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Saturday, January 29, 2005

China National News > Beijing reaches out to rest of world

Beijing reaches out to rest of world

China

By William Ickes in Davos, Switzerland

January 30, 2005

CHINA'S Deputy Prime Minister told global leaders overnight that his country could not fully develop on its own, saying Beijing saw a socialist market economy as being far from perfect.

In a widely-anticipated address to power brokers and business leaders from almost all continents, Huang Ju said China "cannot develop itself in seclusion and the world cannot develop without China's development".

He said Beijing would allow the yuan to float freely on foreign exchange markets following an unspecified period of preparation, and urged investors to set up shop in the country.

"A more open and prosperous China will not only benefit its 1.3 billion people but also provide considerable investment opportunities and a vast market for other countries, so being a powerful engine for world economic growth."

China's average growth rate of 9.4 per cent from 1979 to 2003 has cooled only slightly since, and countries from the United States to South Africa and South Korea are keen to see how official policies will affect their own growth prospects.




The deputy PM appealed frankly to foreign investors, saying: "The socialist market economy system has been basically viewed in China as far from perfect.

"The Chinese Government warmly welcomes and encourages foreign investment in high tech industries, modern agriculture, modern services, environment."

He promised continued improvement in the investment environment and legal system, protection for intellectual property rights, and increased access to the country's massive pool of potential consumers.

"China will as always honour its commitments on its accession to the World Trade Organisation, further improve its economic rules and regulations and open up more areas," he said.

Earlier this week, the Chinese Government received strong praise from US software giant Bill Gates, who told an informal meeting that China had created "a brand-new form of capitalism, and as a consumer it's the best thing that ever happened".

"This generation of leaders is so smart, so capable, from the top down, particularly from the top down," Mr Gates said, pointing to a process of rotating top civil servants on a merit basis through universities so they could "really think about state allocation of resources and the welfare of the country".

In his speech, Mr Huang said an important experience in China's modernisation drive "is that the government should try to satisfy the people in all its endeavors and maintain harmony and stability".

Rural areas and Muslim inhabited regions in western China have been identified by observers as places where Beijing could face problems if economic development does not keep pace with cities close to the coast.

"We will provide more financial and policy support to rural areas and western regions and gradually narrow the gap between the urban and rural areas and between different regions," the influential minister said.

He was also careful to reassure regional neighbours and the rest of the world that China had only peaceful intentions regardless of how strong it became.

"China's development will by no means pose a threat to other countries. It is our set policy that we will not menace others even when we are developed."

Turning to foreign exchange rates, the Chinese minister said the renmimbi, or yuan, would be allowed to float freely once market mechanisms, financial systems and all parts of the country were prepared.

"We'll have a phased or step-by-step method to relax the restraints on the cross border trade of currency and gradually realise the convertibility of the renmimbi," he said.

"We do not have a specific timetable for the exchange rate regime."

Officials would also choose an appropriate time to avoid market speculation, but the Chinese leader pledged: "We will gradually and steadfastly press ahead with this undertaking."

BBC NEWS | Health | Cannabis mental health risk probe

BBC NEWS | Health | Cannabis mental health risk probe

Cannabis mental health risk probe
The government says it will review all academic and clinical studies linking cannabis use to mental health problems.

The Department of Health says it is now generally agreed among doctors that cannabis is an "important causal factor" in mental illness.

It follows a mental health group's call for the government to investigate "the link between cannabis and psychosis".

Rethink said its reclassification from a Class B to Class C drug sent a "confusing message" to young people.

The charity wants the Commons Health Select Committee to launch an inquiry into the effect cannabis has on users.

Its call was also backed by health campaign group Sane which wants the classification of cannabis to be reversed.

A Department of Health spokesman said it was already commissioning a review.

"We have no objection to the health select committee looking into this," he said.

'Common consensus'

"However we are in the process of commissioning an expert review of all the academic and clinical evidence of the link between cannabis use and mental health, particularly schizophrenia.

"There is medical clinical evidence now that there is an important causal factor between cannabis use and schizophrenia - not the only factor, but an important causal factor. That is the common consensus among the medical fraternity."

It should be legalised, not reclassified.
Iain, Cambs, UK

Cannabis was reclassified last year so that police could target hard drugs.

Home Office figures released on Friday showed that arrests for possession of cannabis fell by a third in the first year of its reclassification.

However, Rethink said there had been a 60% increase in people who smoked drugs and had mental health problems in the last five years.

Most medical experts agree that smoking cannabis in itself does not cause mental illness, but that people who are predisposed to psychosis are much more likely to develop symptoms if they use the drug regularly.

"Cannabis is not risk free," Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said.

"We have known for years that using cannabis makes the symptoms of schizophrenia far worse in people who already have the illness."

Calling for further research, Mr Prior said the government should "concentrate on the real and specific mental health dangers, not general warnings that no-one takes seriously".

It is Russian roulette. For some people it can ease pain, but for others it can be an absolute disaster
Terry Hammond

Marjorie Wallace, Sane chief executive, said Sane has campaigned for 18 years about "the destructive link between cannabis and schizophrenia" and that professionals and governments had ignored years of "mounting evidence".

"Far from it being a relatively harmless recreational drug - for vulnerable people, especially teenagers, the innocent spliff in the playground, or chilling out, could trigger a journey of lifelong disintegration," she said.

Campaigner Terry Hammond says his son, Steve, developed schizophrenia after taking cannabis resin.

'Trigger'

"I have got absolutely no doubt at all, and neither has Steve - Steve is absolutely clear about it - that it was the cannabis that triggered it.

"It may not have been the absolute cause of it, but it was the trigger.

"It is Russian roulette," he said. "For some people it can ease pain, but for others it can be an absolute disaster."

But Steve Barker, of the Campaign to Legalise Cannabis Association, said that by prohibiting cannabis it was preventing information about its use being readily available, while cannabis could in fact aid those with medical problems.

"There is a larger proportion of people with mental health problems who claim cannabis reduces their symptoms than those for whom it is a problem," he said.

"To criminalise people and to put them though the criminal justice system rather than give them the medical support they need is completely wrong."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/4218851.stm

Friday, January 28, 2005

Taipei Times > US must side with Taiwan

Thu, Jan 27, 2005 Thursday, Jan 27, 2005

By Henry Wang

Advertising With hard work, perseverance and ingenuity, post-World War II Taiwan has emerged as one of Asia's most advanced economies and one of its most free and democratic countries. Indeed, Taiwan is, in the word of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, a "success story," and a true multi-party democracy worthy of emulating by all developing countries.
Every four years, just as the Americans do, the Taiwanese people freely elect the president of their country.
The US and Taiwan have been allies for decades. The freedom-loving Taiwanese treasure this valuable and mutually-beneficial relationship. They, however, were disheartened be the remarks of the State Department's two highest-ranking officials. On Oct. 25 last year, when speaking about the US' "one China" policy, Powell said, "Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation."
He went a step further to express an erroneous view that "reunification" with China is a goal sought by the Taiwanese as well as the Chinese.
The fact is that Taiwan has never been, historically or legally, a part of China since 1895 when the Qing Dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan. Japan ruled Taiwan as a colony for half a century until its defeat in 1945. By virtue of the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan renounced control of Taiwan. In the minds and hearts of the great majority of the people of, Taiwan is a democracy with all the characteristics of a sovereign nation.
In addition, survey after survey has unmistakably shown that the majority of the Taiwanese people do not wish Taiwan to become part of China. Although through Powell later backtracked on his words and acknowledged that he meant peaceful "resolution" of differences between Taiwan and China and not "reunification," he has yet to retract his prejudicial remarks about Taiwan's sovereignty.
The Taiwanese people were even more dismayed when Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in an interview with PBS' Charlie Rose on Dec. 10, stated, "We all agree that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China."
He added that the US is not legally obligated to defend Taiwan in the event of a military attack. Since 1972, the official position of the US, as manifested in the three joint communiques between the US and China, has been that the US "acknowledges" the Chinese claim that Taiwan is part of China.
Nowhere is it mentioned that the US "agrees" with China's position. Armitage's remarks are a significant departure from long-standing US policy. Furthermore, Armitage's interpretation of the Taiwan Relations Act that the US is not legally bound to defend Taiwan contradicts President George W. Bush's 2002 pledge that the US would "do whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan.
At a time when the US is committed to establish democracy in Middle East and other regions, it certainly does not bode well for the administration's credibility when the State Department chooses to adopt the position that the Taiwanese should live under the terms of authoritarian China.
One must realize that the tensions across the Taiwan Strait are nothing more than a result of China's territorial ambitions.
China today not only has nearly 600 missiles targeting Taiwan, it also has been steadily upgrading its nuclear capabilities.
The Chinese military modernization in reality is posing a threat not only to Taiwan but also to other Asian countries. It has become increasingly clear that with its rapidly growing economic prowess and military might, China will soon be in the position to recreate an "Asian co-prosperity sphere" that imperial Japan attempted to build during World War II -- but brought disastrous results to itself and its neighbors.
Recognizing China's ambition to be the dominant power in Asia, Japan has perceived China's rise as a threat to its security. Likewise, India is apprehensive of China's rising influence in the region. The urgent task for the US is to refocus on Asia and not to stand idle when democratic Taiwan is intimidated militarily China.
The timing of the State Department officials' remarks reiterating the Chinese position before their pending departures from is both regrettable and perplexing. Proclaiming that "Taiwan is part of China" not only offers US endorsement of Taiwan's eventual annexation, it also emboldens China to enact its so-called "anti-secession law" to justify such an action.
We sincerely hope that with the departure of Powell and Armitage, their recently expressed views on Taiwan will be forgotten. History will show that when the US steadfastly sides with freedom and democracy, it exerts a greater influence on humanity.
We also hope the US will encourage Beijing to respect the wishes of the Taiwanese, as this offers the only meaningful solution to the cross-strait impasse.
To continue to discourage the Taiwanese from pursuing their own destiny -- a right sanctioned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- puts the US in the unenviable position of siding with China, a rising military power that the US-based Freedom House has ranked over the last two decades as one of the world's most unfree countries.
Henry Wang,
North American Taiwanese Professors' Association



