|Sunday, January 9, 2000,
repression not working
|USA halts childs return to
MIAMI, Jan 8 In efforts to prevent Elian Gonzalezs return to Cuba, an anti-Castro lawmaker subpoenaed him to testify before a congressional committee and one of his Miami relatives sought to become his legal guardian.
kill 1m women in year
linked to Jimmy Carter?
puts off siege of Grozny
New US initiative on peace talks
WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters, PTI) President Bill Clinton spoke on telephone on Friday with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to update them on the Israel-Syria Peace talks, the White House said.
The purpose of the yesterdays calls was to provide them with a readout of the talks in Shepherdstown, National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said.
Mr Clinton yesterday made his fourth trip in five days to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to try to nudge along the talks being held in that town between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shara.
Mr Hammer said Mr Arafat, whose Palestinians are also trying to reach a final peace deal with Israel, was called because of his role in the West Asia peace process.
Mr Schroeder and Mr Chirac were called because the European allies had traditionally been involved in and supported the peace process, Mr Hammer said. US officials have said they would look to Europe to help provide financial support for any peace deal.
The President met the Israeli Premier the Syrian Foreign Minister and presented to them a working document to bridge differences that have held up talks on a potential peace deal between the two sides.
Mr Clinton personally intervened to resolve the latest stalemate, presenting to both leaders a paper containing summary of peace talks four years ago between slain Israeli Premier Yitzak Rabin and President Assad of Syria.
Briefing newsmen on the latest round of peace talks later in Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin said the working document provides a summary of the issues to be decided and the differences between the parties.
It is designed as a procedural tool for focus on substantive discussions and bridge differences that exist.
The spokesman indicated that Mr Clinton did not make any suggestions on how it was to be done. He left that to delegations of the two sides, who have so far fought three wars and even now still officially in a state of war.
After receiving the paper, both sides said they would resume talks, held up since Thursday, after a days holiday, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of fasting, Ramzan.
After the meeting, delegation leaders may go to their respective capitals, leaving some of their officials in the committees, unless they decide otherwise.
No Israel-Syria pact imminent: report
WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (AFP) White House officials close to Israeli-Syrian peace talks believe there is little chance of a core peace agreement in the next few days, The New York Times reported today.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara will probably return home tomorrow or on Monday. But a second round of talks is expected to be reconvened in the next few weeks, the newspaper said, citing several unnamed officials close to the talks.
The officials told the newspaper yesterday that there was virtually no chance that the core text (of a peace agreement) would be agreed to before Barak and Shara return to the Middle East.
The talks, which began on Monday took a break yesterday, as the three-day Muslim Id-ul-fitr festival began and with Israeli negotiators due to observe the Jewish sabbath from sundown yesterday.
While some work was expected to restart late today, formal meetings were not expected to resume until tomorrow, State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday.
President Bill Clinton yesterday presented Mr Barak and Mr Shara with a seven-page working document providing a summary of the issues to be decided and the differences between the parties.
It had earlier been
reported that the Clinton administration hoped to emerge
from this set of talks with a framework agreement that
would be more concrete than a set of objectives, but far
less complete than a treaty.
China tries to explain away
Buddhist leaders flight
THE TIBETAN youth was heavily muffled against the Himalayan cold and to avoid discovery by Chinese police patrols. With a small group of four of five monks, also in disguise, he had travelled across the high plateau for nearly a week, on foot and by mule.
The snow in the final pass was so deep that it buried the prayer flags and cairns of stones left by generations of pilgrims. A piercing wind swept down from Mount Everest as the party struggled on, down a perilous road threatened by ice-falls.
From Tsurphu monastery, near Lhasa, to the border usually takes two days by land-cruiser. Urgyen Trinley Doje, the 17th Karmapa of the Kagyu sect, who is being groomed by China to be the Living Buddha, took nearly a week to reach Nepal and then Dharamsala, in the hills of northern India the seat of the Tibetan government in exile.
But the atrocious weather and the distraction of the new year must have helped the group circumvent Chinese checkpoints and find an unguarded route across the border.
On Friday Beijing was struggling in embarrassment to explain why the 17th Karmapa the third most important figure in Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy has joined the Tibets spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in exile. A statement from the official Chinese news agency admitted that he had gone abroad, without saying that he is now in Dharamsala.
Even if 15-year-old Urgyen Trinley Dorje remains silent, keeping the door open for an eventual return home, it is a heavy blow for Beijing to see him in the camp of the spiritual leader it so bitterly denounced as a traitor.
Beijing claimed that the Karmapa had left a letter saying he was just going to collect some musical instruments and sacred headgear used in his sects ceremonies.
It did not explain why the youth should have done so without first telling his Chinese minders who were perhaps lulled by his previous good behaviour.
