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Attacks on Iraq churches, 12 killed
Baghdad, August 1
At least 12 persons were killed in one of the four attacks on churches in Baghdad today, a witness said. A car raced into the parking lot of the Chaldean church in the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Doura and exploded as people were leaving a service.

Supermarket fire kills 124 in Paraguay
Asuncion, August 1
Fire swept through a supermarket on the outskirts of Paraguay’s capital today killing at least 124 persons, according to a police official. The fire broke out at Ycua Bolanos supermarket while it was crowded with Sunday midday shoppers. Early television reports put the toll at 80 dead. Badly burned bodies could be seen as they were taken away after the fire in a scene of confusion as firefighters scrambled through smoking debris. — AP

A boy along with his mother wades through an inundated road at Kamrangir Char in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Saturday.Fear of epidemic looms large in Bangladesh
Dhaka, August 1
The improvement in the flood situation in Bangladesh due to receding waters was marred by fear of epidemic as incidents of diarrhoea, malnutrition and other water-borne diseases claimed 544 lives.

A boy along with his mother wades through an inundated road at Kamrangir Char in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Saturday. The death toll in the current floods in the country rose to 544.

No Bangladesh troops for Iraq
Dhaka, August 1
Bangladesh has rejected a request by Saudi Arabia to send troops to guard United Nations officials stationed in war-torn Iraq, a report said today. “Time and again we have said that we will not send troops unless under the command of the United Nations,” a local daily quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

Al-Qaida chief’s group shows child rescued from abductors
Samarra (Iraq), August 1
The militant group of Al-Qaeda’s alleged chief in Iraq, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, said today it had released an 11-year-old child kidnapped by an Iraqi criminal gang headed by a police officer.


Motorcycle rider Robbie Knievel jumps over seven military aircrafts on the flight deck of USS Intrepid in New York
Motorcycle rider Robbie Knievel jumps over seven military aircrafts on the flight deck of USS Intrepid in New York on Saturday. The jump aboard the retired aircraft carrier was a stunt to attract viewers to a movie about his father, Evel Knievel. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

Cartoon plunges Blunkett into race row
London, August 1
Muslim leaders have accused a British Home Office terrorism document of being “deeply offensive” about their religion, plunging the Home Secretary David Blunkett into a new race row.

Degrees for sale in UK varsities
London, August 1
Many cash-strapped universities in the United Kingdom were selling degrees to keep funds flowing and even some prestigious institutions were involved, media reports said today. The “degrees-for-sale” scandal stretched from the most prestigious institutions to the former polytechnics and included the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, foreign and home students, The Observer claimed.

Persons detained for attack on Pak minister
Islamabad, August 1
Pakistan has detained some persons in connection with an assassination bid on Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz that has been claimed by a group with links to Al-Qaida, officials said today. Information Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said, “A few suspects” were being interrogated but it was too early to say who was behind Friday’s deadly attack on Mr Aziz.

After war Balkan women fight for equality
Sarajevo, August 1
In the old days, a woman in the Balkans belonged in the kitchen and a man went off to fight for the glory of the nation. But the memories of death and deprivation, arising from the decade of wars, which ripped Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s, have dealt a mortal blow to the centuries-old patriarchal culture of admiration for the warrior and his dutiful homemaker wife.


James Solis, 16, and Jerico Catura, 21, both residents of California, practice their award winning martial arts moves on the shore of Magic Island near Waikiki Beach James Solis, 16, and Jerico Catura, 21, both residents of California, practice their award winning martial arts moves on the shore of Magic Island near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu on Saturday. Both young men are national black belts while Solis has been world champion since 2000. They travel together across the country in competitions.
— Reuters

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Attacks on Iraq churches, 12 killed

Baghdad, August 1
At least 12 persons were killed in one of the four attacks on churches in Baghdad today, a witness said.

A car raced into the parking lot of the Chaldean church in the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Doura and exploded as people were leaving a service.

At least 12 persons were killed and their body parts were seen scattered across the area by a witness.

At least four car bombs exploded in quick succession outside churches in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, in an apparently targeted assault on Iraq’s influential Christian minority, the police said.

The first car was detonated by a suicide bomber near an Armenian church in Baghdad’s upmarket Karada district, said policeman Haidar Abdul Hussein. Minutes later, a second car bomb exploded near a Catholic Syriac church.

Thick black smoke billowed in the sky above Karada as ambulances screamed through the streets and firemen battled to contain the blaze.

Officials at the Ibn al-Nafeez hospital said 15 persons had been admitted with injuries following the attacks.