Wednesday, January 26, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | Rice confirmed in US Senate vote

BBC NEWS | Americas | Rice confirmed in US Senate vote

Rice confirmed in US Senate vote
Condoleezza Rice has been confirmed as President George W Bush's new secretary of state in a US Senate vote.

Democratic senators sharply criticised her record in the run-up to the Iraq war during debates on her nomination.

Eighty-five senators eventually backed her accession while 13 opposed it - the second-highest vote ever against a nominee for secretary of state.

A Senate committee also paved the way for Alberto Gonzales to be approved as the new attorney general.

The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee voted by 10 votes to eight to send his nomination for approval by the full Senate, with a vote expected as early as next week.

'Ability and experience'

Mr Bush said Ms Rice would make "a wonderful secretary of state".



The woman who held the position of national security adviser in Mr Bush's first term wins a place in the history books as the first black female secretary of state.

She replaces former US general Colin Powell, who himself made history as the highest-ranking African American in any US administration when he was made the country's top diplomat in 2000.

Ms Rice is expected to be sworn in at the White House later on Wednesday night and will move into her new office on Thursday morning.

A more elaborate swearing-in ceremony is planned for her on Friday.

She was overwhelmingly approved last week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Outlaw regimes must be confronted. Dangerous weapons proliferation must be stopped. Terrorist organisations must be destroyed. Dr Rice has both the ability and the experience to meet these daunting challenges," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist during the debate on Tuesday.

War role

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, admitted Ms Rice had "impressive credentials".

"Her life story is very moving and she has extensive experience in foreign policy," he said.

"But this nomination is different because of the war in Iraq. Dr Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war that has been a catastrophic failure - a continuing quagmire," he went on.

BBC Washington correspondent Justin Webb says her confirmation was always assured but the manner of it - preceded by a bad-tempered debate and charges of lying - casts a slight pall over her accession.

Ms Rice, 50, is a close confidante of President Bush and was closely involved in his Iraq policy.

Mr Powell announced his resignation as secretary of state soon after Mr Bush's re-election in November.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/4209517.stm

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

MSNBC > INTERVIEW-Mugabe has lost control of party - opposition

INTERVIEW-Mugabe has lost control of party - opposition

INTERVIEW-Mugabe has lost control of party - opposition
By Alistair Thomson and Paul Holmes
JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 25 — Unprecedented infighting in Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF shows President Robert Mugabe has lost control of his party ahead of elections due in March, the main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Tuesday.

''Mugabe now is a leader of a faction, not the leader of the party of the country, and that undermines his legitimacy,'' the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said.
More than a dozen top party officials have been purged amid jostling to succeed Mugabe, 80, upon his retirement in 2008. The party has also been racked by squabbles over the imposition of some election candidates and the exclusion of others.
The rare infighting in ZANU-PF, which under Mugabe fought for Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 and has ruled ever since, could benefit the MDC if it decides to contest the election, Tsvangirai told Reuters in an interview in neighbouring South Africa.
But, the MDC leader said his party still wanted the election delayed to allow better preparation, and would decide only next month whether to contest the parliamentary polls, which they have threatened to boycott.
''The problem confronting us is: damned if you do, damned if you don't,'' Tsvangirai said. ''It takes two to tango. You can't have a one-party election, neither can you have an election in which you legitimise a farce.''
''As Napoleon said, don't help your enemy when he's down -- obviously it's an opportunity for the MDC,'' he said.
Tsvangirai repeated his call for polls to be postponed to meet Southern African Development Community (SADC) standards.
''We don't expect 100 percent compliance on SADC principles but we expect the minimum to be applied,'' he said.
The MDC leadership would decide on Feb. 2 or 3 whether to contest the poll. The MDC accuses Mugabe of rigging elections in 2000 and 2002 and says the government must allow them freedom of assembly and access to the media and voter lists.
Mugabe rejects charges of electoral fraud and dismisses Tsvangirai as a puppet of Western opponents, above all Britain.

''LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE''
The former trade union leader, 52, said that even after the creation of an electoral commission last week, Zimbabwe was far from meeting SADC standards, and the poll should be delayed.
''It's a logistical nightmare that they have to face. It's almost an impossiblity. And so if they are to go ahead, they would have to use discredited institutions -- the very same institutions that have committed the fraud over the years.''
Tsvangirai conceded that his treason trial for an alleged plot to kill Mugabe had caused despondency within MDC ranks.
But he said his acquittal last October had revived morale and he expected a second case of treason against him, linked to street protests in 2003, to collapse.
Zimbabwe's once-vibrant economy has largely failed since 2000, when Mugabe began advocating the sometimes violent seizure of white-owned farms. Inflation has soared to three digits and food and foreign currency are often scarce.
Many in neighbouring South Africa have watched aghast as economic migrants have come over the border, although President Thabo Mbeki has steered away from open confrontation with Mugabe -- revered by many across southern Africa as a giant of the struggle against white rule.
Tsvangirai said he sensed growing frustration within Mbeki's ruling African National Congress (ANC) at Mugabe's failure to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
Last week, the ANC's secretary-general voiced concern over restrictions imposed on the MDC, saying the election must be fair and police impartial.
''They have tried quiet diplomacy for a very long time, tried to (encourage) ZANU-PF to move towards democracy and human rights observation, but they have realised that Mugabe has remained defiant both to national and international opinion,'' Tsvangirai said.

Monday, January 24, 2005

BBC NEWS | Business | Poll 'shows world economic gloom'

BBC NEWS | Business | Poll 'shows world economic gloom'

Poll 'shows world economic gloom'
A majority of people surveyed in a BBC World Service poll believe the world economy is getting worse.

Most respondents also said their national economy was getting worse.

But when asked about their own family's financial outlook, a majority in 14 countries said they were positive about the future.

Almost 23,000 people in 22 countries were questioned for the poll, which was completed mostly before the Asian tsunami disaster.

The poll found, on average, 44% said the world economy was getting worse, compared to only 34%.

Similarly, 48% said their national economy is getting worse, while another 41% said it is getting better.

And 47% saw their family's economic conditions as getting better (against 36%, who said it was getting worse).

The poll of 22,953 people was conducted by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland.

"While the world economy has picked up from difficult times just a few years ago, people seem to not have fully absorbed this development, though they are personally experiencing its effects," said Pipa director Steven Kull.

"People around the world are saying: 'I'm OK, but the world isn't'."

There may be a perception that war, terrorism and religious and political divisions are making the world a worse place, even though that has not so far been reflected in global economic performance, says the BBC's Elizabeth Blunt.

From buoyant to gloomy

The most optimistic about both the world and respondents' families were two fast-growing developing economies, China and India, followed by Indonesia.

China has seen two decades of blistering economic growth, which has led to wealth creation on a huge scale, says the BBC's Louisa Lim in Beijing.

But the results also may reflect the untrammelled confidence of people who are subject to endless government propaganda about their country's rosy economic future, our correspondent says.

South Korea was the most pessimistic, while respondents in Italy and Mexico were also quite gloomy.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says one reason for that result is the changeover from the lira to the euro in 2001, which is widely viewed as the biggest single reason why their wages and salaries are worth less than they used to be.

The Philippines was among the most upbeat about respondent families, but was one of the most pessimistic about the world economy.

Pipa conducted the poll from 15 November 2004 to 3 January 2005 across 22 countries in face-to-face or telephone interviews.

The interviews took place between 15 November 2004 and 5 January 2005.

The margin of error is between 2.5 and 4 points, depending on the country.

