|Tuesday, June 27, 2000,
of human genetic code completed
Russian aircraft bomb Chechnya
Abu Sayyaf: Pay teachers
intervene in Laden case
World democracy meet begins
Nader presidential candidate
Teeth that grow back themselves
Draft of human genetic code completed
LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) Scientists confirmed today that a working draft of the human genetic code has been completed, marking a scientific milestone that will transform the understanding, treatment and prevention of disease.
British researchers working on the publicly funded human genome project announced the achievement at a news conference in London.
It marks the end of the endeavour by scientists in the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and China to decipher the three billion letters of genetic instructions that make us who we are, and the beginning of the quest to understand what it all means.
"Mapping the human genome has been compared with putting a man on the moon but I believe it is more than that, Dr Michael Dexter, the Director of the Wellcome Trust which funded the British part of the project, told the news conference.
"This is the outstanding achievement not only of our lifetime but in terms of human history. The working draft will allow scientists to delve deeper into the cause of disease and allow them to develop better treatments and preventive measures.
But the scientists emphasised that Mondays announcement was the beginning and not the end. Now that they have mapped 97 per cent of the genome, 85 per cent of it accurately, they will have to learn to read it and apply what it says to medicine.
"It is a milestone in the very longest sense of human understanding of the universe and now of itself, said Dr John Sulston, who led the research team in Britain.
But the director of the
Sanger Centre, where British scientists have deciphered
one-third of the genome, emphasised that the human genome
project will allow scientists to use the information to
transform medical care in the 21st century.
Russian aircraft bomb Chechnya
MOSCOW, June 26 (Reuters) Russian aircraft flew dozens of combat missions in Chechnya in the past 24 hours despite a pledge by the commander of Russian troops in the rebel region to cease air and artillery strikes.
Interfax news agency quoted military headquarters in Mozdok, just outside Chechnya, as saying that fixed wing aircraft flew 12 missions to strike at rebel bases in the southern mountains and the helicopters flew 30 missions.
General Gennady Troshev, the top commander in Chechnya, had said yesterday that the nine-month war against separatists was all but over. Russian troops "are not to undertake attacks and not to carry out air or artillery strikes", he said.
General Troshev added that remaining pockets of resistance would be tackled by Interior Ministry troops and that many army units would be sent back to bases where they were assigned in the region.
"We came to the common conclusion that the war as such, was over on the territory of Chechnya," General Troshev said after talks with the regions newly appointed administrator, Akhmad Kadyrov, inside the region.
Russi had said in March
that it had seized a great majority of Chechen territory
and was engaged in eliminating the remaining small rebel
groups in the remote southern mountains. But a recent
series of attacks on isolated Russian troops have caused
LDP bloc wins Japan poll; Mori to continue as PM
TOKYO, June 26 (PTI) Prime Minister Yoshiro Moris long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was badly mauled in yesterdays parliamentary election losing as many as 38 lower house seats but remained in power with an unpopular coalition.
The ruling coalition all its constituents also lost heavily, dropping as many as 72 seats from the pre-poll total of 336 in the old house of 500. The new Lower House elected yesterday has 480 seats.
The big gainer in this election is the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) improving its strength from pre-election 95 to 127, a net gain of 32 seats.
The Social Democratic Party, once the main opposition group, won 16, gaining an extra two, while Liberal Party also gained two by winning 18.
The LDP-Komeito-New Conservative Party coalition, with a total of 264 in a house of 480, has a majority that gives it command of all parliamentary committees. It can, therefore, enact any law requiring simple majority but cannot amend the constitution which needs two-third majority.
LDP leaders today decided to retain Mr Mori as Prime Minister. Later, the coalition parties did the same. No one wanted to change Japans Prime Minister just four weeks before a G-8 summit he is going to chair. Prime Minister Mori then decided to convene the new house on July four to elect a new premier as is required under law.
Mr Mori is among the most unpopular of Japans post-war leaders, coming under fire for a string of gaffes in his three months in office, including calling Japan a "divine nation," evoking painful memories of wartime emperor-worship.
But he is unlikely to resign, despite his partys poor showing.
Mr Mori said today the absolute majority won by his three-way ruling coalition in yesterdays elections indicates the publics vote for confidence for his government. The results of the poll mean "that we won much support," Mr Mori told reporters.
He also said he wanted to retain Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono in his new government line-up. All ministers dealing with the G-8 summit, beginning July 21, should be kept on in the fresh cabinet, he said.
One clear sign of some progress came in the number of women getting elected 35 seats, the most since 1946. Women have had a hard time getting their voice heard in this male-dominated society. Before the election, women had 23 seats in the powerful lower house. The election also made another point that any opposition party sharing power with LDP has to pay a price which can be unaffordable.
It is for the first time
that Komeito suffered election losses as heavy as it did
yesterday. New conservatives dropped eleven seats. A few
years ago, the Socialist Party was practically wiped out
after its leader became Prime Minister for twenty months
in an LDP-managed government.
Parties gear up for Lanka poll
COLOMBO, June 26 (UNI) In the midst of a war between Lankan troops and separatist Tamil guerillas in the north, political parties in the south are gearing up for the parliamentary election which President Chandrika Kumaratunga has reiterated to hold on schedule.
Though the country is on a "war footing", many political parties have shifted their focus from the war-torn Jaffna to the general election which will be held at any time within three months after Parliament is dissolved on August 25.
Mrs Kumaratunga, in the course of interviews on several occasions, had proclaimed that the elections would be held as scheduled and it would not be postponed. The rules stipulate that a new house has to be constituted within three months after dissolving the present Parliament at the end of its current term.
The government and the opposition are currently engaged in talks to give final touches for a new constitution which the President is determined to present in Parliament by July end. But a two-third majority is need for its smooth passage and later a countrywide referendum is to be held for its implementation.
Notwithstanding the difficulties involved in the smooth passage and referendum, government sources said preparations are underway to hold the general elections on time.
The constituents of the ruling Peoples Alliance (PA) are scheduled to meet shortly to finalise the allocation of seats to each party, PA sources said. Opposition UNP sources said the party was ready to face the polls at any time. "Our well-oiled mechanism has been set in motion since January in anticipation of the election".
Janatha Vimukthi Peramana (JVP) spokesman said his party had embarked on the final stages of nomination at district levels for the election.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader and minister M.H.M... Ashraff said that they are ready to contest as a separate group. "Our campaign will focus on the eastern province".
Abu Sayyaf: Pay teachers wages
JOLO, (Philippines), June 26 (DPA) Islamic extremists have issued a new demand for the release of 20 remaining hostages in a southern Philippine jungle after freeing a Malaysian captive on the weekend, a negotiator said today.
The Abu Sayyaf rebels asked the government to settle unpaid salaries of "hundreds" of public school teachers stretching back to 1996 in the province of Sulu, 1,000 km south of Manila, which covers Jolo island.
The additional demand is on top of three political conditions the rebels earlier laid down for the release of the hostages, which include the establishment of an independent Islamic state in the southern region of Mindanao.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said the demand was contained in a letter addressed to President Joseph Estrada and signed by Abu Sayyaf commanders Galib Andang and Mujib Susukan, who have custody of the captives.
Tan said he will deliver the letter to the negotiating panel, headed by senior Presidential Adviser Roberto Aventajado.
"The law is very clear. Service rendered must be paid. There is no slavery under the labour code of the Philippines. Your immediate and definite action... is earnestly expected", Andang and Susukan said in their letter.
A source said the letter was accompanied by a set of documents detailing the names of the unpaid teachers and a breakdown on how much they are owed. He did not, however, reveal any monetary figure.
The new demand dampened the euphoria over the release of 29-year-old Forest Ranger Zulkarnain Bin Hashim of Tawau in the Malaysian state of Sabah, the first major breakthrough in the two-month stand-off.
Aventajado said Zulkarnain was released as a "goodwill gesture by the Abu Sayyaf and no ransom was paid.
He said negotiations for
the release of the other hostages eight
Malaysians, three Germans, two French nationals, two
Finns, two South Africans, a Lebanese and two Filipinos
were continuing quietly and out of media scrutiny.
Pak cant intervene in Laden case
KARACHI, June 26 (AFP) Pakistan is unable to help the USA apprehend alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden and the USA should discuss his extradition with the Afghan authorities, Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said today.
"He is neither a Pakistani national nor he is our problem. We cannot help the USA in this matter", Mr Haider said, urging Washington to hold talks with the Islamic militia ruling Afghanistan.
Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi dissident who is on the FBIs list of its 10 most-wanted men, is sheltered in Afghanistan.
The USA has asked Pakistan to help convince the hardline Taliban to hand over Laden, as the Afghan militia has refused repeated requests saying it is against Afghan culture to expel a "guest".
"Afghanistan is a sovereign country and we cannot interfere in their internal affairs", Mr Haider told reporters.
World democracy meet begins
WARSAW, June 26 (PTI) The first-ever international conference on democracy began here today, endorsing Nobel Laureate Amartya Sens view that the emergence of democracy as a universally accepted form of government was the most important development of this century.
The reference to Mr Sen was made by Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek describing him as "one of the greatest thinkers of our time" while opening the two-day conference at the majestic Sejm housing the Polish Parliament.
Foreign Ministers from more than 100 countries, including India, participated in the meeting which was followed by ministerial panel discussions on four separate issues relating to the democratic process.
Indias External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, was given the honour to chair the panel on "Strengthening democracy: Sharing best practices". US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was part of the seven-member group with India that convened the summit, also chaired one of the panels.
Noting that democracy is a topic discussed in the context of other issues like human rights, development, peace and security, Geremek said democracy was a distinct challenge of fundamental significance.
The conference will not discuss any bilateral or contentious issue or any crisis situation around the globe.
Nader presidential candidate
WASHINGTON, June 26 (DPA) The veteran consumer rights activist Ralph Nader became the US Green Partys presidential candidate, vowing to fight for the environment, peace and social justice.
Nader (66) accepted the nomination yesterday to run against the two major parties at a convention held in Denver, Colorado, at the foot of the rocky mountains.
He said earlier on the NBC TV show "Meet the Press" that the USA needed a strong third political force aside from the "two corrupt parties".
With less than four months to go until the November 7 election, both the Democratic Partys likely nominee, Vice-President Al Gore, and the Republicans likely candidate, Texas Governor George W. Bush, have come under increasing pressure over separate issues.
Gore is fighting claims he breached party finance laws, while Bush is at the centre of a growing controversy over the death penalty.
A prison in Texas on Thursday executed black convict Gary Graham for murder, despite international protests. Bush defended the years 23rd state killing in Texas as just. Critics argued there were serious flaws in the judicial process that led to Grahams death.
Nader reiterated on Sunday that he opposed the death penalty even as a young law student.
Teeth that grow back themselves
NEW YORK, June 26 (DPA) The dental surgery of the future will offer completely painless injections, fillings that allow an affected tooth to regenerate by itself and even the ability to grow entirely new teeth.
The American Dental Association recently presented this vision of the future to the public, starting with the first computer-controlled anesthetic injections which are administered extremely slowly to guarantee absolute painlessness.
Scientists in the USA are also developing a procedure which will allow teeth to regenerate themselves, even in elderly patients.
One team has developed a material that will fill holes and simultaneously allow the tooth to grow again from within. The same group intends to add a mixture of calcium and phosphates to toothpaste in an attempt to prevent tooth decay.
Genetic research is behind many of the advances, such as the restoration of the pulpa, the tissue inside the tooth.
Teeth have the natural ability to regenerate themselves, Mary Macdougall of the University of Texas told an ADA event in New York, adding that current methods failed to support this process.
What the researchers are currently testing in the laboratory will not be available in the neighbourhood dental practice for years, perhaps even decades.
The gains would be enormous. Quite apart from the health and personal advantages of perfect teeth, the savings could be huge.
In the USA dental treatment costs more than $ 10 billion a year, according to Macdougall. Washington thus has a considerable interest in treatments based on genetics to improve prevention of caries and gum disease.
Two groups of genes have been discovered that are linked to a lack of tooth enamel and dentin, the inner cover of the tooth. Other genetic research may soon permit the production of a filling made of human cells.
This could fill holes in gums that have decayed as a result of accident, illness or age.
staged kiss & tell pictures
sells bags on Net
Gay parade draws
girls to distraction
Blast in Serb
segment of Kosovo
Iranian Jews may
face death penalty
Attack on Lankan
ship: 7 killed
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