SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

President Mahmoud calls for fresh poll
A challenge for Hamas as Fatah activists celebrate

Ramallah, West Bank, December 16
President Mahmoud Abbas called on Saturday for fresh Palestinian elections, throwing down the gauntlet to his Hamas rivals after days of factional violence that has sparked fears of civil war.
Palestinian militants from the Fatah movement march during a protest in Gaza on Saturday Palestinian militants from the Fatah movement march during a protest in Gaza on Saturday. — Reuters photo

N. Korea will not dismantle N-arms
Beijing, December 16 
North Korea today ruled out dismantling its nuclear weapons unilaterally in the face of “hostile” policies against Pyongyang, signalling major difficulties in the six-party talks scheduled to resume here on Monday after a hiatus of over one year.


EARLIER STORIES


US firm to build four N-power plants in China
Beijing, December 16
China and the United States today signed a memorandum that Washington said “will pave the way” for Westinghouse Electric Company to build four civilian nuclear power plants in China in a deal estimated at $ 8 billion.

Bangladesh I-Day festivities amid strife
Dhaka, December 16
Bangladesh celebrated the 35th anniversary of its independence on Saturday amid continuing strife, ahead of parliamentary elections with rival leaders laying wreaths at a war memorial near the capital.

Nepal finalises interim constitution
Kathmandu, December 16
Nepal’s ruling parties and Maoists rebels today finalised an interim constitution which removes King Gyanendra as the Head of State. The constitution was finalised after top leaders of the eight political parties, including Prime Minister G.P. Koirala and Maoist Chief Prachanda, put their signatures on the document after 16 hours of hectic discussions paving the way for the rebels to join the government.

How aspirin fights cancer
Washington, December 16
Boffins have for long known that pain killers like aspirin halt the growth of cancer cells but now they have finally been able to pinpoint how. In a study conducted by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in collaboration with scientists at Columbia University Medical Center, the boffins found that the induction of a gene known as MDA-7/IL-24 is the molecular mechanism that enables nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin halt the growth of cancer cells.

Top











 

President Mahmoud calls for fresh poll
A challenge for Hamas as Fatah activists celebrate

Ramallah, West Bank, December 16
President Mahmoud Abbas called on Saturday for fresh Palestinian elections, throwing down the gauntlet to his Hamas rivals after days of factional violence that has sparked fears of civil war.

Mr Abbas said parliamentary and presidential polls should be held at the earliest opportunity, but appeared to leave the door open to Hamas by saying renewed efforts should be made to form a government that could lift Western sanctions.

Internal tensions are at their worst in a decade after the collapse of months of talks between the ruling Hamas Islamist movement and Abbas's Fatah faction on forging a unity cabinet.

"I have decided to call for presidential and parliamentary election ... The crisis is getting worse," Mr Abbas said in a speech broadcast live on Palestine TV and watched by Palestinians across Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Hamas accused Mr Abbas of launching a coup. "This is a real coup against the democratically elected government," senior Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri told Reuters in the Gaza Strip.

Masri said Hamas would look at its options to preserve its government. He gave no details.

A senior Abbas aide, Saeb Erekat, said elections could not be held before the middle of next year for legal and technical reasons. He said Abbas first had to issue a presidential decree to provide a framework for the early polls. After that, voter rolls would need some 90 days to be updated.

Mr Abbas had earlier in his speech called for a political solution to resolve the crisis but made clear he had the power to sack the 9-month-old Hamas government, which has struggled to function under the weight of the embargo on its administration.

"This is a constitutional right. I can do it whenever I want," Mr Abbas said from the West Bank city of Ramallah, speaking in front of a giant poster of a holy Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

Fatah activists in Gaza and the West Bank broke into celebrations when Mr Abbas issued the election call, firing automatic weapons into the air.

Hamas surprised Fatah by winning parliamentary elections in January. Mr Abbas, a political moderate, was elected separately in early 2005 in a presidential poll that Hamas did not contest.

The Palestinian basic law, which acts as a constitution, has no provision for calling early elections.

Fatah officials say Abbas can do so by issuing a presidential decree. Hamas says that would be illegal.

