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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Japan Today - News - U.N. official says torture widespread in Chinese prisons - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.N. official says torture widespread in Chinese prisons - Japan's Leading International News NetworkU.N. official says torture widespread in Chinese prisons

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Saturday, December 3, 2005 at 03:00 JST
BEIJING — A top U.N. human rights official said Friday that a variety of torture pervades Chinese prisons and police stations because of pressure to extract confessions and structural problems in the criminal justice system.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special rapporteur for torture, made the remarks at a press conference based on what he described as a relatively short, obstacle-choked two-week China trip that included meetings with 30 prisoners. He visited two prisons in Beijing followed by visits to holding facilities in Lhasa and Urumqi, which are home to ethnic Tibetan and Uygur prisoners, respectively, suspected of crimes linked to separatism.

Japan Today - News - N Korea slams U.S. for reneging on talks - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - N Korea slams U.S. for reneging on talks - Japan's Leading International News NetworkN Korea slams U.S. for reneging on talks

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Saturday, December 3, 2005 at 07:44 JST
BEIJING — North Korea on Friday demanded the United States lift its financial sanctions and accused it of reneging on a promise to hold talks on the issue between the heads of the two countries' respective delegations to six-party talks on the North's nuclear ambitions.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency as saying that lifting the financial sanctions "is essential for creating an atmosphere for implementing the joint statement and prerequisite to the progress of the six-party talks."

Taiwan opposition party supporting reunification with China wins local elections | CP

Taiwan opposition party supporting reunification with China wins local elections | CPworld news
Saturday, Dec 03, 2005

Taiwan opposition party supporting reunification with China wins local elections

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan's opposition Nationalist party won an overwhelming victory in island-wide municipal elections Saturday, putting it in position to push its agenda of reunification with China during the 2008 presidential campaign.

With more than 97 per cent of the votes counted, Nationalist candidates or Nationalist allies won 17 of the 23 constituencies, while candidates of President Chen Shui-bian's ruling Democratic Progressive party were assured of victory in six, according to results from the Central Election Commission.

The results constituted a huge vote of confidence in Nationalist party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou, who was elected to office five months ago. He likely will lead the party's ticket in the 2008 presidential poll.

The Nationalists' policy is eventual reunification with rival China, from which Taiwan split in 1949. Beijing still claims sovereignty over the island and has refused to talk with Chen because it sees him as a strong supporter of Taiwanese independence, unalterably opposed to the Nationalist platform of reunification.

With Chen and Ma at the forefront, the campaign has been marked by widespread allegations of vote buying and fraud.

On Thursday, Ma dramatically raised the stakes in the municipal elections, saying he would step down as Nationalist chief if the Nationalists failed to win more than half of the 21 major races.

Ma strongly supported former Nationalist chairman Lien Chan's groundbreaking visit to the mainland earlier this year and expressed hope that he would be the leader to break the long-standing enmity between Taipei and Beijing in an interview with The Associated Press after his election as Nationalist chairman.

In contrast to the Nationalists, Chen and the DPP support strengthening the island's status as a self-governing entity. In the final days of the campaign, Chen repeatedly referred to the Nationalists' China policies in an effort to energize independence-leaning voters.

"The result of these local elections will decide the future of cross-straits relations," he said.

Chen is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in 2008. Premier Frank Hsieh and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang were both seen as possible successors, but the poor DPP performance Saturday may well have undermined their candidacies.

After the results were announced Su offered his resignation from the chairman's post.

Secondhand Smoke: China to "Tidy Up" Organ Selling From Executed Prisoners

Secondhand Smoke: China to "Tidy Up" Organ Selling From Executed PrisonersSaturday, December 03, 2005
China to "Tidy Up" Organ Selling From Executed Prisoners
China has admitted for the first time that it sells organs harvested from executed prisoners. Now, it intends to regulate the market. (A liver goes for about $40,000.) Once again, human life is being commodified.