In eight of the countries the sample was limited to major metropolitan areas.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/business/4203867.stm

INSIDE JoongAng Daily > Seoul wants U.S. envoy's residence

INSIDE JoongAng Daily

Seoul wants U.S. envoy's residence

January 25, 2005 ㅡ Not only does the South Korean government envision relocating the U.S. Embassy to Camp Coiner, it also wants the current U.S. ambassador's residence to be vacated.
The residence, called Habib House after former U.S. envoy to Korea Philip Habib, is a neo-traditional house built in 1976 with funds from the State Department and U.S. businesses in Korea. It is the only U.S. ambassador's residence in the world built in the traditional style of its host country. Also on the site is the historic U.S. legation building, originally granted to Washington in 1883. The U.S. Embassy renovated it extensively last year.
A Foreign Ministry official said yesterday that the South Korean government is considering swapping the former Gyeonggi Girls' High School site, near Deoksu Palace, originally designated as the new U.S. Embassy compound, and the nearby U.S. ambassador's residence in Jeong-dong, both belonging to the U.S. Embassy, in exchange for property that houses Camp Coiner and is owned by the South Korean Defense Ministry in Yongsan. The official claimed that the U.S. Embassy is viewing the deal favorably.
However, a U.S. Embassy official said yesterday only that both sides were closely consulting on the issue.
In 1990, both countries agreed to move the current embassy to the former Gyeonggi Girls' High School site near Deoksu Palace. However, the Cultural Heritage Administration recently designated the site an area of historic significance.


by Brian Lee



BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Climate crisis near 'in 10 years'

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Climate crisis near 'in 10 years'

limate crisis near 'in 10 years'
By Alex Kirby
BBC News website environment correspondent

The world may have little more than a decade to avert catastrophic climate change, politicians and scientists say.

A report by the International Climate Change Taskforce says it is vital that global temperatures do not rise by more than 2C above pre-industrial levels.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that would trigger this rise could possibly be reached in about 10 years or so.

A leading climate scientist has told the BBC he thinks temperatures may be higher than 2C some time this century.

Rapid risk increase

The taskforce was set up by the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Centre for American Progress and the Australia Institute.

We might end up in the middle of that temperature range, and if we do that wouldn't make very good news
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC
One of its co-chairs is the UK politican Stephen Byers MP, a former transport secretary.

In its report, Meeting the Climate Challenge, the taskforce urges governments to agree to a long-term objective of preventing global average temperatures exceeding the levels before the Industrial Revolution by more than 2C.

It says: "Beyond the 2C level, the risks to human societies and ecosystems grow significantly."

It says they would involve substantial agricultural losses, widespread adverse health effects and greatly increased risks of water shortage.

Many coral reefs and even the Amazon rainforest could suffer irreversible damage, the report says.

Point of no return

It says: "Above the 2C level, the risks of abrupt, accelerated or runaway climate change also increase.

"The possibilities include reaching climatic tipping points leading, for example, to the loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which, between them, could raise sea levels more than 10 metres over the space of a few centuries."

It says the circulation of water in the North Atlantic could also shut down, altering the Gulf Stream which warms north-west Europe.

The report says limiting temperature rise to 2C is likely to mean making sure atmospheric CO2 concentrations do not rise above about 400 parts per million (ppm).

They have already reached about 380 ppm, and have been rising recently at more than 2 ppm annually, meaning the taskforce's threshold could be crossed by about 2015.

Stephen Byers said: "Our planet is at risk. With climate change, there is an ecological time-bomb ticking away, and people are becoming increasingly concerned by the changes and extreme weather events they are already seeing."

Large rise possible

The taskforce's scientific adviser is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC predicts that on present trends global sea levels will probably have risen by 9 to 88cm by 2100 and average temperatures will be between 1.5 and 5.5C higher than now. The last Ice Age was only 4-5C colder than today.

Dr Pachauri told the BBC News website: "I think in the last few years the increase in emissions does cause concern.

"It gives you the feeling we might end up in the middle of that temperature range, and if we do that wouldn't make very good news."

The taskforce's other recommendations include:

* the G8 and other major economies, including from the developing world, form a G8+ Climate Group
* G8 governments generate at least 25% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025
* governments remove barriers to and increase investment in renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies and practices by taking steps including the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/4202649.stm

The New York Times > New York Region > Record Immigration Is Changing the Face of New York's Neighborhoods

The The New York Times
January 24, 2005
Record Immigration Is Changing the Face of New York's Neighborhoods
By NINA BERNSTEIN

The immigrants who remade New York in the 1990's are now indelibly shaping its future, according to new city figures showing that 6 in 10 babies born in the city since 2000 have at least one foreign-born parent. The foreign-born groups growing fastest through immigration, including Mexicans, Guyanese and Bangladeshis, also have among the highest birthrates, the figures show.

Even for a city with a storied immigrant past, the sheer size and diversity of the present foreign-born population is greater than ever before, according to the most detailed and sweeping portrait of immigrant New York ever to be issued by the City Planning Department. Demographers counted 2.9 million immigrant residents in 2000 and estimate the current number is at least 3.2 million, a record high.

The report, to be released today as a 265-page book called "The Newest New Yorkers 2000: Immigrant New York in the New Millennium," offers a comprehensive look at the foreign-born residents who have transformed the city's neighborhoods, schools and businesses, bringing sari shops to Queens, halal pizza to Brooklyn and Ghanaian preachers to the Bronx. Unlike earlier city reports that dealt only with legal immigrants recorded by federal authorities, this analysis tries to capture legal, illegal and temporary residents alike, combining census information, city housing surveys and vital statistics to offer a fine-grained topography of a global resettlement unmatched by any other metropolis.

One result is the striking emergence of Mexicans as the fifth largest immigrant group in the city. Their census numbers quadrupled to 122,550 in the decade since 1990, when they ranked 17th with 32,689. City demographers said the true growth was still higher, possibly to a total of 200,000, and not expected to slow. Births to the city's Mexican-born mothers - 6,408 in 2000 - are second only to births to foreign-born Dominicans, who remained the most numerous of the city's foreign-born groups at 369,000 residents, followed by the Chinese, the Jamaicans, and the Guyanese.

The report did not try to calculate rates of illegal immigration for Mexicans or any other group, though Mr. Salvo acknowledged that the large increase in the Mexican-born population could not be accounted for by recorded legal immigration. Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center who has studied the issue, said that nationally, 80 to 85 percent of all Mexican immigration since 1990 was undocumented, while among other immigrant groups, a great majority had entered legally.

"Any place that's getting a lot of new immigration from Mexico, virtually all of it is undocumented," Mr. Passel said, "and that certainly includes New York."

Still, the city is home to only 1 percent of Mexicans in the United States - compared with 54 percent of the nation's Dominican-born immigrants and 45 percent of its Bangladeshis, who are the city's fastest-growing group. Too few to count in 1980, Bangladeshis surged to 17th place from 42nd in the 1990's, mainly through diversity visas issued by lottery. They now place 10th in the number of births, with Pakistanis right behind them. One reason is that nearly 80 percent of Bangladeshi households are married-couple families, as are more than 6 in 10 Indian, Chinese, and Pakistani homes, compared with only 31 percent of native-born New Yorkers' households.

At a time when a Congressional push for crackdowns on illegal immigrants is converging with backlogs in legal immigration, the report stresses the economic benefits that sheer numbers of newcomers brought the city in recent decades, replacing residents who died or moved out, filling housing vacancies, revitalizing small businesses, and now accounting for 43 percent of the city's work force. High rates of migration to other states are still offset only by a combination of foreign immigration and births increased by immigrant fertility, the demographers said.

"If we didn't have immigration, I don't know where we'd be," said Joseph Salvo, director of the department's population division and co-author of the report with Arun Peter Lobo. "Immigrant flows have mitigated catastrophic population losses in the 1970's, stabilized the city's population in the 1980's, and helped the city reach a new population peak of over 8 million in 2000."

In the new world limned by the report, ethnicity and race are moving categories. More than a third of the city's black population is now foreign-born, the demographers said, with Afro-Caribbeans, who represent 21 percent of the city's immigrants, tending to replace African-Americans moving outside the city and to southern states, and the African-born population more than doubling to 92,400, or more than 3 percent of the foreign born.

Though Europeans increased in numbers through a surge of refugees and the use of diversity visas, available to people with low rates of recent immigration, like Poland, they declined to 19 percent of the city's foreign-born population from 24 percent. Had the countries of the former Soviet Union been counted together, as in earlier reports, immigrants born there would have been the city's fourth largest group, with 164,000 residents. Instead, Russia placed 10th, with 81,408, with Ukraine, Belarus and others lower on the list.

Nearly a third of city immigrants are from Latin America. Yet they seem as much divided as united by their Hispanic origins, with Mexicans joining the Chinese in Sunset Park, Ecuadoreans in Jackson Heights beside Bangladeshis, and Salvadorans and Guatemalans showing up in Far Rockaway. In that seaside neighborhood, demographers also discovered Russians, Ukrainians, Haitians, Israelis, Nigerians and Jamaicans after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, noticing its unusually high numbers of non-English speakers on a map of literacy needs recently, asked them, "What's going on down there?"

