Friday, January 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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Supporters of Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, listen the speech by their leader Maulana Masood Azhar on in Karachi on Wednesday. Azhar is one of three prisoners freed by India to end the harrowing 8-day hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane and he says the five hijackers "are preparing for their next assault."
Supporters of Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, listen the speech by their leader Maulana Masood Azhar on in Karachi on Wednesday. Azhar is one of three prisoners freed by India to end the harrowing 8-day hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane and he says the five hijackers "are preparing for their next assault." AP/PTI

Contentious issues slow down Israel-Syria talks
WASHINGTON, Jan 6 — Spurred on by key facilitator, the USA, warring neighbours Israel and Syria have begun talks in right earnest in Shepherdstown, 110 km from here, to arrive at a peace deal between the two nations that have so far fought three wars.

Lanka may extend emergency
COLOMBO, Jan 6 — Sri Lanka’s Deputy Defence Minister asked Parliament to extend the state of national emergency by a month today, citing recent bomb blasts in the capital.

Bomber’s parents, sister held
COLOMBO, Jan 6 — The Sri Lankan police has arrested the parents and a sister of the suicide bomber, who blew herself up in front of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s office here yesterday and rounded up nearly 200 Tamils for interrogation, state radio reports and the police said today.



EARLIER STORIES
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Pope ordains bishops after China’s snub
VATICAN CITY, Jan 6 — Pope John Paul ordained 12 new bishops worldwide today, hours after China bluntly defied his authority by installing five bishops for its state Catholic Church in a blow to efforts for closer ties.

Pak ‘not to beg’ for talks with India
ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 — Pakistan would hold dialogue with India only if New Delhi took an initiative to improve bilateral ties, Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf has said.

USA assures help in fighting terrorism
WASHINGTON, Jan 6 — The USA has asserted that it will not rest until the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane are brought to justice and vowed to strengthen cooperation with India in combating terrorism.

Oxford Dictionary to go online
ONE OF the crowning glories of British literary culture — the unique,116-year-old full Oxford English Dictionary — could cease to exist in up-to-date book form after it goes online on a subscription website in three months’ time.

1 b illiterate in world: Unicef
ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 — The world has entered the new millennium with an estimated one billion illiterate people, about 130 million of them children in the developing countries. To educate all children the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says, the world will need to spend an additional $ 7 billion per year over the next 10 years — which is less than the amount spent annually on cosmetics in the USA or on icecream in Europe, and less than a tenth of the world’s annual military spending.

Clinton scandal papers on net
NEW YORK, Jan 6 — Documents from the sex scandal that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in connection with his affair with Monica Lewinsky will be posted in their entirety on the Internet next week, a leading publisher has said.

Congo rebels kill 210 troops
KIGALI, Jan 6 — Rebel fighters have killed at least 210 government troops in two bouts of fresh fighting on the northwestern front in the democratic republic of Congo, a rebel leader said.
Top




 

Contentious issues slow down Israel-Syria talks

WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (PTI) — Spurred on by key facilitator, the USA, warring neighbours Israel and Syria have begun talks in right earnest in Shepherdstown, 110 km from here, to arrive at a peace deal between the two nations that have so far fought three wars.

Setting aside initial differences, over the agenda, that threatened to derail the talks, Israeli and Syrian negotiators got down yesterday to the serious business of thrashing out finer points of any potential deal under the watchful eyes of U S officials.

Under a compromise deal brokered by the USA, two teams of negotiators met for face-to-face talks to look into security arrangements and steps to restore ties, between the two nations, that are even, now officially at a state of war. US officials were present on both occasions. Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the mood at the talks as frosty.

Two other committees that are to look into Israel’s access to fresh waters of the sea of Galilee after return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war, and the Israel-Syrian borders, have not been convened yet.

In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin told newspersons at a press briefing that the talks were proceeding at a very slow pace and Mr Clinton could join the two sides in a bid to impart the talks the much-needed momentum.

Mr Rubin was cautiously optimistic about the talks saying the discussions were "constructive, business-like and positive, given the complex and sensitive nature of the negotiations. We are chugging along and not on the fast-track yet."