Only last year the Chinese press poured praise on the young Karmapa. He was taken to Beijing to meet senior Communist party leaders, and was quoted as saying he would follow the teachings of President Jiang Zemin as well as those of Buddha.
In accordance with Tibetan Buddhist practice, the 17th Karmapa was identified as the reincarnation of his predecessor when a child. A search team was sent out in 1992, armed with a prediction by the late 16th Karmapa and instructions from the Dalai Lama and found the boy.
He had already been talent-spotted by a local abbot who was impressed by his fine white, clear features. When the party approached, the future 17th Karmapa is supposed to have cried out; My monks are coming. Im going to my monastery!
Though re-incarnation is hardly a socialist doctrine, Beijing made the shrewd tactical decision to approve the Dalais choice, hoping to cultivate the young man as a religious counter-weight.
Like the young Dalai Lama in the early 1950s, the Karmapa was taken to Beijing and coached in the wisdom of the Communist party. But his secret journey to India revives memories of the Dalai Lamas flight, after the March, 1959, Tibetan uprising in Lhasa.
Yesterdays Chinese statement said the young Karmapa had left Tsurphu monastery with a small number of people around him. The wording may allow Beijing to argue later that the young man was led astray by his entourage just as it claimed the Dalai was in 1959.
Beijing says he left behind a letter saying he did not mean to betray the state, the nation, the monastery or the [national] leadership. The admission that the journey could be seen as an act of betrayal shows Chinas anxiety.
Karma Yeshi, vice-president of the militant Tibetan Youth Congress, said yesterday in Dharamsala. We welcomed him into India and paid homage to him. It is good news for all Tibetans, both in exile and still living in Tibet.
The Tsurphu monastery has become a tourist attraction, with the support of the Chinese authorities. Supporters have funded its rebuilding after its destruction in the Cultural Revolution. Videotapes of the Karmapa and holy relics can be ordered from the movements websites abroad.
But in spite of Beijings approval of the Karmapa, his monastery has suffered from increasingly crude efforts by local Communist officials in Tibet to weed out potential dissent.
The young Karmapa complains that he was denied permission to visit his guru in exile, Tai Situ Rinpoche. This may have spurred him to leave.
Re-education teams have made repeated visits to Tibetan monasteries giving compulsory lessons in patriotism under the slogan Love your country, love religion. Monks and nuns have been forced to repudiate the Dalai Lama, and some monasteries have been closed. In 1995 five monks at the Karmapas monastery were said to have been arrested after throwing stones at government officials.
Recent visitors to Tibet say officials have become more heavy-handed since summer when Beijing launched its campaign against the Falun Gong sect even though the Falun Gong has no appeal to Tibetan Buddhists.
Chinese repression not working
NEW YORK, Jan 8 (AP) The dramatic escape into exile of Tibets last primary Buddhist leader was the second incident in two days to show the Chinese Governments persistent problems with organised religion.
The 14-year-old Karmapa, leader of one of Tibetan Buddhisms four sects, arrived on Wednesday at Dharamsala, India, to meet the Dalai Lama, Tibets political ruler in exile.
On Thursday, Catholics aligned with Chinas Communist regime and ordained five new bishops not recognised by Rome on the very day that Pope John Paul-II was conducting his annual elevation of new bishops from around the world. That timing was interpreted as a snub that dooms, at least for now, Vatican efforts to normalise the church situation.
China has also detained thousands of Falun Gong followers since outlawing the spiritual movement five months ago.
The harrowing flight of the Karmapa across the Himalayas reveals the shambles of Chinas policy of trying to manage religion, says Robert Thurman, Columbia University professor and friend of the Dalai Lama. There suppression is not working, and their attempt to pretend to get along with Buddhism doesnt work, either.
Mr John Ackerly, president of the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington, said the Beijing regime tried to use the Karmapa to showcase their religious freedom policies. It will make it much more embarrassing that hes been so highly covered by official media.
Mr Thurman said it was essential for the Karmapa to leave so he could receive a thorough Buddhist education and pass on his tradition, which he said was not possible under the Chinese control.
The only major Buddhist
figure who remains in Tibet, said Lopei, is the Panchen
Lama designated by the Chinese government. But he
has absolutely no status with the Tibetan
people because the Dalai Lama has recognised a
different youth whose whereabouts are now unknown.
USA halts childs return to Cuba
MIAMI, Jan 8 (AP) In efforts to prevent Elian Gonzalezs return to Cuba, an anti-Castro lawmaker subpoenaed him to testify before a congressional committee and one of his Miami relatives sought to become his legal guardian.
Rep. Dan Burton said he subpoenaed six-year-old Elian to testify before the Committee on Government Reform on February 10, so he remains in the country while the courts consider his case.
At least 100 supporters cheered wildly as Elian holding the subpoena in front of his face while being held aloft by a relative appeared outside the house where he has been staying with relatives. He gave the peace sign before heading back indoors.
