|Monday, May 15, 2000,
divides Russia into 7 districts
scribes missing in Philippines
SC ruling: PML not to appeal
Corruption cannot be ended in 3 years:
Lankan minister slams media censorship
Will NPT meeting end tamely?
20 die in fireworks depot fire
ENSCHEDE, (Netherlands) May 14 rescue workers searched through the night for survivors and victims after a blaze ripped through a fireworks depot, engulfing an entire city neighborhood in billowing fireballs and a thick pall of smoke. At least 20 persons were killed and 230 injured.
fighting lung cancer
Love Bug suspect to be
Japans ex-PM Obuchi dead
planned N-bomb for moon
Narayanan to visit China on May 28
India to provide visas online in Lanka
Putin divides Russia into 7 districts
MOSCOW, May 14 (PTI) in what is seen as an attempt to consolidate his position, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree dividing the country into seven federal districts, barely a week after he was sworn-in.
The federal districts will be headed by presidential representatives, who will help the President in exercising his constitutional powers and in monitoring the implementation of his domestic and foreign policies and federal laws by the regional authorities, according to a decree signed yesterday.
The decree will facilitate the government in firmly administering, at times unruly, federation of 89 ethnic regions, many of which like Chechnya have been ignoring the federal laws and constitution.
The new decree comes two days after Mr Putin suspended policies passed by the Ingush, Bashkirian and Amur authorities, saying that they contradicted federal laws.
But according to figures cited by the privately-owned NTV, more than half of Russias regions have local laws that contradict the federal structure.
According to a Kremlin press note, the 89 ethnic republics, territories and regions of the Russian Federation will be combined in seven federal districts viz. central federal district with headquarters at Moscow, north-western (St. Petersburg), north-Caucasus federal district (Rostov-on-Don), Volga federal district (Nizhny Novgorod), Ural federal district (Ekaterinburg), Siberian federal district (Novosibirsk) and far-eastern federal district (Khabarovsk).
The presidential representatives, who cannot be appointed for a period more than the term of the President will report directly to him about the political, economic and national security situation in their respective regions.
By his decree Mr Putin has abolished the inefficient institute of presidential representatives in the regions, introduced by Mr Yeltsin, as they were dependent on the regional lords.
Though the modalities of the new administrative system and powers of the presidential representatives are still unclear, their appointment will undermine the role of the Upper House since its powerful members - regional governors and legislature chiefs, who were found to be encouraging regional separatism, till now will be under the direct and total control of the Kremlin.
According to spokesman of the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry Yuri Bespalko, the decree expands scope for Russias nuclear technology and equipment exports to foreign countries, and Mr Putin had India in mind while signing it.
When asked to clarify that since India considers itself a nuclear weapon state, how this decree could be beneficial to New Delhi, Kremlin sources said Moscow was guided by the definition of NWS given by the IAEA, which gave this status to countries which had exploded their nuclear devices by January, 1967.
diplomatic sources in Moscow were not willing to make any
comment till the full text of the decree was published in
the official media, though it has already been pasted on
the Kremlin website.
9 French scribes missing in Philippines
JOLO, May 14 (AFP) Five of nine journalists, who disappeared in rebel territory while covering the Philippine hostage crisis returned here today but three Frenchmen and a Filipino remain missing, officials said.
Provincial Governor Abdasakur Tan said the five had returned to Jolo and authorities were not immediately worried about those still missing.
If they do not turn up tomorrow then we should take it seriously, he said.
Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebels earlier today denied kidnapping the journalists, who were last seen near the rebel base where 21 mostly foreign hostages are being held.
JOLO, Philippines (Reuters) Up to nine journalists, most of them French, may still be missing on the Philippine island where Muslim rebels are holding foreign hostages, the police said today.
Earlier, Presidential Adviser Robert Aventajado had said eight of 12 journalists all but one foreigners who went missing on Jolo island yesterday had returned safely, and the four others might come back today.
Abu Sayyaf rebels have held 21 mostly foreign hostages in a jungle stronghold on Jolo since kidnapping them from a Malaysian diving resort on April 23.
The police in Jolo town, 960 km south of Manila, said three journalists had returned and another five who returned might not have been among the original 12, as earlier thought.
I am just as confused as you are, provincial police chief Colonel Candido Casimiro told Reuters, when asked to specify the exact number of journalists still unaccounted for.