At the White House, spokesman Jim Fallin said Mr Clinton would decide what steps he might take next to "facilitate" the talks. Mr Clinton, who has been to Shepherdstown twice already, may also make another trip today to egg on the two sides.

Mr Rubin said Ms Albright told both Israeli Premier Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa that the USA would like to see more progress in negotiations. Ms Albright had a meeting over lunch with Mr Barak and a separate meeting with Mr Sharaa as the two committees met.

"They weren’t specific discussions, they were much broader talks about how we can get from chugging along unto a fast track," Mr Rubin said. This would include not only arriving at a treaty but also expanding areas of agreement, he said.

DAMASCUS (Reuters): Syria today hammered home the message that it would accept nothing less than full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights as a condition for making peace with Israel.

"No peace can be achieved until the principle of withdrawing from the entire Golan is unconditionally accepted by Israel,’’ said the English-language official newspaper, Syria Times.

The US Administration yesterday pressed both sides to come up with new ideas after they failed to agree even on where the talks stood when they broke off in 1996. Syria and Israel resumed peace talks in Washington last month after a four-year break.

"...Even if all procedural hurdles — like the one which marked the start of the second round of talks in Shepherdstown — are cleared, a solution to the conflict is unlikely to be achieved without a full commitment to return to the June 4, 1967 lines," it said.

Syria says it is ready to trade full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan for full normal ties. Israel has said it was ready for land concessions but has not said how much land it would give up. Top

 

Lanka may extend emergency

COLOMBO, Jan 6 (Reuters) — Sri Lanka’s Deputy Defence Minister asked Parliament to extend the state of national emergency by a month today, citing recent bomb blasts in the capital.

The debate comes a day after a woman suicide bomber, a member of the rebel LTTE, blew herself up in front of the Prime Minister’s office, killing at least 13 persons.

"Several key figures in the political arena have become the targets of the (LTTE) terrorists...," Mr Anuruddha Ratwatte told Parliament.

He cited the attack on December 18, when a woman suicide bomber triggered an explosion at an election rally led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, which killed at least 26 persons, saying the state of emergency should be extended to maintain law and order, public security and preserve public property.

He also spoke of a second bomb that exploded the same day at a meeting of Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party in a Colombo suburb. At least eight persons were killed.

The Sri Lankan police arrested more than 105 persons in connection with yesterday’s suicidal bomb blast near the Prime Minister’s office and the subsequent slying of Tamil politician Kumar Ponnambalam.

A senior police officer said these people were taken into custody from Pettah and Wellawatha areas last night and were being interrogated.

The investigation into yesterday’s suicide bomb attack has revealed that the bomber might have been targeting a government minister who was expected to take that route, senior police sources said.

Meanwhile, President Chandrika Kumaratunga has declared that she will quit politics once the island’s ethnic crisis is resolved and urged opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe to sincerely back her peace initiative before forming any national government.

"I am waiting to solve the problem and then make an exit from politics. I am not interested in power and that was the reason why I conducted mid-term presidential poll", Mrs Kumaratunga said in a television interview.

Amid speculation that the government planned to introduce a new Bill permitting mass defections from the ranks of opposition UNP to get her package of peace proposals ratified in Parliament, Mrs Kumaratunga in a marathon television interview had laid down conditions for her earlier proposal for a national government.Top

 

Bomber’s parents, sister held

COLOMBO, Jan 6 (PTI) — The Sri Lankan police has arrested the parents and a sister of the suicide bomber, who blew herself up in front of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s office here yesterday and rounded up nearly 200 Tamils for interrogation, state radio reports and the police said today.

A team of police detectives arrested her parents and the sister from their residence at Akkraipattu in eastern Batticaloa district, the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation said.

It said the suicide bomber, born to a Tamil father and a Sinhalese mother, had joined the LTTE one-and-a-half years ago.

Earlier, the police had arrested one person, believed to an accomplice of the bomber.

The police has already started a full-scale investigation into yesterday’s blast. It is believed that the woman suicide bomber, accompanied by a man, had arrived at the scene in the morning. Sometime later, the woman had gone with him and returned alone.

Investigation has also begun into the gunning down of Mr Kumar Ponnambalam, believed to be the handiwork of a youth known to him.

Several persons, including the employees at Mr Ponnambalam’s residence, have already been questioned by the police.