In his 1997 book "A Far Rockaway of the Heart," the Bronx-born poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti might have provided an answer:

Everything changes and nothing changes

Centuries end

and all goes on

as if nothing ever ends...

And the fever of savage city life

still grips the streets

But I still hear singing...

A century ago, when immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe poured through Ellis Island, the foreign-born made up more than 40 percent of the city's population - 80 percent when their American-born children were counted, too. But the city's total population was then only 4.7 million. At 36 percent of today's 8 million New Yorkers - up from a low of 18 percent in 1970 - the size of today's foreign-born population is a record, and taken together, foreign-born residents and their offspring account for more than 55 percent of the city's population. More than 43 percent of the foreign-born arrived after 1990, and 80 percent after 1980.

The same dynamic that New York experienced then is now under way in the 31 counties of the metropolitan region, the report said, especially in Hudson, Passaic, Union, Middlesex, Bergen and Essex in New Jersey and Westchester in New York, which all count the foreign-born as more than one-fifth of their populations.

Increasingly, some immigrant groups, like Jamaicans and Haitians, are bypassing the city and settling directly in adjacent counties, drawn to housing vacated by aging European immigrants of earlier migrations and their children.

"New York City is as much a process as a place," the report said of these crosscurrents.

What Mr. Salvo called the report's "wall-to-wall statistics" conveyed a strikingly mixed bag of socioeconomic factors, with some large groups, like Dominicans and Mexicans, far below the city's median education and earnings, and others, like Filipinos and Indians, far above it. In many groups, high rates of homeownership coexist with high rates of overcrowding - 42.2 percent of Chinese households are owner-occupied, for example, and 34.2 percent are overcrowded, compared with citywide rates of 30.3 and 14.6 percent respectively.

Just over one in four foreign-born Dominicans has completed high school, and only 30 percent speak English very well. Nearly a third are in poverty, compared with a citywide rate of 21 percent, and 18.6 percent of households are on public assistance, compared with 7.5 percent for all residents.

Though Mexicans had the city's lowest median earnings ($16,737 for women, $21,284 for men) and lowest levels of education (slightly more than a third graduated from high school), they managed to bring their household incomes to 85 percent of the city median of $37,700, by having multiple workers in overcrowded households.

That was a strategy used even by highly educated foreign-born groups like the city's 49,600 Filipinos, at the other end of the spectrum. Median female earning among Filipinos was $51,000, and median household income $70,500, both the highest of any immigrant group. Though there are only 60 Filipino men to every 100 Filipino women, the Filipino poverty rate is only 5.3 percent, a fourth the citywide rate of 21 percent; only 2 percent receive public assistance.

"There is no typical New York immigrant," Mr. Salvo said. The report assembles an intricate mosaic of facts to support that assertion, from the highest rates of homeownership (Italians, 64 percent) to the most skewed sex ratio (161 Pakistani men to every 100 Pakistani women). Its combination of maps and tables pinpoint the whereabouts of the top 40 immigrant groups, from the 90,336 Dominicans in Washington Heights, to the five French immigrants settled in the Great Kills Zip code on Staten Island.

"The level of complexity and diversity is beyond anything we've had in our history," Mr. Salvo said. "We've evolved into a city that's just an unprecedented mix. And for the most part all these people get along - it's a testament to the power of the city."

Japan Today - News - U.S. envoy admits serious problems ahead of Sunday's election in Iraq - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.S. envoy admits serious problems ahead of Sunday's election in Iraq - Japan's Leading International News Network

Monday, January 24, 2005 at 07:27 JST
BAGHDAD — The U.S. ambassador to Iraq acknowledged serious problems ahead of next weekend's election but assured on Sunday that "great efforts" were being made so every Iraqi can vote.

Meanwhile, in an audiotape posted on the web, a speaker claiming to be Iraq's most feared terrorist declared "fierce war" on democracy, raising the stakes in the vote.

Rebels who have vowed to disrupt the balloting blew up a designated polling station near Hillah south of Baghdad and stormed a police station in Ramadi west of the capital, authorities said. A U.S. soldier was killed Saturday on a security patrol in Mosul, the U.S. command said Sunday.

U.S. and Iraqi officials fear more such attacks in the run-up to Sunday's election and have announced massive security measures to protect voters. Iraqis will choose a 275-seat National Assembly and provincial councils in Iraq's 18 provinces in the first nationwide balloting since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Large turnouts are expected among Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims in the south and minority Kurds in the northeast. But the big question is whether Sunni Arabs, who form the core of the insurgency, will defy rebel threats and their clergy's calls for a boycott and participate in substantial numbers.

Failure of significant numbers of Sunnis to participate would call into question the legitimacy of the new Iraqi leadership, widening the gulf among the country's ethnic and religious groups and setting the stage for even more turmoil.

"The Iraqis will be just fine," Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice told reporters Sunday at the White House. "They're starting a process and this is an important step, a first step for them in this democratic process."

In a series of interviews Sunday on American television talk shows, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte acknowledged an increase in rebel intimidation of Iraqi officials and security forces and said serious security problems remain in the Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad.

"But security measures are being taken, by both the multinational forces here in Iraq as well as the Iraqi armed forces and police," Negroponte told "Fox News Sunday."

"There will be some problematic areas. But even there, great efforts are being made to enable every Iraqi eligible to do so to be able to vote," he said.

Underscoring the threat, a speaker identifying himself as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — the leader of Iraq's al-Qaida affiliate — and who had been rumored to be in Iraqi custody, condemned the election, branding candidates as "demi-idols" and saying those who vote for them "are infidels" — a clear threat to the safety of all those who participate in the balloting.

"We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," the speaker said in an audiotape posted Sunday on an Islamic website. "Anyone who tries to help set up this system is part of it."

The speaker warned Iraqis to be careful of "the enemy's plan to implement so-called democracy in your country." He said the Americans have engineered the election to install Shiite Muslims in power. Al-Zarqawi has in the past branded Shiites as heretics.

Most of the insurgents are believed to be Sunni Arabs, who lost influence and privilege with the fall of their patron Saddam. Their ranks have been reinforced by non-Iraqi Arab extremists who have come to wage holy war against the Americans.

To encourage as big a turnout of Sunnis as possible, U.S. and Iraqi troops have stepped up security operations in Baghdad, Mosul and other tense areas, rounding up hundreds of suspected insurgents. The U.S. command announced Sunday it had arrested an undisclosed "top insurgent suspect" in Baghdad after hunting him for nearly a year.

Sunni elder statesman Adnan Pachachi, who is running for the National Assembly, told CNN's "Late Edition" prospects for a good Sunni turnout had improved somewhat in recent weeks but it was important that Sunnis be properly represented in the new government.

In order to shake public confidence in the elections, insurgents have accelerated attacks against Iraq's security services, trained by the Americans but plagued by leadership and morale problems.

A major insurgent group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, posted a videotape Sunday on a website showing the assassination of an Iraqi army colonel captured in Mosul. The tape showed a man in civilian clothes holding a military identification card. As the man sat in a chair, a masked gunman approached from his right and shot him in the head with a rifle.

The United States hopes that an elected Iraqi government might command broader public support in the campaign against the insurgents, hastening the day when the 150,000 American troops could go home.

However, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said it was too early to talk about a withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

"The terrorists and the evil forces are trying to break our will. They are trying to stop democracy from happening in Iraq," Allawi said in an interview Sunday on British Broadcasting Corp television.

Allawi said Iraqis ultimately want to see their own forces tackle the country's security problems.

"But it is too premature to talk about withdrawal," Allawi said.

"We wouldn't like to set a time at all. We would like to have the multinational forces helping us and training and developing both our army as well as our internal security forces." (Wire reports)

Japan Today - News - Death toll in Indonesia tsunami climbs to 173,981 - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Death toll in Indonesia tsunami climbs to 173,981 - Japan's Leading International News Network

Death toll in Indonesia tsunami climbs to 173,981

Monday, January 24, 2005 at 07:15 JST
JAKARTA — Indonesia's death toll from the Dec 26 earthquake and tsunami has risen to 173,981, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

The increase from the previously announced death toll of 166,760 came from Aceh Province, with the number of dead in neighboring North Sumatra Province unchanged at 240, the ministry said. (Kyodo News)

http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&id=325571

BBC NEWS | Europe | Holocaust memorial opens in Paris

BBC NEWS | Europe | Holocaust memorial opens in Paris

Holocaust memorial opens in Paris
A stone wall engraved with the names of 76,000 Jews who were deported from France to Nazi death camps during World War II has been unveiled in Paris.

The "Wall of Names" memorial is located at the entrance to the French capital's newly renovated Holocaust museum.

Some 11,000 of those deported from 1942 to 1944 were children. Nearly all were killed - mostly at Auschwitz in Poland.

French President Jacques Chirac will officially open the site on Tuesday, before flying to Auschwitz.

Mr Chirac will be one of many world leaders present at ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.

'Prayer to the dead'

More than 2,000 Holocaust survivors and relatives of victims attended the inauguration ceremony in Paris' central Marais district.

They also took part in reading out a prayer to the dead.

The new site is an expansion of two institutions - the Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr and the Centre for Contemporary Jewish Documentation.

"[The Memorial] will help in teaching a story that continues to haunt our everyday life," said its president Eric de Rothschild.

It took two years for several researchers to compile the list, drawing on Nazi secret police records and also Jewish archives.

"This wall keeps our innermost secrets in its stone and delivers them to those who pass," said France's former Health Minister Simone Veil, herself an Auschwitz survivor.

When the memorial officially opens on Tuesday, visitors will also be able to visit the basement crypt where ashes of some of the death camps' victims are kept.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/420

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's PM and cabinet resign

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's PM and cabinet resign

Taiwan's PM and cabinet resign
The prime minister of Taiwan and his cabinet have resigned in the wake of the ruling party's setback in December's parliamentary elections.

The move lets President Chen Shui-bian reshuffle his government, and a new line-up is likely to be announced soon.

Mr Chen is widely expected to name Frank Hsieh, the mayor of Kaohsiung city, as his next prime minister.

Correspondents say the reshuffle is not expected to lead to a marked change in the island's policies.

Shortly after his Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) election defeat in December, Mr Chen himself resigned as party chairman.

The DPP and its political allies won 101 of the 225 seats in Taiwan's legislative Yuan, while the Kuomintang-led opposition won 114.

Analysts said at the time that the increasingly confrontational tone of Taiwanese politics may have persuaded voters to limit the president's powers by renewing the opposition's control over parliament.

"The cabinet has tendered its resignation," Chen Chi-mai, spokesman for the cabinet, told a news conference on Monday.

A new cabinet is expected to take office on 1 February, the day the new opposition-dominated parliament opens.

Mr Yu, who was prime minister for three years, insisted the outgoing cabinet team had not failed the people of Taiwan.

"With support of our countrymen, President Chen won re-elections in 2004... and economic conditions have improved," he is quoted as saying by the French news agency AFP.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4200983.stm

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The New York Times > Science > Space & Cosmos > Money to Fix Space Telescope May Be Cut by White House

The New York Times > Science > Space & Cosmos > Money to Fix Space Telescope May Be Cut by White House:
By WARREN E. LEARY

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 - A much-anticipated service mission to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope could be jeopardized by a White House plan to eliminate funding for it from NASA's 2006 budget request, government officials said.

Officials in the Bush administration and in Congress, who asked not to be identified because the budget has not been officially sent to Congress, said NASA was one of the few agencies that would get a proposed budget increase next year. However, a mission to service Hubble, estimated to exceed $1 billion, will not be part of that package, they said.

The aging observatory, considered one of NASA's greatest achievements, could die in orbit by 2007 or 2008 if deteriorating batteries and gyroscopes that aim it are not replaced, experts have concluded. Since its launch in 1990, Hubble has been serviced four times by space shuttle astronauts who replaced worn parts and added new instruments.

Congress approved a $16.2 billion budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for fiscal 2005, a 5 percent increase at a time when most agencies faced cuts. The administration fought for the increase to support President Bush's plan to refocus NASA by sending astronauts back to the moon as a springboard for exploration of Mars and beyond.

Administration officials said Mr. Bush would again propose an increase in NASA's budget for 2006 to support the exploration initiative.

Glenn Mahone, a NASA spokesman, said it would be inappropriate to discuss the proposed budget and any particulars until it was completed and ready to present to Congress on Feb. 7.

The plan to cut money for a Hubble service mission was first reported on Friday by Space News, an industry publication, and its affiliated Web site, Space.com.

House and Senate staff members said they had been hearing rumors for days that the White House had dropped the Hubble service mission from NASA's budget. If this is the case, they said, oversight committees will question such a decision at upcoming hearings on Hubble and the budget. Some wondered whether eliminating the mission could be a political ploy to submit a low budget and force Congress to reinstate the money for the popular program.

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, a leading Hubble proponent, said in a statement that she would continue to advocate a service mission. "I led the fight to add $300 million to NASA's budget last year for a Hubble servicing mission, and I plan to lead the fight again this year," she said.

The fate of Hubble became a controversy last January when the NASA administrator, Sean O'Keefe, said that he had decided against allowing a fifth space shuttle repair mission to the orbiting observatory. Citing safety concerns for astronauts raised by the Columbia disaster, Mr. O'Keefe said the added risks of undertaking the mission could not be justified.

The decision to abandon the telescope resulted in a wave of criticism that surprised NASA. Astronomers, lawmakers and the public pointedly questioned the decision, noting that astronauts on previous missions had safely refurbished the observatory, which continued to make groundbreaking discoveries.

Mr. O'Keefe stood by his decision about a shuttle mission, but the agency began developing a plan to deploy a robot device to do much the same thing. Congress pressured NASA to keep the option of a shuttle mission open while it studied alternate ways to extend Hubble's life.

A panel of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences to study the Hubble service issue said in a report issued on Dec. 8 that the space telescope was too valuable to science to be allowed to die in orbit. Concluding that the robotic option posed too many unknown challenges and might not be ready in time, the panel recommended that NASA send astronauts to repair Hubble as previously planned.

Dr. Louis J. Lanzerotti of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the panel chairman, said on Saturday that he was surprised to hear that the Hubble mission might be cut. "The committee concluded that Hubble was one of the outstanding space science achievements of the United States and, with upgrades and servicing, could continue to contribute enormously to science," Dr. Lanzerotti said.

Japan Today - News - Al-Zarqawi rumored to be in custody - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Al-Zarqawi rumored to be in custody - Japan's Leading International News Network

Al-Zarqawi rumored to be in custody

Sunday, January 23, 2005 at 17:32 JST
BAGHDAD — Iraq's interior minister on Sunday refused to comment on rumors that the top terror leader in the country had been taken into custody.

"I wouldn't like to comment for the time being," Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib said when asked about rumors that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been arrested. "Let's see. Maybe in the next few days we will make a comment about it."

Pressing him, a reporter asked, "Does that mean he is in custody?"

"No comment," the minister repeated, although he said that arrest warrants had been issued for al-Zarqawi and several officials from Saddam Hussein's regime, including Saddam deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and the ousted leader's half brother, Sabaawi al-Hassan.

The rumors followed an interview aired on an Arab television station earlier this month in which a Saudi man arrested for a deadly truck bombing claimed that he heard from other insurgents that al-Zarqawi had been arrested by Iraqi police in Fallujah but released because authorities didn't recognize him.

Rumors spread that Iraqi authorities had al-Zarqawi in custody but were waiting to announce it just before the Jan 30 elections.

Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Iraq's al-Qaida affiliate, has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces, along with the kidnappings and the beheadings of several foreigners, including Americans.

In an audiotape posted Thursday on the web, a speaker who identified himself as al-Zarqawi called on his followers to prepare for a long struggle against the Americans and denounced Iraqi Shiites for fighting alongside U.S. troops in last November's assault on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah.

The United States has offered a $25 million reward for al-Zarqawi's capture or death — the same amount as for Osama bin Laden. (Wire reports)

http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&id=325554

CNN.com - Study: Stem cell�lines contaminated - Jan 23, 2005

CNN.com - Study: Stem cell�lines contaminated - Jan 23, 2005

Study: Stem cell lines contaminated


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The human embryonic stem cells available for research are contaminated with nonhuman molecules from the culture medium used to grow the cells, researchers report.

The nonhuman cell-surface sialic acid can compromise the potential uses of the stem cells in humans, say scientists at the University of California, San Diego. Their study was published Sunday in the online edition of Nature Medicine.

Stem cells form very early in an embryo's development. They can develop into numerous types of cells to form organs and other parts of the body. Researchers hope to use these cells to repair damaged organs and cure diseases.

The work is controversial because the cells are taken from days-old embryos, which then die.

Opponents say this is unethical. President Bush has limited federal funding to cell lines already in use, but not to newly developed ones.

Such materials include connective tissue cells, called feeder layers, from mice and fetal calf serum.

That has raised concerns about potential contamination. Last summer, more than half the members of the Senate urged easing limits on new cell lines, noting that potential contamination could make available lines use for humans uncertain.

"People have always been concerned about the possibility that something deleterious might be transferred from feeder cells to stem cells. This puts a face on that substance," Dr. James Battey, chairman of the stem cell task force at the National Institutes of Health, said about the new report.

This is a safety consideration, along with many others that will need to be addressed, Battey said in a telephone interview.