Colonel Casimiro said the police had based their estimates of up to nine journalists possibly still missing on statements by two local drivers who today said they were waiting for the journalists to return and pay them.
The involvement of hostages from six foreign countries Finland, France, Germany, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa has drawn news organisations from many countries to this tropical island in the southern Philippines.
Since the guerrillas brought the 21 mostly foreign hostages to their lair three weeks ago, some other journalists have hiked to the Abu Sayyaf hideout, spent at least one night there and returned safely.
Local officials said the journalists had set out early yesterday and a vehicle was found abandoned near the rebel stronghold, a four-hour climb from the road.
One of the journalists who returned last evening said: we just went out for a drive.
SC ruling: PML not to appeal
ISLAMABAD, May 14 (PTI) Deposed former premier Nawaz Sharifs Pakistan Muslim League has ruled out appealing against the Friday Supreme Court ruling, vesting military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf with full legislative powers while subjecting his legislative measures to judicial review, but predicted that it would ultimately create a rift between the military regime and the judiciary.
The PML has decided not to appeal against the supreme Court verdict, Convener Coordination Committee of the league Raja Zafarul Haq said.
Th Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. Therefore, there cannot be any appeal or review against its verdict, Mr Haq told The News in an interview published today.
He said partys central working committee would meet on May 17 here to discuss the Supreme Court verdict.
Meanwhile, a PML spokesman, referring to the apex courts judgement, which validated the army rule and gave it three years for the restoration of democracy, said, The military rulers would take judicial review as straitjacket for the implementation of their declared agenda.
It was unlikely that they would not overstep the parameters defined by the apex court, he said in a statement.
He said the three-year deadline would bog the country further down into the politico-economic mess.
Military regimes seven-month rule showed that it had compounded countrys problems at the national and international front, he claimed, adding that the present generals were no different from their predecessors who had made a mess of the Constitution to further their interests.
Meanwhile, former Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Asma Jehangir said she failed to understand why the Supreme Court had ruled that fundamental rights of the citizens could be taken away.
In an interview with Radio Teheran, she lamented that rights of the people had been thrown away by the court ruling, saying the Pakistani nation had not yet gotten rid of the doctrine of necessity.
The apex court decision has provided full powers to Gen Pervez Musharraf for legislation at the cost of some fundamental rights, she observed.
With this (verdict) the country had become ungovernable, she said.
Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali said the court had kept alive its tradition of siding with the corridors of power.
From Justice Munir to Justice Irshad, the tradition has been kept alive, he told newsmen after a human rights convention in Peshawar.
The GDA would meet on May 20 to evolve a strategy after the courts verdict while ANPs central executive committee would meet on May 29 to decide on future party policy, he said.
Corruption cannot be ended in 3 years: NAB chief
ISLAMABAD, May 14 (PTI) Chairman of the Pakistans National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lt-Gen Syed Mohammad Amjad has said the accountability process cannot be completed in three years.
We can not cleanse the country of corruption in three years time. But we hope that the people who come after us will keep up the good work, Gen Amjad told newsmen during his visit to Sindh Madristul Islam.
His remarks come in the wake of the May 12 verdict of the Pakistani Supreme Court in the case against the October 12 military takeover.
The court had validated the military take over on grounds of corruption and economic destabilisation but ordered restoration of democracy in three years.
A 12-member bench of the court, headed by Chief Justice Irshad Hasan Khan had given the army another 90 days to hold fresh general elections.
Mr Amjad said the military government had started the accountability process despite few resources. He said he has prepared some recommendations that would soon be presented to the government.
About the arrest of Lakhani brothers, Amjad claimed the press was informed within three hours of the incident. He, however, refused to comment on the charges against them.
Lankan minister slams media censorship
COLOMBO, May 14 (PTI) Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has favoured the immediate lifting of the censorship on the Press imposed by his government saying that it is often counter-productive.
I always regret censorship, Mr Kadirgamar told Sri Lankas Sunday Times in an interview which was published today without any cuts from censors.
My feeling is that censorship is often counter-productive. I know there are many responsible journalists who report only what they see and much of it is in our favour. Speaking for myself, I would like to see the end of censorship without any delay, he said.
He said many extraneous issues like freedom of the Press and human rights complicated the matters, that too when the country was fighting for its own survival.
The Chandrika government imposed the present blanket censorship on all news emanating from Colombo on May 3 following the counter-attacks by the LTTE to recapture the northern Jaffna peninsula.