"We want to push for regulations on organ transplants to standardise the management of the supply of organs from executed prisoners and tidy up the medical market'รข€ Mr Huang [Jiefu] told Caijing magazine." How special. We won't stop it, China is saying: We will manage it.

Not irrelevantly, some of the South Korean excuses for Woo-suk Hwang's unethical egg procurement for human cloning complained that "Western" ideas of ethics were being imposed on an Eastern country. No, human rights ideas are being promoted to apply universally. It is morally wrong to use humans as a harvestable crop, East or West, North or South.

posted by Wesley J. Smith at 9:48 AM

BBC NEWS | Americas | CIA flights 'landed in Germany'

BBC NEWS | Americas | CIA flights 'landed in Germany' CIA flights 'landed in Germany'
The German government has a list of at least 437 flights suspected of being operated by the CIA in German airspace, according to a German magazine.

The weekly Der Spiegel said two planes alone accounted for 137 and 146 uses of airspace or landings in 2002 and 2003.

"Such planes could be used to transfer presumed terrorists and place them in secret locations," Der Spiegel said.

The issue is likely to be raised when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Germany on Monday.

Ms Rice said earlier this week she would provide an answer to a EU letter expressing concern over reports last month alleging that the US intelligence agency was using secret jails - particularly in eastern Europe.

A US rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was taking the CIA to court over what it said was the violation of both US and international law.

The highly secretive process is known as "extraordinary rendition" whereby intelligence agencies move and interrogate terrorism suspects outside the US, where they have no American legal protection.

Some individuals have claimed they were flown by the CIA to countries like Syria and Egypt, where they were tortured.

'Unfortunate timing'

The list of suspected CIA flights was handed over by German air traffic controllers at the request of the Left Party, Der Spiegel said in its latest edition to be published on Monday.

It said the aircraft had made landings in Berlin, Frankfurt and the US airbase at Ramstein.

However, the list has not shed any light on what the planes were carrying, the BBC's Tristana Moore in Berlin reports.

A German government spokesman said the list allowed only to know "how many times which planes of which companies flew in German airspace or landed at German airports".

The timing of the report is unfortunate for Ms Rice, as the issue is likely to be raised directly during her talks with new German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week, our correspondent says.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already expressed concerns about the reports of CIA flights during his meeting with US officials in Washington last week.
Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | UK | Iraqi groups condemn kidnappings

BBC NEWS | UK | Iraqi groups condemn kidnappings Iraqi groups condemn kidnappings
Several Sunni Muslim groups have issued a statement condemning the kidnapping of Briton Norman Kember and three other men and called for their release.

Iraq's largest Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic party, said such kidnappings tarnished the image of Islam.

"The kidnapping will have a grave negative effect among those who call for ending occupation," it added.

The move by around five groups follows talks with envoy Anas Altikriti, said the Muslim Association of Britain.

Mr Altikriti has been sent to Iraq by MAB, Stop the War and CND.

He arrived in Baghdad a day after a video showing the men in captivity was screened.

Al-Jazeera quoted kidnappers saying they would kill the four men unless prisoners in Iraqi and US centres were released by 8 December.

The Iraqi Islamic Party's statement said: "Continuing to hold them will give those who support the war against our country a chance to say that Iraqis don't make a difference between those who support them and those who are against them".

'Tarnish image'

It added: "There are some who are trying to tarnish the clear white image of our religion."

Mr Altikriti has given interviews to the local media and will meet further Sunni groups on Sunday.

He told the BBC as an Iraqi he appreciated the country's situation.

I think back to the Kenneth Bigley saga, the Margaret Hassan saga, and I dread what could happen
Envoy Anas Altikriti

He told the PM programme on Radio 4: "It's a very very dangerous situation, there can be no question about it, but I come as an Iraqi, someone born in Iraq, and therefore, I'm at home. "

"And therefore I'm joining in, riding the same boat that 23, 24 million Iraqis have been in for the past two-and-a-half years and the very same situation that Mr Kember - quite nobly, him and his colleagues - accepted to enter themselves, in order to carry out this noble mission."

