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Israel bombs Beirut highways, stalls UN aid
Beirut, August 4
Israeli air strikes today destroyed three highway bridges north of Beirut stalling several UN aid convoys for civilians caught up in Israel’s expanding conflict with Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Humanitarian disaster looming in Lanka
Colombo, August 4
Concerned over a looming humanitarian disaster in Sri Lanka’s northeast, international relief agencies today sought opening of a corridor to send urgently-required supplies to thousands trapped in a town where fierce fighting has left at least 22 civilians dead.

A boy carries his younger brother as thousands of civilians evacuated from the Muttur battle front between the Sri Lankan armed forces and Tamil Tigers, walk to a government-controlled safe area in Thoper village, eastern Trincomalee, on Friday. A boy carries his younger brother as thousands of civilians evacuated from the Muttur battle front between the Sri Lankan armed forces and Tamil Tigers, walk to a government-controlled safe area in Thoper village, eastern Trincomalee, on Friday.
— Reuters photo




EARLIER STORIES


Marilyn Monroe — a reincarnation
WE’ve had countless memoirs from Marilyn Monroe’s “secret” lovers. We’ve been regaled with conspiracy theories that the iconic actress did not commit suicide but was murdered by a cabal, including anyone and everyone from the Mob to the Kennedy brothers.

Woman charged with killing husband denied bail
Washington, August 4
A US court in Ohio has denied bail to a woman charged with murdering her wealthy Indian husband with the help of her former boyfriend. Gulam Moonda, a successful NRI urologist in Pennsylvania, was shot dead in May last year while getting down from his car near the Ohio turnpike.

 

 

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Israel bombs Beirut highways, stalls UN aid

Beirut, August 4
Israeli air strikes today destroyed three highway bridges north of Beirut stalling several UN aid convoys for civilians caught up in Israel’s expanding conflict with Hizbollah in Lebanon.

With no action to end the 24-day-old war emerging from the United Nations, fierce fighting raged in the south as Israeli troops tried to expand seven small border enclaves they control.

The bombing of bridges in the Christian heartlands north of the capital cut off the main coastal highway to Syria.

“It’s really a major setback because we used this highway to move staff and supplies into the country,” said Astrid van Genderen Stort of the UN refugee agency UNHCR. “If we don’t have new material coming in, we will basically be paralysed.” Israeli raids have already wrecked the main Beirut-Damascus highway, although mountain roads still offer a perilous passage.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said yesterday Lebanon had only enough fuel for another week due to an Israeli blockade.

More than 150 Israeli air strikes hit targets across the south and artillery pounded border areas as Hizbollah tried to stop new Israeli incursions near Markaba and a strategic hill near the coastal town of Naqoura, security sources said.

“The thuds of explosions are continuous,” a Lebanese security source said. “There’s an air strike every few minutes.” Hizbollah fighters, setting roadside bombs and firing anti-tank missiles, killed five Israeli soldiers around Markaba, Al Arabiya television said. Israel has not confirmed the report.

Israel’s army said it had killed 10 Hizbollah guerrillas.

Israel renewed its bombing of Lebanese civil installations a day after Hizbollah attacks killed eight civilians and four soldiers, the heaviest one-day Israeli toll of the war.

At least 693 persons in Lebanon and 68 Israelis have been killed in the conflict ignited by a cross-border raid in which Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12.

At least five persons, including a Lebanese army soldier, were killed and 12 wounded in the bombing of the bridges, the Red Cross said. Another soldier was killed in overnight strikes on the Ouzai slum area near Beirut airport, the army said.

Bombs punched sections out of the bridges, spewing rubble and twisted metal over passing cars.

Israeli air strikes also hit the Beirut-Damascus highway near the Syrian border, as well as other roads in the Bekaa Valley. Bombs shook Beirut’s Hizbollah-dominated Shia suburbs, where previous strikes had already levelled some areas.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair delayed the start of his holiday today to work on a UN ceasefire for Lebanon. “He thinks the next few days will be critical,” a spokesman said. — Reuters

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Humanitarian disaster looming in Lanka

Colombo, August 4
Concerned over a looming humanitarian disaster in Sri Lanka’s northeast, international relief agencies today sought opening of a corridor to send urgently-required supplies to thousands trapped in a town where fierce fighting has left at least 22 civilians dead.

Major aid agencies here made a joint appeal for a “humanitarian corridor” to ensure safe passage of civilians, aid workers and relief items to ease the suffering of the mainly Muslim population of Trincomalee’s Muttur town, caught in the crossfire between security forces and Tamil tigers.

“We in the humanitarian community... are gravely concerned about the alarming violence in areas of Trincomalee district,” they said in a statement.