A US military spokesman said “at least four explosions” went off in the central Baghdad area early in the evening, today.

In Mosul, 370 km north of the capital, two car bombs exploded outside a church in the early evening outside the Mar Polis church in the central Mohandessin neighbourhood, said Major Mohammed Omar Taha. — Reuters, AFP
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Fear of epidemic looms large in Bangladesh

Dhaka, August 1
The improvement in the flood situation in Bangladesh due to receding waters was marred by fear of epidemic as incidents of diarrhoea, malnutrition and other water-borne diseases claimed 544 lives.

People have started returning to their homes in many parts of the country as flood waters slowly receded across Bangladesh, officials said, adding the victims needed drinking water and medicines as flood-related diseases such as diarrhoea and skin diseases were spreading fast.

Scarcity of pure drinking water and proper food have resulted in flood-related diseases, including diarrhea and skin problems in flood-hit areas, a media report said.

Hundreds, mostly old and children have so far been affected by diarrhoea, dysentery and other stomach related diseases. Scarcity of hospital beds coupled with spiralling prices of saline and water-purifying tablets have compounded the problem. — PTI

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No Bangladesh troops for Iraq

Dhaka, August 1
Bangladesh has rejected a request by Saudi Arabia to send troops to guard United Nations officials stationed in war-torn Iraq, a report said today.

“Time and again we have said that we will not send troops unless under the command of the United Nations,” a local daily quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

Saudi Arabia made the request recently to seven Muslim countries, including Egypt, Morocco and Bangladesh, it said.

“Right now we cannot consider sending troops in such an uncertain situation,” he said.

“However, we have made a detailed assessment of the situation in Iraq and will submit it to the Prime Minister Khaleda Zia soon,” the New Age newspaper reported. — PTI 
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Al-Qaida chief’s group shows child rescued from abductors

Samarra (Iraq), August 1
The militant group of Al-Qaeda’s alleged chief in Iraq, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, said today it had released an 11-year-old child kidnapped by an Iraqi criminal gang headed by a police officer.

The armed men, claiming to belong to the Tawhid wal Jihad group, drove several blindfolded journalists, including an AFP correspondent, from their Samarra homes to a site about an hour outside the city, north of the Iraqi capital.

There, masked militants said they had busted a network of 15 criminals led by a police captain to release 11-year-old Louai, a son of Hamad Mahmud al-Jawari, an official from Salahudin province’s pension office.

The kidnappers showed off the child, who was kidnapped late last month in Dhuluiya, also north of Baghdad, and showed a man described as the chief kidnapper, an AFP correspondent said. — AFP
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Cartoon plunges Blunkett into race row

London, August 1
Muslim leaders have accused a British Home Office terrorism document of being “deeply offensive” about their religion, plunging the Home Secretary David Blunkett into a new race row.

The document in question is an official presentation by a top Home Office counter-terrorism expert. It contains a cartoon that has been described as “offensive” by Muslim leaders, according to the Independent.

The leaders demanded the withdrawal of the cartoon that showed a bearded and stereotypically dressed Arab instructing colleagues in suicide bombing. They claimed the cartoon “plays into the hands” of white racists and Islamic extremists by portraying all Muslims wearing beards and traditional head-gear as terrorists.

The cartoon formed part of a slide presentation by Graham Lippiatt, a senior official in the Home Office’ terrorism and protection unit, addressing the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks. The slide was presented at a seminar for emergency planners, police officers, firefighters and National Health Service officials in Wakefield on November 11 last year.

Secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain Iqbal Sacranie called the cartoon “deeply offensive and silly” and said it profiled all people “wearing a beard and cap as potential bomb-makers”.

He urged the Home Office to withdraw “this offensive and silly material”.

Anas Altikriti, a spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain said the image contained in the cartoon was “appalling, outrageous and untrue”, and “stigmatises the Arab and Muslim communities”. — PTI
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Degrees for sale in UK varsities

London, August 1
Many cash-strapped universities in the United Kingdom were selling degrees to keep funds flowing and even some prestigious institutions were involved, media reports said today.

The “degrees-for-sale” scandal stretched from the most prestigious institutions to the former polytechnics and included the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, foreign and home students, The Observer claimed.

In the most extreme case, the newspaper said, it had “evidence of a professor ordering staff to mark up the students at risk of failing in order to keep the money coming in”.

Lecturers at institutions across the country, including Oxford, London and Swansea, told the newspaper that the scandal was undermining the academic standards, but they could not speak publicly for the fear of losing their jobs.

In the most blatant example of the financial pressure, Professor Richard Wynne, head of Bournemouth University’s Design, Engineering and Computing Department, e-mailed staff, telling them to “minimise” the number of failures because of a drop in the applications, the report said.

According to the report, Bournemouth University had given Wynne its full backing, claiming that his e-mail simply urged a closer scrutiny of the borderline students.

Clarifying its position, Oxford University in a statement said: “The university sets great importance on both the rigour and fairness of its examination procedures.”

The newspaper, however, claimed that according to its investigation, the university staffs were being put under increasing pressure to pass the foreign students studying for masters’ degrees because the income was keeping many universities afloat.

Many universities now believe that income from the foreign students was the only solution, and some had decided to cut courses as a result, the report said. — PTI
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Persons detained for attack on Pak minister

Islamabad, August 1
Pakistan has detained some persons in connection with an assassination bid on Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz that has been claimed by a group with links to Al-Qaida, officials said today.

Information Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said, “A few suspects” were being interrogated but it was too early to say who was behind Friday’s deadly attack on Mr Aziz.

A suicide bomber blew himself up next to Mr Aziz’s bulletproof car near the town of Fatehjung in the central province of Punjab after he attended an election rally.

Mr Aziz (55), who is currently the Finance Minister, escaped unhurt. But eight other persons and the bomber were killed and more than 45 were wounded, the police said.

A previously unknown group — Islambouli Brigades of the Al- Qaida — said it had carried out the attack.

The group said in a statement posted on an Islamist website yesterday that the attack was a message to “treacherous” President Pervez Musharraf. — PTI 
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After war Balkan women fight for equality

Sarajevo, August 1
In the old days, a woman in the Balkans belonged in the kitchen and a man went off to fight for the glory of the nation. As simple as that. But the memories of death and deprivation, arising from the decade of wars, which ripped Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s, have dealt a mortal blow to the centuries-old patriarchal culture of admiration for the warrior and his dutiful homemaker wife.

The national military service, traditionally considered a rite of passage to the manhood, is down across the Balkans as young men opt out in favour of the civil services. Women’s rights and legislation to curb family violence is on the upswing.

Women make up more than half of Bosnia’s population. Many, who left the kitchen to fend for the family after the death of a husband or a son, are challenging their traditional roles.

Aid and rights groups working in the Balkans have been lobbying governments on gender equality issues for years and a state law was passed in Bosnia last year. Neighbouring Croatia then followed suit.

“The situation is better than 10 years ago. There are legal mechanisms now in place. But they are not fully implemented and efficient,” said Martina Belic of B.a.b.e, a women’s rights group from the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

The same is felt in Serbia, where a 10-year campaign by women’s associations resulted in legislation, criminalising family violence and human trafficking, often the method by which the criminal gangs force women into indentured prostitution.

“Unfortunately the position (of women) is not good and the fight is still ahead of us but my feeling is that enormous changes have been made in the past few years,” said Lejla Ruzdic, of the Serbian Parliament Committee for Gender Equality.
— Reuters
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BRIEFLY

Chinese soldiers take part in a parade in Hong Kong on SundayChina army stages massive parade
HONG KONG:
China’s army staged a parade in Hong Kong for the first time on Sunday in a show of might which was aimed at promoting Chinese nationalism and boosting pro-Beijing candidates ahead of local elections in September. Tanks, helicopters and about 3,000 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers based in Hong Kong took part in the parade marking China’s Army Day at their barracks in the rural outskirts of the territory. — Reuters

Chinese soldiers take part in a parade in Hong Kong on Sunday. — Reuters photo

US aid for Nepal flood victims
KATHMANDU:
The US has provided $ 50,000 assistance to the victims of recent floods and landslides in Nepal. US Ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty handed over the cheque to a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies here on Saturday, a release from American Centre said. — PTI

Sindhis seek apology from Musharraf
LONDON:
The 16h International Conference on Sindh here has demanded the right of self-determination for the people of Sindh and sought an apology from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for his statement that Sindhis were incapable of being posted to supreme government offices. — PTI

A woman cries as she hugs her son after the latter was released from Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad on Sunday126 prisoners released in Iraq
BAGHDAD:
The US military released another 126 Iraqi prisoners on Sunday, the Chairman of the ‘’Committee for the Release of Iraqi Prisoners’’ Sheikh Hisham al-Dulaimi told a press conference in Baghdad. The committee organises guarantors to release candidates. The US military sets this prerequisite for the release of a prisoner. Several thousand Iraqi prisoners have been released since the controversy surrounding the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad became known in April. — DPA


A woman cries as she hugs her son after the latter was released from Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad on Sunday. — Reuters photo

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