Mr Kadirgamar said Sri Lanka would possibly accept the recent Indian offer to mediate between Colombo and the LTTE.
Possibly, he said when asked whether Sri Lanka would accept Indias offer. But we must await an official intimation,, he said.
Asked about the fate of the ongoing Norwegian attempts to mediate in the Sri Lankan conflict, Mr Kadirgamar said we will take them on board as well.
Mr Kadirgamar, who had
recently returned to Colombo after undergoing a prolonged
treatment in New Delhi, however, said India had
officially confirmed External Affairs Minister Jaswant
Singhs remarks to a private television channel that
India would be willing to mediate if approached by both
Will NPT meeting end tamely?
WITH just a week more to go before the NPT review conference closes its four-week session at the UN, there is no certainty that the conference will come up with any significant decision that can give new life to the disarmament agenda which, according to the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, had lost momentum in an alarming way in recent years.
Two separate groupNew Agenda Coalition comprising seven countries, and the delegation of Malaysia and Costa Rica are engaged in intense efforts to seek support at the conference for their proposals for the acceleration of nuclear disarmament.
Malaysia and Costa Rica have submitted a working paper to give substance to the goal of NPT enshrined in Article VI of the treaty which obliged states parties to pursue negotiations, in good faith, on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and nuclear disarmament.
The working paper invokes in support of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice at the Hague and undermines the courts unanimous conclusion in this regard for obligatory negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.
Mr Hasmy Agam, permanent representative of Malaysia at the UN admits that it is going to be a tough, uphill battle because of the intransigent positions of the nuclear weapon states vis-a-vis the International Court of Justice advisory opinion specifically and nuclear disarmament in general. The working paper calls for the commencement of multilateral negotiations leading to the conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.
The two delegations, according to Mr Agam, would do their best to ensure that if not all elements, at least the substantial one would be incorporated into the final declaration of the review conference. Malaysia was among those that felt that the decision taken five years ago to extend the NPT indefinitely was a mistake. By doing so, we lost all leverage, Mr Agam said at the earlier this week. We are now at the mercy of the nuclear-weapon states, as to how to proceed on the issue.
According to Mr Alyn Ware, adviser to the New Zealand delegation at the review conference, there seems to be a lack of political will on the part of nuclear-weapon states to respond both to New Agenda Coalition proposals and to those put forward by Malaysia and Costa Rica. The New Agenda Coalition headed by New Zealand has suggested that the maintenance of a nuclear weapon-free world requires the underpinnings of a universally negotiated, legally binding instrument or framework encompassing a mutually reinforcing set of instruments.
The model convention
proposed by the working paper submitted by Malaysia and
Costa Rica differs from the non-aligned movements
time-bound framework approach and instead suggests phased
approaches of nuclear disarmament that could come into
effect. The working paper also suggests that those states
(like India and Pakistan) that had not acceeded to the
NPT should be invited to join in negotiations leading to
a nuclear weapons convention.
20 die in fireworks depot fire
ENSCHEDE, (Netherlands) may 14 (AP) rescue workers searched through the night for survivors and victims after a blaze ripped through a fireworks depot, engulfing an entire city neighborhood in billowing fireballs and a thick pall of smoke. At least 20 persons were killed and 230 injured.
Small explosions could still be heard overnight from the direction of the enschede north area, which resembled the ruins of a heavy bombing raid. There were no signs of life on the streets.
Homes in the several-block area were reduced to rubble and surrounded by burnt-out hulks of cars and mangled bicycles after the fire triggered multiple blasts on Saturday.
One of Grolsch beers two main breweries caught fire which was extinguished after a few hours.
Mayor Jan Mans warned that there could be more victims of the disaster, which involved 100 tonnes of explosives at the S. E. Fireworks storehouse. The cause of the fire was not known.
This is truly a calamity, said Mr Mans, adding that nearly 2,000 persons live in the stricken neighborhood. Im afraid that there are more people buried under the rubble.
The mayor said among the dead were two firefighters and another two were missing. Hospitals were still treating 43 of the injured, with 10 persons in intensive care units.
Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Wim Kok were due to visit Enschede today and tour the disaster area if it was safe, she added.
Nearly 400 persons slept overnight in a sports hall and many others stayed with relatives.
Firecrew, ambulances and helicopters sped to the town from around the Netherlands and across the border from Germany 5 km away.