The paper suggests that growing new stem cell lines in ways that avoid animal contaminants. Battey also suggested that existing cells might be isolated from animal products for a time, allowing the acid to be diluted.

"We eat animal products and drink milk all the time and get this acid into our cells, and yet we are not always suffering from raging autoimmune disease," said Battey, who was not part of the research team.

The study reports that the cell lines currently approved for study under federal funding contain a sialic acid called N-glycolylneuraminic acid, or Neu5Gc.

Human embryonic stem cells are contaminated by this acid "even when grown in special culture conditions with commercially available serum replacements, apparently because these are also derived from animal products," said the lead researcher, Dr. Ajit Varki.

Human cells are unable to make the acid, Varki said. In earlier research he had found that humans have antibodies directed against Neu5Gc.

"We considered that one partial solution to the problem was to use human serum in the growth medium," Varki said in a statement.

The researchers said that when the team grew stem cells in human serum specially selected for low amounts of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies, the immune response was reduced, but not completely eliminated.

The study was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, the Lookout Fund and the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation.

East-Asia-Intel.com > Intel report projects China's dramatic military growth, increasing global activism

East-Asia-Intel.com:
Intel report projects China's dramatic military growth, increasing global activism
A new intelligence report made public last week says China would overtake Russia and others as the second-largest defense spender after the United States over the next two decades. Beijing will become "by any measure a first-rate military power," the report by the National Intelligence Council said. "China is seeking great power status and will use its economic power to pressure countries in the region and elsewhere and to build up its military, the report said.

The New York Times > National > Storm Moves Up Coast, Pounding Boston as It Leaves

The New York Times > National > Storm Moves Up Coast, Pounding Boston as It Leaves

By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
and CAMPBELL ROBERTSON

The first major snow storm of 2005 moved up the Eastern seaboard this morning, hammering Boston and southeastern New England and leaving much of the Northeast buried in snow and buffeted by powerful winds and stinging cold.

The storm, officially a blizzard in parts of New England and Long Island, roared in from the Midwest on Saturday and turned into a classic northeaster, with 30 to 50 mile per hour winds and nebular arms revolving counterclockwise. It moved up the East Coast, gathering ocean moisture and hurling it back at the land as snow that blanketed cities and towns, closed airports, canceled hundreds of flights, choked railways and highways and filled the air with crystalline impressions.

On Sunday morning, the storm was still sinking its teeth into New England, with snow continuing to fall in Boston, leaving almost two feet by mid-morning. Winds blew over 70 miles an hour in some places, causing snow drifts to pile up several feet high, shrouding parked cars and blanketing streets.

The storm began quietly in the New York metropolitan area before noon on Saturday, a gentle whispering fall in the pale January light. But by evening, it had become a driving force of windblown snow, with gusts that hissed against the windows and mounting accumulations that, meteorologists said, only hinted at the depths to come.

By 7:00 a.m. this morning it had left 13 inches in Central Park and up to 19 inches in parts of Northern New Jersey, Eastern Long Island and southeastern New England. Suffolk County and the eastern reaches of Long Island were hit hard with 18 inches falling some places and winds blowing through the beach towns at 46 miles per hour.

By mid morning the snow had already tapered off in the city, though strong winds and cold temperatures remained. Across the Northeast, temperatures were expected to remain at 20 degrees or below for most of the day.

Jeff Warner, a meteorologist with Pennsylvania State University, said that the blizzard in New England could rival the storm of February 1978, which left 27 inches.

Local television stations in Massachusetts reported that around 3,000 people in the eastern part of the state lost power, including the governor, Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney, who lost power for about two hours at his home in the Boston suburb of Belmont, said that cleaning up after storm could cost $10 million.

Rhode Island and Massachusetts declared states of emergency, and National Guard units were evacuating two Massachusetts towns, Hingham and Scituate, in response to coastal flooding.

The city of Boston was operating under a snow emergency, sending out 638 pieces of equipment, including snowplows and Bobcats. Mayor Thomas M. Menino ordered the schools to close on Monday and Tuesday and encouraged businesses to either stay closed on Monday or bring in only essential employees.

"This blizzard is up in the pantheon of the great Boston snowstorms," said Seth Gitell, a spokesman from the mayor's office.

National Football League conference championship games in Philadelphia (Eagles-Atlanta Falcons) and Pittsburgh (Steelers-New England Patriots) were still on track for today and, with the snow over by game times, only bitter cold and high winds were expected to be factors.

The Northeast was hardly alone in wintry misery. Heavy snows pounded parts of the Midwest, with the Chicago area getting its biggest snowfall of the season: more than eight inches by Saturday afternoon with more to come. At O'Hare International Airport, flight delays averaged seven and a half hours and hundreds of stranded passengers slept on cots near baggage claim areas.

In Connecticut, Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered a state emergency operations center to open Saturday as forecasters predicted coastal flooding in parts of New London and Middlesex Counties.

And in New York City, officials declared a snow emergency as of 7 p.m. Saturday night, prohibiting motorists from standing or parking at major arteries. The city also suspended alternate side parking rules for tomorrow and Tuesday.

Blizzard warnings were posted for most of New York. The mid-Hudson Valley received up to 18 inches in places, and Albany got nearly a foot of snow.

Three weather-related deaths were reported in Ohio, where a man fell through ice on a pond and two people suffered heart attacks shoveling snow.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis had 12 inches of snow; Southern Michigan had 6 to 14 inches of snow yesterday, and drifts of three feet were common.

In the pantheon of winter storms in New York, it did not compare with the all-time record blizzard of Dec. 26-27, 1947, which interred the city in 26.4 inches of snow, and it is also fell short of the blizzard of Jan. 7-8, 1996, which left 20.2 inches in Central Park.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the three major metropolitan airports - Kennedy International, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International - as well as bridges, tunnels and the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) rail system, went into a full mobilization of personnel and equipment.

All three airports remain open today, but 60 flights have been canceled at Kennedy, 300 more canceled at Newark, and 250 canceled at La Guardia.

On Saturday, with whiteout conditions on runways, the intensifying storm closed the Philadelphia airport at 3:30 p.m. and Bradley International Airport near Hartford at 6:30 p.m. Logan International Airport in Boston was closed this morning at 5:30 a.m., Long Island MacArthur Airport at 8:15 a.m. and T.F.Green airport in Rhode Island at 8:30 a.m. The closings caused delays and cancellations that affected passengers as far away as Los Angeles.

Up and down the Northeast Corridor, driving remained treacherous on icy, snow-blown highways, roads and neighborhood streets. After lifting a ban on driving on state roads this morning at 8 a.m., the New Jersey state police were enforcing a 35 mile-per-hour speed limit on the Turnpike and a 45 mile-per-hour speed limit on the Garden State Parkway. In a press conference, Acting Gov. Richard Codey of New Jersey warned motorists about icy roads and urged people to stay home with their families.

"I fully expect in nine months there will be many, many babies in the state of New Jersey named Codey," he joked.

But trains and buses were also delayed by the storm, and getting around, for those who had to, was an ordeal. Many residents heeded the warnings to stay home and many businesses closed for the weekend.

The Long Island Rail Road, which operates 450 trains on 11 branches on a typical weekend, reported two train cancellations, both on the Greenport line, and only minor delays on the rest of the system.

"The high wind remains a concern," said Brian P. Dolan, a spokesman. "Just as quickly as we clear out an area it can snow again and collect up again."

A pedestrian was struck and killed by a train this morning at the Malverne station on the West Hempstead branch, Mr. Dolan said, though it is unclear whether the death was related to the weather conditions.

Today, Metro-North trains are running locally every two hours and Dan Brucker, a spokesman for MetroNorth said there have so far been no delays or cancellations.

New Jersey Transit, which operates 11 rail lines, 3 light rail systems and 240 bus routes around the state and into Manhattan, reduced its service schedule yesterday afternoon until midnight tonight.

By 1:30 this afternoon, New Jersey Transit had restored all of its bus service.

The Midtown Direct line between Penn Station and Dover, N.J., in Morris County was rerouted to Hoboken, where passengers could switch to PATH trains running to 33rd Street in Manhattan.

Forewarned, cities and counties across the region had readied armies of equipment and sent out fleets of salt spreaders and snowplows to counterattack as the snow began falling Saturday.

In New Jersey, state transportation officials and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority had more than 2,000 trucks on the roads, spreading 15,000 tons of salt. The Port Authority also had hundreds of pieces of equipment out, and more than 200,000 gallons of liquid de-icing chemicals for use on wings and other surfaces.

In New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg went to the department's Queens repair shop Saturday and said 2,500 sanitation workers - using 1,450 garbage trucks with plows, 82 dump trucks with plows and 350 salt spreaders - would work around the clock in two shifts to keep major arteries and streets open. He said he expected that all of the city's 6,300 miles of streets would be plowed at least once by the start of the workweek tomorrow morning.

