|Thursday, March 23, 2000,
strong call for Palestinian homeland
DPP stalls on freedom
Pak schedule a secret
may have sunk Titanic
steps down from Law Society
Syria close to deal
Popes strong call for Palestinian homeland
BETHLEHEM, (West Bank), March 22 (Reuters) Pope John Paul today made an impassioned plea for a Palestinian homeland at the start of a historic visit to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus.
No one can ignore how much the Palestinian people have had to suffer in recent decades. Your torment is before the eyes of the world. And it has gone on too long, the Pope said in a speech at a welcoming ceremony with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
The Pope, on a week-long pilgrimage to the holy land, said the Vatican had always recognised that the Palestinian people have the natural right to a homeland, and the right to be able to live in peace and tranquillity with the other peoples of this area.
In the international forum, my predecessors and I have repeatedly proclaimed that there would be no end to the sad conflict in the holy land without stable guarantees for the rights of all peoples involved, on the basis of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions and declarations, he said at Arafats presidential palace.
Arafat has vowed to declare an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this year with or without a deal with Israel in negotiations on a peace treaty that resumed in Washington this week.
The Pope said legitimate Palestinian aspirations could only be met through a just and lasting peace and he called for courage, compromise and compliance with the demands of justice from the parties involved. On arrival in Bethlehem, the Pope kissed a bowl of soil, an act seen by Palestinians as a papal seal for their aspirations to an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Jerusalem: Israeli police have detained an ultra-orthodox Jew for pronouncing a death curse on the Pope, a police official said today.
The official said the suspect, who had a criminal record, was arrested on Tuesday night. He would be detained under a court order until the Pope left the Holy Land on Sunday.
The suspect, Meir Baranes, and a fringe group of ultra-orthodox Jews placed the curse on the Pope at a midnight rite at a cemetery in northern Israel, the official said.
The ceremony was reminiscent of rabbinical curses cast on Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin before his assassination by a right-wing Jew in 1995.
DUBAI (UNI): Pope John Paul II arrived in Israel on Tuesday night on the first papal visit to the Jewish nation in 36 years,stressing the urgent need for West Asian peace and appealing for greater religious dialogue.
The Pope was received on his arrival at Tel Avivs Ben Guerion Airport by Israeli President Ezer Weizman, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, ministers and religious figures.
Israel has welcomed the
Popes visit but extremists and activists in the
country condemned the trip and wrote anti-papal grafitti
at the Skopes mountain that overlooks Jerusalem and the
first site where the Popes helicopter was to land.
Taiwans DPP stalls on freedom
TAIPEI, March 22 (Reuters) Taiwans Democratic Progressive Party, swept to power in the presidential elections last week, ended a meeting today with no decision on whether to scrap its demand for a separate state.
Its central executive committee decided to kick the issue over to the partys policy committee for further study, Secretary-General You Hsi-Kun told a news conference.
The central executive committee has no way of making a decision, You told reporters. After discussion, we reached a consensus and decided to send it to the policy committee for further study.
Seeking to lower the temperature with Beijing, DPP legislator Chen Zau-Nan, a member of the executive, proposed replacing a clause in the party charter demanding a Republic of Taiwan.
He proposed a vaguely worded formula asserting Taiwans status as a sovereign independent country. In other words, the party would not actively push for independence by changing Taiwans official name the Republic of China but simply recognise what most people on the island already consider a reality.
Clintons Pak schedule a secret
ISLAMABAD, March 22 (PTI) The Pakistani authorities are keeping US President Bill Clintons itinerary during his stopover here a secret for security reasons, media reported today.
The government as well as US officials here are tight-lipped over the schedule of Mr Clintons engagements on Saturday, which appear unusual as such high-profile visits by a Head of state are programmed well ahead.
Not that the timings and venue of the US Presidents engagements have not been worked out, but officials of both countries are keeping the schedule highly secret, which is part of the security hammered out by both of them, English daily The Nation reported.
However, it is known that Mr Clinton will meet his Pakistani counterpart Mohammad Rafiq Tarar briefly and hold a two-hour meeting with chief executive Gen Pervez Musharraf. The President will also address the nation live over television and radio.
A Pakistani official said the presidential schedule will remain a secret till the last moment.
If the timing of his engagements are leaked out somehow, though there is very little chance, there is a possibility that his engagement might be rescheduled by half an hour, he said.
Nepali Cabinet announced
KATHMANDU, March 22 (AFP) A fresh 25-member government under Nepals new Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was announced today by King Birendra.
Mr Koirala was given the portfolios of Defence, the Royal Palace, Sports, Culture, Social Welfare and Women, the state radio announced.
Mr Mahesh Acharya was given the Finance portfolio, which he left in early February over differences with former Prime Minister K.P. Bhattarai. The pair disagreed over the appointment of Mr Tilak Rawal as the Governor of Nepals Rastra Bank.