Nazia Hasan fighting lung cancer
DUBAI, May 14 (UNI) Pakistan-born pop singer Nazia Hasan, who took the sub-continent by storm through her debut song Aap jaisa koi meri zindagi mein aaye... for the popular Hindi film Qurbani in 1980, is battling lung cancer in London.
Her husband Ishtiaq Baig was quoted as saying in Khaleej Times that Nazia had been undergoing treatment since January, last year, and doctors were hopeful she would recover within three months.
The newspaper said
according to her hospitals medical report, Nazia
underwent an operation in 1995 after she was diagnosed
with stage one of ovarian carcinoma and remained well for
four years. Towards the end of 1998, her left lung was
found to have solitary deposit of a carcinoma she was
diagnosed years ago. She initially declined to undergo
chemotherapy because of potential hair loss but gave in
after she relapsed.
New US poet is an Indian
NEW YORK, May 14 Hes been called an audacious new voice in American poetry, but poet and academic Vijay Sheshadri believes much of it is derived from the strangeness of India, his native country.
Seshadri, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, is a professor of poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and an editor at The New Yorker.
Seshadris first collection of poems, Wild Kingdom, which appeared to much acclaim, was hailed by poet and editor Richard Wilbur as wittily alive to everything, continually quick and surprising, expertly turned.
His work recently appeared in two new anthologies, First Love, a collection of essays by poets about the poems they first fell in love with, and the KGB Bar Book of Poems, a collection of poems by those who have appeared at the KGBs reading series. His second book of poems is slated to appear soon.
Seshadris family came to the USA when he was five years old. His father taught physical chemistry at Ohio State University which is why Seshadri grew up in Columbus, not the easiest place to find Indian supplies.
My mother tried year after year to grow coriander and failed, said Seshadri. So she would hoard the spices we picked up in Manhattan and make sure they lasted all year. Even now, hing has a mysterious reality for me. Asafoetida was not something you could get in Ohio.
Seshadris experience of New York was invariably linked with food. Every summer my family would come into Manhattan, drive our station wagon to Kalustyans in Little India, and stock up on spices, he told India Abroad News Service.
Seshadri looks at his familys experience with a mix of pride and poignancy. In this context he sees the brain-drain as a sort of reverse intellectual export.
We Indians had to be smarter than everybody else because we had been defeated so thoroughly by history, said Seshadri. We were encouraged to go out and represent our intellectual capacity to the world. Seshadri sees this falling away from India as a weird historical experience.
Its commonplace for Indians to be dislocated but that doesnt reduce its strangeness, he said. Indias essential strangeness is a quality of the country, it will follow you no matter how acclimatised you get. Nothing about India can ever be normal.
His own personal falling away from India included a time when he ran away to sea. He worked as a commercial fisherman on the Oregon coast, as a salmon buyer, and as a biologist for the National Marine Fish Service on boats in the Bering Sea. He drove a truck in San Francisco, and worked as a logger.
Eventually, Seshadri had to come back and make a normal life somehow. He read Hindi and Urdu for a masters at Columbia, and supported himself for a while in the lower depths of the citys intellectual classes by proofreading on the midnight shift at law firms in Manhattan.
Now, after all
those years of being told poetry is not something serious
people do and that I will suffer terribly, Ive put
all that aside, said Seshadri. I have
tremendous ambition to be a poet. IANS
Love Bug suspect to be hauled up
MANILA, May 14 (DPA) A computer programming student suspected of involvement in the Love Bug virus scourge will be hauled up in front of a Philippine college board to determine what disciplinary action should be taken against the author of a thesis on stealing passwords, a school official said today.
It all boils down to ethics, said AMA Computer College Vice-President Emmanuel Abad.
First to appear before the board will be Onel De Guzman, 23, followed by members of Grammersoft, an underground organisation of AMA students who create programmes and write computer theses for fees. The name Grammersoft appears in the computer code in the virus. If found guilty, action could range from reprimands to suspensions or dismissals, Mr Abad told a Manila television station.
The I LOVE YOU virus is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage when it attacked at least 45 million computer users earlier this month triggering an international search for the perpetrators.
De Guzman admitted designing a software programme to steal passwords and gain free access to the Internet. He acknowledged the possibility that another person could have accidentally released the programme that struck such users as Ford Motor Co., the British Parliament, the White House, US Congress and Parliament.
