|Wednesday, June 28, 2000,
Russian arms for India
USA to help get hostages freed
Absolute majority for Mugabe
Cause celebrities and
Malaysia rejects rebels
Pak objection over Advanis
Prevent coups: Warsaw
Human eggs grown in mice
Dogs bite schoolboy to death
Russian arms for India
MOSCOW, June 27 (UNI) Russia is likely to supply new weapons and military equipment to India following initial talks between the visiting Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, and his Russian counterpart, Mr Igor Sergeev, reports indicate.
A Novosti report said Mr Fernandes, who arrived here yesterday, was now holding talks with Mr Sergeev and the Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Military Industrial Complex, Mr Ilya Klebanov.
He is scheduled to meet President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, reliable sources say.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Gen Leonid Ivashov indicated that the two sides were to discuss further expansion of relations between the armed forces and the Defence Ministries of the two countries.
Russia annually supplies weapons worth $ 1 billion to India.
Mr Fernandes and Mr Sergeev are likely to take a final decision on licenced production of SU-30 multi-purpose fighters in India.
Earlier, Russia had agreed to deliver 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft to India at a cost of nearly $ 2 billion.
General Ivashov spoke of the "good prospects of cooperation as well as resolving some of the existing problems," but did not elaborate.
Leading Russian defence analyst and columnist Valentin Kunin has underlined the importance of the decision of the two long-time allies to set up joint ventures and develop state-of-the-art weapons for sale in other countries.
The joint ventures were to be set up in Russia and India, he added.
Although Kunin claims
that both countries have already signed an agreement for
the transfer of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov
to India, Voice of Russia yesterday said that this would
be one of the issues to be taken up for discussion.
USA to help get hostages freed
WARSAW, June 27 (PTI) The USA has assured India it will take up with the authorities concerned the issue of securing the safety of Indian peacekeepers in strife torn Sierra Leone even as New Delhi sought "greater clarity" and cooperation to ensure their well being.
The External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, told newsmen that this assurance was given by the US Secretary of State, Ms Madeleine Albright, during their hour-long meeting on the sidelines of an inter-governmental conference on "Democratic governance," here last night.
Mr Jaswant Singh said the "difficult and complex" situation faced by the Indian peacekeepers in Sierra Leone figured prominently in the meeting held in the Sheraton Hotel.
"The Secretary of State was fully supportive and very understanding of our concerns (over the safety of the Indian peacekeepers) and promised to discuss with the officials", he said.
Indian officials said Ms Albright made it clear that there was a need to ensure the safety of Indian peacekeepers.
The situation faced by the Indian peacekeepers in the African country was also expected to figure during the planned meeting between Mr Jaswant Singh and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan here later today.
Issues relating to
non-proliferation and disarmament also figured along with
bilateral and regional matters at the meeting between the
External Affairs Minister and Ms Albright convened mainly
for discussions on the planned visit of Prime Minister
Atal Behari Vajpayee to the USA sometime in September.
Absolute majority for Mugabe
HARARE, June 27 (AFP) Zimbabwes ruling ZANU-PF Party has secured an absolute majority in Parliament following weekend elections, according to official results announced today.
With results in for 100 out of the 120 seats contested, President Robert Mugabes Zimbabwe African National Union, Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF) had won 52 seats.
Those seats, along with the 30 others which Mugabe personally appoints, are more than enough to secure a majority in the 150-member Parliament, despite huge gains for opposition candidates.
The newly-formed opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had gained 47 seats, but its leader, feisty 48-year old Morgan Tsvangirai, failed to win in his constituency. This compares to just three seats held by opposition members in the old Parliament.
Former trade unionist Tsvangirai, contesting Budhars northseat, received 10,316 votes while the ZANU-PF candidate his cousin Kenneth Manvonda won with 12,850 votes.
Tsvangirai set up the MDC with its slogan "change" only nine months ago, but has since gained massive popular support, especially in the urban areas, with analysts saying that the record voter turnout in the weekend elections meant that people wanted to see the end of Mugabes 20-year rule.
Meanwhile, war veteran
leader Chenierai Hitler Hunzvi, who spearheaded the often
violent invasion of hundreds of white commercial farms in
an operation backed by Mugabe, won his south-central
Chikomba district seat comfortably.
Cause celebrities and US Congress
WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters) Goldie Hawn has been here. So has Clint Eastwood.
Christopher Reeves and Michael J. Fox make regular visits, game show host Bob Barker has shown up to discuss elephants, and jazz legend Chick Corea sent in a written statement.
Their destination is not some trendy restaurant in Hollywood, a chic mountaintop spa or a hot new club in Manhattan. It is the U.S. Congress, where every cause celebre now seems to need a cause celebrity.
Hollywood stars have long appeared in Congress on behalf of combatting one disease or another. Their presence is likely to generate a little more attention and a little more buzz, even more so when the star is afflicted with the disease or is genuinely close to someone who has suffered.
Since the horseback accident left him paralysed from the neck down in 1995, Reeves has been a tireless advocate for more research for spinal cord injury research and he has made several appearances in Congress to plead, lobby and educate.
The same goes for Fox, who was stricken at an unusually young age with Parkinsons disease, a debilitating progressive neurological disorder. He has put his acting career on a back burner to spend more time with his family and to become a leading advocate for Parkinsons research and treatment.
Many baseball stars and other athletes have put in appearances on behalf of Lou Gehrigs disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Mary Tyler Moore has long been an advocate for diabetes.
But health is no longer the sole province of celebrities. They show up to talk about human rights, global trade, nuclear safety, copyright law, religious persecution, capital punishment, even the plight of circus elephants.
What does a lawmaker gain from their presence, if not their expertise? "A heap of publicity," said Stephen Hess, an expert on media and government at Brookings Institution.
