soviet Union, the USA considered arming India and other Asian states with nuclear weapons at the height of the cold war, according to a new book.
The book, Indias Nuclear Bomb by George Perkovich, provides the most detailed glimpse yet of a high-level US debate on such nuclear sharing in the mid-1960s to counter growing Communist might.
China changed the international balance of power when it carried out its maiden nuclear test blast on October 16, 1964. India, at odds with China over territorial disputes in their borderlands, already was debating building a bomb of its own.
Citing declassified US records and interviews with Indian scientists and government officials, Perkovich documents a persistent proposal to help India, first and foremost, acquire a nuclear capability.
The basic idea was to make arrangements for friendly Asian countries to receive and militarily deliver low-yield tactical nuclear weapons that the USA would provide to them in the event of Chinese aggression, wrote Perkovich, Director of the Secure World Programme for the Walton Jones Foundation, a Charlottesville, Virginia, philanthropy.
A declassified 1964 US
Defence Department study, for instance, suggested the
possibility of making nuclear weapons available to India,
Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Taiwan,
Pakistan, Thailand and South Korea.
Yaqubs visit in vain
WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (UNI) The current visit here of a special envoy of Pakistan army ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf to lobby support for the military regime is unlikely to succeed in view of the US insistence on a timetable for the restoration of the civilian government in the country.
Former Foreign Minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, the special envoy, had some intensive round of meetings with senior officials of the Clinton administration and congress yesterday.
Our interlocutors are meeting Mr Yaqub Khan, former Pakistan Foreign Minister and highly respected senior statesman who is now in Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin said.
He will be meeting various officials here at the department, including Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott, Mr Rubin said.
He said: We will make clear our view, that we think that it is very important to have the constitutional, democratic and civilian government in Pakistan restored, and that we are looking for a timetable for steps to that end to be described as soon as possible.
Mr Yaqub met President Clintons National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Pickering and Republican Senator Sam Brownback, Chairman, the Senate foreign relations subcommittee on Asia and Near East.
A State Department official said the administration had been in touch with the military government in Pakistan through the US Ambassador in Islamabad. Mr Yaqubs visit would help to have still better knowledge of the intentions of the new government and its political and economic agenda.
Overall situation in the region, Afghanistan and Pakistans relations with India were also discussed during these meetings.
Mr Yaqub is stated to have explained the military governments strong desire to revive normal relations with India and noted that the Indian Government was deliberately avoiding resumption of direct dialogue.
Asked to comment on the Islamabads decision to reappoint Ms Maleeha Lodhi, as its new Ambassador to the USA Mr Rubin said, we have received a request for agreement from the Government of Pakistan for a new ambassador. That matter is under review by the department, he said.
UNESCO prize for Swaminathan
PARIS, Nov 6 (PTI) Indias eminent scientist M.S. Swaminathan will be awarded UNESCO Gandhi Gold Medal in recognition of his outstanding work of extending the benefits of biotechnology to the developing countries.
Prof Swaminathans pioneering work secured a sound basis for sustainable development, a UNESCO press release said.
He will receive the gold medal from the organisations Director-General Federico Mayor on Monday during the 30th session of the general conference being held here.
Prof Swaminathan, 74, a plant geneticist, is the father of the Green Revolution in India. His cross-breeding of seeds developed in Mexico with local species has made possible a leap forward in the Asian wheat production.
The same miracle was then reproduced with rice, thanks to research conducted by the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute under the leadership of Prof Swaminathan.
This spectacular advance, which enabled India and other countries in the region to overcome severe food shortages and reach self-sufficiency, laid the ground for their economic development in the 1980s and 1990s, the release added.
Along with Prof
Swaminathan, Brazilian scientist Luiz Pereira da Silva
will receive the Pasteur medal, created by UNESCO and the
Pasteur Institute in 1995 on the occasion of the 100th
anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur.
Monitoring organ traffic
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 6 (Reuters) US researchers have announced the launch of a new group to monitor trafficking in human organs, the grisly but profitable trade in body parts that now stretches around the world.
Organs Watch, based at the University of California at Berkeley, will check reports and rumours of human rights abuses in organ trafficking, identify areas where abuse may be occurring and begin to define the line between ethical transplants and practices that are exploitative or corrupt.
Transplant surgery has entered a global market and we need to keep a close watch on that, said Ms Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a Associate Professor of Anthropology, who helped to found the group said on Thursday. In the organs trade business, abuses creep in before you know it.
The new centre, funded by a two-year grant of $ 230,000 provided from the Soros Foundations open society institute and an additional $160,000 from the university, will compile reports from transplant surgeons and other medical people from at least a dozen countries and act as a clearing house for transplant-related information.
It will also sponsor research into reports of transplant abuse, and lobby to strengthen national and international laws governing trade in human organs.
The researchers and medical ethicists involved with the new group say human organ trafficking has exploded in recent years, due in part to the rapid spread of medical transplant technologies once found only in the most advanced hospitals of the developed world.
In almost all cases the poor are providing body parts for the rich.
Ms Scheper-Hughes said that while selling or harvesting human organs is illegal almost everywhere in the world, in many cases local enforcement is lax and wide loopholes exist.
We need more research, and we need to get more of this out on the table, she said.
Comply with ABM treaty: UN
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 6 (AP) The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution demanding strict compliance with the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty in an apparent effort to urge the USA not to develop its own limited missile defence system.
Russia and China, along with Belarus, were prime backers of the resolution which was passed yesterday by a vote of 90 to 42, with 14 abstentions. It stressed the paramount importance of full and strict compliance with the ABM treaty by the USA and Russia.
The resolution calls for renewed efforts... to preserve and strengthen the ABM treaty through full and strict compliance.
The Soviet Union and the USA signed the treaty in the midst of the cold war to ensure that neither nation would be emboldened to carry out a nuclear first strike against the other.
Washington has been talking about a so-called
theatre nuclear defence, a more modest and
potentially more practical alternative to the idea of a
nuclear shield popularly known as Star
Wars first proposed by former US President
Groom held, wedding off
LONDON, Nov 6 (DPA) The police in Britain arrested a groom and led him away in handcuffs only moments before he was due to exchange vows with his pregnant fiancée, the aggrieved husband-to-be said on Thursday.
Ms Donna Marsh was left crying her eyes out after officers burst into her marriage ceremony at the Registrars office in Brighton Town Hall and took away James Reid.
Reid, 30, who was
released on bail yesterday two days after the incident,
said the police refused to wait five minutes and allow
the ceremony to go ahead. A dazed Ms Marsh stood standing
in her long white silk dress and clutching the two gold
rings they were about to swap.
UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reaffirmed that his top relief official in Baghdad, Mr Hans Von Sponeck, would stay in his post despite the USA and British opposition. Mr Von Sponeck will be going back to Baghdad. It was my decision to make U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard quoted Mr Annan as saying on Friday after a meeting US and British envoys. Reuters
Musharraf on NSC
Explosion in gay
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