“Muttur has suffered severely as a result of shelling and lack of access has hampered our ability to provide assistance to civilians in dire need of urgent help. It is appalling to note the significant civilian casualties and distressing to know that civilians, including the injured are still trapped in fear, cowering in public buildings which are getting caught in the crossfire.” “We strongly urge both parties to respect the existing ceasefire, accept a cessation of violence and facilitate access for a rapid assessment of needs to occur to enable delivery of assistance to the civilian population,” the relief agencies said in the appeal.

They said the “immediate” establishment of a humanitarian corridor for safe passage for civilians, aid workers and relief items is needed to reduce suffering of civilian population in these areas.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had already failed to get relief to thousands of civilians trapped in Muttur.

The Red Cross had sought security guarantees from government and the Tamil tigers to allow it to reach civilians, but none had been forthcoming, ICRC spokesman Sukumar Rockwood said.

“We have not been able to achieve the humanitarian corridor we wanted to establish for us to move freely and care for the affected people in Muttur,” he said.

“We have failed to get the supplies in.” Muslim legislator Rauf Hakeem asked the government to air drop supplies to the besieged civilians. — PTI

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Marilyn Monroe — a reincarnation
Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

WE’ve had countless memoirs from Marilyn Monroe’s “secret” lovers. We’ve been regaled with conspiracy theories that the iconic actress did not commit suicide but was murdered by a cabal, including anyone and everyone from the Mob to the Kennedy brothers.

Now, with the 44th anniversary of Monroe’s death looming, comes a different twist on the old obsession: a psychologically troubled Canadian singer who claims she was Marilyn in a previous life, and whose claims have been championed by a southern California psychiatrist in a newly published book.

The story sounds easy to dismiss, but it is at least told absolutely straight. Sherrie Lea Laird takes no pleasure in what she sees as her deep bond to Monroe. Rather, it is something that has plagued her with terrible dreams and flashbacks, and sent her to the psychiatric ward.

Her doctor, Adrian Finkelstein, does his best, meanwhile, to establish a scientific basis for believing that Laird really is the reincarnation of the most recognisable actress of the 20th century. In the book, ‘Marilyn Monroe Returns: The Healing of a Soul,’ he points out her ability to answer hundreds of detailed questions about Marilyn’s life under hypnosis. She could even pick out Marilyn’s maternal aunts in photographs, he writes.

Laird claims to be able to feel the crushing sensation in her chest that Monroe must have felt in her dying moments after she overdosed on pills on August 5, 1962. She says she experiences pain at the break-up between Marilyn and John F. Kennedy. Perhaps most bizarrely, she believes her own 21-year-old daughter Kezia is the reincarnation of Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Baker — who died just a few days before her birth.

Sceptics might be interested to note that Laird admits having being fascinated with Monroe from the age of 11 or 12, when she first heard her sing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”. She was particularly taken by the discovery, as a young adult, that Monroe’s character in ‘Bus Stop’ is a singer, like her, with an almost identical name, Cherie.

So was this a case of unhealthy overidentification with a dead celebrity, or a real case of past-life regression, as Dr Finkelstein argues? Laird herself wrote in one of her early emails to the Malibu doctor: ``I think I was M. Monroe, but who doesn’t?’’ Dr Finkelstein, who has an impressive academic resume and now runs an organisation called the Malibu Wholistic Health Center, has spent the past 20 years researching the scientific evidence for reincarnation and the existence of flashbacks to earlier lives. He once wrote a book called ‘Your Past Lives and the Healing Process’, and believes he was himself a French physician in a previous existence. 
— By arrangement with the Independent, London

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Woman charged with killing husband denied bail

Washington, August 4
A US court in Ohio has denied bail to a woman charged with murdering her wealthy Indian husband with the help of her former boyfriend.

Gulam Moonda, a successful NRI urologist in Pennsylvania, was shot dead in May last year while getting down from his car near the Ohio turnpike. His wife, Donna, claimed a gunman from another vehicle shot and robbed her husband before escaping.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Akron District Judge David Dowd said 47-year-old Donna Moonda was a “flight risk”.

“The detailed planning of the homicide strongly suggests that she remains capable of being a danger to any person or the community if released,” he said.

Some bizarre details of the killing have surfaced in the past several weeks from the time prosecutors turned in indictments in the case.

Prosecutors said the plot to kill Gulam and gain control of his $ 6 million estate was hatched in 2004.

According to the Ohio Patrol Investigator, Donna agreed to give half her inheritance to ex-lover Damian Bradford if he would kill her husband.

She allegedly planned the murder to make it look like a highway robbery near the Ohio turnpike south of Cleveland with herself and her mother Dorothy Sprouse as witnesses in the car.

At the time of the initial hearing, prosecutors told the court there was evidence Donna and Bradford were in touch through cell phones and text messages on the day of the killing.

Bradford (25), later pleaded guilty to the shooting and agreed to testify for a reduced sentence. — PTI

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