The storm's timing significantly diminished its impact. For millions of suburban commuters and students home for the weekend, the snow was not a great hardship, except for the ordeal of shoveling a driveway or sidewalk, which leads every winter to many heart attacks.

But for many residents of the metropolitan area, the storm provided an opportunity - one of the few in a relatively mild winter that has recorded a total of only 4.3 inches of snow since autumn - to get out with sleds, skis or snowshoes and to frolic in the drifts. And for those so inclined, it was a chance to relax indoors, snowed in with Bach, Brubeck or a good book, cozy behind panes embroidered with frost.

For those who ventured out to play - hooded, booted, muffled to the eyes - the storm offered glimpses of nature's beauty: empty streets turned into white meadows, black-and-white woodlands painted in moonlight, snowflakes glittering like confections in a bakery - frosted, glazed, powdered, sugary - and in the parks children, romping, padded like armadillos.

There had been warnings for days by meteorologists and television broadcasters, and most people had stocked up on supplies for a weekend siege. But there were many last-minute shoppers yesterday, even as the snow began falling.

Doreen and Neal Erps, of North Brunswick, N.J., wheeled a cart out of a Home Depot on Route 1 in Edison with cabinet shelves. "I figure we'll be in the house all weekend long," said Mr. Erps. "We might as well do something productive, and remodeling the bathroom beats shoveling snow." But he had a shovel and a snowbrush in his cart as well. He explained, "I have several of them at home already, but with a storm like this you can never have enough shovels."

Nearby, Howard Myers, of New Brunswick, N.J., was loading up his S.U.V. with groceries and firewood. "My next stop is the liquor store," he said. "I'm going to get a nice bottle of Scotch, put the logs on the fire and let the storm rage outside while I read my book."

The New York Times > Arts > Television > Johnny Carson Dies at 79

The New York Times > Arts > Television > Johnny Carson Dies at 79: "Johnny Carson Dies at 79
Johnny Carson Dies at 79
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES -- Johnny Carson, the "Tonight Show" TV host who served America a smooth nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30 years, has died. He was 79.

"Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning," his nephew, Jeff Sotzing, told The Associated Press. "He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable. There will be no memorial service."

Sotzing would not give further details, including the time of death or the location.

The boyish-looking Nebraska native with the disarming grin, who survived every attempt to topple him from his late-night talk show throne, was a star who managed never to distance himself from his audience.

His wealth, the adoration of his guests -- particularly the many young comics whose careers he launched -- the wry tales of multiple divorces: Carson's air of modesty made it all serve to enhance his bedtime intimacy with viewers.

"Heeeeere's Johnny!" was the booming announcement from sidekick Ed McMahon that ushered Carson out to the stage. Then the formula: the topical monologue, the guests, the broadly played skits such as "Carnac the Magnificent."

But America never tired of him; Carson went out on top when he retired in May 1992. In his final show, he told his audience: "And so it has come to this. I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something that I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it."

His personal life could not match the perfection of his career. Carson was married four times, divorced three. In 1991, one of his three sons, 39-year-old Ricky, was killed in a car accident.

Nearly all of Carson's professional life was spent in television, from his postwar start at Nebraska stations in the late 1940s to his three decades with NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

Carson choose to let "Tonight" stand as his career zenith and his finale, withdrawing into a quiet retirement that suited his private nature and refusing involvement in other show business projects.

In 1993, he explained his absence from the limelight.

"I have an ego like anybody else," Carson told The Washington Post, "but I don't need to be stoked by going before the public all the time."

He was open to finding the right follow-up to "Tonight," he told friends. But his longtime producer, Fred de Cordova, said Carson didn't feel pressured -- he could look back on his TV success and say "I did it."

"And that makes sense. He is one of a kind, was one of a kind," de Cordova said in 1995. "I don't think there's any reason for him to try something different."

Carson spent his retirement years sailing, traveling and socializing with a few close friends including media mogul Barry Diller and NBC executive Bob Wright. He simply refused to be wooed back on stage.

"The reason I really don't go back or do interviews is because I just let the work speak for itself," he told Esquire magazine in 2002 in a rare interview.

The former talk show host did find an outlet for his creativity: He wrote short humor pieces for The New Yorker magazine, including "Recently Discovered Childhood Letters to Santa," which purported to give the youthful wish lists of William Buckley, Don Rickles and others.

Carson made his debut as "Tonight" host in October 1962. Audiences quickly grew fond of his boyish grin and easy wit. He even made headlines with such clever ploys as the 1969 on-show marriage of eccentric singer Tiny Tim to Miss Vicki, which won the show its biggest-ever ratings.

The wedding and other noteworthy moments from the show were collected into a yearly "Tonight" anniversary special.

In 1972, "Tonight" moved from New York to Burbank. Growing respect for Carson's consistency and staying power, along with four consecutive Emmy Awards, came his way in the late 1970s.

His quickness and his ability to handle an audience were impressive. When his jokes missed their target, the smooth Carson won over a groaning studio audience with a clever look or sly, self-deprecating remark.

Politics provided monologue fodder for him as he skewered lawmakers of every stripe, mirroring the mood of voters. His Watergate jabs at President Nixon were seen as cementing Nixon's fall from office in 1974.

He made presidential history again in July 1988 when he had then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton on his show a few days after Clinton came under widespread ridicule for a boring speech at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton traded quips with Carson and played "Summertime" on the saxophone. Four years later, Clinton won the presidency.

Carson dispatched would-be late-night competitors with aplomb. Competing networks tried a variety of formats and hosts but never managed to best "Tonight" and Carson.

There was the occasional battle with NBC: In 1967, for instance, Carson walked out for several weeks until the network managed to lure him back with a contract that reportedly gave him $1 million-plus yearly.

In 1980, after more walkout threats, the show was scaled back from 90 minutes to an hour. Carson also eased his schedule by cutting back on his work days; a number of substitute hosts filled in, including Joan Rivers, David Brenner, Jerry Lewis and Jay Leno, Carson's eventual successor.

Rivers was one of the countless comedians whose careers took off after they were on Carson's show. After she rocked the audience with her jokes in that 1965 appearance, he remarked, "God, you're funny. You're going to be a star."

"If Johnny hadn't made the choice to put me on his show, I might still be in Greenwich Village as the oldest living undiscovered female comic," she recalled in an Associated Press interview 20 years later. She tried her own talk show in 1986, quickly becoming one of the many challengers who could not budge Carson.

In the '80s, Carson was reportedly the highest-paid performer in television history with a $5 million "Tonight" show salary alone.

His Carson Productions created and sold pilots to NBC, including "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes." Carson himself made occasional cameo appearances on other TV series.

He also performed in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., and was host of the Academy Awards five times in the '70s and '80s.

Carson's graceful exit from "Tonight" did not avoid a messy, bitter tug-of-war between Leno and fellow comedian David Letterman. Leno took over as "Tonight" host on May 25, 1992, becoming the fourth man to hold the job after founding host Steve Allen, Paar and Carson.

Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, and raised in nearby Norfolk, Neb. He started his show business career at age 14 as the magician "The Great Carsoni."

After World War II service in the Navy, he took a series of jobs in local radio and TV in Nebraska before starting at KNXT-TV in Los Angeles in 1950.

There he started a sketch comedy show, "Carson's Cellar," which ran from 1951-53 and attracted attention from Hollywood. A staff writing job for "The Red Skelton Show" followed.

The program provided Carson with a lucky break: When Skelton was injured backstage, Carson took the comedian's place in front of the cameras.

Producers tried to find the right program for the up-and-coming comic, trying him out as host of the quiz show "Earn Your Vacation" (1954) and in the variety show "The Johnny Carson Show" (1955-56).

From 1957-62 he was host of the daytime game show "Who Do You Trust?" and, in 1958, was joined for the first time by McMahon, his durable "Tonight" buddy.

A few acting roles came Carson's way, including one on "Playhouse 90" in 1957, and he did a pilot in 1960 for a prime-time series, "Johnny Come Lately," that never made it onto a network schedule.

In 1958, Carson sat in for "Tonight Show" host Jack Paar. When Paar left the show four years later, Carson was NBC's choice as his replacement.

After his retirement, Carson took on the role of Malibu-based retiree with apparent ease. An avid tennis fan, he was still playing a vigorous game in his 70s.

He and his wife, Alexis, traveled frequently. The pair met on the Malibu beach in the early 1980s; he was 61 when they married in June 1987, she was in her 30s.

Carson's first wife was his childhood sweetheart, Jody, the mother of his three sons. They married in 1949 and split in 1963.

He married Joanne Copeland Carson in 1963; divorce came in 1972. His third marriage, to Joanna Holland Carson, took place in 1972. They separated in 1982 and reached a divorce settlement in 1985.

On the occasion of Carson's 70th birthday in 1995, former "Tonight" bandleader Doc Severinsen, who toured with musicians from the show, said he was constantly reminded of Carson's enduring popularity.