Mr Chakara Prasad Banstola was made Foreign Minister, and Mr Govinda Raj Joshi Home Minister. New entrant Mr Tirtha Ram Dangol was made the state Minister for Health.
In all, there were six new entrants into the Council of Ministers, which heads the Nepali government and consists of 14 Cabinet ministers and 11 state ministers.
Mr Ram Chandra Paudyel was retained as Deputy Prime Minister and was also given the portfolio of Local Development.
Sunspots may have sunk Titanic
LONDON, March 22 (DPA) A combination of unusual solar activity and bad timing helped sink the titanic, a new study of sunspots published in Britain suggests.
Research by Mr Edward Lawrence, a scientist at the meteorological office for more than 30 years, suggests the liner set sail across the North Atlantic at the riskiest possible time for iceberg collisions.
The paper, published in the Royal Meteorological Society journal Weather and quoted in the Daily Telegraph, also reports that a sudden drop in temperature recorded by the crew hours before the collision was a sign of looming icebergs.
Mr Lawrence believes the influence of the weather on the sinking of the Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912, with the loss of 1,500 lives, had not been as well documented as all the other circumstances.
Lawrence, 87 of Bracknell near here said: Everyone though that the weather was so lovely that it couldnt have had anything to do with it. But it was weather phenomenon.
His study of records suggests a strong connection between the number of icebergs in the area where the Titanic sank and the 11-year cycle of rising and falling sunspots dark patches that appear on the surface of the sun from time to time. The little ice age of the late 17th century coincided with a period of extremely low sunspot activity.
Mr Lawrance also found that one or two years before a sunspot minimum, stronger than normal anti-cyclones tend to form above the Northwest North Atlantic. These are associated with light Westerly winds, more Northerlies than usual and colder sea temperatures. As a result, icebergs are more commonly found at the southern extreme of their range in the North Atlantic in these years.
The maiden voyage of the
Titanic in 1912 came just over a year before the sunspot
cycle reached its lowest in July 1913. At this time,
there were more icebergs than usual, and the ocean was
colder than normal, said Mr Lawrence. April is also the
start of the spring peak for icebergs.
Famine in Mongolia
MONGOLIA is on the verge of disaster with half a million people from herders communities facing starvation after the worst winter in 30 years, senior UN officials are warning.
Up to half the livestock in some areas have died so fast that their carcasses are piled up around the herders felt-roofed tents, known as yurts.
(The sheep) eat soil and stones in desperation, one herder told a UN official, and my surviving cow has been nibbling my two horses tails. Milk products on which the herding families rely have almost disappeared as cattle die or stop lactating. Mothers are being forced to feed their babies on rice water.
Without horses to ride, pregnant women about to give birth have to walk miles to hospitals which lack essential equipment. Fuel for the few ambulances must be paid for.
An emergency report from the UN disaster management team (UNDMT) says: For most people in the affected areas, their animals are the only sources of food, transport, heating materials and purchasing power, and the access to medical services and childrens education.
All the horses disappeared during the first heavy snowfall and no one has been able to find them, reports a UN technical adviser, Damien Wohlfahrt, from Dundgobi, where entire herds have been wiped out.
Pneumonia cases are reported to be increasing, says the report. The influenza pandemic reached Mongolia in late January... (and) has been spreading rapidly.
Schools have stayed shut because children cannot get to classes or because their families are trekking long distances in search of fresh pasture. Other children are left behind with a grandparent - as many as 12 in the charge of one elderly adult. Experts have long warned that the crisis was waiting to happen, in a country where post-communist economic reforms worsened the position of Mongolias already numerous poor.
The current food emergency follows several years in which nutritional standards have been falling ... as the economy has been reoriented from one which was centrally planned to one which is market driven, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Those most affected by poverty and food insecurity include the unemployed, the elderly, female headed households and pensioners.
NRI steps down from Law Society
LONDON, March 22 (PTI) A leading non-resident Indian (NRI) solicitor, Ms Kamlesh Bahl, has resigned as the Vice-President of the Law Society, the governing body for 80,000 solicitors in England and Wales.
Ms Bahl, who was in line to become the first woman and also the first Asian to become the President of the powerful body, was suspended from the societys council last week following a highly critical report by former law Lord Lora Griffiths, which held her guilty of bullying her staff.
Israel, Syria close to deal
WASHINGTON, March 22 (AP) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says Syria and Israel have come close to a peace agreement through indirect discussions that have continued since their US-brokered formal negotiations broke down in January.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa have used special envoys as well as official American and British go-betweens to maintain contact, Mr Mubarak told The Washington Post in an interview published today.
US President Bill Clinton and Syrian President Hafez Assad are to meet on Sunday in Geneva, and if formal talks resume as expected, the remaining issues will not be so complicated, Mr Mubarak said.
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