He told the BBC he realised his mission was not an easy one.

"I think back to the Kenneth Bigley saga, the Margaret Hassan saga, and I dread what could happen.

"But I also look back to the two French aid workers, the Italian journalists, to the Romanians, and I think 'yes, it could happen'."

Iraq war opponent Mr Kember, 74, of London, was seized in Baghdad last week.

'No agenda'

Mr Altikriti said he had no hidden agenda and it was "too delicate a situation to be partisan".

"So I'm taking extreme care to be seen as who I really am and that is neutral. I don't have a particular interest at this stage of time, apart from getting Mr Kember released," he said.

It's very saddening, but on the other hand it does say that they are alive - and that is good
David Cockburn
Christian Peacemaker Teams

In a BBC interview, the Muslim Association of Britain spokesman Itisham Hibatullah said he was hopeful Mr Altikriti would be able to influence the kidnappers.

"This is the unknown territory we are going into but we have hope once Anas started speaking to the local community leader as he has already done through Al-Jazeera television last night.

"What we are trying to do is influence their minds to say that he's a true friend of Iraq and a peace campaigner," he said.

Mr Kember has been held since Saturday along with three other peace activists - American Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.

Mr Kember and Mr Fox were shown on the latest video calling for the kidnappers' demands to be met, Al-Jazeera said.

A previously unknown militant group, the Swords of Truth Brigade, claimed the captives were undercover spies working as Christian peace activists.

Mr Kember had been working with a Canadian-based organisation, Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Friday, December 02, 2005

Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive in Iraq - New York Times

Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive in Iraq - New York TimesDecember 2, 2005
Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 1 - Here is a small sampling of the insurgent groups that have claimed responsibility for attacks on Americans and Iraqis in the last few months:

Supporters of the Sunni People. The Men's Faith Brigade. The Islamic Anger. Al Baraa bin Malik Suicide Brigade. The Tawid Lions of Abdullah ibn al Zobeir. While some of them, like the Suicide Brigade, claim an affiliation with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and Al Qaeda claims them, others say they have acted alone or under the guidance of another group.

While on Wednesday President Bush promised nothing less than "complete victory" over the Iraqi insurgency, the apparent proliferation of militant groups offers perhaps the best explanation as to why the insurgency has been so hard to destroy.

The Bush administration has long maintained, and Mr. Bush reiterated in his speech Wednesday, that the insurgency comprises three elements: disaffected Sunni Arabs, or "rejectionists"; former Hussein government loyalists; and foreign-born terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Iraqi and American officials in Iraq say the single most important fact about the insurgency is that it consists not of a few groups but of dozens, possibly as many as 100. And it is not, as often depicted, a coherent organization whose members dutifully carry out orders from above but a far-flung collection of smaller groups that often act on their own or come together for a single attack, the officials say. Each is believed to have its own leader and is free to act on its own.

Highly visible groups like Al Qaeda, Ansar al Sunna and the Victorious Army Group appear to act as fronts, the Iraqis and the Americans say, providing money, general direction and expertise to the smaller groups, but often taking responsibility for their attacks by broadcasting them across the globe.

"The leaders usually don't have anything to do with details," said Abdul Kareem al-Eniezi, the Iraqi minister for national security. "Sometimes they will give the smaller groups a target, or a type of target. The groups aren't connected to each other. They are not that organized."

Some experts and officials say there are important exceptions: that Al Qaeda's leaders, for instance, are deeply involved in spectacular suicide bombings, the majority of which are still believed to be carried out by foreigners. They also say some of the smaller groups that claim responsibility for attacks may be largely fictional, made up of ragtag groups of fighters hoping to make themselves seem more formidable and numerous than they really are.