The police has launched a man hunt for a Tamil youth believed to be behind yesterday’s murder of a pro-LTTE politician even as a hitherto unknown group, the "National Front Against Tigers", claimed responsibility for the killing.

Investigators probing the killing quoted family sources as saying that Kumar Ponnambalam was last seen leaving his residence in a Benz car with ‘Shanthan’, believed to be behind his death, seated next to him.

A bitter critic of President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government and an open supporter of the LTTE’s demand for a separate homeland for Tamils, Mr Ponnambalam was the leader of All Ceylone Tamil Congress.

Meanwhile, in a statement, signed by its self-styled commanding officer Vijya Rana Bahu, said Ponnambalam had been killed for carrying on a tirade against the majority Sinhalese and for defending the LTTE’s fight against the Sri Lankan army.

Meanwhile, in the wake of a spate of suicide bomb attacks, the Sri Lankan Government tonight clamped a 14-hour curfew beginning midnight in the capital and its suburbs to facilitate massive cordon-and-search operations, an official annoucement said.Top

 

Pope ordains bishops after China’s snub

VATICAN CITY, Jan 6 (Reuters) — Pope John Paul ordained 12 new bishops worldwide today, hours after China bluntly defied his authority by installing five bishops for its state Catholic Church in a blow to efforts for closer ties.

The Polish Pontiff, resplendent in gold robes, made no mention of the Chinese ordinations but told the congregation in a packed St Peter’s Basilica that the new bishops he was sending out into the world represented the universal catholic church.

"Dear brothers...You come from different nations and represent the universality of the church that adores the word made flesh for our salvation,’’ the Pope said in his homily.

"Around you, in spirit from various parts of the world, the faithful gather to whom you are sent as successors of the apostles,’’ he added.

The Pope’s authority as head of the one-billion member Roman Catholic Church is based in part on his sole right to appoint bishops and cardinals. China views the issue as one of national sovereignty and has created its own Bishops since 1957.

Beijing’s five new bishops included three in their thirties. Selected by the Patriotic Catholic Association. They were installed in a ceremony presided over by Liu Yuanren, head of the Chinese Bishops Conference.Top

 

Pak ‘not to beg’ for talks with India

ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 (UNI) — Pakistan would hold dialogue with India only if New Delhi took an initiative to improve bilateral ties, Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf has said.

"We will not beg for talks with India. We would enter into talks with equality. We can’t compromise our honour and dignity," he said, adding that given the kind of "maligning" India was up to, the environment was not congenial for dialogue.

General Musharraf was talking to newspersons at an Iftar party hosted in honour of him and President Rafiq Tarar by Muslim missions in the capital on Tuesday.

Asked if Pakistan would start counter-moves to check the Indian "propoganda" in the backdrop of the recent hijacking incident of an Indian Airlines plane, General Musharraf said: "The truth is on our side. The facts are totally on our side. We do not have to make counter-moves as such."

He claimed that the international community, media and other governments did not believe the Indian stance on hijacking. "They are all appreciative of Pakistan’s and Taliban’s role in tackling the hijacking incident," he added.

Meanwhile, Brig Rashid Quereshi, spokesman of Pakistan’s de facto ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf, has said India might have transferred the hijackers of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to one of its planes from Kandahar after the hijackers surrendered.Top

 

USA assures help in fighting terrorism

WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (PTI) — The USA has asserted that it will not rest until the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane are brought to justice and vowed to strengthen cooperation with India in combating terrorism.

"The USA, as a government, will not rest until those who perpetrate those kinds of activities (hijacking and terrorism) are brought to justice," White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart told reporters yesterday.

"As far as the hijacking, we support a full investigation that is aimed at apprehending and prosecuting the hijackers. We do that, and what is important here, is that those who were responsible are brought to justice," he noted.

When a correspondent suggested that though the USA and India were discussing on combating terrorism together why was the latter left alone in fighting the menace, Mr Lockhart retorted. "No, I think those people who say that are wrong. I think we were in close touch with the Indian Government throughout the (hijacking) incident".

"We’re also continuing to work with India on a series of efforts to strengthen our cooperation on fighting terrorism," he said.