Current opinion polls do not indicate clearly which faction would win new elections. Mr Abbas has also effectively put his own job on the line. He has previously said he will not stand for another term.

Aides have said Mr Abbas does not believe in a "two-headed government", arguing that Palestinians should be given the chance to choose between his programme and that of Hamas.

Mr Abbas wants a negotiated peace settlement with Israel.

Hamas's charter calls for the Jewish state's destruction, a stance that has scuppered previous unity government talks.

Responding to Mr Abbas's announcement, a senior Israeli defence source said: "This is a very important internal decision by the Palestinians which creates a new opportunity to relinquish the path of terror and return to the negotiating table."

In the latest violence, Abbas's forces wounded 32 Hamas supporters in Ramallah on Friday when they fired on protesters. Gunbattles between the factions also erupted in Gaza. Despite the tensions, Mr Abbas vowed to prevent a civil war. — Reuters

Top

 

N. Korea will not dismantle N-arms

Beijing, December 16 
North Korea today ruled out dismantling its nuclear weapons unilaterally in the face of “hostile” policies against Pyongyang, signalling major difficulties in the six-party talks scheduled to resume here on Monday after a hiatus of over one year.

North Korea was not optimistic about the outlook of the upcoming round of six party talks, and the US should change its hostile policy towards Pyongyang to peaceful co-existence policy, head of the North Korean delegation Kim Kye-gwan said on his arrival at Beijing International Airport.

The second phase of the fifth round of the six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia, is due to resume in Beijing on December 18 after its last session in November 2005.

Kim, also vice foreign minister of North Korea, said his side was willing to discuss other contents of the September Joint Statement, except the nuclear weapons, during the new round of six-party talks, under the condition that the US gives up its economic sanctions against his country.

He said Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will not give up the nuclear weapons, which are against the US invasion and threat.

“The United States should change its hostile policy against the DPRK,” he said. “The nuclear issues cannot be resolved until the US take a co-existence policy,” he asserted.

The North Korean delegation is the first to arrive in Beijing. The South Korean delegation is scheduled to arrive this afternoon. The Russian, US and Japanese delegations are scheduled to arrive tommorrow. — PTI

Top

 

US firm to build four N-power plants in China

Beijing, December 16
China and the United States today signed a memorandum that Washington said “will pave the way” for Westinghouse Electric Company to build four civilian nuclear power plants in China in a deal estimated at $ 8 billion.

Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse, recently acquired by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, had been pressing, with government backing, to win tenders for China’s third generation of nuclear power plants since 2004.

Other suitors included France’s Areva, with French President Jacques Chirac lobbying with Beijing during his October visit, and Russia's Atomstroiexport.

Stephen Tritch, President and CEO, Westinghouse Electric Co, said the deal was a multi-billion dollar one, but gave no specifics.

“The initial agreement between China and Westinghouse is for four reactors, two at each site in Sanmen and Yangjing,” the Department of Energy said in a statement released after the signing on the sidelines of a five-nation energy summit.

China, the world’s second-largest energy consumer, plans to spend some $ 50 billion on building around 30 new nuclear reactors by 2020, bringing its installed nuclear capacity to 40 gigawatts.

It currently has nine working reactors that supply around 2.3 per cent of its electricity, but aims to boost the amount of power it gets from nuclear plants to 4 per cent within 15 years. — Reuters

Top

 

Bangladesh I-Day festivities amid strife

Dhaka, December 16
Bangladesh celebrated the 35th anniversary of its independence on Saturday amid continuing strife, ahead of parliamentary elections with rival leaders laying wreaths at a war memorial near the capital.

Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan on December 16,1971, after a nine-month guerrilla war, costing millions of lives.

The armed forces heralded the big day, a public holiday in Bangladesh, with a dawn artillery barrage, and people poured into the streets, chanting "victory is for ever, let us keep it safe". Addressing a children's parade in Dhaka, President Iajuddin Ahmed urged Bangladeshis to join efforts to build the impoverished country.

The President was the first to lay a wreath at the national war memorial at Savar, 25 km from the capital, followed by rival former prime ministers Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, witnesses said.

Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Hasina's Awami League are currently locked in a bitter struggle to win power in the elections set for January 23.