But whatever the appearances, American and Iraqi officials agree on the essential structure of the Iraqi insurgency: it is horizontal as opposed to hierarchical, and ad hoc as opposed to unified. They say this central characteristic, similar to that of terrorist organizations in Europe and Asia, is what is making the Iraqi insurgency so difficult to destroy. Attack any single part of it, and the rest carries on largely untouched. It cannot be decapitated, because the insurgency, for the most part, has no head. Only recently, American and Iraqi experts say, have they begun to grasp the new organizational structure that, among other things, is making the insurgency so difficult to stop.

"There is no center of gravity, no leadership, no hierarchy; they are more a constellation than an organization," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corporation. "They have adopted a structure that assures their longevity."

The insurgency's survivability presents perhaps the most difficult long-term challenge for the Iraqi government and American commanders. The primary military goal of groups like Al Qaeda and Ansar al Sunna is not to win but simply not to lose; to hang on until the United States runs out of will and departs. Even killing or capturing the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, many Iraqi and American officials say, will not end the rebellion.

In a war as murky as the one in Iraq, details about the workings of the insurgency are fleeting and few. But what is available suggests that the movement is often atomized and fragmented, but no less lethal for being so.

A review of the dozens of proclamations made by jihadi groups and posted on Islamist Web sites found more than 100 different groups that either claimed to be operating in Iraq or were being claimed by an umbrella group like Al Qaeda. Most of the Internet postings were located and translated by the SITE Institute, the Washington group that, among other things, tracks insurgent activity on the Web.

Of the groups found by SITE, 59 were claimed by Al Qaeda and 36 by Ansar al Sunna. Eight groups claimed to be operating under the direction of the Victorious Army Group, and five groups said they were operating under the 20th of July Revolution Brigade.

The complex nature of the insurgency was illustrated on Oct. 24, when three suicide bombers, one driving a cement mixer full of TNT, staged a coordinated attack on the Palestine and Sheraton Hotels in central Baghdad. The attack was one of the most sophisticated yet, with the first explosion ripping open a breach in the hotels' barriers. That allowed the cement mixer to come within a few yards of the Sheraton before being hung up in barbed wire.

An American solider opened fire on the driver of the truck, and the bomb was apparently detonated by remote control. Twelve people died, and American and Iraqis agreed later that the attack had come very close to bringing both towers down.

Within 24 hours, Al Qaeda, in an Internet posting viewed round the world, boasted of its role in attacking the "crusaders and their midgets."

But in the small print of the group's proclamation, Al Qaeda declared that the attack had actually been carried out by three separate groups: the Attack Brigade, the Rockets Brigade and Al Baraa bin Malik Suicide Brigade. The three groups, the Qaeda notice said, had acted in "collaboration," with some fighters conducting surveillance while others provided cover fire.

Rita Katz, the director of SITE, which is now working under a United States government contract to investigate militant groups, said the attack on the Palestine and Sheraton Hotels had probably been planned and directed at the highest levels of Al Qaeda.

The leaders may have brought the three "brigades" together to stage the attack, she said, and probably provided expertise as well as the suicide bombers themselves. "This was something that was coordinated at the highest level," she said.

But for most of the attacks, such top-down coordination is uncommon, Ms. Katz and American and Iraqi officials said. Most, they said, are planned and carried out by the local groups, with the leaders of the umbrella groups having little or no knowledge of them.

American and Iraqi experts also say there appear to be important distinctions among the umbrella groups. While Islamist groups like Al Qaeda and Ansar al Sunna attack military and civilian targets at will, other organizations, like the Victorious Army Group, which is believed to be associated with followers of Saddam Hussein's government, appear to attack only American or Iraqi solders.

In recent months, some insurgent groups have refined their target goals even further. In July, Al Qaeda said it had formed a group called the Omar Brigade to focus on killing members of Shiite militias like the Badr Brigade. Since then, the Omar Brigade has taken responsibility for dozens of killings.