Asserting that USA would curb perpetrators of all kinds of terrorism domestically and internationally, he said "whether it is an act of terror directed against Americans or whether it is directed against others, we can find a way to support their investigations."

Meanwhile, Britain and other members of the European Union have vowed to continue their support to India and other states in fighting international terrorism.

"We condemn without reservation international terrorism in all its forms," British Foreign Office Minister John Battle said in a statement on behalf of the 15-member EU presidency yesterday.

"We are relieved that the hijack crisis was resolved without further loss of life, and that the remaining hostages have now returned home safely," he said in the statement.Top

 

Oxford Dictionary to go online
From John Ezard

ONE OF the crowning glories of British literary culture — the unique,116-year-old full Oxford English Dictionary (OED) — could cease to exist in up-to-date book form after it goes online on a subscription website in three months’ time.

No decision has yet been taken about whether to produce a new print edition of the dictionary, which runs to 20 volumes and costs 1,800 (US $ 2,900).

But "the internet is simply the way forward for all big reference projects’’, Ms Juliet New, spokeswoman for the Oxford University Press (OUP) online project, said on Tuesday.

Loss of the OED book version would be the biggest inroad the Net has yet made into the printed word. Until the mid-1990s the OUP was pressing ahead with a US $ 57m scheme to bring out an updated, revised book edition in 2010, linked to a new CD-ROM version. This would have been the third printed edition.

The first section, edited by Sir James Murray, came out in 1884 and the first full edition in 1928. It evolved unchallenged into the world’s biggest, most authoritative dictionary, esteemed for its comprehensive lists of historical word usage as well as meaning. The second edition came out in 1989.

But the third book edition has now been shelved in favour of the internet launch in March.

New words and updates will be added on the website rather than in print.

What the dictionary’s Chief Editor, John Simpson, calls "a dramatic change of plan’’ was prompted chiefly by the USA. He said staff met a growing expectation among academics "that online searching of major reference and other textual resources would soon become a principal medium of access".

The switch to electronic lexicography follows three years of discussion and market research.

Ms New said: "A lot of that time was spent going to institutions and individuals to find out what they wanted. We know there is a potential and a market. We would never have gone into it otherwise.’’

The online version is expected to grow into a monster twice the size of the second print edition — which already stretches to some 40,000 pages thanks to supplementary volumes issued during the 1990s with a total of 9,000 new entries.

In March, a further 1,000 new entries will be added to the Internet version. More new entries will go online four times a year; and many of the two million existing quot- ations will be continuously revised until — under existing plans — the new edition is regarded as complete in 2010.

The OUP plans to charge annual licence fees to users. On Tuesday it refused to disclose how much, but said individuals would pay less than corporate users or libraries.

— The Guardian, LondonTop

 

1 b illiterate in world: Unicef

ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 (ANI) — The world has entered the new millennium with an estimated one billion illiterate people, about 130 million of them children in the developing countries. To educate all children the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says, the world will need to spend an additional $ 7 billion per year over the next 10 years — which is less than the amount spent annually on cosmetics in the USA or on icecream in Europe, and less than a tenth of the world’s annual military spending.

The growing number of functional illiterates, two-thirds of them women, in the world will not only lack the knowledge to operate a computer but also be unable to fill a simple application form. UNICEF said more than 130 million children of primary school age in developing countries, including 73 million girls, were growing up without access to basic education.

"The world can no longer afford such an enormous waste of human potential." UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said. She pointed out that the consequences of illiteracy are profound and even potentially life-threatening.

Yet, despite these ringing affirmations over the past half-century, about 855 million people are functionally illiterate. Of the 130 million children growing up without access to basic education, girls represent nearly two out of every three in the developing world. There is an unmistakable correlation between education and mortality rates, especially child mortality.Top

 

Clinton scandal papers on net

NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters) — Documents from the sex scandal that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in connection with his affair with Monica Lewinsky will be posted in their entirety on the Internet next week, a leading publisher has said.

Random House said yesterday that the documents — used extensively by one of its authors, Jeffrey Toobin, in his new book on the scandal — would be available on Tuesday, (January 11) at www.vastconspiracy.com.

In a brief interview, Toobin said none of the documents had been available in their entirety before, including the full text of Paula Jones’ affidavit describing the "distinguishing characteristics" of Clinton’s private parts.