But in Cuba, Elians father was angry about Burtons subpoena.
What right does that man have? Juan Miguel Gonzalez said during a news conference in his hometown of Cardenas. I am the father of Elian and immigration has said that I am the only one who can speak for him
Elian was found on Thanksgiving Day clinging to an inner tube at sea after his mother, stepfather and eight other people drowned while trying to reach Florida by boat.
The boy was placed with
his great-uncle and great-aunt in Miami, but the
Immigration and Naturalisation Service ruled on Wednesday
that he must be returned to his father in Cuba by January
14. The decision touched off protests in the
Abortions kill 1m women in year
JAKARTA, Jan 8 (IPS) The government says it is illegal, and social mores in this predominantly Muslim country say it is unacceptable. But more than 1.3 million Indonesians undergo abortions each year here anyway, says a United Nations agency official here and with disastrous results.
Experts estimate that between 750,000 to one million women died while undergoing abortion last year alone. But the figures are uncertain because, as Health Research Centre Director Budi Utomo points out, abortion is not supposed to be performed in Indonesia at all.
Such numbers, however, indicate a high mortality rate among the Indonesian women who get abortions. Mr Nesim Tumkaya, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, says that annually, there are 1.3 to 1.45 million abortions in this country.
Taking this with the previous figure, this means that more than half of the women who undergo abortions in Indonesia die because of the procedure.
Mr Budi says because abortion is illegal, the practice can hardly be monitored or controlled. He adds that often, it is done by newly graduated doctors or traditional midwives. Observers say sheer ineptitude or questionable methods put the lives of their patients in danger.
In several villages in West Java, for example, there are village midwives who specialise in perforasi, in which the head of the foetus, usually six months old, is perforated with a hairpin while still in the womb. Sometimes, the head is also pulled with a sash.
Such methods, usually done in unhygienic surroundings, often lead to complications that include haemorrhage and all sorts of infections.
Official statistics show that 19,000 women die of maternal complications each year, with bleeding (46.7 per cent) as the number one cause of death. Eclampsia, or convulsions during pregnancy or labour, is second (14.5 per cent) while infection is third (8 per cent).
While noting that the number seems to be a gross underestimation, some experts believe the causes of death cited have more to do with abortions than full-term deliveries.
Interestingly enough, another set of statistics, this time from the population council, Jakarta, indicates that abortion is being carried out more on married women than those who are single. According to data collected by the council from private and public medical centres between 1997 and 1998, 98.8 per cent of the abortion cases involved married women.
Economics was the main reason cited by these women for having abortions. Many feared that they simply could not afford to raise the child. Experts believe that these women are likely to already have at least one child.
Mr Budi speculates that
the high rate of abortion among those who are married
point to a low use of contraceptives. or, he
offers, we could say that contraceptive service
leaves a lot to be desired.
Elvis Presley linked to Jimmy Carter?
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 8 (Reuters) What do Elvis Presley and former US President Jimmy Carter have in common? Genealogists say the answer is a 17th-century German ancestor who might make them sixth cousins once removed.
In honour of the kings 65th birthday he would reach retirement age today if still alive a San Francisco genealogical web site yesterday reprinted little-known research claiming that Presley and the 39th President of the USA are part of the same family.
The publishers of Rootsweb Review (http://rootsweb.com) said the findings were first published in a scholarly work, More Palantine families, in 1991 by Mr Henry Z. Jones, a researcher specialising in Palantine (German) genealogy.
According to Mr Jones, the immigrant ancestor of Presleys paternal line was Valentine Preslar, born in Germany around 1669, who immigrated to New York with his wife, Anna Christina Framse, in 1709. Among their three sons and two daughters was Andreas Preslar, who was born in Germany in 1701 and died in Anson county, North Carolina in 1759, Jones found.
The same research shows
that Mr Carter also descends from Valentine Preslar (the
name sometimes is spelled Presslar, Presler, or Bressler)
and Anna Christiana Framse, through their son Andreas and
his wife Anne (Antje) Wells.
Russia puts off siege of Grozny
MOSCOW, Jan 8 (Reuters) Russias Acting President Vladimir Putin vowed to press on attacking the Chechen capital Grozny but said Moscow had ordered a pause in the siege partly out of respect for Christian orthodox and Muslim celebrations.
Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas while Muslims prepared to celebrate Id Ul-Fitr.
Vowing to push on with the military drive to wipe out what Moscow calls terrorists, he said: Our aims remain unchanged and they will be achieved. Have a good holiday.
Mr Putin also dismissed an announcement by a senior Army commander that some of Russias top military brass in the rebel region, including Generals Vladimir Shamanov and Gennady Troshev, had been removed after the military push slowed in recent weeks.
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