"Every place we go people ask `How is he? Where is he? What is he doing? Tell him how much we miss him.' It doesn't surprise me," Severinsen said.

The brisk sale of the video collection "Johnny Carson: His Favorite Moments From The Tonight Show," released in 1994, offered further proof of his appeal.

He won a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1992, with the first President Bush saying, "With decency and style he's made America laugh and think." In 1993, he was celebrated by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for career achievement.

China National News > China plans space city within three years >

China plans space city within three years >

Shanghai plans to build a "space city" within the next three years, to assist China's ambitious astronaut program.

State media reports the research facility will cost 120-million U-S dollars.

China, which sent a man into space in late 2003, plans to repeat the feat on board spaceship Shenzhou-6 this year.

Al Jazeera finds home in Malaysia - The Washington Times: World Briefings - January 21, 2005

Al Jazeera finds home in Malaysia - The Washington Times: World Briefings - January 21, 2005

Al Jazeera finds home in Malaysia

By Ioannis Gatsiounis
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Despite the govern- ment's strict press regulations, the decision last month by Arab satellite station Al Jazeera to make Kuala Lumpur its Asian head-quarters for a new 24-hour English-language channel was welcomed by officials here.
"It gives us an opportunity to be a model and example and inspiration to the rest of the world," said Information Minister Abdul Kadir Sheik Fadzir.
Al Jazeera's presence will offer Malaysia another chance to raise its profile among viewers in neighboring countries. The station plans to begin broadcasts of its English-language channel in November, with a local staff of about 50 and a startup budget of about $200 million, Malaysian officials said.
Hong Kong and Singapore also submitted bids for the station, but insiders say Kuala Lumpur was chosen because operating costs would be lower and Malaysia is a stable Muslim country with adequate infrastructure.
Gauging by what Al Jazeera broadcasts on its Arabic-language channel, available in this country with dubbing and subtitles in Malay, there may be little to celebrate by hearing it in English. Although many Muslims laud the station for reporting the "truth," others blame it for fanning the hatred and self-pity that is hobbling the Islamic world, with its repeated airings of civilian Muslim casualties, obfuscation — like calling suicide bombings "martyrdom operations" — and the generous airtime offered to those preaching anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism.
Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for instance, on his influential program, recently issued a fatwa urging the killing of all foreign "occupiers" in Iraq, military or civilian. He is hardly an exception.
But Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera, said, "We are seeking to appeal to a global audience, not just Muslims. We might have a ready and interested audience in non-Arabic-speaking Muslims, but they are not our sole target."
In effect, Al Jazeera will be competing against Western channels to capture English-speaking audiences. If it succeeds, said one Al Jazeera correspondent, it will be the station's second major breakthrough in its eight-year history — the first being its founding as the first unrestricted 24-hour Arab news network.
To reach non-Muslims in the region, Al Jazeera will need to drop the incendiary tone that has made it a smash in the Middle East — a move it plans to make, said Nicholas Shariff Mazlan Collins, head of assessment and marketing for the Multimedia Development Corp.
"There will be a different editorial team, different presenters — a different look and feel," Mr. Collins said.
He said all the Al Jazeera officials he met who came to Kuala Lumpur to finalize the deal were British or British Broadcasting Corp.-trained. "They told us they're fed up with slants, they don't want to have an Arab slant."
Conspicuous slants on other satellite news operations such as Fox and CNN have alienated some viewers, opening the door to hopefuls like Al Jazeera, which claims 35 million daily viewers worldwide. But Al Jazeera has a history of "mimicking Western norms of journalistic fairness while pandering to pan-Arab sentiments," said Middle East observer Fouad Ajami.
It will be tempting not to continue the trend.
Al Jazeera and the few Arab competitors that have risen in its wake are arguably the most potent form of retaliation to Western cultural and military dominance available to Muslim countries. With the stations' rise, the Arab world suddenly finds itself standing toe-to-toe with the big guns of Western broadcast media, able to react or respond at a moment's notice, and their mass appeal is palpable.
Most Malaysian analysts say they eagerly await a greater Al Jazeera presence in the region, whatever shape it takes, because it will offer viewers a different perspective. Indeed, Al Jazeera is a young station. It is bold and irreverent. It has challenged traditional barriers of press freedom in the Middle East and has forced outlets subservient to governments to change or risk being ignored.
In places like Malaysia, which consistently lands at the bottom of press-freedom indexes, a strong challenge to the status quo will be welcome. Mr. Collins said the Malaysian government has no intentions of tampering with Al Jazeera's content.
"Al Jazeera is nothing to fear. They will challenge local [Malaysian] media to do better," said Mohammad Hamdan Adnan, head of Malaysia's Human Rights Commission.
But can they challenge people to do better?
The answer may lie in whether Al Jazeera's intention is truly to grow — or just to expand.

Al Jazeera finds home in Malaysia - The Washington Times: World Briefings - January 21, 2005

Al Jazeera finds home in Malaysia - The Washington Times: World Briefings - January 21, 2005

Al Jazeera finds home in Malaysia

By Ioannis Gatsiounis
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Despite the govern- ment's strict press regulations, the decision last month by Arab satellite station Al Jazeera to make Kuala Lumpur its Asian head-quarters for a new 24-hour English-language channel was welcomed by officials here.
"It gives us an opportunity to be a model and example and inspiration to the rest of the world," said Information Minister Abdul Kadir Sheik Fadzir.
Al Jazeera's presence will offer Malaysia another chance to raise its profile among viewers in neighboring countries. The station plans to begin broadcasts of its English-language channel in November, with a local staff of about 50 and a startup budget of about $200 million, Malaysian officials said.
Hong Kong and Singapore also submitted bids for the station, but insiders say Kuala Lumpur was chosen because operating costs would be lower and Malaysia is a stable Muslim country with adequate infrastructure.
Gauging by what Al Jazeera broadcasts on its Arabic-language channel, available in this country with dubbing and subtitles in Malay, there may be little to celebrate by hearing it in English. Although many Muslims laud the station for reporting the "truth," others blame it for fanning the hatred and self-pity that is hobbling the Islamic world, with its repeated airings of civilian Muslim casualties, obfuscation — like calling suicide bombings "martyrdom operations" — and the generous airtime offered to those preaching anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism.
Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for instance, on his influential program, recently issued a fatwa urging the killing of all foreign "occupiers" in Iraq, military or civilian. He is hardly an exception.
But Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al Jazeera, said, "We are seeking to appeal to a global audience, not just Muslims. We might have a ready and interested audience in non-Arabic-speaking Muslims, but they are not our sole target."
In effect, Al Jazeera will be competing against Western channels to capture English-speaking audiences. If it succeeds, said one Al Jazeera correspondent, it will be the station's second major breakthrough in its eight-year history — the first being its founding as the first unrestricted 24-hour Arab news network.
To reach non-Muslims in the region, Al Jazeera will need to drop the incendiary tone that has made it a smash in the Middle East — a move it plans to make, said Nicholas Shariff Mazlan Collins, head of assessment and marketing for the Multimedia Development Corp.
"There will be a different editorial team, different presenters — a different look and feel," Mr. Collins said.
He said all the Al Jazeera officials he met who came to Kuala Lumpur to finalize the deal were British or British Broadcasting Corp.-trained. "They told us they're fed up with slants, they don't want to have an Arab slant."
Conspicuous slants on other satellite news operations such as Fox and CNN have alienated some viewers, opening the door to hopefuls like Al Jazeera, which claims 35 million daily viewers worldwide. But Al Jazeera has a history of "mimicking Western norms of journalistic fairness while pandering to pan-Arab sentiments," said Middle East observer Fouad Ajami.
It will be tempting not to continue the trend.
Al Jazeera and the few Arab competitors that have risen in its wake are arguably the most potent form of retaliation to Western cultural and military dominance available to Muslim countries. With the stations' rise, the Arab world suddenly finds itself standing toe-to-toe with the big guns of Western broadcast media, able to react or respond at a moment's notice, and their mass appeal is palpable.
Most Malaysian analysts say they eagerly await a greater Al Jazeera presence in the region, whatever shape it takes, because it will offer viewers a different perspective. Indeed, Al Jazeera is a young station. It is bold and irreverent. It has challenged traditional barriers of press freedom in the Middle East and has forced outlets subservient to governments to change or risk being ignored.
In places like Malaysia, which consistently lands at the bottom of press-freedom indexes, a strong challenge to the status quo will be welcome. Mr. Collins said the Malaysian government has no intentions of tampering with Al Jazeera's content.
"Al Jazeera is nothing to fear. They will challenge local [Malaysian] media to do better," said Mohammad Hamdan Adnan, head of Malaysia's Human Rights Commission.
But can they challenge people to do better?
The answer may lie in whether Al Jazeera's intention is truly to grow — or just to expand.