His thesis proposal was rejected by the school for being illegal and he subsequently dropped out. But AMA summoned De Guzman to appear before the disciplinary tribunal on Monday or Tuesday as part of the schools own investigation.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating Grammersoft after De Guzman said he discussed his project with other members.
De Guzman, is the brother of Irene De Guzman, the girlfriend of prime suspect Reonel Ramones, a 27-year-old bank employee.
Although he was accused by the Philippine Justice Department of being the alleged author of the virus, Ramones was freed by prosecutors due to insufficient evidence.
Diskettes seized from his apartment are being examined to determine whether they yield evidence to implicate him. An NBI technical team assisted by the FBI were working through the weekend to decode files from the 17 diskettes.
Without any law dealing with computer crimes in the Philippines, legislators are rushing to pass a measure.
Mr Manuel Villar, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said the speediest course was an insertion of a provision against cyber terrorism in an e-commerce bill. It would penalize offenses committed in cyberspace.
Japans ex-PM Obuchi dead
TOKYO, May 14 (Reuters) Former Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi died today, six weeks after suffering a stroke that left him in a coma, a hospital spokesman said. He was 62.
The soft-spoken Obuchi, who was largely credited with setting Japans stagnant economy back on its feet but was hit by faltering public support earlier this year, was admitted to the hospital on April 2.
A few days later, Mr Obuchi was replaced by Mr Yoshiro Mori as Prime Minister and although his death will not cause many ripples in the working of Japanese politics, the emotional toll was expected to be great for the loss of the man who impressed the public with his awkward charm and politicians with his effective consensus building.
Mr Obuchi took office in July, 1998, and was dismissed by political observers as a having all the flair of cold pizza, utterly lacking in charisma and without a bold idea in his head.
Despite question marks over his ability to do the job, Mr Obuchi had heart problems and required a pacemaker, he confounded his critics in the early days. Voters liked their affable, bespectacled leader and his non-abrasive style.
Mr Obuchis main talent was his ability to forge consensus among the factions in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), an ability he hid behind his image as an amiable country bumpkin.
He oversaw the implementation of some painful reforms, although critics said they were too timid to ensure a strong return to growth for an economy struggling to escape its worst recession since World War II.
But the honeymoon came to an end late last year with a controversial decision to include a Buddhist-backed party in the government, a series of police scandals and allegations of insider trading involving a close aide.
Then, late on the evening of April 1, Liberal party chief Ichiro Ozawa decided to bolt the coalition. The defection of the mercurial Ozawa after Mr Obuchi had spent much political capital to woo him dealt a crushing blow. Within hours of meeting Mr Ozawa, Mr Obuchi was in hospital in a coma.
His successor, Mr Mori
took office on April 5 and pledged to stick to Mr
Obuchis policies, including an economic stance
giving priority to economic recovery before tackling the
nations huge public debt.
USA planned N-bomb for moon
LONDON, May 14 (AFP) The USA drew up a secret plan to detonate a nuclear bomb on the face of the moon as a display of military muscle at the height of the Cold War, Britains Observer has reported.
Mr Leonard Reiffel, the physicist who fronted the project, told the Sunday weekly in an interview that the scheme, hatched in late the 1950s, was as a public relations stunt.
"It was clear the main aim of the proposed detonation was a PR exercise and a show of one-upmanship," he said.
"The air force wanted a mushroom cloud so large it would be visible on earth. The USA was lagging behind in the space race.
He said the blast would have been on the dark side of the moon, "and the theory was that if the bomb exploded on moons edge, the mushroom cloud would be illuminated by the sun."
Narayanan to visit China on May 28
BEIJING, May 14 (PTI) Hectic diplomatic and logistic activities are on here to make the upcoming state visit of the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, a resounding success, officials say.
An advance team of senior Indian officials has already visited Beijing.
Both sides are working hard to make President Narayanans visit to China a grand success, official sources told PTI here. Mr Narayanan would be arriving here on May 28.
India to provide visas online in Lanka
COLOMBO, May 14 (AP) The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka will offer visas online, officials said today.
The website, www.indiachsl.org, is linked to Indian tourism websites and users can access information on trade and culture, a statement said.
Unique guitar for Tony Blair
Elizabeth ecstatic on being
Director Lewis Allen dead
Ducklings in House of Commons
Vatican reveals third secret
Seven Nigerians beheaded
Sudanese doctor kills 2
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