Some insurgent groups appear to be limited to exclusive geographic areas. The Zi al Nourein Brigade, whose exploits are regularly proclaimed by Ansar al Sunna, appears to operate almost exclusively in Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Each week, more such groups announce their presence.

"Following Allah's orders to his worshipers, the mujahedeen, to join together and stand in one line against Allah's enemies," a posting on the Internet said July 12, "Al Miqaeda Brigade Groups announced that they are joining Ansar al Sunna."

American and Iraqi officials say they are not always sure that the groups' public claims of responsibility are valid. It is an old trick that guerrilla movements use to exaggerate their size and power.

Other experts who track jihadi Web sites say it is possible to authenticate the claim of an attack by a particular group. Most of the claims of responsibility appear on Web sites that tightly control access to their message boards.

The array of insurgent groups has prompted competition among them. On the streets of Ramadi, the violent city west of Baghdad, a leaflet found on the street, signed by a group called the Islamic Army, said that "the growing number of mujahedeen groups, which grew in number when the people realized their value," had caused confusion about which group was speaking for which.

The Islamic Army leaflet read like an advertisement offered by a product manager worried about imitators.

"We are asking people to reject any statement signed by the Sajeel Battalion of the Islamic Army that does not carry their slogan or seal," the leaflet said.

One question that remains unsettled is the nationalities of suicide bombers. American and Iraqi officials have long said they believe that the majority of suicide attacks are carried out by foreigners.

In June, in an apparent answer to that question, Al Qaeda announced the formation of the Ansar Brigade, which it described as an all-Iraqi suicide unit. Since then, the Ansar Brigade has taken responsibility for few such attacks.

One place where the Ansar Brigade did apparently strike was Jordan last month, when suicide bombers struck three hotels in Amman. The police there determined that Iraqis had carried out the attack.

In a message posted on the Internet, Al Qaeda announced that the Ansar Brigade, its Iraqi suicide group, had carried out the attack.

Sabrina Tavernise contributed reporting from Ramadi, Iraq, for this article.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies
Judith Miller, the US journalist at the heart of the CIA leak probe, has apologised to her readers because her stories about WMD and Iraq turned out to be wrong.

The US journalist, who spent 85 days in prison over the summer before agreeing to give evidence to a grand jury investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, made the apology during an exclusive interview for BBC Newsnight.

She said: "I am obviously deeply chagrined that I ever write anything that turns out to be incorrect. I'm deeply sorry that the stories were wrong."

Ms Miller also confirmed that former senior White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby was one of her sources who revealed that Ms Plame was employed by the CIA.

It's a deeply troubling failure, because if we didn't know about Iraq, what do we really know about Iran, North Korea or Syria?
Judith Miller
She claims Mr Libby did not out Ms Plame as a covert agent, but as someone who worked for the CIA. Ms Miller said she assumed that Ms Plame was an analyst, not an operative.

Mr Libby denies any wrongdoing.


When pressed to confirm or deny that President George W Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove was another source, she declined to do so, saying: "I can't talk about the specifics of this case as I might be a witness in a criminal trial."

Although Ms Miller apologised for the intelligence being incorrect she defended her journalism saying she was right to publish and had done everything she could to verify the facts. She said: "I'm deeply sorry our intelligence community got it wrong.

"I am deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and a active weapons programme."

Wider implications

She defended printing the stories, claiming she had checked claims about Iraq and WMD with independent experts and had included caveats within her stories about the sources for her information.

The journalist also voiced concerns about the implications of the failure of intelligence for the wider, so-called "War on Terror".

"I think it's a terrible failure, it's a shocking failure, it's a deeply troubling failure, because if we didn't know about Iraq, what do we really know about the programmes of Iran or North Korea or Syria or what al-Qaeda is up to?"

The full interview with Judith Miller will be broadcast by Newsnight on BBC Two at 2230 GMT on Wednesday, 30 November, 2005.

You can also watch the programme via Newsnight's website.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Japan Today - News - New York Times column stirs debate: 'Are Japan's schools really better?' - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - New York Times column stirs debate: 'Are Japan's schools really better?' - Japan's Leading International News NetworkNew York Times column stirs debate: 'Are Japan's schools really better?'

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Monday, November 28, 2005 at 06:57 JST
NEW YORK — A New York Times' column titled "Why the United States Should Look to Japan for Better Schools," published Monday, stirred a heated debate among readers, prompting the newspaper to run seven letters to the editor about the piece on Friday.

In an Editorial Observer column Monday, Brent Staples wrote, "The United States will become a second-rate economic power unless it can match the educational performance of its rivals abroad and get more of its students to achieve at the highest levels in math, science and literacy."

In Japan, Staples said, there is "the teacher-development strategy in which teachers work cooperatively and intensively to improve their methods.

"This method, known as 'lesson study,' allows teachers to revise and refine lessons that are then shared with others, sometimes through video and sometimes at conventions, he said.

The Japanese schools are "typically overseen by the ministries of education that spend a great deal of time on what might be called educational quality control."

On Friday, the paper published the readers' responses to the column, including one by Peter Kahn, a mathematics professor at Cornell University, who agreed with Staples's view, saying "American teachers, particularly in science and mathematics, are, on average, deficient in their understanding of the disciplines they teach."

Meanwhile, Ellen Rubinstein, an English-language teacher in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan, took issue with the column, "I was shocked to read Brent Staples's glowing review of Japan's educational system."

Japanese students' "understanding is relevant only insofar as it increases their chances of passing university entrance exams," Rubinstein said.

"Japanese students may perform better than American students on standardized tests, but they lack critical thinking skills," she said.

The China Post

The China PostTaiwan plans to produce anti-bird flu drug when imported stocks run out(Updated 06:16 p.m.)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP)

Taiwan plans to produce the anti-bird flu drug Tamiflu on its own if it runs out of stocks supplied by Swiss company Roche Holding AG, which holds a patent for the medication, the island's premier said Saturday.

The Intellectual Property Office said late Friday it would notify Roche that Taiwan will use what the World Health Organization calls a "compulsory license" to produce its own Tamiflu if needed.

Under WHO rules, such a license allows for the violation of a drug patent in a medical emergency, as long as the the patent holder is compensated later.

"If there is ever a large-scale outbreak, and our reserves are not enough, then we have agreed we will first use the drugs we already bought," Taiwan's Premier Frank Hsieh told reporters Saturday. "But if they're gone and there's no medicine left, we can't just sit idly by and die."

Roche expressed surprise at Taiwan's announcement.

"Fallback on compulsory license will be unnecessary as agreed delivery timelines will be met by Roche," it said in a statement on its Web site.

The company said it will complete the delivery of 2.3 million Tamiflu courses, enough for 10 percent of Taiwan's population, next year.

Roche and Taiwan have been discussing terms for licensing a Taiwanese company to produce Tamiflu locally, but some fear the negotiations could take a long time.

Taiwan said it will not use the compulsory license if Roche agrees to let a local company make the drug, but did not specify a time frame. The island's government has promised not to export any drugs it makes under the license, Hsieh said.

Roche's statement said no Taiwanese company could produce the drug faster or cheaper than Roche.

Taiwan's first case of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus strain was confirmed last month in birds smuggled from mainland China. The island has not reported any human infections.

At least 68 people have died from bird flu since it began ravaging poultry across Asia in late 2003. Most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds, but health officials warn that the virus could mutate into a form that can be easily passed between humans, possibly triggering a global flu pandemic.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Mugabe's party wins Zimbabwe poll

BBC NEWS | Africa | Mugabe's party wins Zimbabwe poll BBC NEWS
Mugabe's party wins Zimbabwe poll
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has won elections for a new Senate, amid low voter turnout and opposition calls for a boycott.

Partial results from Saturday's poll show Zanu-PF has already won a clear majority, securing 49 out of 66 seats.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has thanked supporters for heeding calls to boycott a "meaningless election".

BBC southern Africa correspondent Peter Biles says the low turnout was largely the result of widespread voter apathy.

According to our correspondent, many Zimbabweans are disillusioned after the disputed parliamentary elections in March and see little reason for an expensive new upper house of parliament.

50 senators elected on constituency basis
Six senators appointed by president
10 traditional chiefs

Mr Tsvangirai's opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), did not contest more than half of 50 directly-elected seats.

A group of opposition dissidents who chose to run won five seats in the southern town of Bulawayo.

Zanu-PF - which already controls the lower house - won all three Senate seats in the capital, where the opposition usually enjoys strong support.

Final results are expected on Monday.

Opposition divisions

The voter turnout is estimated to have been between 15 and 20%, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr Tsvangirai on Sunday said the apathy was a "vote of no confidence" in President Robert Mugabe's rule.

Mr Tsvangirai had been determined to boycott the elections.

But rivals in his party had argued that participation was key to challenging Zanu-PF and fielded 26 candidates.

Observers say divisions within the party are unlikely to be healed and that the MDC is now on its deathbed.

Mr Tsvangirai dismissed his rivals in the MDC as opportunists and said his followers in the party are set to pursue a path of non-violent mass resistance against Mr Mugabe.

'Huge cost'

The Senate will comprise 50 elected senators, six senators appointed by the president, and 10 traditional chiefs.

The government says a two-chamber parliament will strengthen democracy.

But opponents say it is an opportunity for Mr Mugabe to distribute more jobs to his loyal supporters.

The annual cost of the Senate has been put at $60m, according to the government.

Many Zimbabweans suffering acute shortages of food and fuel have questioned the "huge costs" of financing an election and a new chamber.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Taiwan to produce bird flu drug without license from Roche - Yahoo! Australia & NZ News

Taiwan to produce bird flu drug without license from Roche - Yahoo! Australia & NZ NewsSaturday November 26, 09:57 PM

Taiwan to produce bird flu drug without license from Roche
Photo : AFP
TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan has decided to go ahead with production of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu for use against bird flu despite its failure to obtain a license from Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.

Roche said Friday it would supply Taiwan with all the Tamiflu it required and turned down its request for a license to produce the drug itself for local use.

That decision disappointed Taiwanese authorities, who granted the island's Department of Health permission to manufacture Tamiflu for resident use only, to supplement drugs obtained from Roche.

Officials said production of Tamiflu could go on until December 31, 2007, but that permission would be revoked should Taiwan reach a subsequent patent agreement with Roche.

Taiwan said it would discuss compensation for Roche if the home-produced drug were used prior to approval from the company.

"We have to prepare enough amount of Tamiflu to protect our people in case of a bird flu outbreak, so mass production is scheduled for next year," said Liao Chi-chou, director of the department's Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs.

"But we would only use the locally-produced drugs if the Tamiflu we bought from Roche were not enough," he said.

The Swiss firm said it had promised to provide the island with 1.3 million additional treatments next year, bringing the total to 2.3 million.

"We are confident that we will be in a position to deliver the quantities of Tamiflu requested by the Taiwanese government in the required timelines," said David Reddy, who is in charge of Roche's pandemic response team.

"Therefore, the possibility of a compulsory licence being invoked is unnecessary."

But Liao said Taiwan was not confident that Roche would be able to deliver on its promise.

Health officials said earlier Taiwan had acquired materials to make enough Tamiflu to treat 2.3 million people, or 10 percent of the population.

Fears over a possible bird flu outbreak intensified here after eight pet birds smuggled from China tested positive for the H5N1 virus last month. All the smuggled birds had been destroyed.

In 2004, Taiwan slaughtered 467,000 birds, mostly chickens, after the less virulent H5N2 strain was discovered in chicken farms on offshore Kinmen islet.

The H5N1 strain has killed more than 60 people in Southeast Asia since 2003.