Jones, whose sexual harassment suit against Clinton brought the Lewinsky affair to light, alleged that Clinton exposed himself to her at a Little Rock, Arkansas hotel in 1991 when he was Arkansas Governor. Clinton denied that allegation.Top

 

Congo rebels kill 210 troops

KIGALI, Jan 6 (Reuters) — Rebel fighters have killed at least 210 government troops in two bouts of fresh fighting on the northwestern front in the democratic republic of Congo, a rebel leader said.

Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba, who heads the Ugandan-backed Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), told Reuters that 150 government troops were killed early yesterday during an attack on the rebel-held fishing village of Kuka.

The other 60 were killed in a separate ambush. There was no independent confirmation of either report.Top

 
WORLD BRIEFS

Michael Douglas to wed Zeta-Jones
los angeles: Actor Michael Douglas and Welsh-born actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose romance has become the stuff of British tabloids, said they were engaged to be married. Douglas, 55, proposed to the 30-year-old raven-haired Zeta-Jones at his home in the posh ski resort of Aspen, Colorado, on New Year’s eve, and she accepted, the couple said in a statement released by his publicist, Allen Burry. While their ages are 25 years apart, they both share the same date of birth — September 25. — Reuters

New South Korean Prime Minister
SEOUL:
Park Tae-Joon, president of the United Liberal Democrats (ULD), a partner in the ruling coalition, is expected to be named the next Prime Minister of South Korea. President Kim Dae-jung will make a formal announcement next week. Mr Park Tae-Joon will be replacing Premier Kim Jong-Pil who has decided to quit before the expiry of his term, a presidential secretary said. Park Tae-Joon (72) who is the founder of the world’s largest steel making company, Pohang Iron and Steel Corporation, would formally announce his acceptance on Friday, an ULD spokesman said. — ANI

Kennedy backs Al Gore
DORCHESTER, (MASS):
Sen Edward Kennedy has endorsed Vice-President Al Gore’s White House bid, and rejected the contention of a fellow top Democrat that Gore cannot win the US Presidency. Mr Kennedy, a Democratic elder statesman from Massachusetts, said on Wednesday, "I respectfully disagree" with Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York. Mr Moynihan on September last endorsed former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley for the party’s presidential nomination, saying that "There’s nothing the matter with Mr Gore, except he cannot win." — Reuters

Nazi collaborator hospitalised
PARIS:
Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, 89, was rushed overnight to hospital from Paris’s La Sante prison suffering from suspected heart trouble, French radio said on Thursday, quoting his lawyers. Papon has been in jail since October 22, when he began to serve a 10-year sentence for crimes against humanity for involvement in deporting 1,500 Jews from southwestern France during World War II. — Reuters

Pinochet aides not to be quizzed
SANTIAGO:
Chile’s Supreme Court has rejected a French judge’s request to question about 50 colleagues of Augusto Pinochet to see if they played a role in the deaths of several Frenchmen during the former Chilean dictator’s 1973-1990 rule. The court argued on Wednesday that French Magistrate Roger Le Loire cannot judge possible crimes that occurred on Chilean soil. — Reuters

Sleeping with mother’s ashes
LONDON:
Actress Patsy Kensit, wife of bad-boy pop star Liam Gallagher of the British band Oasis, has revealed that she keeps her mother’s ashes by her bed — and hugs the urn when she is feeling down. "I know it sounds weird but I like to be near her," Kensit told GQ magazine on Wednesday. — Reuters

Neeson best Irish actor
DUBLIN:
Liam Neeson, the northern Ireland-born star of Michael Collins and blockbuster Star Wars epic the phantom menace, has been voted best Irish actor by Screen audiences, the examiner newspaper reported. Neeson topped the list of five actors, which included Gabriel Byrne but omitted both Irish-born Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Day-Lewis, star of "My Left Foot". — Reuters

Red Cross halts relief after raid
BOGOTA:
the International Committee of the Red Cross has suspended all operations in Colombia after peasant refugees smashed their way with sticks into the organisation’s headquarters here and took 40 officials hostage. A mob of some 100 peasants displaced from their homes by the country’s long-running war are demanding the government and the ICRC help them find new homes and grant them health care and education. — Reuters
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