"Sixty seven humble constituents can walk the halls looking for a member of Congress to give them five minutes and theyll get fobbed off on a legislative assistant who is probably 23 years old. But bring in a Goldie Hawn and you get all the time you want in the inner sanctum and it will turn up in the reliable source if nothing else, Hess said, referring to a gossipy column in the Washington Post.
But he does not belittle the stars, saying some of them are much brighter than Hollywood bubble-head stereotypes suggest and may genuinely care about a public issue.
Steven Gaydos, Executive Editor of Variety and Daily Variety, agreed it may be tempting to be cynical about the stars dabbling in public policy, but it can also be seen "on some kind of humanistic level."
Rich, famous and successful, they may want to "use their celebrity to get their viewpoint to their government leaders," he said. "Im more worried about the influence of money on (politicians) than the influence of celebrities.
Malaysia rejects rebels demand
KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 (Reuters) Malaysia today rejected a demand by Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines to release a prisoner allegedly being held in a Malaysian jail.
"I dont see any reason why there should be a swap, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told reporters when asked about the demand by Abu Sayyaf rebels, who have been holding 20 hostages on the southern Philippines island of Jolo since April.
Galib Andang, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf Guerrillas, had said in a taped message yesterday that the rebels wanted the release of an 85-year-old Filipino man named Mohamed Aklan held in a prison in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah State on Borneo island.
Andang had not linked the demand to the release of any of the hostages.
Syed Hamid declined to comment on whether the prisoner was actually held in a Malaysian jail as the rebels claimed.
"We dont have any political prisoners in Malaysia. If a foreigner is arrested on a charge, he is tried in a court of law and serves the sentence according to process of the Law, Syed Hamid said on the sidelines of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Foreign Ministers meeting.
Pak objection over Advanis remarks
ISLAMABAD, June 27 (UNI) Pakistan has raised objections to the description of South Asia as the Indian subcontinent.
Commenting on Home Minister L.K. Advanis recent statement in France where he referred to South Asia as the "Indian subcontinent", Pakistans Foreign spokesperson yesterday said, "As India is only one of the countries of South Asia, the term "Indian subcontinent" is entirely inappropriate as a description for the whole region."
"Its use detrays Indias long-cherished dream of exercising hegemony in the region, a dream that India has failed to realise and it will never succeed in achieving," he added.
Prevent coups: Warsaw Declaration
WARSAW, June 27 (PTI) Democratically elected governments from 107 nations tonight called for "promt response" by regional and international organisations to enhance prevention of coups and check irregular elections even as they pleaded for addressing cross-border and state-sponsored terrorism.
A Warsaw Declaration and a separate communiqué issued at the end of the first ever inter-governmental dialogue here tonight appealed for strengthening global cooperation to stamp out all forms of terrorism, organised crimes and other transnational challenges to democracy.
The first ever inter-governmental dialogue themed "Toward a Community of Democracies" was attended by the Foreign Ministers and other representatives of the 107 nations. India was represented by the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh.
Addressing a joint news
conference at the end of the two-day meeting,
representatives of the seven-member convening group
proposed establishing an ad hoc panel of experts to
examine ways to deal with crises arising out of threat to
democracy. France refused to sign the Warsaw Declaration
after a spat with the us over the exact significance of
Human eggs grown in mice
LONDON, June 27 (Reuters) Doctors said today they had transplanted human ovarian tissue into the muscles of mice to grow human eggs in a technique that could one day be used to retain the fertility of cancer patients.
Scientists from Samuel Luenfield Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (eshre) conference in Bologna, Italy that it was the first time tissue from the human ovarian cortex had been grafted and yielded eggs.
The ovarian cortex is the surface of the ovary which contains the follicles that produce the eggs.
"The possibility of preserving the ovarian cortex prior to surgery, drug or radiotherapy treatment offers new hope for young cancer patients, Dr Ariel Revel said in a statement released in London.
Dr Revel and his colleague Dr Hila Raanani have used fresh and frozen ovarian tissue to successfully grow human eggs in mice. They now plan to see if the eggs retrieved from the mice muscle mature in the laboratory and if they are normal.
"If all goes well we could be ready to begin IVF (in vitro fertilisation) in the first patients in a year or so, said Dr Revel.
Fertility centres are already freezing ovarian tissue and human eggs of women undergoing cancer treatment or other medical procedures which could damage their fertility. But freezing can damage the eggs, which are very fragile.
Transplanting the tissue back into the patients is also difficult. For cancer patients there is also the danger that the tissue may contain cancerous cells.
The scientists used the ovarian cortex donated by a woman who was having her ovaries removed and her ovarian tissue frozen. They used a special species of mice which have no immune system so the animals would not reject the graft.
The scientists transplanted the tissue into muscle on the backs of the mice, which were given follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to make the eggs grow.
Another hormone was used to imitate ovulation and the eggs were retrieved 36 hours later.
"Maturing eggs in culture is difficult as it take weeks before primary follicles develop the receptors to respond to FSH, so starting off the maturing process in the living environment provided by mice muscles is a major advance," Dr Revel said.
were now at the next stage, where we leave the tissue in the mice longer to enable the eggs to mature even more before retrieval and, of course, we are having to check carefully that the retrieved eggs are normal, he said.
Dogs bite schoolboy to death
HAMBURG (Germany), June 27 (AP) Two dogs bit to death a six-year-old boy on the way to swimming class yesterday with his 10 classmates in a local schoolyard before the police shot the animals.
The children who had witnessed the attack were being treated for shock, the police said.
The animals were accompanied by their owner, a 23-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman when a witness said the dogs a pit bull and a staffordshire terrier broke away and jumped over the school fence. The pit bull immediately went for the boys throat and the other dog snapped at him.
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