SPECIAL COVERAGE
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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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Anti-war protesters take to streets
New York, August 30
Thousands of anti-war demonstrators took to the streets here today to protest against US President George W Bush’s Iraq policies hours before his Republican party gathered for its national convention amidst tight security. Protesters against US President George W. Bush march on the Seventh Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican National Convention, in New York City on Sunday. The march was organised by the United for Peace and Justice group.
Protesters against US President George W. Bush march on the Seventh Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican National Convention, in New York City on Sunday. The march was organised by the United for Peace and Justice group. — Reuters

France in crisis over threat on headscarf ban
Paris, August 30

A threat by an Islamic militant group in Iraq to murder two French hostages unless Paris abandons a law banning Muslim headscarves in schools was being treated as a national crisis by the French government last night.



Alu Alkhanov

Kremlin-backed Alkhanov wins Chechen polls
Moscow, August 30
Chechnya’s Moscow-backed Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov today won the presidential elections in Russia’s troubled republic, an exercise denounced by rebels as a farce.

Palestinian prisoners resume fast, seek better conditions
Bethlehem, August 30
Hundreds of Palestinians resumed a hunger strike in an Israeli prison today, accusing the authorities of reneging on pledges to hold talks on conditions, a prisoners’ group said.

MTV awards function sizzles
Miami, August 30
Holding its festivities for the first time in the city of skin, the MTV Video Music Awards was sizzling, energetic and colourful, yet tame, by MTV standards.




A father carries his son on his shoulders as they wade through floodwaters at a village in Philippine's Bulacan province Monday
A father carries his son on his shoulders as they wade through floodwaters at a village in Philippine's Bulacan province Monday. Philippine rescue teams evacuated thousands of people from the worst flooding in the central Luzon region since the 1970's. — Reuters


EARLIER STORIES

  Americans learning fusion yoga
Washington, August 30
Yoga continues to attract many in the United States with practitioners not only learning the discipline, but also combining yogic exercises with eastern martial arts and conventional exercises, calling it “fusion” yoga, according to a media report.
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Anti-war protesters take to streets
Dharam Shourie

New York, August 30
Thousands of anti-war demonstrators took to the streets here today to protest against US President George W Bush’s Iraq policies hours before his Republican party gathered for its national convention amidst tight security.

Across the New York harbour in Manhattan, demonstrators marched past the Madison Square Gardens and jammed streets chanting “no more Bush” and carrying flag-draped boxes resembling coffins and fly swatters with President Bush’s image.

Each coffin represented one American soldier killed in the war against Iraq and demonstrators said they wanted people to see coffins which the government did not want them to see.

They were led by activists, including filmmaker Michael Moore and former Presidential hopeful Jesse Jackson.

United For Peace and Justice, the group opposed to the war in Iraq which organised the protest, estimated the number of demonstrators at some 400,000.

Several hundred other groups with different causes joined the United For Peace and justice marchers beat drums, sang songs. The groups included gay rights activists, immigrants’ rights groups, those demanding universal health care, among others.

The demonstrators accused the Bush administration of waging an unjust war in Iraq, undermining women’s reproductive rights, including abortion rights, and attacked its economic policies.

At the Madison Square Garden, some delegates who arrived early, shouted “four more years for Bush” and asked the demonstrators to go home.

There was no major confrontation with the law enforcement personnel though police officers in riot gear accompanied them and there was heavy presence of police throughout the route.

Some 200 persons were arrested mainly for obstructing traffic and there were moments of panic when a paper dragon carried by a protester was set on fire near the Madison Square Garden. Twelve persons were arrested and two police officers were said to have sustained minor injuries.

The convention is held just a short distance from the World Trade Centre, which was destroyed in the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks.

US Vice-President Dick Cheney lauded Bush’s war leadership on the eve of the convention. — PTI

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France in crisis over threat on headscarf ban
John Lichfield

Paris, August 30
A threat by an Islamic militant group in Iraq to murder two French hostages unless Paris abandons a law banning Muslim headscarves in schools was being treated as a national crisis by the French government last night.