The run-up to the poll so far has been violent and tense with rival activists clashing almost daily. At least 44 have been killed and hundreds injured since late October.

Despite the anniversary, Bangladesh stayed focused on the challenge of holding a free and fair election, with a Hasina-led multi-party alliance still threatening to "resist" unless crucial reforms are implemented.

Its demands include removal of key Election Commission officials, whom Ms Hasina accuses of favouring Ms Khaleda and the BNP, and pushing the poll date to allow more time for campaigning.

Officials said this looked a remote possibility given that the constitution require new elections to take place within three months of expiry of the previous government's tenure.

Ms Khaleda handed over power to President Iajuddin on October 29 at the end of her five-year term as Prime Minister. He now heads an interim government.

Ms Hasina has also accused Mr Iajuddin of bias towards Ms Khaleda and urged him to quit as caretaker leader to prove his neutrality.

The BNP attacked Ms Hasina, saying she was trying to destroy democracy and push Bangladesh into a constitutional crisis.

The latest episode in the country's long-running political melodrama came on Thursday when the high court confirmed a two-year jail sentence on former army ruler Mohammad Ershad. — Reuters

Top

 

Nepal finalises interim constitution

Kathmandu, December 16
Nepal’s ruling parties and Maoists rebels today finalised an interim constitution which removes King Gyanendra as the Head of State.
The constitution was finalised after top leaders of the eight political parties, including Prime Minister G.P. Koirala and Maoist Chief Prachanda, put their signatures on the document after 16 hours of hectic discussions paving the way for the rebels to join the government.

According to the constitution, which has 167 Articles, all executive powers as well as those enjoyed by the King in the previous constitution have now been vested in the Prime Minister, Mr Rajendra Mahato, General Secretary of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party. — PTI

Top

 

How aspirin fights cancer

Washington, December 16
Boffins have for long known that pain killers like aspirin halt the growth of cancer cells but now they have finally been able to pinpoint how.

In a study conducted by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), in collaboration with scientists at Columbia University Medical Center, the boffins found that the induction of a gene known as MDA-7/IL-24 is the molecular mechanism that enables nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin halt the growth of cancer cells.

The study's senior author Towia Libermann, Ph.D, Director of the BIDMC Genomics Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), said the new findings provided the answer to the long-puzzling question: How does this popular class of pain killers protect people from developing this deadly disease? "Although observational studies had a previously demonstrated that NSAIDs (such as aspirin, ibuprofen and sulindac) might be effective in the prevention and treatment of several common cancers, it wasn’t at all clear how this was happening. Now, after treating a number of different types of cancer cells in culture with a whole set of NSAIDs, we can point to this single gene which, when upregulated, kills cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy cells,” Libermann said.

Previous studies have shown that NSAIDs such as aspirin can be effective in the prevention and treatment of common cancers as they help modulate the inflammatory processes, which when it becomes “stuck” in an activated state, leads to the release of molecules that enhance carcinogenesis and tumour progression at the site of the damage.

These anti-cancer effects have been attributed, in large part, to NSAIDs’ potential to induce cell death, which appears to stem from the drugs’ inhibition of the COX (cyclooxygenase) enzymes, the primary mechanism by which NSAIDs guard against pain.

According to Libermann, the level of MDA-7/IL-24 gene expression in cancer patients may emerge as a new biomarker for monitoring patients’ responses to certain therapies, and may help determine whether drugs such as NSAIDs are hitting their intended targets. — ANI

Top

 

2006 is the warmest year

New York, December 16
The current year is expected to go down in history as the sixth warmest year on record with prolonged drought in some regions, heavy rainfall and flooding in others and deadly typhoons in south-east Asia. But the human-induced global warming may not be the culprit with mischief being done by rising concentration of human populations and increasing infrastructure in the coastal region, scientists say. The global mean surface temperature is currently estimated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to be 0.42 Celsius above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14C. — PTI

Top

 

Indian worker drowned

Dubai, December 16
A plumber from Kerala was among three Asian workers who died while attempting to clean a deep drainage channel in Doha.The incident occurred on Friday when Ajay Kumar first descended into the drain. Two other workers who went down in search of him also got drowned. — UNI

Top

 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |