KIEV, Ukraine

Parliament approves election reforms

Parliament approved reforms yesterday to ensure a fair ballot in Ukraine’s repeat presidential election as tens of thousands of opposition supporters, many of them haggard and shivering after 17 days of round-the-clock street protests, chanted and danced in triumph.

The surprise vote in parliament was part of a compromise package that also included constitutional amendments to transfer some presidential powers to parliament — but only after parliamentary elections in 2006, when backers of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko hope to win a majority.

Yushchenko had earlier denounced the amendments as an attempt to render his likely election victory meaningless, but he appeared to have ended up strengthening his political standing by demonstrating an ability to find common ground with his opponents and solve a crisis that could easily have turned violent.

“During these 17 days we have gotten a new country,” Yushchenko told the roaring crowds on Kiev’s main Independence Square. “We have realized that we are a European nation. We have grown confident that Ukraine’s future can’t be stolen.”



Settlers ask to keep communities together

Residents of some Jewish settlements in the northern Gaza Strip have proposed that their entire communities be moved to locations inside Israel under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza next year, a lawmaker said yesterday.

A resident said the settlers want to remain together outside Gaza, a sign that a significant number of the 8,200 settlers slated for evacuation next year are resigned to leaving Gaza, despite vocal opposition by settler leaders. Some have quietly formed committees to negotiate their exit.

Nissim Slomianski, a lawmaker with the pro-settlement National Religious Party, who met with settler representatives on Tuesday, said they remained opposed to Sharon’s withdrawal plan, but want to remain together if they are forced to leave.

“I don’t want to give the impression that they are ready to leave,” he said. “However, if there is a situation where they are taken out by force, then they want to move as an entire community.”



Rumsfeld hears soldiers’ criticism of U.S. Army

In a rare public airing of grievances, disgruntled soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday about long deployments and a lack of armored vehicles and other equipment.

“You go to war with the Army you have,” Rumsfeld replied, “not the Army you might want or wish to have.”

Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked the defense secretary, “Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?” Shouts of approval and applause arose from the estimated 2,300 soldiers who had assembled to see Rumsfeld. “We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north,” Wilson, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., said.



New breast cancer drug shows better results

A newer drug prevented far more breast cancers from recurring in older women, with far fewer side effects, than the old standby tamoxifen doctors said yesterday, citing a new study. Cancer specialists said Arimidex is likely to become the first-choice treatment for most women who have had the disease, and they predicted a wider role for similar drugs of its type, called aromatase inhibitors.

New research suggests Arimidex might be able to prevent 70 percent to 80 percent of the most common type of tumors that occur in women after menopause, compared with the 50 percent that tamoxifen is credited with warding off.


— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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