After two emergency sessions of the government, the Prime Minister, Mr Jean-Pierre Raffarin, met with President Jacques Chirac in the Elysee Palace last night.

The President also sent his Foreign Minister Michel Barnier to the Middle-East to help gain the hostages’ release.

All French political parties and the main Islamic groups rejected with horror a threat by a group calling themselves the Islamic army in Iraq to murder the two journalists unless the law banning the hajib and other religious symbols in state schools was revoked.

Georges Malbrunot (41) and Christian Chesnot (37) vanished a week ago while travelling from Baghdad to the besieged city of Najaf.

Al-Jazeera television broadcast two short videotapes on Saturday night in which the journalists said they had been captured by the same group which murdered an Italian correspondent last week.

The Islamic army in Iraq, believed to be a radical Sunni Muslim group, possibly linked with Al-Qaida, said it would murder the French journalists within 48 hours.

Although France has a history of negotiating with terror groups and paying ransom demands for hostages, the country’s political leaders were united yesterday in condemning the political “blackmail”.

Officials said the linking of the kidnapping to the headscarf law, which takes effect with the start of the new school year this week, was opportunistic.

However, the threat to kill the journalists was being taken seriously, not as a threat against the lives of the captives but as a threat against France.

The Interior Minister, Mr Dominique de Villepin, called an emergency meeting of France’s Muslim Consultative Committee yesterday morning. Afterwards, they called on “anyone with a share of responsibility for the fate” of the journalists to free them immediately. — By arrangement with The Independent, London.

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Kremlin-backed Alkhanov wins Chechen polls

Moscow, August 30
Chechnya’s Moscow-backed Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov today won the presidential elections in Russia’s troubled republic, an exercise denounced by rebels as a farce.

Fortyseven-year-old Alkhanov polled 73.4 per cent of the total 84 per cent votes counted so far. The final results of the polls held yesterday would be announced on Wednesday, Election Commission Chairman Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov said.

“The situation will hardly change, there are grounds to believe that the Electoral Commission will declare Mr Alkhanov as Chechnya’s President,” Mr Arsakhanov said.

The mid-term polls were declared after the assassination of President Ahmad Haji Kadyrov on May 9 in a terror bomb blast at a stadium.

A career police officer, Mr Alkhanov defeated his six rivals. His nearest challengers, Mr Movsar Khamidov and Mr Abdulla Bugayev, got only 8.6 and 5 per cent, respectively, while the four other candidates were credited with less than 5 per cent of the vote.

Mr Alkhano, backed by Kremlin, had promised to give war-torn province a clean and honest administration and ruled out talks with the separatist leader Aslan Askhadov, Chechen region web portal reported.

Other candidates have complained of widespread violations in a vote that was shadowed by violence, including a man who blew himself up near a polling station in the Chechen capital Grozny yesterday. — PTI

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Palestinian prisoners resume fast, seek better conditions

Bethlehem, August 30
Hundreds of Palestinians resumed a hunger strike in an Israeli prison today, accusing the authorities of reneging on pledges to hold talks on conditions, a prisoners’ group said.

The quasi-government Palestinian Prisoners’ Association said inmates at Shikma prison in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon had begun refusing food again at breakfast today.

The detainees had suspended their strike on Friday on the 13th day of the open-ended protest which is being observed by up to half of the 8,000 prisoners in Israeli jails.

But a spokesman for the Association said the authorities which had promised to allow the Ashkelon prisoners to make contact with inmates in other centres to coordinate their positions had now reversed their position.

A spokesman for the Israeli prison service, Mr Ian Domnitz, confirmed that prisoners were again refusing food but denied that any deal had ever been done.

“On Friday, 350 to 400 prisoners went back to eat,” he told AFP. “Today the prisoners refused to receive the meals but they continue to eat and drink from the canteen supplies they have been receiving over the last two days,” he added.

“It is too early to speak of a hunger strike-I would wait 24 hours.

“There has been no such promise (on contacts with other prisoners) and no concessions,” he told AFP.

In Bethlehem, some 300 persons marched in solidarity with the prisoners up to an Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to the West Bank town but there were no reports of clashes. — AFP

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MTV awards function sizzles

Pop diva Beyonce Knowles accepts the award for Best Female Video at the MTV Music Video Awards in Miami
Pop diva Beyonce Knowles accepts the award for Best Female Video at the MTV Music Video Awards in Miami on Sunday. — Reuters photo

Miami, August 30
Holding its festivities for the first time in the city of skin, the MTV Video Music Awards was sizzling, energetic and colourful, yet tame, by MTV standards.

There were no wardrobe malfunctions. Britney didn’t kiss Madonna like last year - or anyone else, for that matter.

The most skin shown was from Usher, who preened in front of the camera bare-chested as simulated raindrops fell on his chiselled body during the opening performance.

Even Christina Aguilera was classy, dressed sexily yet demurely as she debuted a jazzy number, “Tilt ya head” with rapper Nelly. And the sometimes raunchy comedian Dave Chappelle even kept it relatively clean - despite teasing that he would not.

There may have been plenty of sex appeal, but little shock appeal on hand, even though MTV was ready, using a several-second tape delay for the first time.

Still, MTV provided the already boiling Miami with even more sizzle Sunday night as MTV brought its annual party known to the city for the first time in the awards’ 21-year history.

OutKast’s vivid “Hey Ya!” won four awards, including video of the year. Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” the most nominated video with six, also won four. The gritty black-and-white “99 Problems,” depicts his own killing as a metaphor for his much-ballyhooed retirement, which has yet to happen. — AP

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Americans learning fusion yoga

Washington, August 30
Yoga continues to attract many in the United States with practitioners not only learning the discipline, but also combining yogic exercises with eastern martial arts and conventional exercises, calling it “fusion” yoga, according to a media report.

A report in the Washington Post said traditional yoga has been “reincarnated as fusion fitness”. Yoga is increasingly being offered under different names and styles to suit even sportspersons, including weightlifters. — PTI

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BRIEFLY


Tourists enjoy the effects of zero gravity during a parabolic flight outside Moscow on Monday
Tourists enjoy the effects of zero gravity during a parabolic flight outside Moscow on Monday. Some 20 tourists from Germany, the Netherlands, USA and New Zealand attended the flight, which is a part of cosmonauts training. — Reuters

5 die as typhoon hits Japan
Tokyo:
Powerful typhoon Chaba slammed into Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu on Monday, killing five persons, leaving four others missing and injuring more than 50. Residents were evacuated from tens of thousands of homes across the region as fears mounted that fierce downpours from the storm could trigger floods and mudslides. Packing winds of up to 126 km per hour, Chaba also knocked out power for more than 300,000 households and caused widespread chaos for travellers. — AFP

Conductor Hans Vonk dead
ST. LOUIS:
Orchestra conductor Hans Vonk, who took the St. Louis Symphony to international prominence as its musical director and was a guest conductor for prestigious orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, died at his home in Amsterdam. He was 63. — AP

China bans trade in blood
BEIJING:
China has made it illegal to buy and sell blood in an effort to stem the country’s growing AIDS epidemic, the first time the disease has been targeted in a law, state-run media reported on Monday. The legislature’s Standing Committee passed the law, which also requires the government to guarantee funds for infectious disease prevention. — AP

242 sick ducks culled
HANOI:
Vietnamese authorities have culled 242 ducks taken from a busy Hanoi market that were suspected of carrying the deadly bird flu virus, market management said on Monday. The sick ducks were discovered on Friday by the market management board as a truck brought them to the market. — DPA
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